UPDATE: We’ve been to South America twice now (WOW never knew I’d get to say/write that!) and so want to let you know that the general IT here below is from our first SA trip in July – August 2014.
Will add our 2016 – 2017 SA itinerary soonest!
Since we will be doing this once in our lives, might as well get ambitious and shoot for the stars. So we did! This trip may have been borne out of my wild Machu Picchu dream as a kid but as the months rolled by, my once modest IT developed into a full swing carpe-motherfracker-diem packed one as I added a few more countries, cities, and towns along the way.
If you’re going to dream, might as well dream BIG right?!?!
Quito, the capital city, will be the starting point of our trip. It was a choice of starting either in Bogotá or Quito but the latter won because 1) unfortunately we can’t stretch our budget any longer and; 2) the terrible Colombian reputation (two words: drugs and murders). BUT really, those are a thing of past now. Post-Escobar Colombia is slowly recovering from its once tumultuous past and set to be the next hottest tourist destination. Who knows, maybe we’d find ourselves in Cartagena one day.
Plus, landing in Quito will save us a great deal of bucks. Ha! Scrimps sometimes win.
After Quito we’re headed to the outdoor capital of the country, Baños, to see if we can unleash our inner Evel Knievel. Then the UNESCO World Heritage city of Cuenca before crossing the border to…
First stop in the land of llamas and Machu Picchu: Mancora. This little beach town is the perfect venue to watch the World Cup finals. The sound of waves crashing nearby while holding a cold cerveza as we cheer to whoever gets in the final round. Hopefully we get there on time!
Braving the 17 hours bus ride to Lima because it’s worth a try (and numb bums!) to get to the know the capital city, plus a little side trip to the town of Ica down south where another adventurous activity awaits us.
Then on to the mountains of Cusco aka the gateway town to MACHU PICCHU where we disappear in the Incan mountains and valleys for 4 days. An extra day in Aguas Calientes after the trek to explore and admire Huayna Picchu up close. The extra day is also for retracing Max’s steps and paying homage to the movie where I got this redonkulous but bright idea. 😉
After recuperating in Cusco for a couple more days, we head to the white city of Arequipa then disappear again in the world’s deepest canyon for a few days. Yes, we like punishing ourselves with these treks! 🙂
Lastly, we head over to Puno to pay a visit to the Uros people inhabiting the floating islands of the highest navigable lake in the world. This is where we say goodbye to Peru and say hello to…
The Bolivian side of Lake Titicaca is rated as the better (and prettier) choice to experience the lake. Also, maybe because we were swept away by the rustic charm of Isla del Sol and can’t wait to get there before moving on to the world’s highest administrative capital, La Paz. We hope by this time, altitude sickness is already a non-issue (crossing our fingers). All these altiplano makes my head dizzy just thinking about it.
Pass through the mining city of Potosi to get to Salar de Uyuni aka the largest salt flat in the planet to live off the grid once again for 3 days. We resurface in Sucre, the historic capital (what, two capitals?!) of the country before heading into the welcoming tropical arms of Santa Cruz, a huge comfort after freezing our asses off in Peru and Bolivia! From here, we’ll be ferried off to the outskirts of Quijarro via the tren de la muerte (ooh the name is enough to give me the shivers haha) where we’ll be subjected to our last border check onwards to…
The land of samba and futebol. Depending on how fast and easy we get stamped in to Corumba, Brazil, we may or may not make it to Bonito. But we sure are making it to Foz do Iguaçu even if it means enduring a 22-hour bus ride. Welcome to the geographic heartland of South America where it literally takes days to get from one point to another. Well, most of it.
Brazil is going to be EXPENSIVE (in our standards) so our stay here will be relatively short. After marveling at the beauty of Iguazu Falls, we’ll be back on the road again with an arduous 16-hour bus ride to São Paulo where we’ll get touristy and do all sorts of touristy stuff but on budget. As I already mentioned, Brazil is gonna be slightly costly and we plan to get back home debt-free as humanly as possible (hee), pretty much our IT here has been very carefully laid out already. We’ll let you know if we hit our target!
On to Rio, which sadly marks the end of our South America backpacking (sniff sniff) trip. We’ll make the most out of it by sipping caipirinhas on the beach as we watch the sun set down on the horizon while the Cariocas wiggle their bon-bons on their skimpy bikinis.
Two months is a short time to cram as many tourist attractions and destinations as possible. With this IT, we’ve barely scratched the surface of the massive continent that is South America. With any luck (and a lot of hard work in between), we can come back for an Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay and Amazon leg. But that’s not for another 5 years of saving or so.
I know my Spanish sucks but I believe we’ll get by haggling for goods and services just fine because entiendo y hablo un poco de Español and that’s better than nothing, right!?
Portuguese though will be the death of us.
See you in two months!