Honduras/Belize/Guatamala/Costa Rica vs Peru/Boliva/Chili/Argentina
Replies: 7 - Last Post: Mar 16, 2012 11:43 PM Last Post By: CanadianWoman74
Mar 13, 2012 12:29 AM
Honduras/Belize/Guatamala/Costa Rica vs Peru/Boliva/Chili/ArgentinaHello! I am planning a 2 month trip, backpacking alone in Central or South America. I want to start the trip off with a 3-4 week Spanish School immersion and then head out from there. I've traveled on my own before, but not for almost 10 years. So I am excited and nervous :)
An ideal trip for me, combines chatting with the locals, dancing and having a beer in a local pub; with cool day trips I can do on my own by bus, hosteling and meeting awesome people, but also really trying to immerse myself as much as possible in the culture I am visiting; as safely as possible.
I have been researching Central America, mostly because of the size of the area, and how much diversity I think I can see in that time. However, both Central and Southern America sound amazing to me, but I know less about South America, other than it seems a bit safer but also slightly more expensive? Any of these assumptions actually true? :) Hard to tell from the guidebooks.
My budget is about $3000 which includes everything and flights. I am flying from Vancouver, Canada.
Can I do South America on that? Can I get to all 4 countries with a nice relaxed easy pace in 8 weeks? Also, are one of these areas more safe for solo female travelers than the other?
I want to do it all, but know I can only pick one. I'll be heading there SOON, April and May, so any feedback would be much appreciated. Unfortunately, I know more about Central America than South America, as that is where all my research has gone, so any guidance or suggestions from anyone who has been to BOTH would be greatly appreciated.
Suggestions of where best to fly in/out of, would also be appreciated.
Cheers and thanks in advance.
Mar 13, 2012 12:42 AM
1I should mention too, that I am not that big of a hiker, but I do like the occasional hike or stroll in the forest.
I am more interested in going to markets, having beer at local bars, eating as much as I can, meeting a mix of young fun Spanish speaking locals who want to take me dancing, and spending time in a home-stay with families off the beaten path, or with Indigenous cultures (which was the original appeal of Guatemala). Would enjoy some spiritual explorations as well.
I'd love a range of cities and small towns, all reachable by bus, on my own, without too much risk of the bus getting hijacked. I'd like to spend at least some of my time walking alone by myself, I know that in some places of course this is not safe, but I would like at least half of my trip to be safe for me to be wandering home at night by myself. (Maybe this is too much to ask for?)
Again, any and all suggestions, within a 8 week time frame would be soooo appreciated.
Mar 13, 2012 3:50 AM
2Your budget is way too low, double that at least if you are looking for airfare, 2 to 3 weeks of Spanish school, and living and travelling for two months. As a single female, as well, you cannot be safe if you skimp, especially in Central America. I am a female who has traveled to both areas by myself.
Mar 13, 2012 5:50 AM
3The prices for everyday things are about the same, in both areas.
South America has much longer distances, so it would mean higher spending on transport.
I would say that a $3000 budget is not completely impossible. To save money, keep the distances small, eat food from markets instead of "touristy" restaurants, and don't move around too much. Also forget expensive hikes with guides and porters, do your own hikes instead.
Regarding safety: I prefer to find companions for day hikes. There is no rescue service, hardly any cellphone coverage in the countryside, and every year a few travellers go missing because they died in crimes or freak accidents that happened without witnesses.
Mar 14, 2012 11:56 PM
4I read about that in Panama. That sounds amazing.
Thanks all for your input!
My budget can increase, but I'd like to keep it around $250 a week.
Any more thoughts on any difference in safety for the solo female traveler between the two regions? Guide books like to say that violence occurs more in the Central regions, but robberies and petty theft happens more in the Southern regions.
I want to do it all!
Mar 15, 2012 6:10 AM
Mar 15, 2012 9:53 AM
6Violent crime against tourists is relatively uncommon in SA, though there are accounts of it just in the last year in areas such as La Candelaria, Bogota, and a trail in Argentina. Couldn't say for CA other than Panama - the CA board will obviously have advised you, but as a regular traveler I don't imagine it being dangerous to the point of being scared to go there.
In either CA or SA, it's always smarter to buddy up, not stay out late at night alone especially if drinking, ask your hostel which are the safe/unsafe areas, and definitely if going on a trail always go in a group.
Bus stations in many towns and cities tend to be in dodgy areas. Downtown historical areas/plazas are magnets for petty thieves.
As with the many female backpackers I've met, who've been to CA and SA, you'll have a safe trip - it's good to be doing your research on safety, but don't agonize over it.
Mar 16, 2012 11:43 PM
7Thanks everyone. I increased my budget, and narrowed it down even more.
- Two weeks in Guatemala studying Spanish
- Two weeks in Honduras studying Spanish
- Followed by Intrepid Tour through Nicaragua and more of Honduras, ending in San Jose
- 1 week on my own in Costa Rica and 1 week in Panama
- (However, these last two points could be replaces with Belize/Mexico)
- 2 Wks studying in La Paz, Boliva, 2 wks studying in Sucre, Bolivia
- 4 weeks to travel through Argentina, Uruguay and maybe Chili
Don't both of these sound awesome? :)
Has anyone taken similar trips? Any recommendations?
Personally, I think the first one sounds best, but I am worried about my safety traveling on my own, on buses, etc. I know that my odds of having a safe trip are good, but that doesn't appear to make me feel safe. I will definitely look for travel buddies though.
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