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Hugely flexible trip starting in Argentina, 5/5/2014.

Hugely flexible trip starting in Argentina, 5/5/2014.

Old Mar 10th, 2014, 06:41 AM
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Hugely flexible trip starting in Argentina, 5/5/2014.

Hi Everyone!

I am flying into Buenos Ares on the 5/5/2014 and out of Bogota on the 12/8/2014. I am really keen to get a good balance between being off the beaten track and seeing the right tourist sites. I am going by myself so am looking forward to meeting many locals and travelers.

I plan to spend a large chunk of the trip in Argentina, seeing Mendoza, Salta, Bariloche etc and will be working on a farm in the south of the country. I will then head to Peru to do a less touristy version of the Inca Trail and see the other historical sites in the north of the country. Finally, I will travel around Colombia and hit the beach before coming home in August.

I have a few questions but if people know things/places that I should do/visit from their trips, I would be so happy to hear them- hidden gems are of huge appeal to me!

1. Should I go to Chile? I feel that spending more time in one country - Argentina - may be more fulfilling. Would I be missing out on Chile though?

2. Would I really regret not going to Iguazu Falls?

3. How should I get to Peru from Argentina? Can you fly direct to Cusco? How long would the bus journey take?

4. I am considering missing Bolivia, would this be a mistake?

As you can see, I am think about missing quite a few famous sites in order to spend more time in places that I enjoy. Opinions on this would be very very welcome.

Thanks for the advice in advance!
TrisB is offline  
Old Mar 10th, 2014, 08:12 AM
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Iguassu Falls is magnificent , not only the falls itself but the setting in the national park. I wouldn't miss it. In Peru there are numerous wonderful Inca sites in the Sacred Valley- I think you would enjoy them.
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Old Mar 10th, 2014, 09:23 AM
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Bolivia is amazing and you have lots of time. For many travelers it is their favorite country in South America (and a bargain as well).

I am sure crellston will be along in a moment to advise you on getting from Argentina via Bolivia to Peru.

In the meantime if you haven't read his blogs I would recommend them.
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Old Mar 10th, 2014, 01:39 PM
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I agree that IF is not to be missed if you are into falls. I loved TdP in Chile and would work it into my trip if possible. Never been to BOliva so cant respond to you questions about that.
Have a great trip!
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Old Mar 10th, 2014, 01:56 PM
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It's hard, isn't it?! So, we are currently in Bariloche & spent time prior in BA & Puerto Madryn. We did pop over to Puerto Varas for a money run & it was charming but necessary? No. I would recommend starting in San Martin de Los Andes over Bariloche...we've loved our month here to chill & catch up on kids school work but San Martin is nicer & more approachable. We decided against Iguazu & are without regret...I think you have the right approach to be at peace with no seeing everything. If you are headed to TdP, you may end up doing it from Puerto Natalas, which should also give you a taste of Chile. We head to El Calafate, Chalten & Puerto Natales tomorrow for the next three weeks so I can tell you more after. I can tell you that we had planned to travel up through Chile to Peru, our final destination. And because of all that I've read from the expert posters here, we will be flying to Salta and going through Bolivia to Peru...it just sounds unique. And frankly Chile will be so much more expensive than Bolivia...Argentina and Chile prices are not that different than Europe at times.
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Old Mar 11th, 2014, 12:18 AM
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Hi TrisB welcome to Fodors

Firstly to answer your specific questions;
1. I agree that spending more time in one country can be more fulfilling - up to a point. On a long trip it can be all too easy to hang around in one place for a bit too long and miss out on others. You would be missing out on some fantastic places in Chile but, as Greens43 points out, it is expensive and on a longer trip most of us have to watch the costs closely. I would leave it out.

2. Yes you would!

3. Yes you could get to Peru from Argentina buy bus. We saw direct tickets on offer in Lima's Cruz del Sur bus station. From memory it took 3 or 4 days. I have spent a LOT of time on Sputh American buses on some very long journeys bit would not even consider it,

4. Missing Bolivia would be a huge mistake. On our first trip to Sapa six years ago we planned go go to. Bolivia but the borders were closed at the time due to riots in La Pax or something. We returned this year and absolutely loved it. It has. Some of the most iconic sights in SA and IMO offers by far the best value for money,

If it were me, I would seriously consider travelling to Peru overland from NW Argentina crossing the border at El Quiaca / Villazon on to Tupiza. Get a trip to Salar de Uyuni from there, tour the area and then get the bus or train to La Paz stopping along the way if you choose. From La Paz you get get the bus to Copacabana on Lake Titicaca. Cross over into Peru at Puno and from there get the bus to Cusco for your trekking. This is pretty much the reverse of the route we took last year.

Here are the links to my blogs that mlgb so kindly referred to

http://blog.travelpod.com/travel-blo...ai/6/tpod.html this is our most recent trip and covers the route referred to above

http://blog.travelpod.com/travel-blo...ai/1/tpod.html. This has more about Argentina ( towards the end)

Also have a look at Brendensadventures trip report

http://www.fodors.com/community/sout...and-beyond.cfm

He is currently in Argentina and has also been WWOOFING on farms in Argentina and will doubtless have a lot of useful info for you.
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Old Mar 12th, 2014, 06:35 AM
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This is brilliant - thanks everyone for responding so quickly! I have spent a while reading a load more blogs (Crellston particularly) and have got a few more questions.

1. Assuming that I will do Bolivia. This would mean that I would travel the whole of Argentina to Peru overland. How long do you think one would need to do this without rushing?

2. Does anyone know how far south in Argentina one would be able to make it at this time of year?

3. Crellston, it seems that you did quite a bit of dotting around during the Argentine section of your trip.. How would you recommend doing this if you went round again? Should I go South anti-clockwise to Bariloche (and further south) and then back north to Salta and onto Bolivia? Any tips here would be great - i am struggling to imagine travelling the distances in Argentina!

I guess I will leave it at that for now - thanks everyone, your tips are so useful. I am used to travelling with a friend but being alone this time means I don't have many people to discuss options with. (That sounds sad but its not!!!)
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Old Mar 13th, 2014, 12:46 AM
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you are very welcome TrisB.

1. i don't think anyone could answer this without knowing your route. we spent 3 months on our first trip to Argentina but we were also searching for place to live at the time. We also spent our last month in Argentina recovering after a very long trip. My best guess is that you could see much of what the country has to offer with out rushing in a month. distances are vast but buses are very comfortable, efficient and long journeys can be scheduled overnight saving both usable time and accommodation costs. Southern Peru could be covered in maybe three weeks. you would need to allow extra time for the north.

2. If going to the far south i think it would be better to do that sooner rather than later before winter sets in. Maybe fly directly there from BA and move northwards. time to hit some of the weather websites or just google "best time to visit....." Lonely Planet usually has some decent info on its website on its Planning a trip sections. we didn't make it to the far south (yet) but from what i hear, the weather can vary dramatically from year to year so what was true last year may not be the case this year.

3. Would i recommend "dotting around" in a word, no! it is nice to have some flexibility built into a long trip but in retrospect i really wish i had planned more. We had a few ideas on what we wanted to see but did act on impulse on a number of occasions and missed out as a result. e.g. we crossed over from Chile to Argentina at Pucon and missed out on the best of patagonia, Torres de Paine etc. That said, when we arrived in San Marin de los Andes we met an italian\Spanish couple and ended up hiring a car an driving down to bariloche and had a great time. we went across country to Puerto Madryn they went down to Ushaia.

Essentially, i think you have the right plan to head south to Bariloche and beyond and then head north. as mentioned above, most long bus journeys are scheduled overnight. All provide films, food, some provide wine and one or two even Bingo! Always travel Ejecutivo class and you will get lie flat beds similar to those in first class on a good airline. Fares are much cheaper than flying.

in terms of time\distance think 12-18 hours for some of the longer trips. sounds a lot but if you can get some sleep, watch a film, it soon passes. take a good book or tablet (PC not sleeping!)

the bus company websites will have details of routes, times etc http://www.andesmar.com is a good starting point


one thing i have always want to do is to travel Ruta 40 all the way from Ushaia up to El Quiaca on the Bolivian border, preferably by motorcycle. i have yet to convince ethers of the wisdom of this!
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Old Mar 14th, 2014, 02:23 AM
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Thanks again, this is really helping me sort my plans out! I feel like I have got the Argentine section of the trip sorted to some degree so.... the rest.

It sounds like me giving an itinerary is the best thing to do, so here is a rough plan:

5/5 - 12/5 Buenos Ares
13/5 - 3/6 Lake District (see how far south I can get)
4/6 - 8/6 Mendoza
9/6 - 15/6 Salta and NW of country
16/6 - 30/6 Bolivia (vague)
1/7 - 20/7 Peru (Salcuntay trail etc)
21/7 - 12/8 Colombia (vague)

Mlgb - thanks for your reply a while ago. you said I have loads of time, this is one of the things I am worried about - squeezing too much into my trip. Do you reckon these timescales are realistic bearing in mind, if I like a place, I would like to be able to stay for a while?

Crellston - you clearly know and love Bolivia well. Can I do a tour of Salar de Uyuni from the south or something? How best to approach this from Argentina. Thanks in advance! ps, that trip on the motorbike sounds bloody awesome. Get to argentina in May/July and we will find a way! ha

Greens43 - seen as you have just spent a large amount of time in Argentina - doing pretty much my dream trip! - would you say I have left enough/too much time for this section?

Thanks for any advice anyone can give - if people can suggest unknown gems in any of the countries, I'd love to hear about them (especially Peru/Colombia!!)

All the best to everyone!
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Old Mar 14th, 2014, 03:38 AM
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TrisB, you're going to have an awesome time! A couple of things make it hard for me to give really solid advice...you're hitting the Lakes District & Patagonia on the onset of winter & we've just traveled through in summer. We loved Bariloche for the trekking...if there wasn't that, I would have spent my time further north in San Martin as Bariloche as a town is not charming. The Refugios are closed in winter (we really enjoyed hiking to these). So, while my approach is usually slow travel, I don't know that you'd have much to do...not that there's anything wrong with a glass of red wine and a good view!

I will reiterate that the distances between points are insane and you need to allow travel time and decide which are bus vs fly distances. We're ok with an overnight bus...but not more than that, so we chose to fly Bariloche to El Calafate (where we currently are) and we will fly back north from Rio Gallegos to Salta (via BA). It sounds like El Chalten / Calafate are ghost towns in winter...honestly Fitz Roy treks have been so stunning, it's been on par with Angor Wat for me.

It really depends on how you like to spend your time when you travel...hiker, skier? Malbec expert? Wildlife lover? We've let our interests (& those pesky kids of ours) prioritize where we've gone and how long we've stayed. Sorry, babbling.
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Old Mar 14th, 2014, 05:32 AM
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Not babbling, brilliant message and you make a fair point.

I have grown up spending a lot of time in the Alps (I'm now 23) so hiking and skiing are both things I want to do. Although I believe I am there in the change of seasons so the skiing wont have taken off just yet. I will be happy to camp too so refugios arn't a necessity (although are definitely more comfortable! ha). It is because of the season that I see it being a bit of a challenge to make it far south.... Basically, I hope to come across a similarly minded person and go wild!
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Old Mar 16th, 2014, 12:23 AM
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TrisB, yes I do love Bolivia so much to amaze in that country and such amazing value.

It is really easy to get there from Argentina. Having explored the northwest of Srgentina just hop on a bus at Salta bus station to the Border town of. El Quiaca ( usually via Juy Juy) takes around 5 hours. Alternatively, I think you can also pick up a bus at Purmarca but check that one)

The border is a 10 min walk from the buse station and is very busy. Be prepard to queue in the hot sun for a while! Do take care to get your passport stamped out from Argentina and into Bolivia,. Wp the a offices are not well signed, are close together and we met plenty of people in Bolivia who missed teh Bolivian stamp completely. Not the end of the world but a bit of hassle going to a police station to get the stamp so you can leave the country eventually.
The bus ride from Salta takes around six hours so leave in the morning.

Once stamped you cross into. Villazon. It has a bit of a bad reputation but seemed perfectly ok to me. Collectivos or taxis take to Tupiza take around 1.5 to 2 hours.

Tupiza itself has some nice places worth seeing and itself is quite a pleasant town worth a day or two if not in a hurry. We took the 3N4D tour to Salar de Uyuni and saw all we wanted ( the Salar itself is just one of the amazing sight to see in the region.

We returned to Tupiza As we were heading south to Argentina and onto Chile from there. Many people. head straight on to San Pedro de Atacama - a few hours and $50 taxi fare.

To carry on into Bolivia you save a lot of time by flying to La Paz which is the de facto transport hub for most of the country. Buses are a longer options and also trains but I am not sure they run every day or indeed, where they go to! Might be a fun way to travel though.

Assuming that you travel on from La Paz to Peru the journey bus bus to Copacabana is one of the most impressive I have ever been on. Copa is a worth a day to take a trip out to Isla del Sol on the lake before crossing the border into Peru at Puno.

There is a lot more to see in. Bolivia but in the time you have available you need to choose carefully so as to leave time for. Columbia ( which I particularly want to hear abou!!)
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