Slowtravelling South America

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slowtraveler
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Slowtravelling South America

Post by slowtraveler »

I see lots of love for Latin America here so I'm looking for any recommendations for the continent. What to see, how to go cheaply, where to stay.

I planned to see some major cities, the ocean, the Amazon, and the Andes in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, and then Iguazu Falls and the ocean in Brazil.

I intend to slow travel and stay a few nights in a guesthouse or hostel to feel a city then get a monthly rental in the cities I like to lower housing costs through slow travel.

I had an amazing time travelling Southeast Asia for ~1k/month so I'm hopeful that 1.5k/month will be enough to compensate the higher costs in South America.

Do you have any ideas to share?

Alphaville
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Re: Slowtravelling South America

Post by Alphaville »

when?

slowtraveler
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Re: Slowtravelling South America

Post by slowtraveler »

Once lock down finishes, this year. It already started but I haven't progressed much with the lock down.

The plan will likely consume a year or 2.

Alphaville
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Re: Slowtravelling South America

Post by Alphaville »

wait, you’re stuck somewhere right now?

i was gonna say you wanna go to the andes in the dry season, roughly may through october. roads will be in better shape, no landslides, few disasters. same works for the amazon: avoid the floods.

use the summer months for the coasts/beaches.

avoid venezuela.

judging by your name i’m sure you already know not to look like a gringo tourist ready to get pickpocketed, or worse, kidnapped, so i’ll skip all that, but consider that economic consequences may be severe and crime will increase, and this will vary by country, so keep a sharp eye on the politics.

as for a route: maybe you could redo che guevara’s loop hahah. buy maybe extended even—start from brazil and end in panama? alternatively you can go over the andes and travel to brazil by river boat.

this is such a huge continent i don’t know where to start because info is *vast* and i think guides/websites are much better for that. lonely planet guides used to be great for that sort of thing.

so where are you now?

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Ego
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Re: Slowtravelling South America

Post by Ego »

This last trip we visited Colombia, Peru and Chile.

Colombia is fabulous. The coast is more expensive and not nearly as nice as the beach communities in SE Asia but Medellin is a great city. We rented near the stadium where there are some world class training facilities. The passion for cycling is second to none. I've often thought that C40 could hang out there for a year and would come back a serious CAT3 or 2 rider. Good quality food is inexpensive at grocery stores and there are many good inexpensive shared accommodations with full kitchens. Overall, we left Colombia with the feeling that we wanted to go back. Similar to how we feel about Thailand. People are extremely friendly and kind.

Peru is a fascinating country but once past the incredibly rich and interesting culture... it is just okay. This time around we didn't go to the coast. We've been twice now and I don't think we'll be going back.

Chile is nice but they are going through hard times right now. It is not cheap.

The last time we were in Brazil 9/11 had just happened and we were considering returning home. Brazil reinvigorated us. A lot has changed since then but everyone still raves about the place. I would go in a heartbeat. Maybe the next trip.

slowtraveler
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Re: Slowtravelling South America

Post by slowtraveler »

@Alphaville
The seasonality pointers are really helpful. I didn't know that. Thank you.

Do you have any other wisdom regarding the Amazon?

I am also always up to hear how to better protect myself against kidnapping. I wear old clothes typically, have a barely working phone that is very cracked, don't carry large amount of cash, use ATM's in banks, wear 0 jewelry, and don't appear European to Latinos. What else is there? Hide money in a belt or underwear?

@Ego
I hear the Atlantic coast is nicer, Santa Marta in particular is on my list. I keep hearing amazing things about Medellin and Brazil. Medellin may have a pollution problem and Brazil is the place everybody tells me I must go to but it's also the most dangerous.

In Peru, I long to see the Andes, I don't think the oceans will compare to Colombia, Chile, or Mexico.

I actually plan to stay most of the time in Colombia and Brazil unless I find the Amazon in Peru captivates me.

The general plan is Bogota-Medellin (may settle here) - Santa Marta - maybe Cali-maybe Colombian Amazon-maybe Ecuador for Amazon next to Andes- Machu Pichu-Peruvian- Peruvian Amazon- Santiago -Patagonia-Iguazu Falls- Brazil beaches.

I know I'll need some vaccines a month before the Amazon.

I'm currently close to the 2nd largest reef in the world and anxious to dive.

Alphaville
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Re: Slowtravelling South America

Post by Alphaville »

so you’re in the caribbean somewhere?

coming down from colombia into the andes would be a good option, except that colombia has been under constant curfews and ecuador has been lousy with deaths, especially in guayaquil, and peru got a decent hold on the plague but it closed borders.

it’s not just regular people dying in south america but also doctors and nurses. it would be a horrible imposition to overload them further.

infection rates in parts of the amazon have been very high, in part due to medical facilities and in part due to more anarchic lifestyles. not sure of the status of other diseases endemic to the region like cholera or malaria or yellow fever, right now. time will tell.

the amazon region is fantastic however, teeming with life in an incomprehensible density, and so well worth the visit, but the timing is pretty unfortunate.

as for avoiding kidnappings: the express modality is the most common, basically you get taken to an atm (or multiple ones) to make withdrawals. you already avoid looking rich, which is good, the other part is not to look lost or disoriented, so walk like you know where you’re going and learn the languages. then again you don’t want to look too poor and get treated like dirt, haha. find the happy medium.

spanish and portuguese are not terribly different and some fluency will be very helpful. also, watch where you atm. credit cards get swiped, but offer more protections.

the location of kidnapping hotspots varies with the times. areas with high crime or guerrilla activity or social unrest will offer more challenges. most glaringly (again) avoid venezuela right now, but the situation is changing elsewhere as we speak.

colombia has been doing great recently and the cities are safe, but we’ll have to wait and see the aftermath of the plague which is having serious economic inpact. colombia has a solid economy and should recover quickly though. bogotá is a great city.

peru, same thing, very prosperous in recent times, and seems to be holding up economically, but it closed borders, there are curfews, poor people are on government support, etc.

chile has been the rich kid of the pacific for decades now, but a lot of social unrest in recent months add risk and the pandemic closed down a lot of businesses. i’d stay clear till things stabilize. in the meantime, read bolaño.

argentina has recently lifted lockdown, and has also been on a fiscal death spiral that’s likely favorable for you currency exchange, but i’d wait and see.what’s what.

me, i’d go home to be safe now and return next year.

when you finally go, if things have remained as they were before the plague, let me say:

macchu picchu is nice or whatever, but it’s becoming overcrowded like the highest morgue in the world, the everest (lol). you can’t eat ruins, but in peru, lima and arequipa have huge gastronomic traditions and some seriously great places to ear... look maybe for gastón acurio youtubes for an idea or where/what to eat. also, the north coast is sunny and a surfer’s paradise, and the seafood is glorious.

argentina’s food is also incredible and worth the pilgrimage, but maybe more familiar to you coming from europe... except it has its own local twists, plus meat is practically a religion... oh, the meats... the meats...

bigato
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Re: Slowtravelling South America

Post by bigato »

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colombian_conflict
https://www.npr.org/2020/02/06/80276417 ... -being-kil
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles ... re-at-risk
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/ ... ao-salgado
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/articl ... virus.html
Argentina: Argentina’s borders are closed to foreign nationals and non-residents entering the country.
Belize: The Government of Belize closed all borders including suspending all international flights to the Philip Goldson International Airport.
Bolivia: All international flights to and from Bolivia are suspended and all land border crossings closed.
Brazil: The Brazilian Government have banned entry for all foreign passengers.
Chile: The Chilean Government has decided to close its borders from Wednesday 18th March onward. This means that those who do not have Chilean residence will be prohibited from entering Chile by air, sea or land. Disembarking from a cruise on the Chilean coasts is also prohibited. Our thanks to Southbound for this information.
Colombia: Colombia’s land and sea borders are now closed, including the border with Ecuador. With effect from 23 March, airports are closed to international traffic .
Costa Rica: All commercial airlines have now ceased operating to/from Costa Rica until further notice.
Cuba: From midnight on 1 April 2020: all commercial and charter flights are suspended from entering or leaving Cuba until further notice.
Ecuador: International arrival flights have been suspended, and foreign nationals are no longer admitted into the country.
El Salvador: All foreign visitors are banned from entering the country.
Guatemala: All international and domestic flights are banned.
Guyana: The Government of Guyana has cancelled all international flights from the Cheddi Jagan International Airport at Timehri and the Eugene Correia Airport at Ogle.
Honduras: All land, air and maritime borders are now closed for the transit of people.
Panama: Borders are closed to all foreign visitors. There will be no international flights to or from Panama until at least 22nd June.
Paraguay: All passenger flights have been suspended and borders will remain closed to travellers until further notice.
Peru: All borders are now closed.
Suriname: Suriname has closed its borders.
Uruguay: Only Uruguayan nationals and legal residents are allowed to enter Uruguay.
Venezuela: A large number of commercial flight routes to/from Venezuela (and internally) have been suspended due to travel and border restrictions.
information updated as of may 16th. Source: https://www.msn.com/en-gb/travel/news/c ... r-BB11gKfH

slowtraveler
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Re: Slowtravelling South America

Post by slowtraveler »

I'm in that general area for the time. My visa expires in September so by that point, I should have many more options on where to go.

Maybe Sep-Dec in Colombia for the beaches and mountain cities. From there I could traverse Ecuador and Peru slowly to hit the dry season in May but maybe better would be hopping around since Dec is summer in Chile and the safest time for Patagonia. Then Brazil until April so I can get to Peru in the dry season.

I found the dry season depends on the city in South America, some have the dry season around May like you pointed out, whereas others around summer time. Is this due to the hurricane season taking water from the Andes regions and pushing it towards the coasts? I don't yet know of the water season details in South America. There's 2 oceans and a massive forest to add all sorts of complexity.

Seeing, maybe living in, the Amazon is a dream of mine. To experience the world's largest and most biodiverse forest would quench a long time thirst of mine. The Amazon is likely relatively consistent in weather due to being so tropical so as long as it's not the equivalent of monsoon season, it should be okay.

My age is young and I'm curious to see the results of an antibody test as I suspect I already passed the virus.

I'm 70% European according to genetics testing but I've never lived there. Latin America and Asia have called out to me more for the time being. I just spent almost 3 years in Asia so I feel like I'm home now just being in this hemisphere.

Your recommendation is giving me another idea. I could fly into Argentina and go to Patagonia from there. I know Chile is expensive so this may be a way around that to still see Patagonia but for cheap. Thanks for that idea.

I hear Machu is gorgeous but overcrowded like you say. There's another archaeological site across the mountain but it requires a 4 day trek and I got bad knees for distance hikes. I believe Peru is developing that site to make it easier to access but by then, it'll be crowded as well.

@Bigato
Thanks for confirming that everything is closed for now. I'm doing this journey slow enough that this should have passed by the time I arrive.

You got any tips on where to go that's not too crazy expensive in Brazil yet still gorgeous and ideally safe?

bigato
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Re: Slowtravelling South America

Post by bigato »

Most places that are not in tourist guides and that are not too big will be very safe, and people will be warming and welcoming like you experienced in asian culture. Now gorgeous is subjective. The country has continental size, there are way too many things to see in a lifetime. Ask me again once things are open and I'll be able to offer more specific advice.

Alphaville
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Re: Slowtravelling South America

Post by Alphaville »

the basic structure here (too many details, too long to explain) is that the andes separate the amazon from the pacific

the pacific carries a current of cold water from antarctica, along with penguins and seals and other stuff, and the cold-hot mix of water saturates the water with minerals which makes for sucky resort bullshit but great productive green seas, hence the abundant and excellent fish and seafood. the coast starts as very cold and wet in the south and gets hotter drier as you move north, more or less- think reverse of alaska to pnw to sonora- not the same but roughly. the atacama desert is the driest place in the world.

then el niño comes in summer (dec-march) and the humboldt current gets disrupted and equatorial areas get some rain. depening how bad, rains move deeper south, cause landslides and floods in the western andes.


when the summer comes to the amazon the evaporation is held back at the eastern slopes of the andes, where the rain pours down and forms the rivers that feed the amazon. it rains all the time there, but summer is even more active so floods happen.

there’s a ton of stuff to learn and the andes have all sorts of altitude-dependent microclimates.

alexander von humboldt traveled the continent in the warly xix century and his personal narrative of the travels to etc etc... make a great read, because a) he was the first guy to pay attention to the geography of the american continent: mountains, climate, flora and fauna, etc, to the point that he in some ways “invented” the continent, at least the physical understanding of it, and b) the earth is still basically the same, and although we’re wrecking the place fast, his observations still very much hold.

slowtraveler
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Re: Slowtravelling South America

Post by slowtraveler »

Thanks Bigato, so mainly stay away from Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. I love the less touristy areas more as people tend to be friendlier and the nature is still gorgeous, as demonstrated in your journal.

Alphaville, you are like an encyclopedia on Latin America. I gotta watch some documentaries to improve my understanding here but you could talk all day about Latin America and I'd read every word. Thank you for all the gems of wisdom so far.

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