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South America 2 Months Itinery

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Hello guys,

My partner and I are planning to travel to South America this year (leaving from Sydney) and spend two adventurous months there.

The rough plan is Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina (22nd October- 22nd December 2013).

I was wondering if any of you guys have done same or similar trip and would like to pass on any tips and comments, please?

Here are some of my initial hesitations:
1.) Tours vs. DIY? I read mixed reviews about Colombia, Peru and Bolivia.
2.) High cost of flights. Any tips for cheap airlines? Anyone has experience with air passes?
3.) Are two months too ambitious to get to see most out of these destinations? I will post more detailed plan later on.

Many thanks,
Eliska

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    Hi Eliska,

    Great to see another Aussie heading over to SA. I am just starting to plan a year long trip starting in Buenos Aires in November 2013. To me it seems a short time to cover so much but I have not been so really unsure of what to expect?

    Have you purchased tickets yet? I purchased through STA travel for Emirates flights. A little pricey yet less than I expected however could have saved $700 if I flew in June which was not possible.

    I am looking to do most travel on my own and will do some tours for things like Machu Picchu. I will be volunteering along the way.

    I don't have any real suggestions as yet as I too have just started planning. Just wanted to let you know I'm looking forward to your travel itinerary. I will pass on whatever information I can find that might help.

    Good luck,
    Brenden

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    Hi Brenden,

    Thanks for getting in touch. I'm actually from Czech but my parter is Aussie.

    We haven't booked tickets yet. I'm thinking of going with LAN so we qualify to purchase their Air Pass to travel cheaply to other destinations. STA is a good call, I'll get a quote from them too, thanks. Is your flight with Emirates via Dubai?

    Here is the plan so far:
    1.) Flight to Bogota via Buenos Aires (very long flight)
    2.) 1 week to explore Colombia: Bogota, Medellin, Cartagena, Tayrona
    3.) 3-4 weeks to explore Peru and Bolivia. I really like this tour: http://www.intrepidtravel.com/peru/explore-peru-bolivia-54571 but it seems little overpriced so we're think of doing exact same trip but on our own and only book the trek tour to Machu Picchu.
    4.) 4 weeks to explore Argentina: Salta > Mendoza > Bariloche > Puerto Madryn >Buenos Aires > Puerto Iguazu.

    Having said that I'm now having second thoughts...Firstly we're thinking of doing the trip in reverse order- Argentina first to avoid the long flight to Bogota right in the beginning.
    Secondly I keep hearing great reviews about Patagonia so thinking of possibly dropping Colombia from the trip and really exploring Argentina in full. If you or anyone have any recommendation please feel free to suggest.

    I think we still have a lot to research and read to make this trip ideal. So much too see! You're lucky to have the whole year.

    I'll look forward to hear more of your plans too.

    Thanks,
    Eliska

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    Hi elks aka and welcome to Fodors. We spent 5 months in South America a few years ago and visited Argentina Peru and Chile and we still saw only a fraction of what we would like. Admittedly, some of our time was spent searching for a place to live but 2 months will fly by. It really depends on whether you want to do a whistle stop tour and visit a lot of places (which will require a LOT of pre planning), in which case Brendens suggestion of Intrepid is excellent, or to see fewer places at a more leisurely pace. Personally, I would agree with you and to leave out Columbia to allow the others to be explored in greater depth.

    Like Brenden, I booked our tickets with STA travel who provided by far the cheapest tickets (i.e. £600 compared with £800 plus with most other sources). www.kayak.com is also worth a look to find the cheapest flights ( which is where I found the STA tickets) you can set up alerts for the flights you want and the max price you will pay and they email you when the become available. I booked open jaw tickets flying from London to Quito, via 'Madrid returning from Lima thus avoiding the necessity to back track. They were no more expensive than straightforward return tickets.

    If flying with Lan, then they do have an air pass which allows you to purchase slightly cheaper flights within SA but you do have to purchase your main ticket from them. We found flights for foreigners in South America to be very expensive. There are cheaper, smaller airlines in the countries you are visiting but you need to decide on a route first.

    having the benefit of time, we travelled around the continent by bus. The distances are vast and the journeys long, but fares are around one third of the comparable airfare and we found the buses to be very comfortable and reliable in places like Argentina and Chile ( and even in Peru). Some places, say Lima to Cusco, it does make more sense to fly. Many longer journeys are schedule overnight and so save on accommodation costs. If you book Ejecutivo class then the buses are extremely comfortable with lie flat beds, food & wine etc.

    The argentina secttion of our 2008 trip followed a similar route to the one you are considering above. Here is a link to our blog which has a lot of photos of the places we visited http://blog.travelpod.com/travel-blog/candcthai/1/tpod.html South America starts at entry 55.

    We loved the continent so much that we are returning next week for 6 months, starting off in Ecuador, moving south through Peru and on into Bolivia and perhaps a brief trip into Salta province in Argentina, (which was the highlight of our last trip) before heading into northern Chile and back along the coast of Peru to Lima.

    If travelling independently, we found the following sites to be really useful:

    www.hostelbookers.com
    wwwlhostelworld.com

    Both offer great booking facilities are reliable, and not only offer hostals but B&B s and smal hotels as well.

    http://www.andeantravelweb.com/ provides lots of useful info on Peru. As do
    http://www.saexplorers.org/

    You mention Puerto Madryn in your itinerary. If your main reason for going there is to see the whales ( which are spectacular) then do check when they will be there as I think they migrate sometime in November.

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    Hi Eliska,

    I was searching for flights for quite some time. I was lucky enough to have a friend of a friend who had family who worked at STA. I really only saved on booking fees. The flights were the same price as advertised on Emirates. However if your not fussy with dates then you can definitely save with specials.

    The flight with Emirates is actually four flights :( 40 hours travel time. First flight from Melbourne -----> Singapore -----> Dubai -----> Rio -----> Buenos Aires. It will be a struggle but all apart of the adventure.

    I find it hard to plan too and make up my mind what I am doing? My plans change as I go. Originally I was only going to go to Ecuador, then things changed and I am doing a lot more.

    The tour looks great. If you could use their itinerary I'm sure you guys will save heaps. Something like that is not an option for me. I will have limited funds. I'm doing everything to cut back and save but all the little things in life pop up. My wisdom teeth are giving me trouble and its sure not something I had planned on. I will get there.

    Crellston has been a great help with information and their travelpod is filled with even more. Unfortunately I cant recommend anything more until I get to South America. I wish to have a basic itinerary of where I will be going before I leave but I think a lot will change once I actually get there. There is only so much information you can find online and in books. The good thing about my trip is I wont be in any hurry.. I will need to budget well and make sure my money goes far.

    Again I am looking forward to updates and some trip reports. Especially for your upcoming trip Crellston. You must be very excited to return.

    Brenden

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    Eliska--

    I might drop Colombia for this trip, as Crellston indicates, but now looks like a good time to go there. I've spent six weeks in Peru alone over two different trips and have not yet seen everything I'd like to see there.

    You CAN do it yourself, although it will help if you speak some Spanish, and the tour you found for Peru and Bolivia looks good, although I'd consider a few days on the North Coast of Peru if you're interested in archaeology and/or colonial architecture--some really great archaeological sites and museums near Chiclayo and Trujillo, and it is fairly inexpensive to travel in that area. You might want also to add another day in Lima, as there really is a lot to see there--museums, colonial architecture, charming suburbs.

    My biggest piece of advice would be to book as much as possible in country. I've found you can book everything--even in Cusco in July--right on the spot and it's less expensive. You can also change your itinerary if get there and decide there is something you want to do.

    !Buen viaje!

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    Thank you everyone for your help and comments.

    We'll be booking our flights in next week via Kayak (I used them before and the website is the best) or LAN directly. I contacted STA and they weren't able to offer me better price unfortunately.

    Brenden- 40hrs flights sounds quite long but I'm sure it will be an interesting experience.

    We decided to drop Colombia from our list but would like to add Patagonia. Crellston, I like your post about it:)

    I'm trying to plan some activities and sightseeing but as dwdvagamundo recommended we'll book everything (except first few days) once we get there.

    Once my itinery document is more or less done I'll share it here.

    Also I signed up for Spanish lessons- exciting!

    Keep sharing

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    Hello. We are planning something similar. It is so tempting to do too much, that is always our problem. We have exactly three months, Jan 2 - April 2, 2014. This all started around a cruise my husband has always wanted to do around the tip of South America.

    What we have decided to do is just spend two weeks in Chile, pre cruise, then two weeks cruising around the Horn, and from there we arrive in Buenos Aires. From this point we have two months as well.

    We will explore Argentina for a couple of weeks, up to Salta, into Bolivia (mostly by bus). We were going to fly from Bolivia to Equador, but the flights are so expensive from Bolivia. We are thinking of going by bus from Lake Titicaca (Puno) into Cuzco and flying from there. I have not booked any flights yet as it does not appear to be any savings to book in advance for that leg. We could change our minds. The money saved on the flight from La Paz to Quito could be spent getting to Cuzco and visiting Macchu.

    I have been to Macchu before but husband has not so may as well spend a few days in Cuzco to visit there.
    The last month will be in Equador where we fly home from.

    In the beginning we wanted to add Brazil, Paraguay and Columbia. They all look so amazing but in the end I think that spending more time and getting to know fewer countries is more relaxing, cheaper , and better in the long run.

    The buses are apparently inexpensive and quite luxurious. The flights really add up the costs.

    We are flying from Vancouver Canada on American Airlines , into Santiago and open jaw, out of Quito Equador.

    I am waiting for Crellston to give us some ideas about travel in Bolivia as he is there now. I look forward to hearing how your travel planning is going as well.

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