Central/ South america itinerary, advice needed

Travel Forums Central/South America & The Caribbean Central/ South america itinerary, advice needed

1. Posted by lmartin874 (First Time Poster 1 posts) 11w Star this if you like it!

Hi, just wondering if you think this is doable within the time frame, any places we've missed or should miss out, and any rough pricing would be great! Probably looking at getting buses between places and maybe a few flights, Thanks!

Cuba
Havana 1 week
Costa Rica San Jose 1 week
Ecuador Quito 2 days
Galapagos 7 days
Tena 7 days
Peru Lima/Nazca 3 days
Arequipa/Colca Canyon 4 days
Cuzco 4 days
Macchu Piccu 4 days
Brazil Rio de Janeiro 5 days
Igassu Falls 3 days
Argentina Buenos Aires 7 days
Puerto Madryn 2 days
Camarones 2 days
Torres del Paine National Park 3 days
El Chalten 3 days
Bariloche 2 days
Chile Dukon 4 days
Santiago 4 days

[ Edit: Edited on 28-Apr-2019, at 11:03 by lmartin874 ]

2. Posted by Piecar (Travel Guru 1214 posts) 11w 1 Star this if you like it!

It's in my opinion that San Jose has little to recommend it for THREE days let alone 7. I have to assume you mean the nature around San Jose. It would be a crime to go and not see the jungle or one of the coasts while in CR.

Also, how are you transporting yourself between these places? You're going from the middle of the Caribbean to the Southern end of SA. That's a lot of travel. This is no small trip. How much time have you budgeted altogether?

[ Edit: Edited on 28-Apr-2019, at 12:26 by Piecar ]

3. Posted by road to roam (Travel Guru 259 posts) 11w 1 Star this if you like it!

One week in San Jose? I'd get out of San Jose and devote more time to some of the nearby natural attractions. San Jose will get old after 2 days. We were surprised how cheap San Jose was compared to the rest of the country, so perhaps that is the draw for you?

You mention a time frame, sort of, but not any dates. How long do you have - from date to date? Sitting on buses and planes can knacker you (it does me!) Your schedule seems tight, except for a week in San Jose and Buenos Aires. 8 days in Brazil - by bus? Brazil is massive.

I figured your trip is roughly 2.5 months. You are covering a lot of territory.

Have a blast!

[ Edit: Edited on 28-Apr-2019, at 13:20 by road to roam ]

4. Posted by Sander (Moderator 5375 posts) 11w Star this if you like it!

Quoting lmartin874

Arequipa/Colca Canyon 4 days

Since you're coming from sea level, you won't have any altitude acclimatization yet. Spend three nights at Arequipa before setting out on the Colca Canyon trip (which will take 2 or 3 days), since that goes pretty high (including a 5000 meter pass, where I was really noticing the altitude). Also, Arequipa by itself easily deserves 2-3 days. Lovely city, amazing restaurants.

Macchu Piccu 4 days

That's... a lot, if it's just for Macchu Picchu. I'm assuming you're intending to hike the 4 day inca trail? If so, be aware of the wet season (November through March, with the trail closed for all of February). If you're intending to go anywhere between April and October, book at least six months in advance, preferably more (haven't followed lately how swiftly it all goes), since spaces are extremely limited, and in high demand. If you're going for one of the "alternative" trails, I'd still book at least a couple of weeks in advance.
If you're not intending to hike the inca trail, then this is rather a lot. I can see spending a full 2 days exploring Machu Picchu and climbing Wayna Picchu, staying overnight in Aguas Calientes in between, but more seems unnecessary to me.

Torres del Paine National Park 3 days

That's not enough to hike the W. Are you intending to just go to one of the refugios at the beginning or end, and do back and forth day hikes around there? Also see below about timing. Also, also, Torres del Paine is Chilean, so you'll be crossing the border back and forth from Argentina, which sucks up time. You might consider scrapping this entirely? (Yes, it's amazing, but it's very similar to what you'll see from El Chaltén, and much less easily accessible.)

El Chalten 3 days

If you're into hiking (which I'm assuming from your itinerary), strong recommendation to make this a full week. El Chaltén is absolute hiking paradise; drinking water straight from the streams, amazing views, great trails that consist of some strong climbing followed by easy level strolls where you can eat up the kilometers, followed by more strenuous climbing for amazing views. Lots of really nice 7-10 hour day hikes from town. Not a whole lot of short hikes, though, so be certain to be in shape.
Also, timing here might be iffy; I think the hiking season is basically November through April (I've only ever done March and April, so not too certain if the snow will be gone already in November) - which doesn't overlap favourably with the best time of the year to be in the mountains in Peru. Would it be an option to do the route in reverse? If you're in El Chaltén in March/April, you could be in Peru in April/May, which works out nearly perfectly.
Note that getting from Torres del Paine to El Chaltén could theoretically be possible within a day, but count on needing two. You'll almost certainly go via El Calafate, and then it's worth spending an extra night there so you can do a day trip to Perito Moreno.

In general, I'm assuming that all these days are full days spent in these places, crucially not counting travel days. I strongly recommend also budgetting for at least one extra rest day every week to purposefully do nothing, assimilate experiences, deal with culture shock, have a lazy rainy day sitting inside, etc.
If this is counting travel days, then you're rushing too much, and should cut some destinations. Of the places you've listed that I've visited, I'd cut Lima and Santiago without a second thought. Nice enough cities in some aspects, but they just can't compare to the nature on offer.

[ Edit: Edited on 28-Apr-2019, at 13:06 by Sander ]

5. Posted by Piecar (Travel Guru 1214 posts) 11w Star this if you like it!

I'm glad Sander said it. I always get in trouble for naysaying a city. I lived in Santiago for a year. It was "nice enough" as Sander put it, but really not worth visiting, overall. There is far more to see in Chile. The Atacama, for instance. Though it's way out of the way for the route I see here.

It comes down to this: We need some more information.

6. Posted by AndyF (Moderator 1628 posts) 11w Star this if you like it!

Quoting Piecar

I always get in trouble for naysaying a city.

Lol. You don't get in trouble, do you? Your contributions are always useful.

Me, on the other hand, I can always get in trouble... :-)

7. Posted by ToddP (Moderator 211 posts) 11w Star this if you like it!

Peru
Lima/Nazca 3 days
Arequipa/Colca Canyon 4 days
Cuzco 4 days
Macchu Piccu 4 days

You are spending a lot of time in each place. Nothing wrong with that off course as you might be much slower traveler than myself. However it is a lot of time in Cuzco and in Machu Piccu.

8. Posted by greatgrandmaR (Travel Guru 1055 posts) 11w Star this if you like it!

I'm not exactly sure why you have picked the places you have. You are visiting one island in the Caribbean (Cuba), one place in Central America (Costa Rica) and spending the rest of the time in South America but nothing on the northern coast (Venezuala or Colombia) and nothing in Panama or Belize or Nicaragua or Guatamalea.

I would give Costa Rica at least 10 days - 3 days for the Caribbean coast, 2 or 3 days in San Jose (which has important and interesting museums in spite of what people seem to think), a couple of days in the Arenal/Monteverde area and some time on the Pacific coast.

9. Posted by Teoni (Travel Guru 710 posts) 11w Star this if you like it!

I would agree with the San Jose comments. With a week if you rented a car you could see quite a lot of the Costa Rica and that would be time better spent. I even question if a week in Havana isn't over doing it. The other side of the island is quite interesting too you might want to consider splitting your time between the two.

10. Posted by ToonSarah (Travel Guru 946 posts) 11w Star this if you like it!

I would allow more than 2 days for Quito if possible. We spent four days there and didn't see anything like everything we wanted to. Plus there are easy trips you can do to the surrounding area (everyone goes to Otavalo Market and the Mitad del Mundo, so they are touristy, but worth doing nevertheless imho).

Even more than Quito I liked Cuenca, which you don't have on your list at all. Although I personally did like Santiago, I can see why others are saying you can drop it, and I would be tempted to try to include Cuenca instead.

I also agree that 4 days in Macchu Piccu is too much unless doing the Inca Trail - you might want to see something of the Sacred Valley instead?