South America in 4 months
Replies: 9 - Last Post: May 8, 2013 4:18 PM Last Post By: polyglot25
May 7, 2013 1:06 PM
South America in 4 monthsHi fellow travellers!
I'm a 36 year old male considering a solo 4 month trip in South America from Nov 2013 to Feb 2014.
I have not travelled to S America before so looking for some guidance and my initial thought is a trip starting in Ecuador or Columbia then travelling through Peru and Chile to Patagonia then Argentina up to Brazil. Some must do things for me are Machu Pichu, Torres Del Paine in Patagonia and Buenos Aires? I would also like to have some beach time and am thinking Aregntina / Brazil will be best for this.
Is 4 months enough time to undertake this type of itinerary or am I being over optimistic? Also in terms of budget I was thinking along the lines of £50 to £75 a day. Any guidance comments from experienced S American travellers would be greatly appreciated
May 7, 2013 4:17 PM
1It's very hard to assess your itinerary without more details but travelling from the northern part of the continent (Colombia, not Columbia, by the way) to the very southern tip (Torres del Paine) and then back up again in 4 months strikes me as a little over-optimistic. I think it's technically possible, but the enjoyment of slow travel cannot be overemphasised. Rushing about is no fun at all.
In 15 months I started in Buenos Aires, took 3 months to get to Argentine Patagonia via Iguazú, Salta, San Juan, Mendoza and Bariloche, before crossing the border into Chile and taking another 3 months to get all the way up to Arica seeing as much as possible in between. Then flew up to Colombia (7 weeks) before overlanding through Ecuador (7 weeks), Peru (2 months) and Bolivia (4 weeks), ending up in Brazil (2 months) before flying home with a cheeky final three weeks in Patagonia again. I didn't rush. I stayed in places for a few days to get to know them, did lots of camping, and multiday hiking. But I still felt I had to skip a lot of places which, in an ideal world, I would have wanted to see. My point is that any itinerary can easily be expanded to fit whatever time you have available - except perhaps 2 years in Uruguay, say! (no doubt some smartass will come out and say he spent 2 years paragliding through Uruguay and only scratched the surface...).
Distances in South America are large and bus travel times long. Intra-continental flights are expensive to very expensive. If you want to stay on the ground, consider regionalising your trip a bit more - how about, for example, taking "the Andes" as your theme and use those four months to travel from, say, Medellín in Colombia to Santiago, or Chile's Lake District, taking in some trekking in Peru's Cordillera Blanca, getting to know Bolivia's altiplano, the volcanos of Ecuador...the scope is endless.
Budget-wise, £75 a day will do you. In countries like Bolivia you will have much to spare. Somewhere like Argentina, even that seemingly generous amount can be gobbled up quite quickly by a long-distance bus ride! Brazil is painfully expensive in places, Argentina and Chile are in the same ballpark. As an average £75 seems pretty good if you take these 3 expensive countries into account.
Finally, beaches...Argentina, meh! Brazil, definitely (if you pick the right ones). Warmer Argentina beaches are to be found (logically) in the northern part of the coast rather than Patagonia (brrr!). Photos of many major Argentine beach resorts in high summer are positively comical - overcrowded beyond belief. Perhaps somebody here will know of a well-kept secret though! Beaches in Brazil are glorious and many - but during holiday time they too will be packed. My favourites are in the north-eastern part of the country, in the states of Alagoas and Sergipe, though there are thousands of them scattered between Maranhão in the north all the way down to the Argentine border.
Let me know if you need more specific advice. I kept a blog of my journey around South America, which might help give you some ideas. Wherever you go, whatever you do, South America won't disappoint.
May 8, 2013 1:53 AM
2Hey Will, you said you went from Arica to Colombia... was it an expensive flight? Who did you fly with? Was it cheaper to buy once you were in the country? Have you any other suggestions of how to get from Chile or Argentina to Colombia cheaply?!! I'll be arriving into Argentina next month and whilst I want to do some travel there initially and possibly across to Chile, I really want to get up to Colombia for the winter months then head back down through Peru/Bolivia/Chile/Argentina later in the year.
Ben - sorry to muscle in on your post, but sounds like Will has given you some great feedback already anyway, so hope you don't mind :)
May 8, 2013 2:03 AM
3I'm with polyglot on this one; 4 months for all that is possible, but will probably make everything feel way too rushed.
You mention Machu Picchu, Torres del Paine and Buenos Aires are must-sees for you. In that case, skip Colombia, Ecuador, and the northern part of Peru, start in Machu Picchu, skip Bolivia and head down to Patagonia via Chile. Spend some time there and make you way up through Argentina to end your trip on Brazil's beaches. Please note this does mean you will spend all of your time in the most expensive parts of SA (Machu Picchu + Chile, Argentina, Brazil).
Another option would be to visit Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia; that gives you roughly a month in each. To name a few highlights, this option would give you Machu Picchu, the Galapagos (expensive, but worth it!), the Uyuni salt flats, as well as the beaches on the Caribbean coast of Colombia, but not Torres del Paine or Buenos Aires.
May 8, 2013 3:44 AM
No problem. Having got to the northern tip of Chile, we wanted to get to Colombia before descending again in a C shape through Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia in order to get the best hiking weather in Huaraz. The easiest and cheapest option we could find involved bussing from Arica to Arequipa via Tacna - sneaking in a three day visit to the Cañón del Colca - and flying Arequipa-Medellín via Lima and Bogotá, with TACA/Avianca. It was pretty brutal - departing AQP at 21.30, 6 hour layover in LIM through the night, early morning flight to BOG and another layover there before final hop to MDE. From memory we paid GBP190, I think (my home currency, you'll have to do the conversion!). For the distance covered I though it was a good price. I've just checked my email archive and - darn, I'm good ;0) - it was GBP185 including taxes. We could have paid less because we fannied about umming and ahing on the ebookers website.
Hope this helps!
May 8, 2013 4:20 AM
5Agree with the posters above..technically possible but you would spend most of your trip on buses,rather than actually doing anything.
I'd also leave out Colombia (even if its a great country) and Ecuador,and start in Peru.Bolivia,a little of Chile,into and across Argentina and maybe up as far as Rio.If you have the money,a couple of flights will save you some time.....
That is just about ok for 4 months,moving fast.
Your budget will be tight for some of those countries (esp Brazil...I'd stay there only a little time for some beach and a look at Rio).
May 8, 2013 4:39 AM
Shoot. Looking on kayak.co.uk a one-way flight AQP-MDE is coming in at GBP440!!! That's nearly 2.5 times the price we paid in early March 2012. That's crazy.
I suggest you look at different websites - the differences can be startling. Despegar.com is a popular option in South America although personally I haven't found it useful. You should also consider looking at other arrival cities. For example Quito is very near the Colombian border (a quick trip through Otavalo and Ibarra, both worthy of a visit).
Best of luck!
May 8, 2013 5:47 AM
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May 8, 2013 4:18 PM
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