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Suggestions needed for easy South America trip

Suggestions needed for easy South America trip

Old Jul 26, 2023, 2:03 pm
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Suggestions needed for easy South America trip

This might be a naive post/question but I didnít know how else to start thinking about this trip. Iíve never been to South America and would like to go with spouse and 15 year old kid in either mid March (preferred), May or July. Galapagos, Machu Picchu, Patagonia, the Amazon are all places Iíd like to go, but I need this first trip to be mostly inexpensive (lodging at $400/night total or hotel rewards), easy to get to and navigate within, and mostly relaxing (not a trip that requires several internal flights, trains, boats, etc to get to multiple destinations and not a place where we are on the go go go every day). We have 7-10 days to spend and I would only want to ďmoveĒ once, if at all. We like cities and beaches and mountains and animals and hiking and are game for pretty much anything. Have any of you had a trip like this? If so, please tell me where you went.
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Old Jul 26, 2023, 4:26 pm
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Originally Posted by Stgermainparis
This might be a naive post/question but I didnít know how else to start thinking about this trip. Iíve never been to South America and would like to go with spouse and 15 year old kid in either mid March (preferred), May or July. Galapagos, Machu Picchu, Patagonia, the Amazon are all places Iíd like to go, but I need this first trip to be mostly inexpensive (lodging at $400/night total or hotel rewards), easy to get to and navigate within, and mostly relaxing (not a trip that requires several internal flights, trains, boats, etc to get to multiple destinations and not a place where we are on the go go go every day). We have 7-10 days to spend and I would only want to ďmoveĒ once, if at all. We like cities and beaches and mountains and animals and hiking and are game for pretty much anything. Have any of you had a trip like this? If so, please tell me where you went.
You can cross out Patagonia (at least the mid to south regions) in May or July. Galapagos and Machu Picchu likely won't fall within your ease of travel and cost requirements. For easy and plenty to do, I'd fly to Santiago de Chile and have a car, and go in March. The coast is about 100km west, the mountains are even closer to the east, and plenty of nature driving south or north in the Central Valley. I'd also consider a quick hop (flight) to Mendoza as part of the trip. Weather should be lovely - late summer / early fall in a region that rarely gets a drop of rain until later in the fall. I'm partial to the La Serena / Coquimbo area and the Valle de Elqui - about a 6 hour drive north (or 40 minute flight from SCL) - if you have any interest in desertscapes along with beaches, it is an easy and convenient place

You'll note that I'm not recommending Buenos Aires for your trip, notwithstanding the fact that I have a place there. It isn't that there isn't plenty to do, but I've been going there since the late 1990s, and have never, not once, gotten behind the wheel of a car in Argentina, and have no desire to ever do so. I've frequently rented cars and have driven in much of Chile.



Yes, mountains are this close to Santiago, and these are just the "hills."
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Old Jul 27, 2023, 6:44 am
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Originally Posted by Eastbay1K
You can cross out Patagonia (at least the mid to south regions) in May or July. Galapagos and Machu Picchu likely won't fall within your ease of travel and cost requirements. For easy and plenty to do, I'd fly to Santiago de Chile and have a car, and go in March. The coast is about 100km west, the mountains are even closer to the east, and plenty of nature driving south or north in the Central Valley. I'd also consider a quick hop (flight) to Mendoza as part of the trip. Weather should be lovely - late summer / early fall in a region that rarely gets a drop of rain until later in the fall. I'm partial to the La Serena / Coquimbo area and the Valle de Elqui - about a 6 hour drive north (or 40 minute flight from SCL) - if you have any interest in desertscapes along with beaches, it is an easy and convenient place

You'll note that I'm not recommending Buenos Aires for your trip, notwithstanding the fact that I have a place there. It isn't that there isn't plenty to do, but I've been going there since the late 1990s, and have never, not once, gotten behind the wheel of a car in Argentina, and have no desire to ever do so. I've frequently rented cars and have driven in much of Chile.



Yes, mountains are this close to Santiago, and these are just the "hills."
Oh this is wonderful. Just the sort of advice I was looking for! I will investigate this. We donít particularly need to rent a car, but certainly can. And it sounds like a nice diversity of landscapes and experiences. Thank you.
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Old Jul 29, 2023, 12:43 pm
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Old Jul 31, 2023, 12:34 am
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take it easy

Originally Posted by Eastbay1K
Yes, mountains are this close to Santiago, and these are just the "hills."
No, they are not sooooooo close, they are just very high , Cerro el Plomo is about 40 km away, but 5434 m high (behind the "hills" which are at 30 km) - always a fantastic perspective and in Santiago stay at "Le RÍve" for location and value (and dine at Boragů - for me # 1 in the world)

This said, to enjoy a first trip to the best continent (South America), you may wish NOT to overload. Chile (Patagonia / Mendoza) is a trip for itself, Ecuador you may add the Amazon with the Gakapagos and for a third one Peru which is strenuous.

7 to 10 days is really short, even for only one country. And then there is the unpredictable, I am now down to have MCT at airports of 6 hours, better 7 and in Patagonia I always schedule a buffer day per week. A 6 hours delaied ferry is considered "on time" there.
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Old Aug 2, 2023, 7:15 am
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Originally Posted by behuman
No, they are not sooooooo close, they are just very high , Cerro el Plomo is about 40 km away, but 5434 m high (behind the "hills" which are at 30 km) - always a fantastic perspective and in Santiago stay at "Le RÍve" for location and value (and dine at Boragů - for me # 1 in the world)

This said, to enjoy a first trip to the best continent (South America), you may wish NOT to overload. Chile (Patagonia / Mendoza) is a trip for itself, Ecuador you may add the Amazon with the Gakapagos and for a third one Peru which is strenuous.

7 to 10 days is really short, even for only one country. And then there is the unpredictable, I am now down to have MCT at airports of 6 hours, better 7 and in Patagonia I always schedule a buffer day per week. A 6 hours delaied ferry is considered "on time" there.
Thank you for this! I do think we need to not try to pack too much in. I have a tendency to overdo it and later am exhausted. We are headed out again today for another trip. This time just us parents. Iíll probably spend some time on my SA goals while lounging at the pool. La Reve is lovely. Just looked it up. And totally affordable.
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Old Aug 2, 2023, 9:08 am
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Originally Posted by Eastbay1K
I'd also consider a quick hop (flight) to Mendoza as part of the trip.
If you include Mendoza, do one way between Santiago and Mendoza by bus. The scenery is stunning going thru the Andes. The busses are comfortable, more like first class on airlines than coach. It was a real treat.

Within Chile, I've enjoyed going to the 3 Pablo Neruda homes. There is one in Santiago and two on the coast.
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Old Aug 2, 2023, 9:43 am
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As you don't want to move much, Rio de Janeiro offers pretty much everything. (Small) mountains like Sugarloaf, you can hike to Christ the Redeemer, great beaches, interesting and stunning city, and the possibility of side trips to Buzios (upmarket beach town) or Angra dos Reis (islands, wildlife, beaches).

If you are prepared to move a bit more, the area around Santa Marta in Colombia has beaches, Santa Marta itself is a beautiful, if slightly decrepit, colonial town and the Tayrona National Park in the foothills of the Serra Nevada offers hiking, wildlife and waterfalls. If you are prepared to move a bit you can add on Cartagena, a colonial city that is a UNESCO heritage site, and the Rosario Islands for some nice beaches.

Chile and Mendoza are nice but to visit Valparaiso, Mendoza, the Andes etc requires some moving. Similar to the Colombia itinerary.

If you don't want to move much I think Rio fits the bill better.
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Old Aug 3, 2023, 11:53 am
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Loved this bus ride!

Originally Posted by SanDiego1K
If you include Mendoza, do one way between Santiago and Mendoza by bus. The scenery is stunning going thru the Andes. The busses are comfortable, more like first class on airlines than coach. It was a real treat.

Within Chile, I've enjoyed going to the 3 Pablo Neruda homes. There is one in Santiago and two on the coast.
We went Mendoza to Santiago by bus. It is SPECTACULAR!!!!! Do it.
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Old Aug 3, 2023, 11:58 am
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OP....

We've done Machu Picchu Galapagos, Iguazu Falls, Antarctica and hike Patagonia. Also, Salta region of Argentina. All of these trips we did were separate, except for Iguazu Falls, which we did while we were in Buenos Aires for 5 months. South America is huge. We spent 9 months doing SA, also spending a month on the beach in Colombia in that time. None of these are cheap. Our Galapagos was on Silversea Silver Origin. Iguazu @ the Melia. I think you're going to have to chose the most important to you.
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Old Aug 3, 2023, 9:46 pm
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Originally Posted by stan1162
OP....

We've done Machu Picchu Galapagos, Iguazu Falls, Antarctica and hike Patagonia. Also, Salta region of Argentina. All of these trips we did were separate, except for Iguazu Falls, which we did while we were in Buenos Aires for 5 months. South America is huge. We spent 9 months doing SA, also spending a month on the beach in Colombia in that time. None of these are cheap. Our Galapagos was on Silversea Silver Origin. Iguazu @ the Melia. I think you're going to have to chose the most important to you.
Yes. Iíve considered all this. We will have plenty of opportunities in the future for month long trips to SA. And more complicated trips. This is just my intro, get my feet wet, trip. Iím kind of shocked that Iíve never been there, given my interest in travel. Iíve researched Galapagos and want to do that but need to get the third kid off to college. Iím now pretty focused on Chile suggestions above and have an invite from a friend in Bogota. Remembered that a family friend is married to someone from SCL so will be a great resource.
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Old Sep 22, 2023, 7:48 pm
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Originally Posted by stan1162
We went Mendoza to Santiago by bus. It is SPECTACULAR!!!!! Do it.
How was the boarder crossing when doing this? I'm interested in this route but I've heard horror stories about waiting at the boarder for hours. The drive looks beautiful otherwise
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Old Sep 23, 2023, 12:56 pm
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The border crossing was fine. Took a bit, but that kind of thing to us is part of the "experience. The line was long, but efficient and moved along. Maybe 1.5 to 2 hours start to finish? We were checking into a hotel for a couple days in Santiago, so time wasn't really an issue. We've gotten used to South American time, so you go with the flow.
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Old Sep 23, 2023, 5:15 pm
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Originally Posted by angflyer
How was the boarder crossing when doing this? I'm interested in this route but I've heard horror stories about waiting at the boarder for hours. The drive looks beautiful otherwise
And of course, neither EZE nor SCL have ever experienced a wait at immigration or baggage claim, and of course, you then get the express click your heels 3 times service to get into the city centers. So there's that caluclation when comparing the time between the two modes of transit.
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Old Sep 25, 2023, 5:57 am
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ha, I'll probably stay in Chile and plan a separate trip to Argentina. There's so much to do in both countries and dealing with customs and immigration on a limited time window doesn't sound ideal.
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