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Route planning- 28 weeks and counting. 1 year South America

Route planning- 28 weeks and counting. 1 year South America

Apr 17th, 2013, 02:15 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2013
Posts: 44
Route planning- 28 weeks and counting. 1 year South America

Hi Guys,

I have posted once before and had some great help in regards to my questions. I am travelling to South America for one year in November 2013. Originally I was just going to visit Ecuador but flights worked out cheaper to fly into Buenos Aires, Argentina and our from Rio De Janeiro. Yes I am quitting my job to live the dream I have had for years to travel to SA. Now comes the hard part of planning and sorting all of my affairs. No savings when I decided I would do it!! nothing.. just lots of hard work to make this happen.

Unfortunately things have been so crazy with work planning a route has become challenging. I am looking to travel as lightly as possible and see as much as I can. I will be travelling by land and will be more then happy to camp along the way as I have lightweight equipment I can carry easily.

At this stage I am looking into places I think I would like to visit and then I will get a general idea of my itinerary. I would like to get as close as I can to the heart of each country so I am not looking to go to big touristy areas apart from the big ones like Machu Picchu and Galapagos.

With Argentina being the first country on the list I really haven't looked to much into places to visit.

I would like to stay a couple of weeks in Buenos Aires, possibly volunteer at a school/orphanage. I have found a school that takes volunteers, I cant seem to find the site again right now. Its somewhere in my notes. From here I'm really not sure where I will go?

I will definitely go to Iguazu falls and would like to spend some time hiking. I will also spend time WOOFING in Argentina working in organic farms to help save some money and get a taste of farming in the country. I would also like to spend some time rock climbing in Tuzgle.

I definitely want to see the Southern Patagonian Ice Fields.. I'm really looking for places I can explore.

If any one has suggestions or possible route plans I am open as I feel I have bitten off a lot more then I can chew. I like things to be organised yet I don't want to plan things so much and have them change once I arrive.

I will be in Argentina for up to two months. Then move on to Chile, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela and then finally Brazil. I will be spending close to three months in Ecuador as there are a few volunteer programs I wish to work on.

Out of the other countries here are some places I want to visit. If anyone has any suggestions in each country and suggested travel routes this would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks, Brenden

Lake Titicaca
Atacama desert
Colca canyon
Lima- archaeology museums
manu national park
El Misti

hot springs of Papallacta
Cuicocha lake
Tungurahua volcano

Salar de Uyuni- Salt lake
Laguna Verde

El Tatio
Chungará Lake

Amazing Grotto: The Enchanted Well, Brazil
brendensadventures is offline  
May 17th, 2013, 05:12 PM
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 18,159
If you are going to Bolivia you can also see Lake Titicaca from that side, and don't miss the city of La Paz.

You will see desert in Bolivia around the Salar de Uyuni and Lagunas (the REA), you can enter via either Argentina or Chile and then exit through La Paz, Copacabana and Lake Titicaca toward Peru & Cusco.

For looking at itineraries I recommend looking at Gecko Adventures, they have a lot of S. American itineraries and use local transportation so the timing would be good to follow.

An agency in La Paz that works with backpackers is Kanoo Tours.

I think you will need to look at your expenses carefully if you want to go to Patagonia.
mlgb is offline  
May 17th, 2013, 07:54 PM
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 10,182
Dont miss Torres del Paine. The NW of ARgentina is worth exploring.
yestravel is offline  
May 18th, 2013, 02:27 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2013
Posts: 44
mlgb- Thanks for the suggestions, I will definitely see Lake Titicaca and head to La Paz and great suggestion for Kanoo Tours, I will check out some of their tours. Is travelling Patagonia quite expensive? where I go all really depends on how much money I can get together before I leave. I am not looking to do tours apart from the ones you need to, Inca Trail for instance (providing I have the funds) thanks again for your advise, it is greatly appreciated.

yestravel- Torres Del Paine- looks amazing, great suggestion. Have you hiked here? I am still getting my kit together for my travels and will either be taking a bivy or a light one man tent? any recommendations for any other hikes? or ideas for what I should be taking/not taking. Really not sure exactly where I will end up yet but want the freedom to be able to camp if I need.
brendensadventures is offline  
May 18th, 2013, 02:58 PM
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 18,159
Yes, getting to Patagonia is expensive, and prices are high. But there are some group bunk dorms as well as camping in Torres del Paine. Also off season is less expensive (find out when the Chileans go on vacation and avoid those times).

Sky Airline Chile. Much cheaper than LAN.

I didn't go to the Argentine side.
mlgb is offline  
May 20th, 2013, 04:38 AM
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 7,565
Hi Brenden,

One of the first thoughts that springs to mind is that you want to see both Iguazu and Southern Patagonia which are at opposite ends of Argentina, so I would probably do Iguazu as a return trip from BA soon after arrival. That way you can head south to Argentine Patagonia and back north through Chile. Pucon is a nice town to spend a few days trekking, Valparaiso is a dont miss for me and Arica is a nice town for few days if crossing into Peru in the north ( great place for Sandboarding!).

Otherwise you could cross into Bolivia and Salar de Uyuni via San Pedro de Atacama, and explore the rest of Bolivia from there, maybe crossing into Peru via Titicaca and heading down to Cusco from there. You seem to have Peru pretty well covered in your list. However, I am aware that, like us you are on a budget and you may well find less expensive jungle options than Manu in Ecuador or Bolivia. A 4 nt trip to Cuyabeno Reserve near the Columbian border is currently selling for around $250 here in Quito.

It looks like you are short changing Ecuador a little as there seems to be a huge amount to see here packed into a very small area. Hiking, if not climbing Cotapaxi is a must, Tren Exuador has some relatively inexpensive train trips, Mindoro cloud forest, Quilatoa loop etc...

Can't help with Brazil except possible to suggest crossing over from Puerto Iguazu to to Foz and doing a round trip from there.

Having said all that, do check out the weather at the time you are planning on visiting these places as that could have a massive impact in terms of both enjoyment and cost.

Have fun planning. I got brain freeze after a while as the options seemed endless but you will get there. Always good to have a plan, even if you end up ignoring it!
crellston is offline  
May 21st, 2013, 03:01 AM
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Join Date: Mar 2013
Posts: 44
mlgb- I really love the look of Torres del Paine but its a long way down so will need to plan a little more and see if I can make it.

Crellston- again great advise as always and never ignored.. the more i read and look at places the more I confuse myself with where I want to go.. I am definitely looking at the return trip to Iguazu from BA to start with.. from there I am yet to work out my direction of travel.? I want to keep things realistic and be able to spend a good amount of time exploring places and giving time to volunteer so I think I need to pick the places I really like and work out the itinerary from there.?

Pucon looks very nice also- great option for Cuyabeno Reserve.

Ecuador is my preference and was where I was originally going to go for my whole trip. I have found a number of volunteer programs I wish to complete. Cloud forest is surely one however the program is being redeveloped so its 100% non profit.

http://www.ecuadorecovolunteer.org/ not sure if anyone has heard of these guys or volunteered with them? they have cut back programs but they look good.

Weather is something I need to look into also... I see why people go to travel agents to plan. It get quite difficult when you haven't been somewhere and you are trying to plan. Great studying and getting onto the forums. I think this is the most I have ever read in my life. I am not one for reading! but cant seem to stop. Slowly finding myself wanting to do more but there has to be limits.

Thanks again! hope your trip is going well
brendensadventures is offline  
May 21st, 2013, 10:23 AM
Join Date: May 2013
Posts: 3
I'm guessing you are coming to Ecuador from Peru in bus? After spending 5 months in Ecuador, I have some advice for an itinerary (based on coming from Peru):
-Cuenca: absolutely beautiful colonial city, the 3rd largest in Ecuador, and even more beautiful in terms of architecture and diversity than Quito. Also much safer than Quito (although I never had a single problem in Quito, friends have been robbed), due to 7,000+ foreigners and retirees living here. Definitely a must-stop for a day or two.
-Ruta del Sol: if you're interested in the beach life...surfing, windsurfing, snorkling, scuba diving, looking at girls in bikinis, fishing, etc., I suggest starting off in Guayaquil and hitting up Salinas, Montanita, Puerto Lopez, and Manta. And from Manta you can take a bus to Quito.
-Quito is a good place to make a home-base for awhile. From there you can go to Papallacta (2 hrs), Banos-Tungurahua (3 hrs), Mindo (2 hrs), Quilotoa (3 hrs), Cotacachi/Cuicocha (2 hrs), and Otavalo (1.5 hrs).
-Since you have a tent, I would suggest camping in Cayambe-Coca National Park for Papallacta. After a day of camping in the cold and sometimes rainy weather, nothign feels better than those natural hot springs.

There is so much to do and see in Ecuador. You could probably make a trip everyday for two weeks and still not see everything. Are you interested in the Amazon? If so, you can go to Puyo from Banos. Let me know if you have anymore questions about Ecuador. It is truly a beautiful country!
DrewCrawf1 is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2013, 05:24 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2013
Posts: 44
Thanks DrewCrawf1, thanks for the detailed info and suggested itinerary. I really like the look of all of these places.

Work has been so busy recently and I have been without internet for a couple of weeks it has been difficult finding time to plan my trip and time just keeps slipping by..

In all honesty I don't mind not knowing exactly what I am going to do.. This is unlike me as I like to plan things to a T! I really don't think its necessary to worry to much as my trip will be long and I will have a general idea of the places I would like to visit and I'm sure everything in between will be an adventure on its own.
brendensadventures is offline  
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