Overland South America

Travel Forums Central/South America & The Caribbean Overland South America

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1. Posted by Moonmonkey (Budding Member 52 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

Hi all - great forum!

I've been thinking about travelling now for quite some time and after much deliberation I've taken the first steps (sold my house, preparing to quit work etc. - SCARY!!!). First of all I was gonna get a RTW airline ticket but it seemed a very daunting prospect.

Now I've decided to book an overland excursion (Rio to Quito, 15 weeks) which looks awesome and takes alot of the worry out of travelling as well as presenting it's own challenges.


Before I make a final decision I'd like to know if it's going to be plausible to do a similar route without going through a travel comapny. I'm a complete rookie when it comes to travelling and I'd be worried about running out of cash or getting into some kind of trouble.

As far as cash goes I think I'm looking at a budget of £10,000 max. The price of an organised excursion plus kitty payments would come out of this. Would I be better planning a 6 - 12 month trip in South America with this budget on my own?

Any advice/encouragement would be much appreciated!


2. Posted by bentivogli (Respected Member 2398 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

Definitely possible, and easily doable for half the money you have available. Man, a budget like that would easily last you a year if you keep things at a minimum, maybe even longer!

SA is about the most tourist-friendly continent there is; bus connections are excellent, people are friendly (well, as long as you try to fit in, try to speak spanish, not mention GWB, etc.), food is great, nature and culture abound...

Don't waste your money on a silly tour company; you don't know in whose hands your dough ends up, it prevents you from being flexible and from making friends with locals, etc. Go solo!

Just browse the forum for some ideas; we'll be happy to make suggestions if you need them.

Have fun, also with the planning,

3. Posted by Moonmonkey (Budding Member 52 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

Thanks Niels!

Well that has certainly answered some of my questions!

OK so I'm starting to learn Spanish (although I realise Latin American Spanish is a bit different), I've just bought ANOTHER travel book (South America on a shoestring - Lonely Planet). Now I have to convince my friend as we have been talking about an organised overland trip. I think I'll find all the info I need in my new book but so hopefully it will start to seem a bit less daunting.

I'm still unsure where to start and I still want to get to see all the things I would've seen on the organised trip but I've heard some people say you have to book ages in advance for Macchu Piccu and the Inca trail.

Any suggestions or help with an itinerary would be great!

Thanks again

4. Posted by GregW (Travel Guru 2635 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

If you liked the iternary of the organized trip, why not start with that and then read through the South America On A Shoestring and see what other items or events you might want to see.

You should book the Inca Trail ahead of time, and also accomodation in Rio if you are going to be there during Carnival (plus you will want to look ahead of time getting into a Samba school if you want to join the parade).

Other than that, though, I think most things are pretty much doable without forward reservations. You should be able to find guides or tour companies locally in all those places to do the things listed in the iternary that require guides. You should be, in most cases, able to book a day or two before.

Everything else (touring markets, seeing the sites in the cities, etc.) that doesn't require guides you can do on your own.

[ Edit: Edited at Oct 23, 2006 11:59 AM by GregW ]

5. Posted by Moonmonkey (Budding Member 52 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

Thanks greg. I'm all for doing this under my own steam but I still gotta convince my friend.

Does anybody agree there would be advantages of doing the trip as a group in a purpose built truck with all the kit you need? I would prefer to be more flexible overall but I still want to meet up with like minded people and share times and experiences (as well as meeting the locals). Being a complete rookie I suppose I'm still slightly wary. i want to be sure I have enough cash to last a good while and I don't want to completely slum it all the time. How easy is it to carry all the camping equipment you need around with you for 6 or 8 months?

6. Posted by bentivogli (Respected Member 2398 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

Going by bus is the way to go in SA; many roads are in poor condition, and many southamericans drive like crazy, so hitting the road in your own (rental) vehicle is NOT recommendable, unless you're a very experienced driver.

Whether you can or cannot carry all gear needed is a personal thing. Other than my tent, sleeping mat+bag, a towel and a few layers of thin clothing, I don't need anything, so yes, I consider it possible. But if you're used to carrying a lot of other stuff, it gets hard. But then, there's 2 of you... I wouldn't know, really. But in general, camping possibilities around cities are limited to non-existent, and invariably risky. Camping outdoors is a good option, but I wouldn't recommend it to 'a complete rookie'. Better not get too much on your plate at once, and constrain yourself to the beaten tourist track first; there's plenty to see there already.


7. Posted by flo jo (Respected Member 414 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

I did the overland company from BA to Quito in about 14 weeks. I normally travel by myself but this time because i was with my younger sister, i decided to go with a tour. I can tell you it was an error as both of us speak fluent spanish we had no problem to communicate or organise excursions as our tour leader was useless. We both finished to do the job of the tour leader .
So to answer your question, learn spanish, the lonely planet in your pocket and go ahead.


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9. Posted by cat009 (Budding Member 28 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

Definitely do it yourself, you'll get much more out of it.

I spent two months in SA earlier this year. We had quite a rigid plan of what we were doing where and when. That soon went out the window as we realised that the guidebooks can only tell you so much and you have to judge places on your own merits. Getting recommendations from fellow travllers is also a great way of discovering good hostels/restaurants, bus companies etc.

You have to do some organised trips to get to some places eg. Inca trial so don't restrict yourself by doing one all the time.
But if you are going to do it yourself, make sure you have a decent level of spanish. You'll need it and for me it was much more rewarding doing stuff in spanish, even with my poor language skills

We went to Argentina, Chile, Bolivia and Peru. Highlights for me were Iguazu Falls, Lake Titicaca (Bolivian side), La Paz, World's Most Dangerous Road and the Uyuni trip. But loads of other stuff was great too. You can't fail to be impressed and awed by SA.

10 grand could last a year if spent wisely. Have a great trip !

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