Do I start in Cartagena or Rio???
Replies: 12 - Last Post: Oct 16, 2012 1:15 PM Last Post By: trent84
Oct 15, 2012 12:41 PM
Do I start in Cartagena or Rio???I'm heading off to see South America as a female solo traveller at the beginning of December and mostly want to meet others to travel and have fun with. I want to do Columbia, Ecuador, Peru, salt flats in Bolivia, Argentina and 2 weeks in Brazil. I have 4 months and £5000 without flights. I've already done Bolivia and Machu Picchu so not fussed about going back. I want a fun mostly sunshine adventure, love to party and meet new people. I won't be after much trekking as I've had knee injuries recently. My biggest problem is do I start my travels by flying to Bogota and then onto Cartagena and travel down via bus to Rio or as I'm starting alone looking to meet young fun travellers do I start in Rio and travel up from there???
Help and as much advice as poss please!!!
Oct 15, 2012 1:07 PM
1My advice is that you don't have enough time to do 6 countries. And in that you have the 3 biggest countries in South America. Generally, the rule is One Country per month for travel in South America. I would keep it at Colombia to Argentina (if you skim over Bolivia with the Salt Flats). And I'd probably start in Argentina and head up.
Oct 15, 2012 3:13 PM
2Flights will probably be cheaper to Rio from wherever you are.
But really I agree with trent84 about missing out Brazil. So fly to BA instead.
Oct 15, 2012 7:28 PM
Oct 15, 2012 8:25 PM
4I agree with the above posts about going through Rio first. I had got an estimate flying from New York to Columbia first, down the western side of the continent, and then up the eastern side of the continent, ending in Rio and flying back to New York. I then got an estimate going the opposite way. The difference was several hundred dollars.
Also it will be more expensive going to Cartagena first simply because it is not a major international airport hub in the country and thus will have to connect (probably in Bogota, but depends on where you're coming from). So Rio is your best bet.
While I agree that you want to spend more time in one country, it all depends on what you want to see and how you want to experience it. Obviously you can't do it all, but each to their own.
Edited by: travelingfedora
Oct 15, 2012 10:13 PM
5Thanks all. I'm flying from the UK and whilst flights are similar return to bogota from rio and vice versa the flight from bogota to Cartagena is an extra £250 although the bus is quite cheap I've heard but 20hours long!
I agree that I won't get everything out of my trip if I don't stay a month in each country but would be gutted to miss the highlights of Brazil and because its more expensive think I may only stay there for 2 weeks before I spend a month in Argentina.
How easy are cheap are the buses from rio to Iguazu falls and onto BA??
Ill hopefully be able to get to the salt flats skip but skip Bolivia and do Peru and Ecuador for another month each then finally 2 weeks in Colombia. I am now slightly concerned I will spend most of my trip on a bus...
Are the bud journeys hideous or worthwhile and good fun? I've definitely had a hideous experience before on a bus for 2 days in Bolivia so maybe ought to check this out first!
Oct 16, 2012 12:59 AM
6Cheap Buses in Argentina? Not happening mate.
The bus from Iguazu to BA is about 600 or so Pesos (roughly 150USD). Might be cheaper to source a flight. Buses are similarly priced in Brazil.
Bus journeys - these depends on the bus type you go on. Search for any posts regarding buses and types (eg cama, semi cama, executivo, etc).
Oct 16, 2012 1:56 AM
7I found Rio to be the lowlight of Brazil personally, although I know I’m in a minority.
Only if that's what you plan to do.
Think about if you would say something like, “while I’m in Madrid it would be a shame not to go to Stockholm”. You can always visit the continent again.
Anyway, if you are decided on going, buses in South America are nice. From Rio to Foz will take about 18 hours and cost about USD 150, from Purto Iguassu to BA will take about 24 hours and cost about $120-$150.
Hopping on a return flight from BA to Rio for a week or so and then back would be the best way to do it if you are sure you want to go to Rio.
Oct 16, 2012 2:40 AM
Oct 16, 2012 5:46 AM
9It also depends on your budget. Argentina is now very expensive, almost as much as Brazil. Although £5000 is a reasonable amount of money (about US $65 a day) it will quickly get eaten up with partying.
Stick to Colombia, Ecuador & Peru, and save Brazil & Argentina for another trip. There are SO many party spots in Colombia / Ecuador / Peru, and $65 a day is a good budget for these countries, which will allow you to party (a bit), and do quite a few activities. In Brazil and Argentina you could easily be looking at $100 - $150 a day depending on how much 'fun' you want to be having!
Please be aware that in these 3 countries (and Brazil) December - Feb is the WET season, so there is no guarantee of sunshine! The exception would be Argentina, where these are summer months.
You will find people to play with no matter where you start - and in fact if you follow a more logical, linear, overland route, you will be much more likely to find traveling companions who are going the same way as you :-)
In my opinion - most bus journeys are hideous! In Brazil & Argentina they can be very comfortable, but in those countries they are also expensive and usually VERY long trips (think 12 - 24 hours). I don't care how comfortable you are, Mr Bus, I don't really want to spend more than 12 hours on you! LOL! These longer distance buses usually run over time by a couple of hours, so be sure to take that into account. If you are going to take a long distance bus in Brazil or Argentina, pay extra for a Cama or semi-Cama and go overnight, thereby saving money on a hotel room - the good Cama & semi-Cama seats really are incredibly comfortable!
In all countries, check the local airfares in comparison to bus rides - they might (for example) be only $50 extra, but save you 16 hours in transit!
Oct 16, 2012 5:51 AM
10Agree with #9 last point. You will invariably be following the same route as others. So therefore easier to meet companions to travel with.
Although I was in Coastal Brazil this Feb. And the only rain I saw during that time was during Carnaval and a bit in Fortaleza. It did however, rain a fair bit in Sao Paulo and Rio (I was there in January.
Oct 16, 2012 6:06 AM
Oct 16, 2012 1:15 PM
12Not a problem! I agree with you there.
Brazilian buses can either be extremely good or absolutely dismal. They pump the aircon up full ball so its freezing, unless your lucky enough to get a bus with no air con and just windows. Then you are sitting in a sweat heap for x hours.
In Brazil, you will be able to pick up cheap airfares (as cheap as buses) if you book ahead. However in Argentina, you wont have as much luck scoring cheap airfares. And buses in both country are fairly expensive.
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