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3 month trip

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My wife and I are retiring and are planning to spend about 3 months in South America from April to June of 2013. Our thinking is to start in Quito and see the Galapagos and then start travelling south through Peru and Chile. We look forward to the wine areas of Chile and then plan to cross over to the Argentine wine areas. From there we would probably head towards Buenos Aires and Montevideo and then up to Brazil before heading home to the Los Angeles area. We would love to hear from anyone who has taken such a journey and has suggestions as to what to see or not to see.

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    Hi Trojanjack. we did a very similar trip in 2008, spending around 5 months in South America and will be returning in March we liked it so much! JUst starting on the planning for this trip and this time we will be starting off with a few months in Ecuador before moving south through Peru , bolivia, Chile at about . Rather than list the many highlights here, have a look at our blog which has a lot of detail and photos:

    http://blog.travelpod.com/travel-blog/candcthai/1/tpod.html

    Entries for SA start at#55

    Happy to elaborate or answer any questions you may have.

    Given the amount of time you are spending in SA I strongly recommend that you join http://www.saexplorers.org/ which has clubhouses in Quito, BA, Lima etc and is a great source of current info, discounts on tours and accomodation etc. Membership is $90 per couple for a year.

    http://www.andeantravelweb.com/ is also a good site if you intend spending time in Peru (which I would heartily recommend.

    Salta in argentina was a not miss destination for us but we were a little dissappointed with the main wine area of Mendoza. Unfortunately we didn't get to the Chilean wine areas - maybe this time?

    Who knows, maybe we will meet up on our travels?

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    The rule of thumb in SA is to spend at least a month in each country. Now obviously this will vary by individual but I think it is a good guideline given the size of most of the countries, their diversity and their awesomeness!!

    I think what you have proposed is too much in three months. Certainly the Brazil element - perhaps Ecuador, Peru, Chile and Argentina is manageable but I would suggest leaving Brazil for another trip. Hopefully that you are retired you will be able to come back. Failing that perhaps you can extend this trip.

    Haven't been to Ecuador.

    You can see all the highlights in any guide book. Particular highlights for me were the following:

    Nasca Lines;
    Lake Titicaca homestay;
    Salta;
    Iguazu;
    BA;
    Perito Moreno Glacier;
    Valparaiso.

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    Hey there TrojanJack,
    I can't speak to your adventures in Chile & Argentina but I know a bunch about Ecuador. Although the Galapagos is what Ecuador is known for there is so much to see and do that you should make the time to hang out there for at least a week or two beyond the Galapagos.

    Some of the must see things to do in Quito
    Go up teleferiqo, on a clear day you can see 5 volcanoes from the top. If you and your wife like hiking you can hike to the summit of the Pichincha volcano and back in about 5-6 hours round trip. You can also rent horses up there for about 10/hr. If you're near the Mariscal area of Quito a taxi to teleferiqo will cost about $3 and the teleferiqo will cost $8.50/person. Also there are taxis and buses taking folks up there all day long so getting back by taxi or bus is easily done.

    If you're in old town Quito. There are several things to see, churches, plazas, museums, the presidential palace etc. The best known plaza is Plaza Grande, which holds the Palacio Carondelet, Ecuadors equivalent to the White House. On one of the corners of plaza grande the Metropolitan police offer tours of the Old Town section of Quito. The tours are well worth it. You will need to make a reservation and make sure you request an English speaking guide if you don't speak Spanish. Their office is located here http://mapq.st/ZB3bOj and it appear to be a shop. Go into the store and in the back to your right you'll see the tour folks.

    If you have a few days in the Quito area there are several great day trips to take. Cotopaxi national park is really fantastic, you can get out there with one of several tour operators in the area; Ecuador Treasure is the most affordable. If you're looking to bike in Cotopaxi the Biking Dutchman is the way to go.
    www.ecuadortreasure.com/
    www.bikingdutchman.com
    It takes about an hour and a half to get to the park from Quito. So keep in mind that 3 hours of the day trip are going to be sucked up in travel time.

    The papallacta hot springs are really nice too. Very relaxing but don't go on the weekend as it tends to get pretty crowded. It's possible to bus out there but it requires making a transfer or two. You can also hire a driver to take you out there. I recently (summer 2012) had a driver take me and a group out there, wait for us and drive us back to Quito for $120. Make sure you go to Termas de Papallacta as they are the nicest springs in the area. It'll cost 7.50 to enter the springs. Also they can arrange transportation for you. However I'm not sure what they charge. Here's their website
    http://www.termaspapallacta.com/

    Another day trip to be made is up to the Equator. I don't recommend it too strongly. It's cool to see the monument (which is actually misplaced about 500 yards south of the Equator) and the Inti-nan museum, which is at the actual Equator line, but there are cooler things to do in Quito and the surrounding areas.

    While you're in Quito one night you should also go to a restaurant called Pims at El Panecillo. Get a reservation and take a taxi up to the restaurant. The view at night is great, the food is non traditional and it's pricy by Ecua standards. 15-25/plate.

    Also be sure to get some Canelazo made with naranjilla, it's a traditional Andean drink, served hot. Made with anise liquor, naranjilla juice (it's kind of like orange juice but it's not) and cinnamon.

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