I did my research - would appreciate opinions on this itinerary
Replies: 8 - Last Post: Nov 18, 2012 10:47 AM Last Post By: empty007
Nov 16, 2012 12:32 AM
I did my research - would appreciate opinions on this itineraryBefore you scroll to the next post - I have done a lot of reading (LP books and thorntree and countless other websites), so hopefully my questions won't sound too generic.
- Finally managed to get a sabbatical (yay!), will leave for South America from Prague right after Xmas and will return on March 4th.
- Travelling with pregant fiancee (we're aware of the risks of very high altitude, no diving, malaria etc)
- we speak basic Spanish only
- we love mountains
- we'd like to spend a few days volunteering (we taught kids English before and built a school in Nicaragua), but not in too remote an area - half a days travel to a hospital or so
- we live in Prague, so are spoiled for architecture and history (hard to impress)
- we did travel extensively before (New Zealand, South Africa, Southeast Asia, Cuba, Nicaragua, India), want to see something different where possible (although we'll have to stay out of the jungle)
- we want to avoid shared rooms where possible, double rooms in hostels are fine
- maximum budget (with contingencies) is $13000 excluding the flight to/from South America. The more we save the better.
- we have about 5 - 7 hotel nights worth of "miles" we can use
ITINERARY (at this moment):
- fly in to Buenos Aires on Dec 28/29
- spend about a week in the city and around
- go up to Iguazu (3 days?)
- spend some time in Uruguay on the way back (beaches) - 3 days?
- fly to Ushuaia, spend 14 days travelling Tierra del Fuego and Patagonia. Moderate trekking
- make our way up to Santiago de Chile - 8 days
- Easter Island - 3 days
- North of Santiago (Atacama?) - 4 days
- Galapagos - 5 days
- Bogota and around - 5 days
- Cartagena + Providencia - 10 days
- fly back from Bogota to Prague
- does any of this strike you as, ehm, dumb or naive (subjective opinions welcome of course) ?
- Where would you recommend spending New Year's? We might change plans if there is something absolutely not to miss
- Will there be a carnival during our stay somewhere? Would be great to experience one
- What is the recommended way up north to Santiago? Car rental? Boat? Buses?
- Would love to do some volunteer work, any tips?
THANKS a million!!
Nov 16, 2012 6:36 AM
1You are covering a huge distance in a short time. It will be quite stressful and rushed but doable.
I would spend at least 2 more days on Easter Island. 14 days for Ushuaia and Patagonia is not much depending what you consider Patagonia. I would focus on southern Patagonia and take a boat or flight from Punta Arenas or Puerto natales to Santiago or Puerto Montt. Car rentals are expensive in SA and oneway rentals usually out of the range of most people as they charge huge fees for that. From Santiago to Bogota, are you considering a flight at some stage or always overland? Be aware that taking buses from Ushuaia till Bogota will be very tiring and you will spend a very long time just on buses
Nov 16, 2012 8:02 AM
2Thanks for your reply! We were planning on flying between Buenos Aires and Ushuaia, to Easter Island, Galapagos, and to Bogota. Flying from down south to Santiago is also not excluded (especially if we like Patagonia a lot and want to spend more time there), although there is probably lots to see on the way that we'd miss.
In Patagonia / Tierra del Fuego, we want to do 3-4 treks (Torres del Paine etc) and maybe spend some time on a farm. My fiancee likes warm weather (25C+) so there's not much more time I'm allowed to dedicate to Patagonia :-)
Building on your observation about the stressfulness, would you recommend skipping Colombia and concentrating on Argentina / Chile? Chile doesn't seem to have nice beaches (for swimming), while the Argentine ones I read about seem to be "touristy/resorty"
Again, thanks for any further info, you're helping us make the most of our time off!
Nov 16, 2012 12:41 PM
3Nor Argentina nor Chile has good beaches. The water is always cold. The only exception is Las Grutas which has some good beaches with quite warm water but still compared to beaches in Ecuador, Colombia or Brazil it isn t exactly the best deal. I would skip Colombia and do the beach part in Ecuador or in the far north of Peru. There are very good dayhikes around Ushuaia and El Chalten has 2 great dayhikes.
Nov 16, 2012 5:55 PM
4I agree w/ Beerfree about Colombia. Bogota is not a fantastic tourist destination in and of itself. It's much better used as an entry point for Colombia. If you just want a good beach time, go for Northern Peru or Ecuador. The beaches are great there that time of the year, and both cheaper and much closer to the rest of your destinations than Colombia.
Nov 17, 2012 5:36 AM
5Thanks for the advice beerfree, mstep!
Ecuador and Peru would be amazing indeed, but they're in the malaria zone already...will ask doctors about antimalarials, they seem to be not recommended for pregnant women.
Perhaps we'll do with the beaches on Easter Island and Galapagos, and save the flight money (skipping Colombia) :-)
If we wanted to do multiple-day hikes around El Chalten, are tents necessary, or are there huts to sleep in?
Thanks again for the invaluable advice.
Nov 17, 2012 2:11 PM
6I live in Brazil, and think you are missing the best beaches in Latin America: Brazilian coast.
I would do something like
Fly to Rio, stay from 3-7 days. There is a wonderful celebration on all beaches (best Copacabana) on New Year's eve, with all sorts of folkloric dances, popular feasts, etc. Really unforgettable
Fly to Iguaçu. You do not need more than one or two days there (although also unforgettable)
Uruguay beaches are not the best. Florianopolis (also in Brazil) are wonderful, warm water during summer.
Buenos Aires/Uruguay (they are so close, 30 min. by plane). I would spend max. 7 days there
Santiago (3-4 days max.)
From Santiago, you can go to Atacama (4-5 days min.). It is unbelievable. Wonderful.
Santiago-Lima-Machu Pichu (allow at least 5 days for the sacred valley)
Lima-Eastern Island (it is very tiny, you will see it all in 4 days max.)
Ecuador - Galapagos (a week maximum)
back to Santiago, maybe to Patagonia. There are two Patagonias:
northern - in Chile: the lakes/volcanoes, just great: choose Pucon or Puerto Varas, fantastic
in Argentina: Bariloche
southern - in Chile: Laguna San Rafael and the melting glaciers; Torres del Paine, trek as much as you can
in Argentina: El Chaltén, El Calafate
Personally, I would skip Bolivia (unless you want to go to the "salares", but you will see a little in the Atacama). And I would skip Colombia (Cartagena is nice; Bogota is a huge and normal city). Too far, not really outstanding.
There are much more interesting things in Brazil, I did not include it because it is not part of your original trip. I would take a look in Amazonia, Pantanal and maybe Bahia.
Nov 17, 2012 5:27 PM
Nov 18, 2012 10:47 AM
8Thanks for the advice! Our plan is starting to crystallize...
Part 1) - 12 days - Buenos Aires & around, road trip to Iguazu and back, with stops on the way, possibly via Brazil (?). Fly down to Ushuaia
Part 2) - 14 days - Ushuaia & Puerto Williams, El Calafete, El Chalten, Torres del Paine.
Ferry to Puerto Montt (4 days) - are we missing anything by not going by land? Is it possible to cross to Bariloche easily if we wanted to visit there? the guide is saying nice things about the area, might be a shame to miss it...
Part 3) - 7 days, road trip up to Santiago with stops along the way
Part 4) - 4 days - Easter Island
Part 5) - 7 days - Northern Chile/Atacama - thanks for the suggestion, sounds amazing indeed!
Part 6) - 7 days - Galapagos. not sure how to do that logistically, probably would have to head back down to Santiago first?
Part 7) - 7 days - buffer :-)
Now to figure out the flights, any experience with the LAN south america pass? Sounds like a good deal, but not sure about the fine print...
P.S. Leontinapinto, thanks a zillion for all the suggestions. Makes me want to quit the job and travel :-) We'll do Brazil on the next trip. By then we can all take anti malarials and be properly immunized to enjoy the Amazonia etc. About Peru, we might well squeeze that in if we don't get held up trekking in Patagonia :-)
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