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Solo Travelling South / Central America via organised tour?

Travel Forums Central/South America & The Caribbean Solo Travelling South / Central America via organised tour?

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1. Posted by Diana1981 (Budding Member 2 posts) 20w Star this if you like it!

Hi South / Central America Travel experts,

I am going on a solo 12 + months trip around the world (starting from New Zealand to South America, Central America, North America, Europe, to Asia back to NZ - happy to do do it the other way around if needed), in 2018 and I was thinking of starting in July/August leaving from Auckland.


For South / Central America I was just wondering if anybody could recommend a Tour operator (such as STA Travel or WorldExibition or Gadventure or Eclipsetravel or others) covering the whole trip for about 3 -5 months (multi sport) starting in Patagonia going via Argentina and Chile, Bolivia (side trip to Brazil to experience the amazon river or Paraguay), Peru, Ecuador (side trip to Galapagos) finishing in Colombia?
OR should I see additional places?

Unfortunately I have to start travelling around July / August 18 and I am worried due to climate / seasonal conditions (such as Winter in Patagonia) that the timing is not right for some of the countries and tours? Could look at starting in a different country if needed (got 12 months or more if needed to get around the world)

After south america my intention is to travel via Panama through Central America into the USA and Canada from there to Europe 2 months later via Mongolia or Indonesia, Cambodia back to NZ.

12 months might not be enough to cover that much ground I guess but open to suggestions from travel experts.

I am a outdoor person and want to hike, bike, horseride and rock climb during my travels.

For now I would consider South and Central America going via organised / guided tour operator for safety reasons. For the rest of the world I will make my own arrangements I guess.

Also ideas on $$ budget to have available, insurance and so on would be great.

I am looking forward to hearing your thoughts and suggestions for the South/Central America.

So far I know that an organised trip with STA for 101 days including some meals but all transport and accommodation would be around NZ $15K that just covers South America without Galapagos though.
Any feedback greatly appreciated
Cheers
diana

2. Posted by Borisborough (Moderator 859 posts) 20w Star this if you like it!

Hello Diana - NZD15000 seems excessive for three months or so in South America (it's $150 per day - including flights?). The backpacker trail there is substantial and it's pretty easy to arrange everything yourself on the hoof and there are lots of travellers looking for the same thing.

July in Patagonia will be pretty cold but I understand the hiking there is excellent. Also worth seeing: San Pedro De Atacama in Chile, Salar de Uyuni across the border in Bolivia, the mine in Potosi, biking the Death Road near La Paz, Lake Titicaca and the Isla del Sol, Colca Canyon and Arequipa in Peru, the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu (look at booking your permit for that as early as possible), the Nazca Lines, Lima, Quito and Cotapaxi and Cartagena.

For your Amazon trip, it might be cheaper, less crowded and a better wildlife experience if you did it in Bolivia (or Peru or Colombia) rather than Brazil.

Definitely try to visit the Galapagos - you can do it more cheaply if you don't do a cruise but Island-hop using the ferries instead.

You'll probably need a boat transfer to get from Colombia to Panama avoiding the Darien Gap. For Central America, research Isla Solarte in Bocas del Toro, Tortuguero, Arenal, Monteverde in Costa Rica, Ometepe in Nicuragua, Copan Ruinas in Honduras, Lake Atitlan, Tikal, Rio Dolce in Guatemala, Caye Caulker in BelIze and then a boat to Chetumal for Tulum and Chichen Itza on the Yucatan.

Enjoy you planning - you have plenty of time. :)

3. Posted by bex76 (Moderator 3891 posts) 20w Star this if you like it!

Quoting Diana1981


For South / Central America I was just wondering if anybody could recommend a Tour operator (such as STA Travel or WorldExibition or Gadventure or Eclipsetravel or others) covering the whole trip for about 3 -5 months (multi sport) starting in Patagonia going via Argentina and Chile, Bolivia (side trip to Brazil to experience the amazon river or Paraguay), Peru, Ecuador (side trip to Galapagos) finishing in Colombia?
OR should I see additional places?

I'd recommend having a look at Intrepid travel - they do multi-country trips, or you can tag several of their trips together. I've travelled with them twice in Central and South America and in a few weeks I'm going to Costa Rica to do one of their group tours. I've also travelled several times with them in other parts of the world and they're excellent.

4. Posted by berner256 (Moderator 939 posts) 20w Star this if you like it!

Patagonia in July-August (its winter) will present challenges. Many places that cater to visitors will be closed for the season; and public transportation will be limited vs. the peak tourism months. I was there last March-April and some of the places in Puerto Natales (for Torres del Paine NP) already were winding down. I'm going back to Patagonia next February for more hiking in El Calafate and El Chalten before heading to Ushuaia for a March 2 cruise to the Antarctic Circle. I completed the flight arrangements yesterday.

This Web site might be helpful in assessing climate: http://www.climatemps.com/

In my view, you don't need STA or any other travel agency to book a complete trip to South America. As Steve says, "it's pretty easy to arrange things on the hoof and there are lots of travellers looking for the same thing." A friend in Brazil uses STA to arrange trips. I requested a quote for a trip to Lencois Maranhenses NP in Brazil; and it was substantially higher than what I eventually found from a local provider there.

Your best strategy would be to travel independently; joining tours (day trips and longer ones) as you go, such as a trek to the center of the Perito Moreno glacier in El Calafate. There is only one provider that does that trip; and you can book it online, or when you arrive in El Calafate.

The same goes for trips to the reserved zone in Peru's Manu National Park. Many of the companies that are licensed to take visitors there are based in Cuzco. It's one of the best -- and most challenging -- trips I've been on. Kamchatka (hiking on active volcanoes) is another. I used G Adventures for an excellent cruise to the source of the Amazon (the confluence of the Maranon and Ucayali rivers in Peru). I booked it online.

All you need to do is some advance planning. As I've mentioned many times before on this forum: Always keep one, two or three steps ahead of where you are going. That way, you'll help forestall problems, reduce costs; and make your trip more enjoyable.

5. Posted by Diana1981 (Budding Member 2 posts) 19w Star this if you like it!

Hi Guys, thank you for the great feedback and all the recommendations. You have been awesome. I made a note of all the destinations and will check out my individual map of how to get there and organise it as I go on my own.

I have now decided that I will only book 3 of my main highlights in advance (Machu Picchu, Tores El Plaines and the AMazon River tour) with a local or a STA organisation such as G Adventure or Intrepid travel to ensure I don't miss out because it's overbooked or all the permits are gone.
The others I do as I go

Should you ever need any suggestions for New Zealand please let me know :-)
All the best

6. Posted by berner256 (Moderator 939 posts) 19w Star this if you like it!

If you're interested in the ferry that takes you through the Chilean fjords, see this link: https://www.navimag.com/explore-patagonia-by-ferry-navimag

If you're planning to go directly to South America, Air New Zealand flies four times a week from Auckland to Buenos Aires. LATAM flies daily from Auckland to Santiago.