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Where to begin?

Travel Forums Central/South America & The Caribbean Where to begin?

1. Posted by SAITcouple (Budding Member 8 posts) 10y Star this if you like it!


We're busy researching a trip around SA and were wondering which country we should enter first.

We'd ideally like to start somewhere where we can stay on a beach for a month and practice our Spanish before we actually begin traveling around the continent.

Any advice as to where we should visit first? And where we can find cheap accommodation during this first month?
We were thinking of one of the islands off of Venezuela or else Peru, so that we can travel through those northern countries afterwards before heading to Brazil.

We would like to leave in November so where would you recommend we find ourselves over Christmas and New Year?

All very new (and on a bit of a tight budget) so any advice would be really welcome.


S & F

2. Posted by marlis (Travel Guru 1167 posts) 10y Star this if you like it!

Islands off of Venezuela??? or Peru??

If you would like to stay at a beach and prouf your spanish then I would say
Ecuador.Puerto Lopez,Montanita.

Venezuela would be Isla Margarita but is not safe there.

3. Posted by sdaltrey (Budding Member 68 posts) 10y Star this if you like it!


Colombia would be a good place to learn some spanish. You´ll find that there are less tourists and therefore you´ll be forced to speak the local language. Santa Marta, Tayrona, and the islas Rosarias near to Cartagena are quite nice for beaches.

I picked up quite a bit of spanish in Colombia but as soon as I hit the gringo trail from quito in Ecuador it was english all the way.

Otherwise find a non touristic town and try to rent a room with a family or locals and imerse yourself in the language that way.

I will be starting a trip in Venezuela in October and travelling around that northern area including Brazil and Colombia until February. I also need to plan xmas and new year becuase it can be a mission to find places to stay around that time.

good luck with your plans


4. Posted by samsara_ (Travel Guru 5353 posts) 10y Star this if you like it!

I would recommend Valparaiso in Chile - it's not far from Santiago and there's a pretty nice beach at Vina del Mar close by. I met a lot of people who were living and learning Spanish there.

Valparaiso is a beautiful quirky little port with buckets of character. You are an hour from Santiago on the bus.

Only small drawback is that the Chilean spanish is a little different to that spoken in the rest of the countries, although that is where I picked up Spanish really and I wouldn't say it hindered me much. :)

Anyway, then from Santiago you could work your way northwards around in an arc to Brazil.

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7. Posted by SAITcouple (Budding Member 8 posts) 10y Star this if you like it!

Hi hi

Thanks for your replies.

Steve - how much would you say that it would cost us to stay for up to a month on one of the beaches that you mentioned in Colombia: "Santa Marta, Tayrona, and the islas Rosarias near to Cartagena"?
We're still trying to figure out where to enter the continent and don't want to end up spending all of our money in the first couple of months. Would it be an option to stay at one of these beaches to learn Spanish or is that a bit optimistic?

Re: staying with a family, have you done this? How would we go about finding a family to stay with?

We love the idea of going to Colombia, but as can be expected we've heard a lot about its being dangerous etc. Would we need to spend a lot initially i.e. paying officials etc? Where would be a good place to land?
Do you think that we would have trouble entering the country on a one-way ticket from London? Would we need to have another ticket booked to leave Colombia for another country such as Equador?

Many thanks

S + F

8. Posted by SuperYo (First Time Poster 1 posts) 10y Star this if you like it!

I wouldnt recommend Colombia because os security reasons. Lately there were lots of robberies to tourists around Cartagena. I would say Ecuador is a good choice and in addition Ecuador's spanish spoken is quite clear and easy to learn for foreigners and you wont have any regional accent that lately could cause some troubles in other countries

9. Posted by AndyB24 (Respected Member 167 posts) 10y Star this if you like it!

I just returned from colombia, spent a month in the north around cartegena, santa marta, and felt the safest I have in south america so far. I know 20+ people who were there at the same time, and nobody had any trouble at all. Its no more dangerous than anywhere else, as long as you don´t attempt the darien gap, or go to places known for rebel or paramilitary problems. According to the news programs on colombian television a few weeks back, The south west is dangerous at the moment near the border with ecuador because the goverment is pushing the drug growers down that way.

Personally I loved colombia, can´t wait to go back.