Visiting all countries

Travel Forums Central/South America & The Caribbean Visiting all countries

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1. Posted by Tezafe (Budding Member 9 posts) 24w Star this if you like it!

Hi all,
My partner and I fly out to Rio for 7 nights in January then fly to Iguaza falls for another 3. We then plan to bus down to Montevideo and cross to Buenos Aires via Colonia. We've allowed another 7 nights to do this before visiting a friend in Cordoba for another week.
How long would we need to visit the remaining countries by bus and backpacking while taking time to experience some of the wonders along the way? We could visit Paraguay when at Iguaza for a few days if need be.
This will be our first time backpacking so any advise would be fantastic!

2. Posted by Tezafe (Budding Member 9 posts) 24w Star this if you like it!

The countries of South America that is!

3. Posted by AndyF (Moderator 1197 posts) 24w 1 Star this if you like it!

You probably don't want to visit every country in south America - the guyanas aren't normally on anyone's tourist trail.

So I would say you are looking at crossing over to Chile and up through Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, maybe Colombia and Venezuela.

How long is hard to answer. What you've described so far isn't in depth travel in Brazil etc, it's fairly quick visits. South America is huge, you could fill a year exploring or you could zip through ticking just the major tourist sights in a few weeks.

For your first time backpacking, don't bite off more than you can chew. You could make yourself miserable travelling too long or too fast. Hopefully there will be more trips in future - perhaps decide first how long you'd like to travel and what you can afford and then figure out how far to try and go in that time.

What season are you doing this? Will you include Patagonia and hiking? Is budget tight or will you include a Galapagos trip?

4. Posted by zzlangerhans (Respected Member 56 posts) 24w Star this if you like it!

I agree with the above, you're talking about seeing an entire continent as though it was a theme park. There's no way to know what constitutes a "visit" to a country, but it's not unusual for people to spend a year or longer traveling around South America. The list of worthwhile sights and activities on the entire continent is endless.

I recently returned from Buenos Aires and Uruguay. Colonia doesn't merit more than a day because while pretty, everything of interest is compressed into a small area which can be seen in a few hours. Buenos Aires is a great city but doesn't have much for tourists, although it's a great place to hang out, eat parrillada, and drink beer. Try and be there on a Sunday for the Feria de San Telmo which has amazing crafts, artwork, and people-watching. For the best value and atmosphere parrilla in San Telmo I suggest El Desnivel.

Montevideo is surprisingly fun. Mercado del Puerto isn't a market any more but is packed with people and parrillas, some of which are very good. Again, try to be there on a Sunday for Feria de Tristán Narvaja which is an enormous and energetic street market.

There are many seasonal fairs and activities throughout South America so be sure to use Google to determine what is going on, where, and when and don't just rely on a guidebook or website advice.

5. Posted by Tezafe (Budding Member 9 posts) 24w Star this if you like it!

Hi. Firstly thank you both for taking time to reply! The advise regarding Uruguay and Buenos Aires is much appreciated, as are the suggestions from Andy.
My partner Karen and I are in our early 50's and both keep pretty fit either by running or walking so backpacking and hiking (on occasions) should be ok.
We arrive in Rio on the 15 January and fly to Iguaza on the 22. The aim is to arrive in Cordoba 2 weeks later for a 7 night stay. When we depart Cordoba we were looking at probably heading up through Chile, Bolivia etc as Andy mentioned with approx 3 months or so of travelling and a budget of £8k, although we could possibly extend both if need be.
I've been looking at the cost of return flights to Europe from various cities in Ecuador, Columbia and Venezuala so we have a final destination. At present they all look rather expensive places to fly home from, although I have seen flights at roughly half the price from Trinidad, however as was mentioned this is probably 'biting off more than you can chew' and an airport too far!

6. Posted by AndyF (Moderator 1197 posts) 24w Star this if you like it!

I think it is worth doing some reading on Torres Del Paine to decide if you want to head down there as part of your trip. I've not been yet but my girlfriend raves about it; I think if you're into a little hiking and spectacular scenery then it could be a highlight and a shame to miss it when you are so close.

I hear people being enthusiastic about Chile, Bolivia and Peru, but less so about Ecuador and further north. Currently the Foreign Office is advising against all but essential travel to Venezuela, and much of Colombia; thus it may not be the ideal destination for first-time backpackers even once you're salted with your months of travel by the time you'd get up there. So getting close to Trinidad overland may indeed be a bad idea.

The other big hit further north in South America is the Galapagos Islands. If you're into the wildlife and want to do that, I'd think that swings it to head up as far as Ecuador and fly home from Quito. Otherwise I'd suggest you could fill a very pleasant three months travelling up through Chile, Bolivia and Peru and fly home from Lima.

Yeah flights to/from South America are not cheap, looks like there is little competition and plenty of regulation keeping prices high. Have you had a play with Skyscanner to explore routes and dates to get it cheaper? Some random routings like via Istanbul come up which are cheaper but I'm not sure it's worth the extra hours in transit for the savings. Good luck! :)

7. Posted by Tezafe (Budding Member 9 posts) 24w Star this if you like it!

Great advise and well worth pondering over. Patagonia does very much appeal however it's deciding whether to head down and sacrifice time in Peru and Ecuador and possibly Galapagos. Plenty of time to think that through!
The flights to Rio were £250 each but having searched through quite a few sites the cheapest return flights are £550 and as you said via Istanbul. I will just have to keep checking.
Would you know if there are certain treks or mini tours etc that need booking well in advance?
Thanks for your time!

8. Posted by Fransglobal (Budding Member 11 posts) 24w Star this if you like it!

I have spent over 18 months travelling in Latin America. I ageee with AndyF about not biting off more than you can chew.

I have visited all countries in Mexico and Central America but in South America, I am missing Paraguay and the Guyanas.

Brazil was my favourite country by far. Peru the most interesting. I recommend at least a month in each country. That leaves another month for Argentina and either Chile and Bolivia. Uruguay is nice and it probably makes sense, considering your intention to visit Brazil and Argentina.

It is not clear if you speak Spanish or Portuguese. Knowledge of these will help a lot, to the extent of being essential.

9. Posted by AndyF (Moderator 1197 posts) 24w Star this if you like it!

I think you did well to get the £250 fare. I think part of the problem with South America flights is that they've not liberalised things for internal flights as other regions of the world have done, so you have no budget operators zipping around like Easyjet or Air Asia, and so that stops you for example choosing a cheap intra-South America flight such as Lima to Rio to then take advantage of a cheaper transatlantic routing like Rio to London. They're still in the olden days over there of not allowing airlines to overfly their airspace without paying a hefty fee or insisting that they land in the country to overfly it. In theory it gives an advantage to their domestic carriers but I think it ends up keeping people away.

Myself I'd pay the £50 quid more and get home in 15 hours via say Madrid instead of a gruelling 30 hours in the air via Istanbul and multiple changes!

Sometimes the automated searches don't figure out all the options effectively. For instance on 5th Feb I've found Lima - Madrid with Plus Ultra for £310 then Madrid - Stansted with Ryanair for £29. So £329 but maybe baggage charges on top?

No idea re treks and tours round there, sorry, but I'm sure someone with some knowledge will come along.

10. Posted by Tezafe (Budding Member 9 posts) 24w Star this if you like it!

Fab. I've just found flights from Guayaquil to Madrid are reasonable so that could be our end destination and could allow for the Galapagos as you suggested.
Hi fransglobal. We will have 3 months or so after leaving Cordoba and probably heading north through Chile and Bolivia (although nothing's set in stone from here onwards). We are learning Spanish and had a lovely 2 weeks in Panama last October to practice a little.