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Plan a 3 month South America trip in less than 2 months:-)

Plan a 3 month South America trip in less than 2 months:-)

Old Mar 5th, 2014, 06:20 AM
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Plan a 3 month South America trip in less than 2 months:-)

HI Everyone!

I have recently bought a flight to Buenos Aires and am planning to visit south America for 3 months ( May 12th to August 4th ) wooo hooo!!!! . I have less than 2 months to plan the greatest trip of my life so i would like to know your views on which places i should exclude or include.

I have been reading the many entries on the forums and on other sites and to be honest i have been overwhelmed by the quantity of information in deciding which are places are the best. So

Just to give you an idea I am a lover of natural beauty so anything with mountains waterfalls, jungles will impress me! I would like to take advantage of my time over in South America to see the excellent wildlife on offer. Mi itinerary below lists a lot of cool cities and natural wonders which will inspire me!



Argentina
May 12th - Land in Buenos Aires
Visit Mendoza
Visit Bariloche (maybe too far)
Visit Patagonia (i m thinking way to far)

Then go to Iguasu Falls (Argentina side via Uruguay or /Paraguay- is it worth stopping here?) and also check the beautiful views on the Brazilian side!

Brazil ( Planning to go in June in June when the world cup is on and I am in the process of trying to buy tickets)
Visit Rio
Visit Salvador
Visit Menaus to stay in the Amazon (not sure if Brazilian Amazon is the best)


Somehow get all the way down to Bolivia
Visit Salt Flats
Visit La Paz

Peru
Lake Titicaca
Machu Picchu ( via agua calientas, will not do the Inca trail)

Colombia
Visit Tayrona National Park and the Lost City
Visit San Gil
Visit Bogota
Panama
Visit Panama city to see a friend

Costa Rica
San Joe
and fly home from here


So what do you think? Have not allocated number of days yet as i need to research the buses and train times

Thanks so much!! Any feedback will be really appreciated!
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Old Mar 5th, 2014, 10:08 AM
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Just a few suggestions to fulfill your itinerary:

Argentina:
- San Martin de los Andes

Uruguay:
- Try doing by boat Buenos Aires-Colonia del Sacramento-Montevideo. Colonia is a beautiful colonial town.

Paraguay:
Avoid for now.

Brazil:
World cup is a very expensive time, I would avoid unless you really like soccer.
- Natal
- Bonito (Mato Grosso do Sul)
- Florianopolis
- some of brazilian national parks (Chapada Diamantina, Chapada dos Guimarães, Chapada dos Veadeiros, Jalapão, Lençois Maranhenses, etc)

Bolivia:
- Copacabana (isla del sol, lake Titicaca)
- Potosí
- Sucre

Chile:
- Atacama desert (do not skip this, since you'll be so close. It's an experience of a lifetime)

Peru:
- Sacred Valley (the whole thing, not just Macchu Pichu)
- Arequipa
- Lima
- Huaraz
- Islas ballestas
- avoid lake Titicaca (do bolivian side only, Copacabana is much better than Puno)

Colombia:
- Cartagena
- San Andrés

Not sure if you'll have time to do everything, though.
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Old Mar 5th, 2014, 11:31 AM
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If you do the Bolivian Salt Flats tour, you can enter from the Tupiza end and finish in Uyuni, from there you can either go to Potosi and Sucre, or go back to La Paz.

Personally I would not do the Chilean Atacama desert, if cost is an issue and you are not planning on visiting Chile anyways. It is very similar to the Bolivian side.

You may find that it is necessary to fly to Colombia.
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Old Mar 6th, 2014, 05:47 AM
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I am also planning a 3 month trip, landing in Buenos Ares on 5/5/14.

As luademochila advised, I have decided to avoid Brazil. I love football but decided that the vibe in surrounding countries will match that in Brazil but the hassle, cost and presence of hundreds of thousands of fans would make it tiresome.

My vague plan is to head south from BA to Bariloche (maybe further south depending how flozen that area is) and then head back north through Chile.

It sounds like we have quite different ideas but it would be great to meet up if we overlap at all! Let me know what you think!
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Old Mar 6th, 2014, 09:18 AM
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I would also advise against Brazil right now and would spend more time in Argentina, Bolivia and Peru. If I was you I would start in BA for a week, head up to Iguazu and back (or skip it), back to BA and over to Bariloche / Lakes District for a week / 10 days. Then head up to Mendoza for 2-3 days. Then to Salta and NW Argentina for 5-7 days. Cross the border into Bolivia and make your way to Tupiza. Relax for a few days at Hotel Mitru and then do the Salar trip stopping in Uyuni. Head up to La Paz for a few days. Then check out Lake Titicaca. Head up to Cusco / Machu Pichu and then back down to Arequipa and come up the coast on the gringo trail to Lima. Fly to Columbia or go through Ecuador and do the rest of your trip.

All in all, keep a rough itinerary as things will change. Be careful around Easter week/weekend as things book up fast and finding lodging will get difficult. Other than that get ready to have the time of your life!
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Old Mar 6th, 2014, 09:47 AM
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We have spent quite a lot of time in South America in recent years on two trips and the problem has always been the planning of where and when to go as there is so much to choose from and we all have our own ideas of what should not be missed. My list, for what it is worth is:

Argentina

Salta and the north west
Iguazu
BA
San Martin de Los Andes
Peninsular Valdez

Bolivia

Basically the whole country but especially,
Salar de Uyuni
Madidi NP
Sucre
Tupiza
Copacabana and Lake Titicaca

Peru

Lima
cusco and the sacred valley
Trujillo
Ayacucho and especially
Chachapoyas

I agree with mlgb about San Pedro de Atacama. Basically it is very similar to Boliva but MUCH more expensive.

Can't comment on Columbia as I haven't been but, having spoken to many people we met on our recent travels, I really regret not going so may have to return soon!

More info on the route we took last year on our blog
http://blog.travelpod.com/travel-blo...ai/6/tpod.html

And our previous trip in 2008 when we spent a lot more time in Argentina

http://blog.travelpod.com/travel-blo...ai/6/tpod.html entry 55 onwards.

Three months sounds like a lot of time but distances are vast and flying could be the only option for some places can be expensive in SA. Personally, I think it is a bit too ambitious to try and include so many countries and would probably exclude The Central American countries.
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Old Mar 6th, 2014, 04:51 PM
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Never heard that there is a bolivian side of the Atacama so much cheaper than the chilean one. What town is this?
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Old Mar 6th, 2014, 05:30 PM
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This is the 3 or 4 day tour that goes in a loop around the Salar de Uyuni, and the various lakes such as Laguna Colorada in the Sur Lipez province of Potosi Department.

It is probably the #1 tourist attraction in Bolivia and many would argue, all of South America (well, maybe #2 after Machu Picchu).

If you go on a group jeep tour the price is around $125 from Uyuni, and can go up from there depending on how many days and if you upgrade your hotel. That is for the entire 3 day tour, including lodging and meals, not per night!

A good website for travel in Bolivia is Kanoo Tours. They are a travel agent in La Paz that caters to the budget market, they also can book trains, flights, buses etc.

I wound up booking my own flight to Uyuni and just walked around to different agencies, when I arrived. If you are traveling alone it's a bit easier to get on a tour the same day but even in season I doubt you would need to wait more than one day. I went in late November, it had not yet started to rain.
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Old Mar 6th, 2014, 05:33 PM
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PS crellston I like that you put "especially" in front of Chachapoyas!
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Old Mar 8th, 2014, 08:18 PM
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Mlgb,

As far as I can tell, I'm afraid you have missed much. You would need at least 6 full days to cover some of the many options available in Atacama: : Valle de la Luna y de la Muerte, Lagunas Altiplánicas, Salar del Atacama , Gêiseres el Tatio y Machuca, Laguna Cejar, Salar de Tara, Valle del Arco Íris, Termas de Puritama, etc.

Here is a very informative link about Atacama, unfortunately in portuguese only.

http://www.viajenaviagem.com/2013/01...cama-50-dicas/

It seems that you had good luck with Kanoo Tours, as it does not have a good reputation in brazilian forums. Take a look at the following trip report using Google Translator:

http://www.mochileiros.com/sobrevive...ia-t64934.html
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Old Mar 9th, 2014, 09:12 AM
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I can only read Spanish, but I gather from the gist of that article they had a difficult ride on the bus to Uyuni? That is hardly the fault of the travel agent that booked it.

I think that I am not the only person that has that opinion of the Atacama vs Uyuni being very similar (the tour a similar geography on the border of Chile and Bolivia). Salt flats, volcanoes, geysers, colored lakes.
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Old Mar 9th, 2014, 11:32 AM
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She had problems with the quality of the lodgings, lack of bathrooms, lack of information from guides, who are also drivers, cookers, everything at the same time, etc.

Most brazilians that I know do both Chilean Atacama (at least 5 days) and Uyuni region (at least 3 days). I've never seen anyone who have done both saying that the Chilean Atacama (which is the core of the Atacama) is skippable, that's why I'm surprised. I suggest you come back some day and see what you're missing. I would not tell anyone to skip Iguazu Falls after seeing Niagara Falls because both are waterfalls.

Here is a trip report from a friend of mine, the pictures and videos may help the OP.

http://www.mochileiros.com/bolivia-p...10-t44971.html
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Old Mar 9th, 2014, 12:55 PM
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I with you mlgb. We spent a couple of nights in SPdeA en route from Salta To Iquique and decided not to visit the sites in the Atacama as they were likely to be much the same as we had just seen in Bolivia and indeed NW Argentina. The four days in and around Salar de Uyuni were up there in my top five travel experiences but, from the glimpses I caught on the way it would have been more of the same. On any journey you have to make choices as to what to leave in and out. Even on a journey of 3 months as the OP is planning, it is impossible to do it all and some places will inevitable be left out.

5 days seems a long time of Atacama., most people we met there spent 2 or 3 days, probably because it was so very expensive! Accomodation was three to four times the rate we were paying in Bolivia and Peru and the tours were also very expensive.
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Old Mar 9th, 2014, 02:09 PM
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I look forward to looking at your friends photos in more detail, luademochila. And possibly plugging the narrative into Google translate.

Although even at first glance they spent 3 days, at most.

The issues that you are relating re the cheap Uyuni tours, are typical of the base level tours. Bathrooms and rooms are always on a shared basis, and the driver is not a guide. If one wants a guide it is extra, same for room upgrades. This is very well documented on the Kanoo Tours website/ When one pays $100-$125 for a package that includes transport, lodging and food, expectations should be not be too high.

I can't read Portuguese I haven't read that entire posting to see if there is something unusual there.

Kanoo does not operate the tours, they are a travel agency. They would contract with a local agency in Uyuni (I don't know who they use). It is always an option to go to Uyuni and book directly, which is what I did and what many backpacker=level travelers do.

For the OP, I used Blue Line Service. They are the agency that was being used by the fancy agency in the lobby of the Hotel Rosario. From my observations, they are neither the best nor the worst of the Uyuni agencies.

http://www.salardeuyunitour.com/
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Old Mar 9th, 2014, 08:17 PM
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Crellston and Mlgb, this is the whole point of the discussion - you have to go there to see if it is really skippable or not. It is not as cheap as Bolivia, because I believe that nothing is in the whole South America. But it is not so expensive either, if you do enough research. Atacama does not cost more than going to Argentina or Colombia.

My friend covered 3 countries in 31 days, that's why he couldn't have spent more than 3 days in Atacama, but he already said that he will come back. OP has 80+ days, so he/she does not have to rush.

Ricardo Freire, a very experienced and famous brazilian traveller, do not recommend spending less than 4 days in Atacama. He also says that six nights are ideal to see the main sights.

http://www.viajenaviagem.com/2013/01...cama-50-dicas/

Yes, you have to make choices. But most south american travellers who actually have experienced the Chilean Atacama would agree that entirely skipping it is not a good one, because it is an amazing place.

PS: Mglb, thank you for your additional inputs about Kanoo Tours.
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Old Mar 10th, 2014, 12:34 AM
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Luademochila, sorry but I think we are just going to have to agree to disagree - wouldn't life be boring if we achieved consensus on all these issues

There is no getting away from the fact that Chile is expensive and that SPdeA is one of, if not the, most expensive locations in that country. Having visited both countries a couple of times apiece, I would say that Argentina is a lot cheaper than Chile

I am not denying that the Atacama is an amazing place, it undoubtedly is. What I am saying is that it is very similar to Bolivia and that there is so much to see there and I see little point taking a diversion to Chile just to see landscapes that would be very similar to those seen in Bolivia a few days previously.

The OP is already considering travelling to six countries in 3 months which averages out at 2 weeks per country which I think is too many unless the OP is happy spending a relatively high proportion of their time on buses etc. In transit. Adding in yet another country does seem to be the best option to me.
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Old Mar 10th, 2014, 10:15 AM
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Also with a strong Brazilian real, it may not have seemed so expensive to you guys!
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Old Mar 11th, 2014, 03:32 PM
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No problem, you do not need to feel sorry. This is why we're here, to show different points of view to the OP.

I have visited both countries a couple of times as well and did not find Argentina any cheaper, this is what we usually see in brazilian forums too. Argentina is now an expensive country even for locals.

Attached to my friend's trip report you may find his costs spreadsheet. You'll see that he did not spend more in Atacama than in the Sacred Valley or Uyuni - concrete data from someone who actually have been there.

We agree that spending time moving on is not a good thing. However, I'd rather see itineraries by regions, not countries. If you go to Iguazu Falls, in Brazil, it is much easier going to Ciudad del Este, in Paraguay, or Puerto Iguazu, in Argentina, than going to Manaus, in Brazil. Once in Arequipa, in Peru, you'd better go to San Pedro de Atacama, in Chile, than to, let's say, anywhere in Colombia or Patagonia region, in Argentina.

Combining Atacama with Bolivia and Peru is a very, very common strategy and that's why I suggested to not skip it.

Mlgb, brazilian real has been losing it's strenght, due to the current government's bad management. 1 US$ buys 2,5 reals. Travelling in general is getting very expensive for us now. Thankfully, at least South America is still an option.
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Old Mar 13th, 2014, 09:16 AM
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hi everyone wow i am so grateful for your responses! I didn’t realise I had a reply until yesterday haha( i don’t get email confirmations)


Its very interesting reading all your suggestions, i just figured out OP means you are referring to me haha i know my plans are really ambitious and very crazy problem is i have complicated everything by getting Tickets for Spain v Netherlands in Slavador Brazil haha so now internal flights have to be used if i am going to get to these places!haha



and i have altered my trip slightly to the following

Argentina
Buenos Aires (arrive 12/05)
San Martin de los Andes or Bariloche (Bariloche seems a lot easier to get to )

Iguasu Falls

Brazil
Iguasu Falls
Rio
Salvador ( for the world cup match)

Bolivia
Salar de Uyuni
Tupiza
Copacabana (isla del sol, lake Titicaca)

Peru (in this order)
Arequipa
cusco and the sacred valley
Lima
Ayacucho
Huaraz
Chachapoyas

Colombia
Visit Tayrona National Park and the Lost City
Visit San Gil

Panama to see my friend
Costa Rica to see my friend and fly home




I am bit doubtful about not seeing so much of Argentina so i m planning to get some internal flights....obviously on a budget but to save


I am bit doubtful about not seeing so much of Argentina so i m planning to get some internal flights....obviously on a budget but I know a lot of you have questioned my timescales haha rightly so. Which countries should i aim to get an internal flight?
I am thinking to get a flight from
1) Buenos Aires to the south e.g San Martin de los Andes
2) From my trip to Brazil to Bolivia so i don’t waste too much time
I really want to see the Amazon also, is Menaus my best option?

Honestly thank you all so much for your comments i spent all day researching the places you suggested and refining my trip....its still very vest and rough but hopefully in a few more weeks i will have a plan!)

I will check the forum every day now so i can reply and obviously thank you individually!
TrisB- yeah that would be great to meet up!!! Send me your itinerary and we can plan something!awesome!!
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Old Mar 13th, 2014, 03:17 PM
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Yes, OP = Original Poster, who happens to be you Unfortunately Fodors lacks a few basic features such as email alerts.

The real Amazon is far deep in the jungle and you'll need to catch an expensive flight from Manaus to reach there. You won't see much (I would say, no wild life) if you stick to Manaus, only.

A cheaper alternative would be, from Bolivia, try to reach Corumbá, in Brazil. There you'1l see the Southern Pantanal, varied wildlife and landscapes with easier access than Manaus. It is also much less expensive to reach Rio from Corumba than from Manaus.
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