Come on guys you don't need to bring the kitchen sink!
I am amazed to see backpackers carry as much as they can possibly can.
You really don't need all that junk, I got my stuff down to one small duffle bag and one small day pack.
I could easily fit all my gear inside the bus in the rack above my seat which made boarding and deboarding a breeze since I didn't have to wait with a group of backpackers for the driver to unload the trunk.
All you really need is a passport, credit card, guidebook, and a clean pair of knickers!
I brought along my laptop computer since most of the numerous Internet cafes throughout South America will let you plug into the local and fast (1.5mb - 6mb)ethernet/Internet cable wich gives you a better user experience since most of the Internet PCs use low quality CRT monitors.
Every McDonalds restaurant I visited in Peru and Chile and the Burger Kings in La Paz, Bolivia, provide free WiFi although it was usually slow (128K) and power outlets were scarce or not available.
Your laptop also provides great entertainement in the form of DVDs, podcasts, and games for those long haul bus rides. Bring an extra battery for extra entertainment!
You need two outlet plug extensions for your ac power cord which you can get in South America at any of the numerous hardware stores for a buck(ask for an "adaptor").
1. a plug extension that converts your American three prong to a two prong (three prong oultlets are very rare to find in South America)
2. a plug to convert your American two prong rectangle to two round prong European style plug
The little, rectangular, black box on your ac power cord will take care of the 110 - 220 Voltage transformation so no need to worry about frying your laptop.
Argentina has a funky angled three prong plug that accepts the rounded European two prong (the polarization was reversed so that cheap Australian appliances wouldn't flood the market and undercut the more expensive local brands but this doesn't affect the European rounded two prong appliances)
Fondest memory: Toilets flush counter-clockwise!
A Two Month Triangle In South America By Bus(no flights)
L i m a
Santiago - Buenos Aires
Just to give you a ballpark idea of how much of South America you can cover by bus in two months, I started in Lima, Peru and headed south to Santiago, Chile and then east to Punte Del Este, Uruguay before heading north back to Lima, Peru via Paraguay and Bolivia. I visited most of the major sites along this triangle including(Machu Pichu, Cusco, Arrica, Iquque, Atacama, Mendoza, Buenos Aires, Montevideo, Salta, Posadas, Encarnacion, Asuncion, Tupiza, Potosi, La Paz, Puno, Aeroquipa, Nazca, Ica)
I only took the overnight bus twice across long stretches of uninteresting terrain in Argentina but preferrred to travel 4 to 6 hour trips during the day to view the scenery.
I found it took me a day to fully recover from an all night bus ride.
For entertainment on long bus rides such I downloaded lots of really interesting BBC Podcasts and played games on my laptop and watched DVD movies(you should bring an extra battery)
Almost all of the buses are doubledeckers and I found that the first row of seats on top was the best since it gives you a splendid panoramic view but are hard to get unless you reserve your seat at least a day in advance.
There are always opportunities to buy food and drinks from vendors who board the bus every now and then though your choice will be limited to a few items.
The entire trip cost me US$3,000 (US$50/day) including rountrip airfare (New York - Lima US$350 through Expedia.com)
Always try to bring the latest series of US Dollar notes(they update them every 7 years to combat counterfeiters) and don't bring any that are even partially torn(one moneychanger wouldn't accept my US$20 bill because it had a tiny - 4mm tear on the top of it!)
In Paraguay they will not accept US$100 bills that begin with serial numbers "CB" or "D"
Everywhere in Spanish South America you find monuments and statues to Simón José Antonio de la Santísima Trinidad Bolívar Palacios y Blanco – more commonly known as Simón Bolívar. Every city and town in Venezuela and Colombia has a main square known as Plaza Bolívar, that usually has a bust or a statue of Bolívar.
Photo 2 is the statue in Guayaquil Ecuador.
Photo 3 is the base of the statue in Santa Marta.
Places named in honor of Bolívar in South America include
* In Argentina:
o Bolívar, Buenos Aires Province
* In Colombia:
o Bolívar Department
o Bolívar, Cauca
o Bolívar, Santander
o Bolívar, Valle del Cauca
o El Carmen de Bolívar, Bolívar
o Bolívar Square, Bogotá
o Park of Bolívar, Medellín
o Pico Simón Bolívar
o Ciudad Bolívar, locality in Bogotá
o Simón Bolívar Park, Bogotá
* In Ecuador:
o Bolívar Province, Ecuador
* In El Salvador:
o Bolívar (town), in La Union province
* In Peru:
o Bolívar District
o Bolívar, the capital of Bolívar District
o Bolívar Province, in La Libertad Region
* In Venezuela:
o The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, the official long name of Venezuela
o Bolívar State
o Ciudad Bolívar, capital of Bolívar State
o Pico Bolívar, Highest Peak in Venezuela
o Simón Bolivar Airport, airport serving the capital city of Venezuela, Caracas
Other things named for him include:
* The Simón Bolívar United World College of Agriculture in Venezuela, a school in Venezuela that offers a diploma in agriculture, and that is part of the United World College Movement.
* Venezuelan bolívar, the currency of Venezuela
* The Puerto Bolívar Airport, a private airport in the Guajira Department of Colombia
* The Bolívar cigar brand from Cuba
* Simon Bolívar Zoo, in San José, Costa Rica
* El Club Bolívar, a Bolivian football team who play at the Estadio Libertador Simón Bolívar
* The Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra (Orquesta Sinfónica Simón Bolívar)'
* USS Simon Bolivar (SSBN-641)
* Simón Bolívar University in Caracas, Venezuela
Fondest memory: He was a very important person in the history of South America in implementing their independence from the colonial domination of Spain, particularly for the countries of Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Panama.
He was born in Venezuela and died of TB outside of Santa Marta Columbia. Initially he was buried in the Cathedral in Santa Marta (photo 4). Thirteen years later, Bolivar's body was moved to his home town, Caracas but there remains the place where he was buried in Santa Marta. A rough translation of the plaque says:
In This August Place Was buried
Liberator and Father of Colombia
20 Decembre 1830.
Then - On July 24, 1839 - his Revered remains moved
opposite to the Andalusia vault altar under the dome
and at the entrance to the sanctuary.
Bolivarian Society Del Magdalena
Photo 5 is of the sign outside the Casa Urquiaga in Trujillo and it was once the residence of Simón Bolívar. He lived here between 1824 and 1826. I understand that the home still contains the desk Bolívar used but either our guide did not point that out to us, or I missed it.
When we were there, Lima Peru was the site of APEC Conference (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) which includes 21 Pacific Rim countries or regions (styled 'member economies') to discuss the regional economy, cooperation, trade and investment. This group was the idea of Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke who led to the first meeting of APEC in the Australian capital Canberra in November 1989.
South American countries that are members of APEC are Peru (which was one of the initial members) and Chile which joined later. Mexico and the United States are also members.
Member economy Date of accession
Republic of Korea 1989
New Zealand 1989
United States 1989
Republic of China 1991
Hong Kong, China 1991
People's Republic of China 1991
Papua New Guinea 1993
They are also discussing including India.
The 2009 meeting will be in Singapore.
Fondest memory: There were police everywhere in the city (tanks on the corners and sharpshooters on the tops of the buildings in the Plaza Mayor - photo 4) and a lot of traffic detours (photo 3 and 5) and streets blocked off.
As to your question about preventing Altitude Sickness during rapid ascent:
Yes, hydration is essential -- and "take it easy" before you go around exploring Cusco by taking a short nap at your hotel.
The prophylactic dose for Diamox is 250mg every 8 to 12 hours before and during rapid ascent to altitude and its use has been reported to result in fewer and/or less severe symptoms (such as headache, nausea, shortness of breath, dizziness, drowsiness, and fatigue) of acute mountain sickness (AMS). I took my Diamox about a day before I arrived in Lima.
Note that Diamox is also a diuretic and so you really have to drink fluids to maintain the water in your system, and coca tea has also been advised which is also happens to be a diuretic. I also took the coca tea once I arrived in the hotel...so LOTS OF WATER needed. Diuresis also causes loss of potassium, so if you have a history of low potassium to begin with, be wary.
If you have problems with your kidneys (or if your potassium is on the low), you might have to think again about using diamox. It is also contraindicated in patients with cirrhosis because of the risk of development of hepatic encephalopathy (special note to alcoholics). High-dose aspirin and Diamox don't mix well as this combination can cause grave consquences.
Further, try to avoid alcohol around the time of your arrival as this may increase your risk of altitude sickness. However, if you are an alcoholic (I don't think you are though), think again because you might develop delirium tremens from alcohol withdrawal.
Also don't forget to bring antibiotics for treatment of severe diarrhea (Ciprofloxacin offers good coverage, unless you are allergic to this class of medicine).
Have fun in Lima! And glad to know you're taking health precautions before leaving.
You can cross into Buquebus, Colonia Express, to Colonia del Sacramento.
As for hotels for the disabled, I do not have a lot of reference, tend to get in touch with the same hotels.
I live in Uruguay, and it seems to me a fantastic idea to rent a car and travel by Uruguay.
Insurance will be a fantastic experience, people from small towns and rural areas is very hospitable and friendly.
That much enjoy the journey! Welcome!
January is the height of summer in Buenos Aires and Montevideo, if you play, you can Heber much heat.
To the south of Buenos Aires have beaches, but by that time of year is crowded.
Brazil has beautiful beaches of the north, more solitary.
In Uruguay, I suggest the beaches of Rocha, are fantastic, then travel north of Uruguay, visiting communities in sustainable tourism, cross into northern Argentina, and coninuar trip to Machu Picchu.
Or in the opposite direction.
I hope you serve something. Greetings
I never made that trip across the continent, but it's very common to do so for travel agents and travelers.
If you plan to know, you'll have to travel by bus from Santiago de Chile, go to Cordoba, in Uruguay to Salto, down to the city of Montevideo.
To find places, you'd have to spend at least 2 weeks, minimum.
You can tell that it is an interesting trip, because local cultures and uncover as much of each native country.
We're been travelling in SA for 7 months now and we've used ATM cards all the time. Between us we have 5 cards, though on a shorter trip 1 or 2 is sufficient. Based on our experience you will be able to use ATM practically everywhere. There are some popualr tourist towns without ATM (e.g. El Chalten Argentina) but this is noted in most guidebooks and you can just bring extra pesos.
I think it's more hassle than it's worth carrying around spare dollars/euro or travellers cheques. If you do want to carry cash, I think either dollar or euros will be fine, you will be able to change both anywhere if needs be. It's been our epxerience that dollars have been accepted in some places in Uruguay and Brazil but usually yuo will lose out on the exchange rate and it's nearly always better pay in local currency.
Many of the books I've read this year have been in preparation for our trip. If anyone has a recommendation for a good book related to South America, Antarctica or Central America, I would love to hear it. I'd be particularly interested in books by native South Americans as most of what I've read so far has been written by visitors or travellers. I’ve rated these below too for anyone whose interested.
At the Tomb of the Inflatable Pig: Travels Through Paraguay by John Gimlette 7/10
Motorcycle Diaries - Che Guevara 9/10
The Lost City of the Incas - Hiram Bingham 9/10
Between Extremes by Brian Keenan and John McCarthy 6/10
Inca Kola: A Traveller's Tale of Peru by Matthew Parris 6/10
The Gringo Trail - Mark Mann 6/10
An Unsung Hero: Tom Crean, Antarctic Survivor by Michael Smith 7/10
Cuba - The Land of Miracles by Stephen Smith 6/10
Lonely Planet Journeys: Green Dreams Travels in Central America by Steve Benz 6/10
Bad Times in Buenos Aires by Miranda France 8/10
Pole to Pole by Michael Palin 8/10
The Tailor of Panama by John le Carré 7/10
The Endurance: Shackleton's Antarctic Expedition by Caroline Alexander 8/10
Shadows on the Wasteland: Crossing Antarctica with Ranulph Fiennes by Mike Stroud 7/10
Terra Incognita - Sara Wheeler 9/10
Travels in a Thin Country - Sara Wheeler 8/10
West from Montevideo - J D Holzhauer 5/10
In Patagonia - Bruce Chatwin
The Old Patagonian Express by Paul Theroux
South American Diaries - John Hopkins
Nostromo by Joseph Conrad
Touching the Void 7/10
Motorcycle Diaries 8/10
Amores Perros 9/10
March of the Penguins 8/10
Brasil and the Foz do Iguacu is definitly one of the Highlights when visiting South America, and somehow an Icon for 3 Countries, Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay. and due to which season one visits,the changing colours of the waters is an outstanding natural beauty. it's also a question from which country does the Foz presents itself in all it's glory. well, this is in the eye of the beholder..in my humble opinion, Brazil has its nose in front.
but the South of Brasil has many gem's, not so very well known by mainstream Tourists. take a look at my Brasil pages and judge for yourself
Fondest memory: there has been an even more stunning, wild waters of mother nature.....Sete Quedas= Seven Falls.
they disappared, when the biggest Hydro Station was build. have a look at the website, very interesting information and wonderful pix, from a natural wonder that once was
an underrated Country, perhaps not a lot is known about it, or lacks the glamour of Brazil and Argentina. the native people not so much reconized then the Inkas or Aztecs.
early Jesuit Missions are witness of a lively Guarani culture.
Fondest memory: I found the people and the country enchanting and of great Hospitality. the Gran Chaco, like the Rainforst of the Amazon well worth exploring and when in South America, why not take a sidetrip and see for yourself. for more info go to my Paraquay page when you feel like it
the colours of Bolivia never faded in my Memory. the weavings so imaginative and the colours absolutly in harmonie. the patterns inheritated from centuries ago and from region to region a touch different.
its like the language, the patterns of the weaving pieces gives the region away
visit the highest Capital in the World...La Paz. from here you have many choices to explore the Andes. Bolivia has no beaches, but the landscapes make up for it
have a look at my separate Bolivia page
Fondest memory: I still have a woven small satchel, has been used for coca leaves, not by me though.
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