First trip to South America.

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Jan 22nd, 2008, 09:34 AM
  #1
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First trip to South America.

We are planning our first trip to South America and I have a few questions.

We would like to visit Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro with two nights at Iguazo Falls between the two cities.

We are figuring 4 nights in BA, 2 nights at the Falls and 3 nights in Rio.

Questions: We are planning for Oct. 2008...is that a good time regarding the weather?

Is this an easily doable trip on our own? or should we book an organized tour?

Any suggestions would be helpful.

Thanks.
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Jan 22nd, 2008, 02:14 PM
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I think this sounds very doable. You may be better off booking through an agent as they seem to get better prices on flights and sometimes accomodation as well. We did BA Iguazo and Rio in Sept/Oct 06 and had good weather everywhere except Rio. We booked through Jimena at 1st class Argentina. We could not have been more pleased with the service we received from Jimena. She will organize as much or as little as you want.I hope you have a great holiday.
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Jan 23rd, 2008, 09:57 AM
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ttt
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Jan 27th, 2008, 08:09 AM
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No advice???
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Jan 27th, 2008, 11:40 AM
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Take a look at:

Trip Report - BA/Iguazu/Mendoza Highlights
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Jan 27th, 2008, 12:09 PM
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I can only comment on Buenos Aires and Iguazú Falls. The time you have planned for each sounds realistic. In the four days you have scheduled for Buenos Aires, try to visit an estancia for a day. It is a very worthwhile and enjoyable experience.

I do not think you need an organized tour, but a travel agent can help you get to certain places and back perhaps more efficiently than you could on your own. The savings in time is a big consideration.

There is much information on this forum about good travel agents. Cintia Stella of WOW! Argentina served us very well and I would readily use her on a return trip in the future.
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Jan 27th, 2008, 03:17 PM
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I've been to all of these places and think you've selected fantastic places and budgeted the right amount of time for each. You will love each location for a different reason.

As for booking independently or not, it's sort of a personal choice. It's easy enough to book everything on your own using the internet. Personally I prefer to do it that way. With an organized tour, you're often locked into a specific schedule or herded around with a bunch of other people. If you're uncomfortable planning things on your own, some people have good success using a travel agent that specializes in the region to plan an independent trip.
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Jan 28th, 2008, 07:25 PM
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Thanks much for the tips, and the link to the trip report...very helpful.

I'm leaning towards booking the hotels myself and using one of the recommended travel agents for the internal flights...BA to the Falls...Falls to Rio.

Any other side trip suggestions would be helpful.

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Jan 29th, 2008, 08:36 PM
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Jim:
Jim:

Do your own thing, set your own pace, and you will thoroughly enjoy the intinerary you have set. It's a sensible one..and the October weather, which is their springtime, will be very comfortable. You can book all airlines from the USA..or use a TA if you wish.

As part of am long independent trip we took a few years ago, we also included BA, Rio and the falls...works out well. We started in Chile, driving the length of the paved portion of the Pan Am, took the boat, bus boat two day trip through the lakes into Bariloche (Argentina).

What is you budget for lodgings? I can recommend moderate hotels in the two cities...and highly recommend the Das Cataratas on the Brazillian side of the falls...a unique colonial style place with easy access to the falls.

http://www.gate1travel.com/dhotel.asp?sid=5782

Rio can be tricky, so plan it carefully. The only precaution we took was not to use our camera on the streets. I bought a few throwaways and it worked out fine.
This was at a particular time where camera theft ran rampant in the city.

Hotel Ouro Verde, across from Ipanema in Rio...get a street/beach facing room...excellent restaurant therein.

Ouro Verde Hotel
$-$$, Copacabana


Fodor's Review:

>>>From Fodor's Reviews: Since the 1950s this hotel has been favored for its efficient, personalized service. The tasteful art-deco style, with some French twists, is in step with the emphasis on quality and graciousness. <<<



INFO
Address: Av. Atlantica 1456, Rio de Janeiro, 22021-000
Phone: 021/2543-4123
Fax: 021/2542-4597
www.dayrell.com.br Hotel Details: 60 rooms, 2 suites
In-room: safe, dial-up.
In-hotel: bar, no-smoking rooms, room service, restaurant, laundry service, public Internet.
Credit Cards: AE, DC, MC, V
Metrô: Cardeal Arco Verde



Gran Hotel Dona, good location, small European style hotel..in BA.

http://travel.yahoo.com/p-hotel-3732...n_hotel_dora-i


We also included a four day foray into the Amazon which was exciting and very rewarding. You might want to consider this...if you do, I can suggest a wonderful guide who has a motor launch and outboard canoe trailing.

I have many scanned pix of all of the above...it was before digitals...I can scan and send if you wish...write me at [email protected]

Stu T.
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Jan 29th, 2008, 08:43 PM
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Jim:

That's Gran Hotel Dora as you can see in the web address....most of my pix on SA are already scanned so it's not much of an effort to send..

stu
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Jan 30th, 2008, 08:57 AM
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Thanks very much, Tower.

I probably will book the whole thing myself via the internet.

I was looking at moderately priced hotels in the $125.00 to $175.00 per night. But I'm certainly not opposed to cheaper alternatives.

Everyone says to stay at the Sheraton when visiting the falls. I was planning on a two-night splurge there, but the hotel you suggest looks good, too.

The camera thing kind of has me concerned. I make a part of my living shooting travel stock - http://www.jimtardio.com - and I usually carry some fairly expensive equipment. I'm insured for it, but of course I'd like to avoid a confrontation.

I was thinking about hiring a private guide for Rio in hopes of solving that problem. Does that sound reasonable?

Thanks again for the help.
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Feb 1st, 2008, 09:58 AM
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Jim:

Just to add a few thoughts...the Cataratas offers many more cloe-in photo ops than the Sheraton...and evokes the spirit of Colonial South America. Their poolside evening churascarria is outstanding. The enveloping ambience throughout the establishment adds so very much to the experience. Much quieter and relaxing than the other hotels in the vicinity.

Also, there are several footpaths , each leading to a dramatic closeup view of many of the powerful cataracts (171 in all!)..the roar getting louder as you approach (and you will get wet!).

stu T.

Whatever your choices...have fun...it's all enchanting...be sure to take the boat ride which goes smack up against the falls...there is a jeep ride and a long, slippery walk through the rain forest leading to the boat dock. Your camera trigger finger will get a workout.

Stu T.
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Feb 1st, 2008, 09:07 PM
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Jim:

another tip regarding your cam equipment...do not go into the hillside favielas (slums is the only word to use for translation here) alone. It's best to hire a taxi and be driven up into the hills...do not stray too far from the taxi, take your shots and vamoose. We did the same, and when I tried to cross over the road the taxi driver let out a yell as if to say..quot;get back in the taxi, you fool!" Wife gave me "what for: too!

You can hire taxis to take you all over town (to Corcovado, famous statue of Christ with outstreched arms, to various beaches, to dinner, to the gem stores, etc)...a lot cheaper than prvate guides who will charge you a major premium.

stu T.
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Feb 1st, 2008, 09:23 PM
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Jim -
not to put you off visiting, but the only negative during my visit to BsAs was when my camera was stolen right out of my hands by a kid whizzing by on a bicycle. Had I been using the wrist strap he may not have gotten away with it (hindsight!) but it was not a really high end camera as I suspect you might use.
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Feb 2nd, 2008, 07:34 PM
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Jim,

I agree be careful with your camera in BA, specially around Florida, he pedestrian street, lots of pickpockets. If you were looking to spend from $125 to $175
I would stay in La Recoleta neighborhood. I'ts safer there!
I wouldnt be around Florida after dark. I'm a native!!
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Feb 3rd, 2008, 08:49 AM
  #16
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Thanks for the warnings. I've photographed in some pretty dicey areas before.

While I do normally carry some high-end gear, I also have some lower priced stuff that handles the job just about as well. That's the gear I'll bring along on this trip.

It's smaller & lighter and that's always a plus.
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Feb 3rd, 2008, 04:35 PM
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hiya, just a few tips etc, re your camera, if you wanted to photograph in the favelas there is a very interesting favela tour which you could go on, run by a local, NOT on jeeps but small van with usually 6-8 others, helps the local community school etc, very interesting and worthwhile. Then you could photograph. Re rio tour guide, yes you could do all by taxi but where's the fun and learning out of that ? A private guide provides info, tips, advice, where to go, where not, a safe day and driver to go out and take all the photos you want, chance to discover different places and areas as you discuss exactly what your interests and wants are etc. And prices are not always too expensive.
The food is better at hotel das cataratas than at the sheraton too., Re weather, here it's pretty crazy(rio) but is wetter at this time of year than then. You should be fine.
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Feb 4th, 2008, 11:19 AM
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Jim

Your trip is very doable. For 9 nights your allocation is optimum. We ended a trip to Argentina last April- May with that exact time allocation. You can make all the reservations, including airlines, on the internet. We chose to use WOW Argentina for making reservations because we had a near one month in Argentina. WOW made some suggestions to my proposed itinerary which turned out to be terrific.

Some recommendations for Buenos Aires. Stay in Recoleta. We stayed at Melia Recoleta Plaza Hotel (Highly Recommended-one block from Alvear Palace). On the day of arrival we took a half day private tour of the tourist parts of the city with extended stops at Cemetery, La Boca (El Caminito), Plaza De Mayo, and a coffee stop at Café Tortoni. Also we made several photo ops stops. This tour arranged by WOW. We spent our days walking Microcentro, Retiro, Plaza de Mayo, Congreso, Puerto Madero, San Telmo(Sunday market), Recoleta, and Palermo. For our walking I purchased a BA map at Barnes and Noble, drew the 6 lonely planet walking tours on the map, and then walked hybrids of those tours. Restaurants highly recommended- La Cabrera- Parrilla in Palermo, Sottovoce-Recoleta- one block from hotel, La Parolaccia(fixed price lunch)-Palermo-near Evita museum.

For Iguazu. Stay at the Sheraton. Walk the paths, take the train to Devils Throat. Take the boat ride under the falls. On your last day take a private tour of the Brazil side. After the tour they will drop you off at the Brazil airport for your late afternoon flight to Rio.

For Rio.
I would like to recommend Martha Vasconcellos as a private guide for your stay in Rio. In 45 years of travel I rate Martha as the top guide I have ever encountered. I hired Martha for our May 2007 trip to Rio after a couple of email exchanges with her. This was the best decision I made in Rio.

She will meet your requirements, offer suggestions for itineraries seeing tourist sights, local sights, neighborhoods, lunch spots, juice stands, dinner restaurants, shows, samba night spots, shopping, etc.

For us it was evening arrival from Iguazu ( Martha met us at the airport and gave us an introduction to Rio on our prearranged transportation to our Sol Ipanema hotel-on the beach), late dinner at a local Sushi bar, next day- Enchanting Santa Teresa with Historical Downtown, lunch at Confeitaria Colombo (coffee house),Sugarloaf, Marius Crustaceus Copacabana (sea food) for dinner, Plataforma Folklore Show Lebron, next day- Corcovado (Christ the Redeemer), Hiking Deep in the Tijuca Forest National Park, Barra Beach, lunch at Pepe, an afternoon at Ipanema beach at our hotel, a night out with Martha at Rio Scenarium for food, music, and Samba. Next day Martha showed up with Brazil soccer shirts for my grandsons purchased at the Copa street market, then we took the Marcelo Armstrong Favela Tour ( Martha is an official guide for the tour), H Stern for their small gem museum , also purchased a ring with Brazil gemstones for my daughter. In the late afternoon Martha took off her guide hat and joined us for our farewell dinner at Porcao before our evening flight to Los Angeles. Martha transformed from private guide to lifetime friend.

What you get from Martha is a Rio full of joy in the city she loves. Martha is a licensed, university trained, guide. She has a university degree in Science. A safe tour. And the cost is at the low Government Guidelines, no charge for services arranging tours (travel agent type stuff) or add ons for outside services.

I highly recommend Martha.

Martha Vasconcellos
[email protected]
(+5521) 9773-1084

Gary

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Feb 5th, 2008, 07:46 AM
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Thanks for your detailed response, Gary. I will definitely check out all of your recommendations, including Martha.

By the way, I spent two nights on "Dugi Otok" this past July.
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Feb 6th, 2008, 07:44 AM
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Hi Jim

My Dad was born in the village of Brbinj(where the ferry from Zadar docks) on the island Dugi Otok. I still have cousins who live there. I hope you enjoyed Croatia.

Gary
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