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Route Advice - South America

Travel Forums Central/South America & The Caribbean Route Advice - South America

1. Posted by joey22 (Respected Member 561 posts) 8y Star this if you like it!

HI guys,

Making a few tentative forays into the planning of a 5 month backpacking trip through South America and would like some advice please. My questions are essentially related to my route ideas and to get an idea of the budget required.

I have used TP for a long time so have searched this forum for answers. This, hopefully, has cut my list of questions right down! :)

I am well-travelled and have done a fair bit of reading into the areas I want to go. I have also looked at a map so hope I am being realistic.

My preferred travel style is to stick on the ground as much as possible ( I enjoy crossing borders and still get excited about the whole, I was in x and now am in y thing!) but do realise that South America is a big big big place so have had a look at a few flights as well. I am travelling with my girlfriend so we will be staying in a mix of dorms and double rooms. Money will be pretty tight... if my Lonely PLanet says $15-25 a day I will plump for $20 knowing I like a beer or two at the end of a day.

Anyway, here goes. I am hoping that £3500 per person will be enough money (after buying international flights) for the following 5 month trip and would like to hear experienced south america travellers opinions. The £3500 is for land only in south america - flights, insurance and any jabs etc will already be sorted.

I will apologise in advance for the routes being a bit vague - I am heading from Quito to Rio via Peru, Bolivia and Argentina. I wish to avoid Chile (except perhaps to nip over to San Pedro? before back into Argentina) as it seems very expensive. I toyed with the idea of 'doing' Patagonia but it seems expensive, logistically a bit tricky as bus journeys are epic and flights not particularly cheap. Organised tours with the likes of GAP, Tucan and Dragoman seem very cool but are a fair chunk of money and our travel tastes are more of the independent variety.

So, I am hoping to...

Fly into Quito and spend a couple of weeks mooching through Ecuador (Otavalo, Cuenca, Banos) towards Peru. Backpacker style, travel by buses, cheapish accomm.

Peru - 6 weeks, plenty of sightseeing but trying to get a good solid idea of peru and its people, Inca Trail trek or similar. Anyone done the Lares trek? Flight over Nazca lines. Cheap accommodation, travelling by bus and train. If we opt for Inca Trail then we would book this before leaving the UK and probably go with the likes of GAP Adventures just so it was all sorted, dates set and we could just arrive in Cusco and rock and roll.

Bolivia - 4 weeks ending up in Argentina. Lots of sightseeing, trekking, cycle the road of death etc.. some time in amazon lowlands on riverboat, parque national madidi.

Argentina - 6 weeks, northern argentina, mendoza, cordoba, bariloche and then iguazzu. Argentina is too big to decide right now where to go but the gist is that we travel by bus and eventually cross border to brazil. Bariloche is an absolute must from my reading, but what do people think? My ideas for Argentina are to get to know the culture as much as possible... more interested in the people than physical sights here. Also up for a few good nights out in the university towns.

Brazil - 2 weeks. Iguassu, Ilha Grande, Sao Paolo, Rio. 3-4 days in rio. Try to spend as little money in Brazil as possible as I am sure we will be all but penniless by now. 2 weeks is the limit, it could be days.

Fly from Rio to London.

if the budget of £3500 is a bit tight then I would knock a couple of weeks off argentina rather than peru. i want to try to see more of peru than the usual haunts so want a bit more time there to try to wander off beaten track.

If anyone is reading ths and has travelled a similar route I would be very grateful for any tips, thoughts on my route, advice on the budget, must see places and generally any help at all.

p.s i am 27 and my gf 25. We are both pretty active and fit and enjoy cycling when we travel as well as the odd 1-3 day trek. we are both adventurous types and previous travels have varied from driving through west africa to backpacking all across india and south east asia.

I look forward to hearing from you.;)


Joey :)

[ Edit: Edited on 29-Jun-2009, at 10:45 by joey22 ]

2. Posted by SamSalmon (Respected Member 626 posts) 8y Star this if you like it!

Why so much time in Argentina?

Just wondering-the place and it's people have never appealed to me is why, OTOH Brasil..................

3. Posted by joey22 (Respected Member 561 posts) 8y Star this if you like it!

I like hiking, fishing, cycling, farm stays and what I have read about the people.

Brazil has an immense appeal to but one that is sadly diminished by the terrific costs - the cost of accommodation seems to be very high!

I have drawn up a number of routes for south america but have had to cut them all back - too much distance or too much money!

With all respect Sam I read a post of yours before where you dismissed four or five south American countries in one line and went on to say there was nothing there except small villages. If I had the energy I would find that and quote it but I am sure you will know what I am referring to. I believe the one country you did rate was Peru and the ones you didn't were Argentina and Bolivia among others.

If that is your view then it is valid but I suspect it may be a bit dramatic and one that I ultimately won't share.

Joey :)

4. Posted by crimson655 (Budding Member 5 posts) 7y Star this if you like it!


So this was posted a long time ago, but you said you were in the tentative stages of planning. I am currently planning a 4 month South America Trip. Have you gone on your trip? Are you there now? I'd love some advice or to share some of my own. I was in Peru for only 2 weeks about 2 months ago. Let me know if this thread is even active.

5. Posted by crimson655 (Budding Member 5 posts) 7y Star this if you like it!

As far as trekking to Machu Picchu goes, I would recommend booking once you arrive in Cusco. I did the 5 day 4 night Salkantay trek and had booked ahead of time for $450 per person. Once I got to Cusco I found that there were plenty of other tour operators offering the exact trek for as low as $160 per person. In addition, we found that upon our arrival three days before the trek, we were so far the only two people going on the trek. We cancelled (losing our deposits) and went with the cheaper company. It was a fantastic experience, and once there we found that all the 16 people in our trek had booked through different companies, at different prices. We had all just been lumped together. So it turned out shopping around was the best bet.

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