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OaktownTraveler Jan 8th, 2004 04:44 PM

What Is A DREAM Trip To South America?
Hello fellow travellers:

I am planning a trip to South America for August 2004. I have 3 weeks(21 days). I am flexible with funds but can not go at any other time of the year.

I of course have spent a fortune on my South America Fodor's, Frommers AND Footprint 2004 guide books but want to get your ideas.

Airlines,hotels, restaurant and excusion details are certainly welcome.

Oh, I like wine, food, sun, fun, nightclubs, art, culture etc. I can do some hiking, biking, horseback riding, ATVing ( I understand some bus rides would qualify ), spa-ing... etc.

My Best,
Oaktown Traveller

Nino Jan 9th, 2004 06:58 AM

Dear traveler, I'd recommend three countries for you: Chile, Argentina and Brazil. You can start with Chile, go to Santiago, try some of the best wines of the world for ridiculous prices, take a car to the sky resort of Vale Nevado (only 1.5 hours from te city) and spend a some days there (still hot winter season in Chile). From there go to Buenos Aires and spend a week to visit this beautifull city and surroundings, heritage from the Spanish colonization. From Buenos Aires fly to Rio and spend 4-5 days there. To finish the trip go to Salvador da Bahia. Spend 3-4 days there. Just south of Salvador you can find nice untoched beaches like Trancoso, Santo Andre or Morro. Spend 4-5 days by the beach with nothing else to do than relaxing. This would be a great trip to SA in my opinion.
Have fun!

OaktownTraveler Jan 9th, 2004 11:14 AM


Major thanks! I needed that sort of jump start.

Looks like I may go solo.

Both of my girlfriends (travel companions) are going through costly divorces, hence, I am gladly planning the trip for us.
They are surely going to have to PAY their husbands alimony and child support. The curse of the highly successful California woman...

I told them we have 8 months and to have faith...

My Best
Oaktown Traveller

mrwunrfl Jan 9th, 2004 06:13 PM

A dream trip would include a visit to Macchu Pichu.

Would be a bit too cold in August down south.

TioGringo Jan 9th, 2004 09:45 PM

Everybody will have their own idea of what constitutes a "dream trip"...sometimes I think Carnaval in Rio, doing the hike to Macchu Pichu, taking a boat out to the Galapagos islands, cruising up the Amazon, seeing the grandeur of Iguazu Falls.

But the "DREAM TRIP" that's been on *MY* mind for years and years is to pack my winter jacket and skis and just hang out for a week or so at one of the Andean ski resorts (probably in Chile). There's just something about being able to ski in July or August that strikes me as perversely wonderful. Guess you have to be a skiier to think that way...

Have fun!

drdawggy Jan 10th, 2004 03:08 AM

Let's see....A dream trip that includes wine, food, sun, nightclubs, art & culture.....The single best destination in South America based on your interests would be Argentina.

Argentine wines are superb, cuisine is fabulous, there is a west-end or Broadway style theater district, one of the best opera houses in the world, funky barrios to explore, day or weekend trips to ranches for horseback riding and the pleasures of country living, a fabulous spa in nearby Uruguay and, if you enjoy nightclubs, well, the folks from BA rock till there are several museums to explore, including the architerurally stunning MALBA, with the largest collection of Latin American art found anywhere.

....For sun, book a rt trip from Buenos Aires to Brazil and stay on the beach in Rio or one of the beaches close to Sao Paolo....

Never been ATVing in Argentina, although I am certain it is available.....or, take an overnight cama bus to Iguazu Falls for one of the most breathtaking scenic wonders on earth.

If you decide Argentina might be for you, I will be glad to help you with the details.....I have been to Argentina about a dozen times in the past 3 years....but be sure to include Argentina in your subject line, so your post will appear in the Argentina subsection of this board....I don't usually check posts for other countries in Latin America.

Good luck! Sounds like a marvelous opportunity for you and your muchachas....

OaktownTraveler Jan 10th, 2004 02:42 PM


Everybody THANKS! I am sooo excited.
I think I may have to add a week to take in some of the suggestions that are too good to pass up.

Let me get organized so I can post my questions in the right thread.

Thanks again...add more to the pot!

My Best
Oaktown Traveler

Nino Jan 12th, 2004 06:23 AM

Dear Oaktown,

If you really decide to come I will be more than happy to help you. As a manager for an American company in South America I have been traveling this territory for more than 5 years already. All the information above are great but my advice would be to do south at this time (that would include Brazil, Chile and Argentina) and north in another ocasion (Peru, Ecuador and Amazon river in nothern Brazil). This will be a great trip for sure!

OaktownTraveler Jan 12th, 2004 12:35 PM


This trip is a sure thing. I am looking at extending the travel time to 5 weeks.

We definately want to ski, extend the Brazil part, and we gotta add Venezuela, Columbia and Peru is a MUST.

To save money I am thinking about flying into Venezuela vs. Brazil and doing a loop south to Columbia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and then Brazil.

I would like to do excursions that make sense but I do not need a package as I and my friends are independent, sleepy-head, party girls too.

We are also budget-conscious from the perspective of wanting :good deals.

We want some luxury hotels such as the Sheraton in Argentina, Grand Hotel Paris in Bolivia, Copacabana palace in Rio and The Country Club Lima in Peru.


1) How easy is it to taste, buy and send wines from Chile to the USA? This is quite important for my trip.

2) Is it "easy" to fly around South America to make this trip work?

3) Should I reverse my loop or do you have another idea?

Many thanks for your help Nino.

Oaktown Traveler

Nino Jan 13th, 2004 07:02 AM

Dear Oaktown, I hope I had 5 weeks in a roll to travel...I'm jealous!!! I'm sure you and your girlfriends deserve that!!! My opinion: do not do everything in a single trip!!! The problem with South America is that, even for neighboor countries, there's no flights available all the time. You'll need a lot of planning to do all the countries you want to visit. Sometimes you'll need even to fly back to another country and them take a flight to the next country. South America is divided into 2 regions: South (Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay) and North (Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia and Peru). The northern region is a little problematic since they use Panama or Miami as a hub for many flights. Just to give you an idea, I had to fly from Guayaquil (Ecuador) to Lima (Peru) last year and the only option available was through Panama! I took a 4-hour flight all the way to Panama and back just to go to the neighboor country! Nonsense??? You bet! If you still want to do it, try to narrow your choices as much as possible so there would be minor problems. In the southern region you will find plenty of options and routes available. Regarding your hotel choices: I've never been to Bolivia so I have no comments on the Grand Hotel Paris. The Copa is a classic and very charming, although I prefer to stay in Ipanema when in Rio. Since this will be your first trip there go ahead and do the Copa but try to avoid walking by yourselves at night there (take a taxi to the places you want to go). During the day there will be no problem at all. The Sheraton Buenos Aires is nice and well located. I've never stayed at the Country Club Lima but I had dinner there twice. It's well located and very nice. In Chile I'd recommend the Sheraton or the Marriott (try to stay in the Providencia neighborhood). I think you'd like to stay one or two days in Sao Paulo too: there's nice shopping areas and great nightlife. If you decide to come, stay at the Emiliano, a new design hotel in the heart of the Jardins neighborhood close to everything.
1) I don't know how easy is to send wines to the USA. This is something you need to check there. You can buy as many bottles as you can carry but the problem would be at customs in the US. Just as an example I can bring 6 bottles to Brazil per person per trip. Some nice wineries to visit would be: Concha y Toro, Santa Rita, Carmen. A nice store to buy wines would be the "World of Wine".
2) Travel South America is easy as any other place in the world. You're supposed to find some lines on customs so try to be at the airport at least 2.5 hours prior to your flight time. Let me know what airlines are you planning to flight so I can give you some advise on them. Are you using miles to fly or buying the tickets?
3) As I mentioned above this is a matter of making a good itinerary. Try to book all your tickets in the US. It would be cheaper than buying them in South America. It means a lot of planning but you'll save some money for hotels and stuff.
My e-mail address is [email protected] if you need anything else.

OaktownTraveler Jan 16th, 2004 10:56 AM


Many thanks!

The girls and I met for our weekly "South America 2004" lunch.

After much wine we prioritized what we wanted to do.

Here goes our list:

1)Iguazu' Falls

2)Machu Picchu

3)Lake Titicaca

4) River Amazon

5)The Galapagos Islands

6) Easter Island

7) Rainforest

8) Rio

9) SAO

10) Wine tasting AND skiing in Chile

11) Venezuela

12) Bahia

Ok, so that is the short list.

The group feels that in 40 days (5 weeks) that we can do more.

I think that aproximately 3.3 days on each of the above is a great start...

What do you think? How would you conquer the above "short list"?

My Sincere Thanks,

Oaktown Traveler

OaktownTraveler Jan 18th, 2004 01:37 PM


Is everyone away on this lovely three-day weekend?

Just checking and waiting...Smile.

My Best,
Oaktown Traveler

mrwunrfl Jan 18th, 2004 02:13 PM

Ok, now that you've sobered up, I hope that you understand that it is a LONG list, not a short one. It's a lot of travelling. Going to Easter Island from Santiago, Chile is a 5 hour flight.

about 2-3), it is going to be cold
You can see #7 when you see #4 and #8. For #4, you should look at visiting Manaus, Brazil. There is really no reason to go to #9. For 1,4,8,l2 you can use a Brazil Airpass.

You should add Buenos Aires even if it is winter then.

drdawggy Jan 19th, 2004 03:39 AM

File this under the food for thought category:

1. Mr. W is right. The distances are looong. For example, it takes longer to get from Quito or Guayquil to Santiago than it does to fly from Houston to Guayaquil.

2. Distance is only one factor. Connections and the length of time it takes to travel from a main airport to your selected destinations is another factor. For example, how much time have you allotted in your 3.5 days to get from Santiago to a ski resort and back?
Or from Lima to Machu Pichu and back?

3. Some items on your itenerary can easily be done in 3 days, others cannot. For example, Iguazu is one of the most beautiful sites on earth, but three days is ample time to take it in.....In contrast, the Galapagos requires more time.....this is a trip that is best done by island hopping via boat....

4. Look again at your first post and the things you stated that were important to you. Are they prominent on your list? For example, you have a lot of cold, cold places on your itenerary...but sun was listed as one of your priority items....Another thing I just noticed from your original post..have your dates changed? If you still have only 21 days, you won't have 3plus days per stop on your short list....

5. Why SAO (unless the plan is to head for the beach) or Venezuela (unless it is to Isla Margarita)?

6. I agree with Mr. have not really "done" South America without experiencing Buenos Aires, but for heaven's sake drop one of the other things on your list and sub rather than trying to do more....

7. Stay at the Sheraton in Iguazu. Great falls location in the park itself on the Argentine side.

8. Bottom line: My advice would be to follow Nino's the south this time...Chile, Brazil, Argentina, maybe Uruguay....and save the north for another will spend more time having fun and less time in planes, trains, busses and automobiles...

Meanwhile, sounds like you and the girls are having a grand time planning!

Do you drink South American wines during your planning sessions? lol....

Nino Jan 19th, 2004 04:27 AM

I agree with our friends above in many aspects and will keep trying to persuade you not to do all in one single trip. Most of the places listed are amazing but hard to reach and to explore. Machu Pichu, Galapagos, Easter Island and Amazon River will mean lots of tranfers from planes to buses to boats and more. Please remember that this is South America and tourism down here is not as organized as in the USA or Europe. OK, you won't take my advise anyway, right! I would skip Venezuela and try to do the following itinerary: Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina (not to miss), Iguazu, Sao Paulo, Rio, Bahia, Amazon River. You will say that the Amazon river is much closer to Peru or Bolivia but the best thing to do is to buy a pass and fly to all cities within Brazil on the same package so better to leave it to the end of the trip. Don't listen to them and come to Sao Paulo. The nightlife here is great and the shopping is amazing (the best of the world for very little $). 2 days is enough for it and you'll have to fly to Sao Paulo anyway to go back to the USA.

3.5 days is not enough to Chile and the sky trip (save at least 5 for it).

OaktownTraveler Jan 20th, 2004 01:58 PM

SNIFF...SNIFF...SNIFF...Those are tears.

I will take ALL of what you have said to our Lunch Meeting this week.

I will start on that bottle of Argentina wine now...

Thank You,
Oaktown Traveler

drdawggy Jan 20th, 2004 03:08 PM

LOL. I recommend Malbec when the wine is Argentine....

Chile has some great Cabs...Luis Filipe Edwards 2001 is a steal at $6.99 per bottle, Atlanta price.....

This is your vacation. Do it your way, not ours! We are only trying to inject a bit of reality into your planning...not to throw cold water on your effort!

Regardless of your final itenerary, the planning will be fun....and the trip itself will be full of memories to last a lifetime, since it is to be shared with companeras!

OaktownTraveler Jan 22nd, 2004 06:40 PM


Had a very lively lunch with the girls.

They want to know who these FODOR People are (smile)...

After much discussion and all we decided on the following:


2) Argentina

3) Chile
4) Peru

We will be gone for 5 weeks during August/Sept.

We are going to knock off the planning for a couple of weeks. We have Mardi Gras and our long Tahoe Weekend and some other trips to focus on for February.

Thanks for your help, advice and arm twisting!

Happy Travels,
Oaktown Traveler

Eva100 Jan 25th, 2004 06:58 PM

Hi Oaktown traveller
My husband and I just got back from our SA dream trip. I agree with the posts above, don't try and do to much as you may end up feeling too stressed to enjoy it all and come home not remembering where you did what.

We spent 6 weeks travelling and visited Peru - Cuzco/Macchu Picchu trek(8 days),
Ecuador - Quito/Galapagos (9 days)
Patagonia (Torres del paine trek 9 days, Los Glacieres 7 days)
Santiago (2 days)
Rio 3 days and
Iguassu Falls (3 days)

The balance of the days was spent getting to and from somewhere.

We flew between each place as otherwise we would have spent too much time getting from and to each place. Although the itinerary was pretty full we did have time to relax. We thought we spent enough time in most places exept we would have liked to spend a lot more time in Rio.

In Patagonia we did spend a fair bit of time was spent on buses. We had to get a bus from Punta Arenas to Puerto Natales and then onwards to Torres del Paine. When that trek was over we caught a bus back to Puerto Natales and then another one to El calafate in Argentina to see the Moreno glacier. Then another bus to El Chalten for a trek around Fitzroy Mountain.

The trekking, both Chile and argentina, was great, although rather windy and, taking into account the windchill factor, rather cold. You'll need a windproof jacket and warm clothes. You'll forget about the temperature once you see the scenery. It is a VERY beauful part of the world. I wouldn't want to go though in winter - that would just be too cold. So if you plan on going, set a date after October.

Santiago was a beautiful city. If you do go stay somewhere in Providencia as that's a nice area with lots of restaurants. Downtown is quite nice during the day but very deserted at night once all people finish work.

The Macchu Picchu trek was great. If you go you do need to spend some time acclimatising to the high altitude before you set off so plan on spending 2-3 days before in Cusco which is a nice place too. Fallen Angel was a great restaurant with a different theme and tables made out of bathtubs, gold fish inside and a table top made out of glass so you could see the fish.

To finish off with Iguassu Falls was perfect. We stayed at the Sheraton which was fantastic, good food and service and situated right next to the falls, we didn't have to travel each day to do the walks/boat trips around the falls. We did visit the Brazilian side as well but it's not nearly as good as the Argentinian side. You do get a better overview of the falls on the Brazilian side as you are further away but as you are much closer to the water on the Argentinian side it feels you can experience the enormity of them better.

In all SA lived up to our expectations and more. Found the food fantastic, especially in Argentina and Porcau - a buffet restaurant in Rio, had meat and seafood we still talk about. We had had Chilean wine before we got there but the big surprise was the Argentinan reds. We heard that while Chile export a lot of their wines, the ARgentinians keep their best reds at home.

Now that we're two weeks back at work the whole trip seem a distant memory but a very good one. No doubt you'll have a great time.

OaktownTraveler Feb 16th, 2004 10:31 AM


Great reort and wonderful ideas. I do not know how I missed your reply!

EVERYBODY: Thanks, I am cutting and pasting the advice, experience and direction given.

Maybe others who have posted recently can get some ideas too...

Feel free to add stuff!

My Best,
Oaktown Traveler

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