Prep 3. Itinerary

Obviously, itinerary goes hand in hand with budget. Here’s my approach:

-> First comes itinerary. I establish starting point and highlight few key points that I want to reach. 

-> Money comes second. The idea is to follow the itinerary as long as budget allows.

-> Time comes last because I didn’t have any deadline for return. 

So it’s decided that I’m moving from itinerary a not from the money perspective. Here’s the hierarchy of places I wanted to visit:

  • Rio. Though for a long time I excluded Brazil completely from this trip (because of language and generally higher level of criminality), I just couldn’t resist visiting Rio. Also to reach next point on the list it makes sense to move from Rio.
  • Iguazu falls. Epic place, natural world wonder, the largest waterfall in the world. Must see.
  • Argentina. As Iguazu falls are exactly on the border between Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay, that’s where from I will move deeper in Argentina. This country was supposed to be the longest stop – I wanted to dive into Spanish, study a lot and practice the language. Also Argentina is considered as very safe country and very European.
  • Patagonia. These lands are where my dreams started. The very idea and obsession to go to South America came around after I was learning more and more about Patagonia.
  • Chilean south (Torres Del Paine). It’s the way travellers explore the south of the continent – by jumping around national parks in Argentina and Chile. It looks stunning.
  • Uyuni salt flats. That’s Bolivia and one of the biggest dreams of mine. Though if you are in Patagonia it’s a pretty long way to Uyuni because – you have to cross half of the continent!

That’s the minimum I planned. I thought I won’t be able to travel further considering I’ll run out of money. But if I don’t, here’s what next:

  • La Paz. The most famous city in Bolivia. It’s not a capital although many foreigners think so. Very authentic city and also a gateway to Titikaka lake and Peru.
  • Peru: Machu Picchu, Cusco, Rainbow Mountain. I knew that in Peru you can spend months exploring, but these are my must see.
  • Equador. No particular plan.
  • Colombia. No particular plan.

Blue dots are my principal destinations and the purple ones are desirable in case I continue.

That’s the main route that most travellers do on the continent. Some start in the opposite order and move from Colombia to Brazil.

For some first main points I was calculating different options – flights, buses, routes. That helped me to understand general transportation costs – I advice you to do the same. Otherwise you’ll be surprised. All travellers complain how expensive the flights are on the continent. So, be aware. 

Here’s an example of my itinerary ideas (prices in rub and local currencies):

Rio – Iguazu (BR) flight ~6k 2hBA – Colonia del Sacramento ferry $52 one way 1.5hfrom Mendoza  flight ~11k via Santiago 15h
Iguazu (AG) – BA  flight ~3-4k 1h45mColonia – Montevideo  bus 383 peso ~3hfrom BA  flight ~14k via Santiago 17h  bus $145-162 (~9700 rub)  stop in Villazon, then La Paz 
Rio – La Paz  flight ~15k via Lima 10hBA – Montevideo  flight ~13k 45-55m ferry  2h 12mVillazon – Uyuni  bus $7-10 6-7h
Sao Paolo – Santa Cruz (BO) flight ~13,5k (incl. luggage) 3hBA – Cordoba bus ~1330-1500 rub 11hVillazon – Uyuni – La Paz bus ~$30  8.30-15.00 + 20.00-6.00
Rio – Sao Paolo bus ~700r 6hBA – Asuncion  flight ~11k  2h bus ~4.5k rub 17-18h Santa Cruz – Sucre  bus 17h
Sao Paolo – Florianópolis bus ~2k 11hBA – Iguazu (AG) flight ~ 2,5k 1h45m – Santa Cruz (BO) bus ~$116 (~7700 r) 2d (incl food)

Montevideo – Iguazu (AG) flight ~10k via BA 5-8h

As you can see I considered many options and – spoiler – I ended up skipping a lot of those stops. Also I didn’t plan how much time I will spend in each place. I just arrived to Rio and went with a flow.

My actual itinerary you can check here but of course I will go through every step in details on this blog.

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