Skip Navigation

Planning an epic South America trip but got a few questions!

Travel Forums Central/South America & The Caribbean Planning an epic South America trip but got a few questions!

1. Posted by turtle1 (Budding Member 6 posts) 8y Star this if you like it!


I have a few questions i'm hoping someone can help me out with please!
I'm planning an epic trip traveling around the whole of South America: flying into Peru on the 1st June, then up to Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Brazil, Paraguay, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina and then finishing in Uruguay about December 2010 time (a kind of figure of 8 shape around the continent).

>The first major question I have is about border crossings. My Lonely Planet guide book tells me that some countries in S. Am require proof of outward travel from the country (e.g. plane / train ticket) before they let you in. Has anyone had experience of this and found getting into countries is fine without outward tickets? As i don't want to be constrained by set dates and am planning on doing most of the traveling by overland anyway so won't have plane tickets.

>The Inca Trail -- I hear is majorly crowded (especially as I get to Peru at the beginning of the high season). Has anyone done any of the alternative routes? Are they just as spectacular as the original Inca Trail? And any recommendations on when to book alternative routes / trekking agencies based in Cuzco that are good to book with?

>As I am spending about 7-8 months on the continent I was thinking about buying a tent, to possibly save costs by sleeping in campsites wherever possible and to open up more options by not being constrained to having to find towns/villages to sleep in (e.g. i hear some islands off Venezuela allow free camping). Has anyone done much camping in S. Am and found it useful to have a tent? And any recommendations for lightweight 1-man tents?

> Colombia and Venezuela - I am a 22 year old girl and will be traveling by myself (although hope to meet up with other travelers out there and join forces). Is it wiser to fly into and out of these countries rather than going overland? And particularly with Colombia is it better to just stick purely to the coast?

> Any tips on staying safe and out of trouble?

> As I will be arriving in the winter months (although I will be heading north to the tropical areas for the majority of winter) and will be going from the tropical north to the temperate south of the continent does anyone have any advice on clothing to take baring in mind I am limited by space with my rucksack? I was thinking of taking (for the colder countries) a thermal base layer (top and leggings), 2 microfleeces, probably a normal hoody, and a lightweight raincoat, and woolly hat. Would this suffice for the Andes in June / Patagonia in November time?

> I haven't ever heard much about Uruguay, Paraguay and Bolivia. Is it worth visiting these countries? (I suspect it is, but I've never heard of anyone who has been!)

> Money wise, I was planning on having about £5000 to last me the 7-8 months out there. In people's experience does this sound plenty or as if I will just about scrape by there (I don't mind roughing it in dirt cheap hostels etc). (and will 7-8 months be enough to have an amazing non-rushed time in all the countries??)

And lasty....

> Any advice on awesome places that I must visit in any of the above mentioned 10 countries??

Thank you!!

2. Posted by turtle1 (Budding Member 6 posts) 8y Star this if you like it!

Oh, and i've just graduated as a marine biologist and am an avid diver.... any knowledge of places to volunteer on marine bio related projects or great spots for diving?

(When I said i've got a 'few' questions... i meant 'a lot' ;) )

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

Forget the tent, hotels are cheap and plentiful there's a well trodden hostel trail as well.

Click Here for details.

Camping is not popular except for a few countries-like Colombia-where it's the norm to travel to the coast in groups for camping.

If you do a tour in the jungle the tour company-and there are lots of small operators in many places-you'll be supplied with tents/hammocks/whatever.

In terms of weather naturally altitude is everything-no need to bring too many clothes though if you're in the Bolivian highlands you can purchase a wool poncho for a decent price and discard it if it doesn't suit you later in the trip.

will 7-8 months be enough to have an amazing non-rushed time in all the countries?

Yes very much so.

4. Posted by luzian (Full Member 36 posts) 8y Star this if you like it!

Money wise, keep in mind that Brazil, Argentina and Chile (not sure about Venezuela/Uruguay) are much more expensive than some of the other countries you mention (Paraguay, Bolivia, Ecuador...). Much closer to European standards than what you might hope. I can't tell you exactly how far 5000 £ will get you but you might need to cut the time short in these countries and stay longer in the cheaper ones.

Also keep in mind that distances are very long, particularly Brazil is huge and Argentina/Chile extend very far into the south. Going overland all the way through Brazil is going to be very long and also expensive (Buses in Brazil are good value but as the distances are long, it adds up to major amounts). You might have to consider flights inside Brazil depending on where you want to go, which can be relatively cheap if you shop around, but can still eat some important parts of your budget.

Same applies if you want to go all the way down south to Patagonia in Argentina/Chile.

But in any case you'll have a great time! :)

5. Posted by Reece Sanford (Travel Guru 1368 posts) 8y Star this if you like it!

I would hardly class Argentina as being close to European standards at all for the cost of living.
Plus you will not be wasting anytime on buses on the long trips if you travel overnight.Yes in Argentina it can take sometimes 12 hours to get to your next destination but thats the beauty of a luxury night bus.The seat can be put virtually flat and the price difference between a regular bus and full cama is nothing.

Bolivia is a MUST VISIT country.I only spent 2 weeks there but it was amazing.Cycle the most dangerous road in the world,go on a pampas tour where you will see so much wildlife,alligators,monkeys,fish for piranhas and see dolphins swimming in the same river.and then even swim in that river like i did.

Inca Trail book in advance and you should be ok.i did it with Llamapath which is part run by a Welsh woman who was so nice. I believe her name is Michelle and she was happy to sit down and talk to people about anything.

6. Posted by turtle1 (Budding Member 6 posts) 8y Star this if you like it!

Thanks guys, your replies have been really helpful! I'm going to check out your links/suggestions now :)