The Top things you need to know for planning your South America trip…
Where do I even begin…my first solo trip to South America! It was extremely exciting and in the run up to the trip, I don’t think I even had the fear until I landed.
Along with writing my individual blog posts for each country I thought this post would be useful for those planning their trip to SA. I mean, after all it is a whole continent! It took me a whole month to plan my 2 month trip in South America. I started off by speaking to a lot of friends who had already been and also researching online.
Now if you’re like me and a total excel – type A geek you’ll naturally want to create your own excel spreadsheet. But if you’re not I would still suggest creating one to have all your ideas/budgets/links together in one place.
So here are a few things you’ll need to think about in chronological order…
Step 1: Injections
I’d suggest if you’re planning last minute, make injections a priority as some of these can take up to 1 month before you can leave the country.
Step 2: Route
Once I had that sorted I started to plan my route and which countries I wanted to hit. I started from Peru and ended in Brazil but you can start in Brazil and go vice versa.
After much contemplation I decided on the following route:
PERU > BOLIVIA > CHILE > ARGENTINA > BRAZIL
As I didn’t want to be spending all my time on overtime buses or planes I missed out Columbia and stuck to five countries in the two months. Bear in mind, Brazil is massive and there are so many things to do and see there alone.
Step 3: Cities/Towns
So now that I knew which countries I wanted to cover, I decided to research around which cities and must-see sights I wanted to see. You can check my individual blog posts for each country but here is a brief summary of the cities and sights I covered and highly recommend. Some of the most recommended must do things are as follows:
PERU: Lima-Miraflores Cusco-Machu Pichu, Rainbow Mountains
LAKE TITICACA and COPACABANA
BOLIVIA: Sucre Uyuni -Salt Flats Lagunas
CHILE: San Pedro Atacama-driest dessert in the world Valley of the Moon
ARGENTINA (for the steak of course): Salta, Buenos Aires (Tango shows), Iguazu Falls (Argentine and Brazilian side)
BRAZIL: Florianopolis (beaches) Buzios (Cabo Frio beaches) Rio (Christ the redeemer, Sugar loaf, Lapa steps, the Two Brothers Hike, Ipanema and Copacabana beach) Ilha Grande-Lopez Mendez beach
If I had more time I would have definitely gone to Columbia, Ecuador and Patagonia too!
Step 4: Budget
Now that you’ve determined which countries you want to hit and how long you’ve got it’s time to see how far your £££ can stretch. You can alter the amount of time you spend in each country depending on how much money you have saved up. Generally speaking as you go further south (countries such as Chile, Argentina and Brazil) the more expensive it gets. However, places like Cusco can get quite pricey too due to it being such a touristy area.
Step 5: Flights and Insurance
Book flights and travel insurance (World Nomads is the best)! Once this is done, there’s no going back!!! Time to get excited!
Step 6: Book the Must See Things
Budget done, now all you need to do is book the top tourist things you MUST DO. For example, I know the Inka Trek to Machu Pichu books up so quickly and you’ll probably need a month to book in advance. However, if you’ve got under a month -not too fear! Check out my Peru blog post which talks about which company I used to do the Jungle Trek to Machu Pichu.
Step 7: Accommodation
I’d suggest only booking the first couple of nights of accommodation in advance and then free style it from there. You’ll meet so many other travellers and will change your plans if you book too much in advance. However, do research the best hostels/hotels before going out there! If you are travelling alone I definitely recommend staying in hostels as this is really the best way to meet people!
Step 8: Pack
I’m not going to put a detailed description of what to pack as there may be guys reading this but if you are a girl (or a guy) and you want further advice in want to pack, give me a holllllaaa! The only thing I would suggest is to check the weather, some people seem to imagine the whole of SA to be sunny every day. Well that definitely wasn’t the case for me. Just imagine going through different seasons of the year and you’ll be fine!
Now get planning…