South/Central America trip for six months HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!

Travel Forums Central/South America & The Caribbean South/Central America trip for six months HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!

1. Posted by Yramatir (Budding Member 3 posts) 16y Star this if you like it!


I am new to this forum but am so happy I found it!

Me and my friend are planning a spectacular six month trip to South/Central America in September/October 2008.
Although we have sought advice from a travel agent, it does seem to be quite expensive to see the continent by flying to each area.

The countries I would like to visit are:


We initally intend on flying into Brazil.

Is it possible to get around the continent by hiring a car/bus/train?
This could save us some money on airpass flights which is what were currently thinking of...

Which is the easiset way to fly into Cuba? I understand there are many restrictions which mean you can only fly from certain countries.

Why is it difficult to fly into Bolivia from Chile? I have heard of an off road trip would could take me from Chile to Bolivia?

What level of Spanish will I need? (I start lessons next week and also have some help)

Do you have any books/films/music you would recommend I check out in the run up to my trip?

Is it easy to buy flights over there for connections and would it work out cheaper?

And finally...



2. Posted by bentivogli (Respected Member 2398 posts) 16y Star this if you like it!

Hey Mez,

That's a lot of questions in one post. Here's some info to get you going:


  • Search results in this forum on the string "six months"
  • buy a guidebook. Personally I'd recommend Footprint's SA Handbook, but others like LP's Shoestring better
  • the availability of SA literature depends on where you're from. In the Hispanic world, pretty much everything is on sale, but only a small part is translated to English. I'd recommend Mastretta (Mexican), Vargas Llosa (Peruvian), Borges (Argentina) and Allende (Chile); they give you a pretty good insight in SA culture
  • good SA music is hard to come by outside the continent. Once you're there, you'll find an amazing variety of styles; spending some hours (days) in music stores is worth your time!


  • Like everyone else, you want to go to too many different destinations for what time you have. Bear in mind that SA is huge. If you're set on doing all seven countries you listed, the best itinerary I can think of is a counter-clockwise trip through southern SA starting in northern Brazil, and doing Cuba and Mexico on your way back home (wherever that might be).
  • Brazil - Argentina - Chile - Bolivia - Peru - Cuba - Mexico is your best route I'd say. But personally, I'd cut out Cuba and Mexico, esp. since you don't want to fly.
  • As to restrictions concerning Cuba, I wouldn't know; given your wish list, flying from Lima would be ideal.
  • The problem with La Paz is the altitude, which makes it a relatively expensive airport to fly to. The 'off road' thing you mean is entering Bolivia through San Pedro de Atacama and Salar de Uyuni; it is a regular tourist route.
  • Domestic flights are expensive, and you generally get more out of your trip by taking it easy than by rushing everywhere by plane

Spanish comes in handy, but your effort is more important than your eloquence. In most touristy destinations you will either be able to find people who speak English as well, or you can ask fellow travellers to translate if you have a real problem

3. Posted by KRISTIN_NI (Budding Member 15 posts) 16y Star this if you like it!

Oh myyy!!! to many questions really!!! I will try to help you in some.

Spanish, it´s good you are taking some lessons of it , but either ways most of the people from southamerica are very kind, so dont worrry, they will try to understand you even if they dont know the language ;) ( bring your dictionary, it will help )

About rent a car , uhmmm, I think this is not so cheap like rent a car in the USA. I tried to rent one , the time I was Peru, and believe me it was too expensive, I think that´s the reason why there are so many public transportation there.

About the flights, yeah, there are no so expensive, but still you can get better prices sometimes by an agency. Check in advance.

Check tours in advance also , bring your Ipod , uhmmm I dont what else

4. Posted by miromar (Respected Member 175 posts) 16y Star this if you like it!


Will try to help a bit:

  • Fly to Cuba is easy from mexico, and relatively cheap from cancun, mexicana and cubana both fly there daily i think, and because is only over 1h flight, it would be a lot cheaper than from somewhere else. You could make your way from Lima to Mexico DF flying, and then end up your trip through mexico in the caribean coast and cancun (terribly touristy I know, but still worth a visit!)
  • Dont bother in flying betweem bolivia and chile, do it overland! it is cheap and the landscape crossing atacama desert and the area of the southwest of bolivia is amazing!
  • One book that I have recently read and truly enjoyed is Marching Powder, true story set in bolivian prison, absolutely amazing and in english ;) From the spanish speaking authors I would really reccomend Isabel allende's "ines del alma mia" about the foundation of chile, and any of her collection really! But not too sure if you'll find it in english. One hundred years of solitude is a must of course! In dvd, dont miss the motorcicle diaries, and maria full of grace, and any argentinian movie by ricardo darin (i would say nine queens, fab!) and the son of the bride. Brazilian city of god also a good one! (cant think of any more right now, sorry)
  • Learn as much spanish as you can, it is not a must, but really helps! Im spanish speaker and my experience in certain places has been a lot better than people that didnt speak a word. I have also found many non-spanish people that knew a bit of spanish when they arrived and they found it easier as well, as the locals appreciate a lot when you try, and you will feel better too! You can always take a 2weeks course once you are there, for example, to help you a bit more!
  • And about the route, well there are hundreds of possibilities, but just make sure you are visiting the places at the right time of the year if possible! (remember rainy season in bolivia is a bit difficult to travel through, or the winter in patagonia for example) so plan accordingly! Also as mentioned, good to leave mexico-cube for the end, as sep-oct still is hurricane season, so better not to take chances! Unless you are from the states you can find flights from cuba to most places in the world!

Good luck!!

x x Miriam x x

5. Posted by Yramatir (Budding Member 3 posts) 16y Star this if you like it!

Oh my gosh - thank you so much for all your detailed and extremely interesting replies!

I think I need to print your replies off and digest them. I apologise that I asked so much in my first post - that's excitement for you!!!

Thanks again


6. Posted by tricky (Respected Member 323 posts) 16y Star this if you like it!

see my profile and blog map for a great route.

I am currently doing Brazil - Argentina - Uruguay - Chile - Bolivia - Peru at a similar time of the year.

Bus ALL the way. You see far more.

Utterly amazing.

Anyway, off to hydro board with some crazy Argie.

ps. The Road to Titicaca is an awesome read.

7. Posted by Yramatir (Budding Member 3 posts) 16y Star this if you like it!

Thanks Tricky,

Did you sort out your buses before or when you got there?

Thanks again!


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