We arrived in Buenos Aires and decided to “settle down” for a month. We rented an apartment and are working on finishing up some online projects and finalizing our travel plans for South America. Knowing which way to turn is never easy.
We already had two big changes in our plans, mainly from a lack of research and preparation.
We flew into Sao Paulo with the plans of taking a bus to Iguazu Falls for a day or two and then busing it to Rio. The cost to get to Iguazu Falls by bus was minimum $200 USD per person and 18+ hour bus ride. We weren’t planning on spending more than a few days so we had to consider if the long travel days and money could be better used elsewhere in our trip.
I never want to be that jaded traveler who says “I’ve seen waterfalls”. I realize Iguazu Falls is an incredible natural wonder. A month ago we spent the day walking around Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe and were wowed by the power of the falls.
This was one of the trips along our RTW route that I was most excited for. I wanted to hike the W circuit and see the Perito Moreno glacier. We knew what we wanted to do, but after doing more research we realized two things:
1. It’s winter and there are only 1 or 2 companies who will actually take you on a tour because of the crazy cold and high winds. Some routes are closed down because the ice covering the roads and unsafe conditions.
2. Argentina is a HUGE country, the eighth largest in the world. Transportation involves three buses from Buenos Aires to El Calafate totaling 42 hours and $600+ USD per person to get down there. Or we could take a flight and pay $900+ USD per person.
I couldn’t justify taking this type of trip and spending this much money to arrive in a glacier park and not be able to explore due to the weather. I know plenty of people have made the trip south during the winter and maybe if we had done more research before coming we would be joining them, but with the last-minute decision we opted to skip Patagonia with a promise to ourselves to come back.
We are over 7 months into our RTW trip and have big plans for the rest of South America. Big plans which have no plans attached to them. Galapagos Islands being one of our most exciting, we need to figure out if we are staying on an island or jumping on a boat to cruise around… any suggestions? We want to explore the Peruvian Amazon and hike Macchu Picchu, and we need to find tour guides for both. Finally…what do you do in Ecuador for a month? Which city do we start in? We are spending the next month in intensive Spanish courses researching to find the best options for our upcoming adventures.
Leaving on this RTW trip we told ourselves no matter what we wouldn’t let ourselves be disappointed if we didn’t go somewhere. We have been given an opportunity to see so much this year and are grateful to being able to continue to see more. As for Iguazu Falls and Patagonia…we’ll be back!
What adventure did you skip because of price, travel distance or lack or planning?
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Tom Sheldon says
Yeah, those Argentine and Brazilian bus fares can get scary. Enjoy BA.
Josh Eaton says
It’s tough traveling anywhere after Southeast Asia. You get used to the low prices.
Peru is incredible. I spent two weeks there a couple of years ago, most of it in/around Cusco, Machu Pichu, and Lake Titicaca. My 5 days in Iquitos and the Muyuna Lodge were very different from the altitude, and I was glad I chose to go so far in the other direction for my Amazon experience.
I highly recommend Muyuna. When I was looking into it, their rates were slightly higher, but I liked the flexibility and list of activities they offered. Their staff was great, especially when I got sick upon arrival, and after a full day. Nothing quite like traveling solo and being sick while being 3 hours by boat from civilization. The guide and the other staff made sure to checked on me often and brought me soups, water, electrolytes.
I used Pachamama Explorers to help me with a few tours on my semi-independent trip. The woman I worked with paid attention to what I was looking for and helped me tweak my itinerary till I was happy. They are well rated on TA and the few travelers I spoke with recommended them – they run their own Inca trail hikes.
Enjoy South America!
Josh Eaton says
Wow, let’s hope we don’t get sick out in the wild! We’ll check out those tour companies thanks for the info.
We loved Quito and Banos. Cajas Nat’l Park near Cuenca was beautiful for hiking. If you’re coming from the south try Vilcabamba or Cuenca as your first stop. You can get great last minute deals for the Galapagos in Quito or if you’re very flexible, from P. Ayora on Santa Cruz. We did a 5 day cruise and then took a ferry to another island ourselves to so some diving. Lots of options for day trips, ferries, etc. We didn’t think of it until it was too late, but there are a few couchsurfing options out there if you DIY and want to save money! Either way you definitely want to move around – each island has a little something different to offer! I also highly recommend the alternative Salkantay trail to Machu Picchu too. I’ll stop before this turns into a book…have fun!
Josh Eaton says
Thanks! We are considering the Salkantay since we won’t be booking far in advance for the trek. Hoping we can get a good last minute deal for the Galapagos too.
Hey if you need any ideas about Peru, let me know. I grew up there. 🙂 Though I must admit, it’s been 9 years since I was there. But I desperately want to return and hike the Inca Trail – someday! (I’m a friend of Joanna’s.)
Caroline Eaton says
Hey Ashley, of course I know who you are.. no introductions needed 🙂 I would love to email you and hear your suggestions! Our general plan is to visit the Inca Trail and the Peruvian Amazon – but outside of that we are open!
Feel free to email me – I think my email address is listed with the comment. I lived for 9 years (1992-2001) in Lima, the capital. I’ve never been to Iquitos, which is probably where you’ll head, but I have been out to the jungle many times to a city called Pucallpa. I also visited on numerous occasions the mountain cities of Huaraz and Cajamarca, which I loved. And of course, Cusco and Machu Picchu… soooo worth it! We did the bus tour of Cusco and the Sacred Valley and then took a train to Machu Picchu for the day.
Enjoy some delicious Peruvian food for me. I grew up on that stuff (our maid cooked for us most nights, and made Peruvian food). Be sure to try the Inca Kola. 🙂
If you do head up to Huaraz, checking out Llangunco is a must! Absolutely gorgeous there!
If you’re wanting to do something in the desert of Peru (besides Lima), there’s a pretty cool oasis a few hours away named Huacachina. I recommend going sandboarding. 🙂 (Make sure you wear closed-toed shoes though, unlike me who tried to climb the dune in my sandals and had to turn around and go change shoes because the sand was so hot.)