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South America Itinerary - Help please?

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

Hi there,

My boyfriend and I are planning our trip to South America next year from the start of January 2011 till mid-May 2011. Our general itinerary at the moment is to fly into Bogota, Columbia on Jan 5th and fly home (to Ireland) May 17th.

Our route generally is as follows:
-Columbia (5 weeks)
-Fly to Lima, Peru (Inca Trail 1 week)
-Fly Lima to La Paz, Bolivia (4 weeks)
-Brazil (5 weeks)

Any advice on hotspots, hostels, tours, things to see and do etc would be so very much appreciated to get us started.

Thanks in Advance.

2. Posted by tricky (Respected Member 323 posts) 7y Star this if you like it!

First thing I would do is cut out the flight from Lima to La Paz.

If you are flying into Lima then you are going to have to bus to Arequipa to get used to the altitude for a couple of days and maybe do the Colca Canyon. That bus journey is maybe 16 hours. Maybe breaking it up for Nazca if interested. From Arequipa to Cusoc another 8-10 hours maybe. From there you will do the Inca Trail and MP.

I think the last thing you will want to do is repeat the journey back. Instead take bus to Copacaban via Puno. Both are on Lake Titicacca. Spend a few days between the two then anothe bus on to La Paz. It will actually be a whole lot cheaper and quicker than your plan.

From La Paz there is a great opportunity to go to Rurrenabaque where you can go into the forest or spend time on the water looking for pink doplphins, many birds, fishing for piranah, swim with Kaymen and dolphin. Stay in a river lodge. Cheap and brillaint fun. LP has many activities too like cycling the Road of Death, the prison, the markets, the wrestling (sucha fun evening). Staying in the Adventure Brew is a good plan, right by bus station.

Elsewhere in Bolivia you might like to see the Salt Flats (4 day trip with Tupiza tours). Fantastic.

By now you won't be near an airport so bus to border and down to Salta. Much horse riding opps here, stay at an estancia or similar.

I've not done north Chile.

Cities like Mendoza and Cordoba in Argentina are good destinations. Plenty activities, wine, good hostels await.

Southern Patagonia is essential. The Torres del Paine National Park. Wonderful. Most beautiful place I have ever been. Route 66, Fitzroy etc. You could take the Navimag ferry down the coast for 3-4 days.

Lake district in Chile and Argentina. Pucon and Bariloche respectively. Amazing surrondings.

I could go on and on but you have given no indication what you like, what your budgets will be etc.

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

Hi, my husband and I are planning a similar trip starting feb 2011. Budget $50USD each per day. Interests first hiking, second volunteering (allied health and environmental), third surfing. :)
On our list so far is; Torres del Paine, lakes district, laketiticaca, inca trail, mp, galapagos volunteering, surfing Peru, mtb Bolivia, manaus amazon hike, surfing florinopolis if time allows.
I'll be following this blog, thanks for the bus tips, very helpful!

4. Posted by obrigado (Budding Member 2 posts) 7y Star this if you like it!

Well ... I may tell you a few things about the north of Chile, specifically San Pedro de Atacama. Firstable, you may travell by plane to Calama, and by bus from Calama to san Pedro. The best transport company is TUR BUS, the local one is quite less expensive, but is not First Class of course!! Try to get an earlier flight for having enought time to book a bus ticket.

Firstable, buy a large water bottle, 5 lts. or 10 lts. The water is expensive in San Pedro.

Once you arrive to San Pedro there are several places where to be hosted, Hostelling San Pedro ( Hostelling International) , or Hostal Hara could be a good choice. You may buy tours by your own in any of the travel agencies located in the downtown. Check the rates and take a desition.

I suggest you: The Moon Valley, Atcama Salt Flat Lake, Toconao and Jerez Valley, Horseback Riding at Rancho Cactus ( ask for Farolo ), and El Tatio Geisers. (better you have the Tatio tour after a few days yo´ve arrived, cause it´s enjoyable, but beggins very early and gets near by 5000 msn).

During your staying in San Pedro you may walk up to the old inca ruins of Pukara de Quitor, thre´s an entrance to pay in the National Park I don´t remember how much!, or you may visit the town museum: Padre Le Paige, keep an eye on it, there is a mummy there, the oldest of the world, oldest than the egipcian ones.

By the way, from San Pedro you may buy a tour to Bolivia, up to the Largest Salt Flat Lake of the world, Uyuni. The tour is very cheap, gets trhee days. Be carefull wich travell agencie you book it. As I know, the safe one is Colque.

While you are travelling, try ever to get contact with other travellers if they go or are coming back from some place you want to know, share information and have at last trhee o four different opinions before you have a desition about your next destination.

About Brasil, if you go to Rio do Janeiro, try to travel from Rio to Arraial do Cabo. The best beaches of Brasil are there!! You may practice surf, snorkel, fishing, etc. Get a bus transport at the "rodoviaria" with "1001" transport company. The trip gets around trhee hours, acomodation is not expensive at all , you also may rent a furnished apartment in th best beach neighborhood of Prainha...

Keep in mind to exchange enough money for travelling in Brasil, even in Rio there are no many good places where you may do it, excepting travel agencies, the rates are not really good. For some reason ...they know we are tourists !!

5. Posted by obrigado (Budding Member 2 posts) 7y Star this if you like it!

South of Chile is a different beauty. You have to visit the Lakes District, get it by plane from Santiago ( chilean capital city ) or by bus transport. By plane is around one hour and a half, by bus gets 10 hrs.

Place your " operation base " in Puerto Varas City, it´s a small, beautifull and very german style village ( cause the german settlement in 1850). That city is the entrance to the National Park of Perez Rosales. You have to visit Saltos del Petrohue and Osorno Volcanoe ( the chilean mount fuji ). Check in internet for pictures of this marvel !!. You deserve to visit it.

Acomodation in Puerto Varas can be book by internet in any of the hostel you find , or as you prefer, hotels. The rate is near by U$ 20 per person in a hostel. Try " patiperros".

From Puerto Varas you may travel to Puerto Montt ( capital district) and visit by your own Angelmo´s fresh fishing market. Puerto Montt is largest than Puerto Varas, very comercial.

Of course, from Puerto Montt there`s a navigation across the channels, the kaweskar canoas tribal route, with a ferryboat company: Naviera Magallanes or Navimag.

The cabins are different prices, let me recomend you the doble" A". The cheapest are " C " cabins ,and the expensive ones are triple" A".

I have traveled several times with that company, and is good to suggest you, just in case, if you do the trip ,leave one or two days with no itinerary... cause some times arriving to Puerto Natales, ending the trip, the winds is so strong that makes impossible to dissembark no matter as early the boat has arrived !!. So there is people who loose some land transport to continue the trip up to Punta Arenas. Better you have a hostel night in Puerto Natales.

Check what days there is bus transport from Puerto Natales to Punta Arenas.

The resty of the trip can be done by land to the Patagonia, Punta Arenas, Torres del Paine National Park, and of course the southern beauty of Argentina.

6. Posted by Lonnie (Budding Member 13 posts) 7y Star this if you like it!

See David Rice log, backpacking South America 8 months by bus, for some tips from a seasoned backpacker


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

Hi all,

I'm an Irish female and am travelling alone around SA from January until end of May (this is flexible depending on funds and fun). I have read all the very helpful advice on this thread (and others) but said I'd see if anyone had some specific advice for my own travels.

Two things are 100% definite about my trip and that is that I start in Cuzco and finish in Buenos Aires. In between is completely flexible. I want to be in Salvador for Carnival but also want to take in Peru, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Argentina. While I have read all the wonderful things that people say about Chile....I think that unfortunately I will have to skip it during this trip because of time and money constraints...unless of course someone wants to convince me otherwise?

My biggest dilemma at the moment is planning a route for myself. Here are the two I am deliberating between at the moment:

1. Cusco (end of January)- Bolivia- Southern Brazil work up to Salvador (Carnival start of March) - fly to Bogotá, Columbia- Ecuador- Lima- fly to Buenos Aires

2. Cusco (end of Jan)- Ecuador- Columbia- Salvador (start of March) and down through Brazil- Argentina (Biggest problem with this is where do I fit Bolivia in??? I really want to go there but it doesn't quite fit this route when you look at a map!)

In my first route I would probably have to take 2 (expensive) flights which might be a hindrance. Also, for both routes...would I have enough time to see and do everything once I finish in Cusco and still manage to get to Salvador on time for Carnival? Am I being totally unrealistic?

All help is appreciated!

Post 8 was removed by a moderator