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Route advice for South and Central America

Travel Forums Central/South America & The Caribbean Route advice for South and Central America

1. Posted by Millie1984 (Budding Member 2 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

Hi All,

I am travelling with my boyfriend for 6 months planning to spend roughly 3 months in South America and 3 in Central America. I wondered if anyone could suggest a good route?

We're interested in outdoor sports, diving, hikking, sailing and so on. Looking to travel on a budget and do most travel overland (other than South to Central America leg which we thought to either fly or sail from Cartegena to Panama). We're looking into learning spanish, both currently have a little (Quito or Guatemala?).

South Am: March- May
-thinking of flying into Caracas, travelling across to Colombia and finishing in Equador
-I know this is mostly equatorial so the weather is pretty warm all round?
-Would it be wise to miss Venezula and do a shorter Colmbia-Equador route?
-I've read its reasonably easy/safe to tranverse Colombia by bus?

Central Am: June- Aug
-either north to south or south to north?
-Also considered flying 'via' Cuba from Quito to spend a few weeks there.
-learning spanish in Xela, Guatemala.

Any tips would be great,

2. Posted by Piecar (Travel Guru 980 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

I am in Colombia currently and it is fine to travel by bus, if my experience is any indicator. Caracas WAS a hole when I went there. But Venezuela is a beautiful country and one of the most spectacular things I have seen in my life was the Sabana Grande and the Tepuis that are there....Truly magnificent. I wouldn´t pass it up, if it´s already on your itinerary.

If going to learn Spanish, and are travelling South to North, it seems more intelligent to learn the Spanish earlier rather than later, so if it´s QUito, close to the beginning of your journey, or Guatemala a the very end, I would say Quito.

Good luck out there.

3. Posted by i c e (Full Member 326 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

Hello Milie,
Welcome to Travellerspoint (man, I've been saying that a lot).
First let me say that you are going to have freakin awesome time.
I would most certainly not let Caracas be the first part of Latin America that you see. The place is a wreck, completely nuts!! I do not doubt that the rest of Venezuela is spectacular but Caracas is a very bad city to visit. Check out this post. But.. if you decide to go there first you will be thrilled with the rest of South America no matter what you see or where you go, you know?
You will love Colombia. It is (surprisingly) a very beautiful and romantic country. You could spend years there and never tap all that it has to offer. If you have time when you get to Bogota make sure you check out Suesca (only a few hours away).
Quito, is also a gem! Very South American (Colombia is different than you would think but Quito is so exactly what you would picture). Make sure you take the cable car up the mountain behind the University (great view).
-Yes it is warm all year but rains more in the summer
-Yes skip Caracas
-No, buses are not, in general, safe. Make sure you go to the central bus stations and spen the little extra to get the better bus (Usually safer). Then you'll be fine.

-either way you'll be fine same thing. I would go south to north to skip the 'hell' border at Honduras. (you won't skip it but you'll be leaving and have less trouble.
-I have always wanted to go to Cuba. (tried to sail there once but got stranded in the open sea and had to call mayday, not kidding)
-I would learn Spanish as soon as possible. It will make your whole experience better. BUt Guatemala is nice too.

Hope this help. If you have any more Q's ask away.



4. Posted by Millie1984 (Budding Member 2 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

Wow, thanks for the responses, very useful.
We were only planning on doing the Northern regions (as its enroute to Colombia) of Vnz and I've read quite a few blogs and forums saying its not all that great (dirty, touristy, expensive) compared to Colombia and other S.Am countries.

You both seem to love it (except Caracas)! Do you think this might be a regional thing? i.e. the South is 'better' than the touristy coast? Or am i being misled?

Thanks again,

5. Posted by Piecar (Travel Guru 980 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

If you´re only planning to look at the Northern Region, then forget Venezuela. Los Roques is nice...It´s an island...But you can see azure seas in Colombia as well....Though not in Cartagena....that´s more Santa Marta´s speed

It is sad that you won´t see one of the most beautiful things in the world in V but you can´t see everything.

This does, however, give you more time to see the rest of the places you are going to see.

Good Luck Out there....Which I will now, forever, shorten to GLOT


6. Posted by i c e (Full Member 326 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

Acutually I don't love Venezuela. All I saw was Caracas and I hated it.
I would go straight to Colombia. Time flies when your travelling, and you always want more time when you find some where you really like. Skipping V would give you that (more time).

Glot, (I like that, maybe some day it will be like 'lol').


7. Posted by samsara_ (Travel Guru 5353 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

Ice, how can you tell someone to skip a whole country if you only visited one city?