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Help planning an amazing May-July 14' South American trip.

Travel Forums Central/South America & The Caribbean Help planning an amazing May-July 14' South American trip.

1. Posted by dateej (Budding Member, 4 posts) 22 Sep '13 08:33

Hey guys, I'm trying to plan a South American trip from beginning of May till middle of July 2014. I'm going with my girlfriend, I have a $20,000 budget for both of us.. I'm wanting to see pretty much what everybody else goes to see: Rapa Nui, Torres del Paine, Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca, the Brazilian amazon, Iguazu falls, Rio de Janeiro and Angel falls. I'd like to see the Galapagos as well but don't think I can afford it this time around. I also want to incorporate a few games of FIFA world cup. Preferably at the Maracana. I don't mind taking trains, buses, planes. With my budget I doubt I'll be able to stay in hotels and fly all the time so hostels are fine as well.. I realize that's a lot to see but I did all of Western Europe in 60 days so I think I can handle it. I've read some of the forums that are on here already but they all go so far off topic.
So the questions I have are:
I'll be flying out of Vancouver, BC. I'm not sure where I should fly into first to start off my trip.. Cuzco? Santiago? Then fly back home from Venezuela?
Has anyone attempted to fit all of this into one trip?
Hostels, hotels, flights that you have stayed in before by any of these places that you would recommend?
Really any help and insight would be highly appreciated. Thanks!

2. Posted by dateej (Budding Member, 4 posts) 22 Sep '13 09:40

So this is what I think I've come up with so far.
Days 1-5 Santiago
Day 6 travel to Rapa Nui
Days 7-11 Rapa Nui
Days 12-13 travel to Torres del Paine
Days 14-17 Torres Del Paine
Days 18-19 travel to Cuzco
Days 20-25 Machu Picchu
Day 26 travel to Lake Tititcaca
Days 27-30 Lake Titicaca
So 30 days to see these places should be enough right? Any suggestions on what means of transportation between all these places? Flights seem to be pretty expensive.. :(
From Lake Titicaca
Day 31-32 travel to Manaus
Days 33-40 Manaus Amazon
Day 41 travel to Rio de Janeiro
Days 42-63 Rio, FIFA, Iguazu Falls!!!
Day 64 travel to Venezuela
Days 65-70 Venezuela and Angel Falls.

Feel free to pick apart my schedule

3. Posted by Sander (Moderator, 4402 posts) 22 Sep '13 10:29

Some initial thoughts: May is a pretty bad time of the year to head down to Torres del Paine; it's late autumn, and hiking the W (which I'm assuming you'd want to do, given 4 days there) might be unpleasant and difficult. I have no experience with this, but I strongly hope you do and are prepared for the experience.

You're ignoring altitude; going straight from near sea level to the 3300 meters of Cuzco (and then even higher onto the Inca Trail?) is inadvisable; you'll have a high chance of suffering from altitude sickness, as you haven't had any altitude acclimatization. The Inca Trail goes up to 4750 meters on the second day; you really will want to have had at least 3 nights at 3000+ meters before doing that. Consider Arequipa as a stop for a few days en route to Cuzco; it has the perfect altitude for acclimatization (2350 meters), and is a very nice place to spend a couple of days at.

I also think you have to do extremely tight planning to be able to actually make it from Torres del Paine to Cuzco in two days; there's a limited amount of busses from Torres del Paine to El Calafate or to Punta Arenas (especially that time of year; very much low season), and not that many daily flights from those places to Lima/Santiago de Chile, so I don't give you better than even odds on finding a set of connections that work. (Same actually for Easter Island to Torres del Paine.)
If you indeed fly out of Torres del Paine via El Calafate, spend two nights there and do a Perito Moreno daytrip (do one where you have several hours to wander around the walkways yourself); well worth the time, and easily the most impressive glacier I've ever seen.

You can shave a day or two off Lake Titicaca; it's nice, but not that spectacular.

For recommendations on individual places to stay, I've written reviews on all the places I've stayed at in the accommodation section here, so you should stumble across them - but as a shortcut, page 3 and 4 of my reviews cover Chile and Argentina, while page 6 has a couple of places in Peru.

4. Posted by CheersT (Travel Guru, 1581 posts) 22 Sep '13 10:38

Your travel schedule gives me a headache - I'm a very sloooow traveller - but if that's your style it's certainly doable.

Something else to consider... For some reason over the last few months there's been some smokin' deals between Western Canada and Bogota... in your time frame you can fly Air Canada round trip from Vancouver for less than $875 all taxes included. Colombia is in my opinion the most interesting country in South America right now, the flora/fauna and geography is absolutely stunning and the people are the nicest I've met in South America.

Have fun.

Cheers,
Terry

5. Posted by dateej (Budding Member, 4 posts) 22 Sep '13 11:21

Thanks Sander. That's exactly the type of information I was looking for. I will be sure to check out your reviews!!

6. Posted by Calcruzer (Moderator, 1876 posts) 22 Sep '13 23:36

One side trip out of Rio de Janeiro that you should consider is to the local mountains (Petropolis and/or Teresopolis). It's a great way to get away from the crowds for a day and the first of these is a city of great historical importance to Brazil. It is named after Brazil's second (and last) emperor (Pedro II) and his remains are located in the church there. Teresopolis is a place where many of the politicians and well-to-do from Rio have second homes where they stay during the hotter months (which in Brazil is the December to March time period). The city is surrounded by some dramatic mountains including the so-called God's finger and the peak of the Holy Mother. It is so scenic that it actually has a national park whose boundaries extend right to the edge of the main part of the city. The 3-day walk between Petropolis and Terosopolis is considered the most scenic thing to see in Brazil, not counting the Iguacu Falls, or the two places in Rio (Corcovado and Sugarloaf Peaks).

P.S. I've been to all of these places except Iguacu Falls and enjoyed them immensely.

[ Edit: Edited on 22-Sep-2013, at 23:38 by Calcruzer ]

7. Posted by dateej (Budding Member, 4 posts) 23 Sep '13 12:33

Well I'm spending enough time in Rio so I'll be sure to check those out as well.. thanks! How did you get to all those places Calcruzer? Train, bus, plane? Anything else you would recommend?

8. Posted by Kirstyonwroot (Budding Member, 10 posts) 28 Sep '13 14:26

We started our South American trip in Rio de Janeiro a couple of weeks ago, I don't know how much rio would interest you but we spent around $2000 aud between us including accommodation. Food and taxis here and made our own way to the sights you can read about it on my blog if it interests you as there is some info on transport , christ the redeemer, sugarloaf the beaches and metro ect. E careful though as rio is quite rough is some parts and abeles are dotted all around. We then flew to Lima, had two days there and flew to la Paz yesterday in Bolivia. From there for the next three weeks we are doinga tour with sta travel called Andean discovery which I think was about 6000aud each including all transport and accommodation and some meals. That takes us through lake titicaca, doing a honestly and also the lares trek which takes us to the same ruins as the inca trail. You need to book way in advance for the inca trail as only a few people can do it per day. Wee booke three months in advance an couldn't get on it! The altitude does really hit you so you have to definitely take a day to adjust or you will be sick as a dog. Hope this helps!