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First timer to South America-Suggestion on Itinerary for 3 weeks

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We are planning a trip to South America for 3 weeks +one week ( if time permits ). We are first timer in this continent and will be spending almost USD 2500 per return fare just to reach Sao Paulo. We may not return to the continent for long time to come, so would like to see best of South America as much as possible in such short period.

We intend to travel in and out of Sao Paulo, landing around 15th Dec, 2011. Our initial thoughts are to visit Rio, Iguassu Fall , Buenos Aries , crossing to Lake District to Santiago and Patagonia, TdP, Punta Arenas etc and Peru, Lima, PM if time permits. Can we cover all these within 3 weeks?. Or what should be the best places to visit. Need some expert advise on places/region we should visiting as first timer. We are interested in city, nature, culture and history not much on hiking and beach etc.

Thank you in advance.

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