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Possible South America Trip - Help Needed!

Sherwood Park...
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Possible South America Trip - Help Needed!

I have 30 days in December and am trying to decide where to go. We have about 50 options that are high on our lists, and I was hoping you folks could help me narrow it down.

A few of our options were:




but we are open to anything at this point.

My wife and I are late twenties and our travel budget is slightly more than your average back packer, so we aren't super concerned with budget, within reason of course.

My hope is that someone can give me their ideal trip if they were in my shoes. Here are a few things about us and that we usually try to include on our trips:

- at least one cooking class

- winery tours

- we are foodies and love to try new things (no bugs).

- we try to split our time with relaxation and adventure/activities.

- we try to do something extreme on every trip.

- I need to dedicate at least one day to being as romantic as possible. Taking her with me doesn't seem to work as a response anymore.

- we love beaches

I hope that is enough information to get me a few responses. Thanks for reading either way.

Calgary, Canada
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1. Re: Possible South America Trip - Help Needed!

Hi Shane,

We're a Canadian diplomatic family (originally from Edmonton - go Oilers go!) posted in South America and we have done some extensive travel while here. I can tell you a fair amount about almost all the places you have questioned. I'm in my mid thirties and like you, we are lucky to have a good travel budget. Unlike you, when we travel we often have three kids in tow. That doesn't mean that what we do wouldn't interest you - aferall, they are all high energy boys so we go for adventure and some extreme sport, not to mention excellent food and beach time (romance is usually out, but we have taken along our nanny or family and then we get a little alone time too). From zip lining in the Panama rainforest, volcanoe hiking in Chile, boats of all sizes and types to visit wildlife, deserted beaches, you name it, we have done it! We've covered the Caribbean to the north down as far south as Cape Horn. We've been east to west, too!

So, my honest opinion for your trip should be Chile, and Argentina with a toss up of Brazil or Peru thrown in (depends on after Chile and Argentina whether you will crave more historic ruins of Peru or more party atmosphere of Rio). I guess it depends on your overall plans.

Chile will offer the greatest winery tours - the wine valley is amazing and it ties in beautifully with the Argentine lakes region (we didn't see their wineries, but they are supposed to be just as beautiful - like the Okanagan). The volcanes are spectacular sites, and the beaches are some of the best on the continent. If you are at all interested in wildlife I highly recommend you do Patagonia or some portions of it. We personally did the Mare Australis cruise between Chile and Argentina and that is what I recommend to everyone going there. It is a great way to see Patagonia without spending a full two weeks there (which you have to do otherwise to see it), and you can enjoy the luxury of the cruise line while still experiencing nature upclose. Mare Australis is a small ship and gets in where the big cruises can't go and you will be awed by the sites - reminds me of the most beautiful parts of Banff and Jasper. And the food...... Heaven. It's almost the extreme portion you want, but if that isn't extreme enough, there is the volcanoes-ever stared down one? There's zip-lining, and then kayaking, and other water sports.

The food in both Argentina and Chile is great - must tries in almost all the regions. Definately do a cooking class in Santiago - the chef's institute there has some great courses and the foods are delicious. Beaches abound, both ocean and lake, and the beaches throughout have a great appeal and atmosphere - not like in Brazil where they get a bit loud for our taste (I like tranquility and peace, not blaring music and parties which is what the majority of South American/Caribbean beaches can be like). In all, I think Chile and Argentina have you covered. You could easily spend a month in each, so think seriously about adding a third destination - you want to have time to enjoy the sites, not just rush through. Honestly, pur first trip was a full month in Chile and we missed the northern portions that time round. And don't forget, Chile alone is such a long country that you will hit both the winter and summer all at the same time - think about that with your destinations, and the rain.

December temps:

Argentina - Buenos Aires 22 C and Ushuaia 8 C

Brazil - Porto Alegre 24 C Rio de Janeiro 27 C Brasilia 22 C

Chile - Arica 21C Antofagasta 19 C La Serena 16C Santiago 19C Puerto Montt 13C Punta Arenas 10C

Peru - Lima 21C Arequipa 15C

Hope that is helpful to you. If you have any other questions, feel free to write!


Puerto Montt
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2. Re: Possible South America Trip - Help Needed!

Hi Shane, I agree with Sarah - Chile and Argentina. I lived in Santiago for more than 3 years and a wine tour is fairly easy to organise. Concha y Toro is within the city limits and big. If you want something more special - which might also take care of the romantic part of your itinerary, there is a train that does the wine route to Santa Cruz. If you want more info, I can get that.

Pucon is lovely with so much to see and do. Here you can climb a live smoking volcano, relax in hot spas, raft a mild or wild river or hike into the lovely Herquehue park.

The whole los Lagos region is beautiful. There are several national parks but If you are active, you must see Alerce Andino. It is very close to Puerto Montt. Just a little further is Vincetnr Perez Rosale park with the lovely Petrohue area. If you budget allows, you can cross the andes here on a combination of bus and ferry boats, ending in Bariloche.

From there you can go south to the Fitz Roy area with some of the most awesome mountains on earth - some not yet conquered. From there you can go to El Calafate. This is a beautiful place with a magnificent glacier. You can go for a hike on the glacier for your "action" activity.

The highlight without doubt is Torres del Paine. Words can't describe this place.

I would suggest that you considder flying to Punta Arenas and work back from there or end there and fly back.

I would also try to fit the Iguazu waterfalls in - truly spectacular.

You can see more on Youtube (channel: pavanzyl) and photos on spaces.msn.com/paulandestelle.

Let us know if you need any more specific details on any of the things I mentioned. Have fun planning your trip.

Calgary, Canada
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3. Re: Possible South America Trip - Help Needed!

Yup, I 100% back Patagoniapaul. As you can see, there are a million things to do. I can hardly mention all that we did in our time in Chile, and we still would love to go back and do more. I honestly can't think of a better place to visit - except Canada but you are already there! Keep posting and we can answer all your questions,


Blairsville, Georgia
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4. Re: Possible South America Trip - Help Needed!

Australis Cruises is really a good option for the Southest Patagonia. Since this year the Australis fleet will have three ships (Mare, Via and Stella).

Try to get the cruise combined with a land program to save time and money.

There is a travel agency based on Punta Arenas which belong to same company as Australis. They offer complete package at local prices, including flight connections.

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5. Re: Possible South America Trip - Help Needed!

Have you decided to go with a travel agency/tour guide?? My husband and I are going to Chile / Argentina March 13 -31. We're working on getting bids from a few travel agency's. We probably should be just concentrating on only one country. Any thoughts???

Getting confused in Atlanta

Sherwood Park...
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6. Re: Possible South America Trip - Help Needed!

Sorry for the delayed response, TA wasn't sending me the update emails until today.. Not sure what happened there.

Some very great responses, and some new questions because of that.


- How did you get to and from the Mare Australis cruise points?

- It mentioned seeing penguins on the website, do you get to walk amongst them or is it from the boat?

- It looks like you do a lot of hiking or walking stops. Anything challenging or are they all pretty easy?

- What was your favorite part of the cruise?

- What is there to do/see in the stops you make?

- Are we missing anything you wouldn't recommend missing by limiting this area to the cruise?


- Can you please send me the information for the train you mentioned?

- Are you aware of a train tour from Santiago > Mendoza > Beunos Airies that focuses on the wineries, or does the one you mentioned do something similar to that?

- Your pictures looked amazing, are you living in the area or did you rent the vehicle and camping gear?

- One of your photo's was nice rolling hills leading up to a mountain, where was that?

PatagonianAdviser, thank you for the information.

ninipizza, that is our dilemma right now as well. We always plan far too many stops and have to take a Caribbean vacation when we are done as a vacation from our vacation. We haven't decided yet on how to travel, but it seems we always do the same thing and book a bunch of short tours with free time in between to explore on our own. It's worked great so far, so chances are we will keep the trend going.

So due to the unfortunate Peru situation of the last couple weeks we decided to save that area for another year. So we decided that it is still between Thailand and South America, but now we know that our locations would be Brazil, Chile, and Argentina.

Can anyone give me their "dream" itinerary for 30 days between those three countries? I have been very lucky to have responses from people who appear to have similar travel styles, so hopefully I get some great idea's.

Either way thanks for the responses. You are definitely keeping South America high on my list.

7. Re: Possible South America Trip - Help Needed!

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