South America

Dees

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If you like mountain scenery one place that hasn't been mentioned yet is Huaraz, which is just an overnight bus from Lima. It's located right near a couple of huge (numerous 6000m+) mountain ranges and has some of (if not the) best trekking on the continent.
 

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King Corey

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Santiago is a nice soft start to the trip good choice. Easy city to get around, fairly safe and friendly people.

The recommended sites have been well covered and I'd echo them especially Iguazu Falls.

It's not for everyone but did a tour for a bulk of it which ended up very cost and time efficient for getting a sampler of Peru, Argentina, Brasil and cutting down time organising logistics.

One tip is to carry a few local coins if you're out and about in smaller towns because Australians aren't usually familiar with having to pay for public toilets (and toilet paper).
 

falsenine

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Spent the best part of 3 weeks in Rio in Feb this year. Stayed and looked around, plus used it as a base for venturing up the coast and back.
We had been travelling quite a bit up till then, so we were happy to loll about in Rio. Stayed a few blocks back from Copacabana and spent many great days just swimming, walking, hiring bicycles and just doing it easy.
I've got mixed feelings about Rio - it is stunningly beautiful and has loads of 'must do' sights to see. Simply hanging out on one of the beaches all day or seeing the sunset from the rocks at Ipanema, hiring bikes and riding the length of Copacabana, Ipanema & Leblon beaches is magic.
We also caught buses out - a few hours north to Buzios which is like a Brazilian Noosa, and back to Rio and then south a few hours to Ilha Grande which is just beach paradise.
The downside is that you can never drop your guard. The subway is dodgy, city buses are dodgy, the main bus terminal is dodgy, you get approached in the street quite a bit, poverty is everywhere. Although nothing happened to us, it was edgy and you would be foolish to walk around flaunting your wealth or going into some districts. It was the most confronting place in South America in terms of in your face poverty and a sense of being on guard. Plus the food is nothing special!
The locals are not impressed about the Olympics, it did bring an airport upgrade, new freeways etc, but even the main stadium the Maracana is now shut as they can't afford the upkeep, so you can't visit it. They used to play football there all the time, now they don't. The Olympic village accommodation etc has all been sold off to the highest bidders, so in terms of the general populace who are short of proper housing, water, electricity etc benefitting in any way - they got nothing.
So my humble opinion is to go, and you'll see amazing sites. The beautiful parts of Rio are as beautiful as any city on Earth. But it is such a rich v poor rat race that it leaves you feeling, wow what a place....pity they have pretty much stuffed most of it up!
The Maracanã is back open for matches. I went to a local match there literally the same day you wrote this post.
 

Silent Alarm

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Good that this is a fresh thread because I was just about to open one.

Anyone been to or spent a bit of time in Argentina? Best time to go? Very much an open book but I'm guessing weather wise it's fairly similar to Australia. Probably would prefer going in the summer. Three weeks to five probably. Best towns to kick it in? I don't want to worry about going to places that are notoriously dangerous as I had enough of that this year on a trip. Basically keen on going to a few beaches, having some good food, drinking plenty of beer and wine, like places where there's low key bars but good fun clubs. I kind of prefer smaller cities (generally second cities) where it's small enough to walk around but big enough that things are varied and you haven't seen all you can in the first morning. Somewhere friendly, safe, and good to just hang out in and have some beers and good food and check out some sights during the days.

Not massively interested in Brazil for a lot of reasons, or even Uruguay or Chile. Just keen on Argentina.
 

Occidental

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Argentina is a huge country, and I saw a fair bit of it earlier this year, but there are still huge areas I never got to.
Was there in the warmth of Jan/Feb and this included a 10 day voyage from Ushuaia down to the Antarctic Peninsula.
Point one - I really liked Argentina!
Food, beer, wine all excellent everywhere I went. You talk about liking 'second cities' which is fair enough, but Argentinian life and culture is so dominated by Buenos Aires that you must spend some time there. It's a great city and you mentioned bars and clubs - well there's no shortage in B.A.
As we flew from B.A down to Ushuaia to see Antarctica, we didn't see Patagonia. We figured all the mountains, glaciers, wildlife in Antactica would do , so we bypassed Patagonia.
After coming back to B.A we got a flight to & from Iguazu. So glad we did it was amazing.
Back to B.A again and we did a big loop in a hire car. Drove north / west up to Córdoba & eventually Salta. Didn't stay long in Córdoba - so can't comment. I like the region around Salta - you get into the indigenous Andean vibe and the culture really changes. Again food is great. The country up there is good too - canyons, gorges, deserts, salt pans and really high mountains.
Headed south to Mendoza which is a really nice, a green city full of great parks and literally surrounded by wineries. The wineries are great with stunning views of the snow capped high Andes. Hire bikes, go on tours, check out the Andes. There's plenty to see (and drink).
Drove south to San Rafael and the Rio Atuel canyon. In the canyon are camp grounds everywhere & chalets right on the river. Go rafting, zip lining, or hang out at bars right on the river and jump in for a swim. It's low key, but really nice.
Driving is ok. Major roads are good, drivers are a tad more adventurous than here, but tolls are everywhere. Plus at every Regional border they have police stops. No dramas, but it all takes up time.
Didn't go to any Argentinian beaches as from B.A you have to travel many hours to get to anything resembling a beach. The waters near B.A are all esturine & muddy. The simplest beach resort to get to from B.A is to jump on one of their huge ferries and hop over to Punta del Este in Uruguay. We did that after stopping first in Colonia & Montevideo. Punta is the typical beach resort - you'll either like that sort of thing or not (high rise accomodation, bars, clubs). It's ok but kinda tacky like a South American Surfers Paradise.
If you want South American beaches then perhaps Argentina is not really the place.
Felt safe everywhere and people are generally quite friendly.
Anyway enjoy your trip.
 
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Silent Alarm

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Argentina is a huge country, and I saw a fair bit of it earlier this year, but there are still huge areas I never got to.
Was there in the warmth of Jan/Feb and this included a 10 day voyage from Ushuaia down to the Antarctic Peninsula.
Point one - I really liked Argentina!
Food, beer, wine all excellent everywhere I went. You talk about liking 'second cities' which is fair enough, but Argentinian life and culture is so dominated by Buenos Aires that you must spend some time there. It's a great city and you mentioned bars and clubs - well there's no shortage in B.A.
As we flew from B.A down to Ushuaia to see Antarctica, we didn't see Patagonia. We figured all the mountains, glaciers, wildlife in Antactica would do , so we bypassed Patagonia.
After coming back to B.A we got a flight to & from Iguazu. So glad we did it was amazing.
Back to B.A again and we did a big loop in a hire car. Drove north / west up to Córdoba & eventually Salta. Didn't stay long in Córdoba - so can't comment. I like the region around Salta - you get into the indigenous Andean vibe and the culture really changes. Again food is great. The country up there is good too - canyons, gorges, deserts, salt pans and really high mountains.
Headed south to Mendoza which is a really nice, a green city full of great parks and literally surrounded by wineries. The wineries are great with stunning views of the snow capped high Andes. Hire bikes, go on tours, check out the Andes. There's plenty to see (and drink).
Drove south to San Rafael and the Rio Atuel canyon. In the canyon are camp grounds everywhere & chalets right on the river. Go rafting, zip lining, or hang out at bars right on the river and jump in for a swim. It's low key, but really nice.
Driving is ok. Major roads are good, drivers are a tad more adventurous than here, but tolls are everywhere. Plus at every Regional border they have police stops. No dramas, but it all takes up time.
Didn't go to any Argentinian beaches as from B.A you have to travel many hours to get to anything resembling a beach. The waters near B.A are all estrurine & muddy. The simplest beach resort to get to from B.A is to jump on one of their huge ferries and hop over to Punta del Este in Uruguay. We did that after stopping first in Colonia & Montevideo. Punta is the typical beach resort - you'll either like that sort of thing or not (high rise accomodation, bars, clubs). It's ok but kinda tacky like a South American Surfers Paradise.
If you want South American beaches then perhaps Argentina is not really the place.
Felt safe everywhere and people are generally quite friendly.
Anyway enjoy your trip.
It is months away even optimistically, just sounding it out.

Pretty interested in Córdoba; looks a lot like those Italian cities in Tuscany with the big squares and the obviously European influenced architecture. Guess a beach won't make or break it but surely there's a decent one somewhere?

Do you know how decent public transport is or trains to other cities? Not a driver.

How many hours away were most cities you went to?
 

Occidental

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Just about all South American cities have their big central plaza. It’s part of the fabric of Latin American cities. Mendoza for example was completely rebuilt following an earthquake and its public parks & plazas are set out in a grid pattern and they are huge. Full of fountains & lakes etc. Salta too has a nice plaza and plenty of ornate buildings plus a decent cable car up to a mountain that overlooks the city.
Argentina itself is a really big country and travelling will be slower than anything you can compare to in Australia.
Trains are not the go, bus travel is how everyone gets around the country. The buses are fine. Go with the big companies that serve the main bus stations and you will be able to go anywhere. The buses are clean and reliable and depending what you want, you book seats, recliners or fully adjustable flat bed seats. No buses can go above 90 kmh, so it all takes time to go long distances, especially if your route has a few stops along the way. But if you can manage to sleep on them, you can cover a lot of ground on an overnighter.
Times - to cover the 700 km from B.A to Cordoba would take around 10 hours on a bus doing well.
Cordoba to Salta is another 700 km, so another 10 hours at least.
You may see nothing in between, but flying to say Iguazu saves you a whole day of bus travel each way, so you do need to think about the cost & convenience of flying versus the cost savings but very long times spent on buses.
 
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kirky

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Have now organised a 4 day Inca Trail trek to Macchu Pichu and yesterday a 4 day Amazon wildlife expedition (inc 2 nights camping in rainforest). Next up for booking Lake Titicaca and Colca Canyon.

Now adding Nazca Lines to the list as well.

So much to see and so little time!
 
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Rich

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Argentina is a huge country, and I saw a fair bit of it earlier this year, but there are still huge areas I never got to.
Was there in the warmth of Jan/Feb and this included a 10 day voyage from Ushuaia down to the Antarctic Peninsula.
Point one - I really liked Argentina!
Food, beer, wine all excellent everywhere I went. You talk about liking 'second cities' which is fair enough, but Argentinian life and culture is so dominated by Buenos Aires that you must spend some time there. It's a great city and you mentioned bars and clubs - well there's no shortage in B.A.
As we flew from B.A down to Ushuaia to see Antarctica, we didn't see Patagonia. We figured all the mountains, glaciers, wildlife in Antactica would do , so we bypassed Patagonia.
After coming back to B.A we got a flight to & from Iguazu. So glad we did it was amazing.
Back to B.A again and we did a big loop in a hire car. Drove north / west up to Córdoba & eventually Salta. Didn't stay long in Córdoba - so can't comment. I like the region around Salta - you get into the indigenous Andean vibe and the culture really changes. Again food is great. The country up there is good too - canyons, gorges, deserts, salt pans and really high mountains.
Headed south to Mendoza which is a really nice, a green city full of great parks and literally surrounded by wineries. The wineries are great with stunning views of the snow capped high Andes. Hire bikes, go on tours, check out the Andes. There's plenty to see (and drink).
Drove south to San Rafael and the Rio Atuel canyon. In the canyon are camp grounds everywhere & chalets right on the river. Go rafting, zip lining, or hang out at bars right on the river and jump in for a swim. It's low key, but really nice.
Driving is ok. Major roads are good, drivers are a tad more adventurous than here, but tolls are everywhere. Plus at every Regional border they have police stops. No dramas, but it all takes up time.
Didn't go to any Argentinian beaches as from B.A you have to travel many hours to get to anything resembling a beach. The waters near B.A are all esturine & muddy. The simplest beach resort to get to from B.A is to jump on one of their huge ferries and hop over to Punta del Este in Uruguay. We did that after stopping first in Colonia & Montevideo. Punta is the typical beach resort - you'll either like that sort of thing or not (high rise accomodation, bars, clubs). It's ok but kinda tacky like a South American Surfers Paradise.
If you want South American beaches then perhaps Argentina is not really the place.
Felt safe everywhere and people are generally quite friendly.
Anyway enjoy your trip.
Really enjoyed the region around Salta as well, had some great architecture and places to eat and drink. Went to a football game there too - blokes climbing up those huge fences they have was crazy. The landscapes around there and southern Bolivia are amazing.

Mendoza was pretty nice, Córdoba not so much for me.

Bus travel was indeed the way to get around such a large country, long distances can be covered in relative comfort for a good price. Enjoyed the bingo games they had!

All in all, a bloody great country to travel to. There's some countries that you travel to that you gain an affinity to when you're there - Argentina is one of those for me. Loved it.
 

Silent Alarm

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Really enjoyed the region around Salta as well, had some great architecture and places to eat and drink. Went to a football game there too - blokes climbing up those huge fences they have was crazy. The landscapes around there and southern Bolivia are amazing.

Mendoza was pretty nice, Córdoba not so much for me.

Bus travel was indeed the way to get around such a large country, long distances can be covered in relative comfort for a good price. Enjoyed the bingo games they had!

All in all, a bloody great country to travel to. There's some countries that you travel to that you gain an affinity to when you're there - Argentina is one of those for me. Loved it.
Córdoba looked great to me, were your issues with the city itself or your experiences?

Did you go to Uruguay too?
 

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Rich

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Córdoba looked great to me, were your issues with the city itself or your experiences?

Did you go to Uruguay too?
Just didn't seem to be a great deal to see or do as a tourist I guess. There was the odd nice building, but from memory (this was 2006), there just wasn't much going on or any buzz around town. Can remember struggling to find anywhere decent to eat, and we stayed centrally.

One positive was the bottle shop just around the corner - easy to take the Quilmes longnecks back for the deposit to get the next one. :thumbsu:

Only popped across to Colonia del Sacramento in Uruguay from BA. Stayed a couple of nights and went back. Nice little place, bit touristy but quiet and enjoyable enough.
 

Silent Alarm

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Just didn't seem to be a great deal to see or do as a tourist I guess. There was the odd nice building, but from memory (this was 2006), there just wasn't much going on or any buzz around town. Can remember struggling to find anywhere decent to eat, and we stayed centrally.

One positive was the bottle shop just around the corner - easy to take the Quilmes longnecks back for the deposit to get the next one. :thumbsu:

Only popped across to Colonia del Sacramento in Uruguay from BA. Stayed a couple of nights and went back. Nice little place, bit touristy but quiet and enjoyable enough.
Yeah looks pretty nice. Honestly I think I've seen the peak of touristy (the bottom half of Rome where it starts sloping down and back up, parts of Florence) and we always manage to find a way to get out of it, find some cool places to eat, a little known swimming spot. Bit rich to get angry too considering how annoyed locals in those areas must be these days. It looks a cool little town though. What are the beaches like?

The reason I ask is because it's possibly my next big trip. Maybe for a month or so. I like warm, mediterranean places where you can sit in open squares having local lagers and some nice food, walk around, see some sights, bright colours and cobblestones and cool buildings... but also a good beach to lounge on with a book and some wines for a week too. It seems Argentina doesn't have especially great beaches. And as I'm seemingly more interested in its north, I guess Uruguay is the place to go.

So best beaches in (southern) Uruguay? Argentina even?
 

Rich

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Yeah looks pretty nice. Honestly I think I've seen the peak of touristy (the bottom half of Rome where it starts sloping down and back up, parts of Florence) and we always manage to find a way to get out of it, find some cool places to eat, a little known swimming spot. Bit rich to get angry too considering how annoyed locals in those areas must be these days. It looks a cool little town though. What are the beaches like?

The reason I ask is because it's possibly my next big trip. Maybe for a month or so. I like warm, mediterranean places where you can sit in open squares having local lagers and some nice food, walk around, see some sights, bright colours and cobblestones and cool buildings... but also a good beach to lounge on with a book and some wines for a week too. It seems Argentina doesn't have especially great beaches. And as I'm seemingly more interested in its north, I guess Uruguay is the place to go.

So best beaches in (southern) Uruguay? Argentina even?
I was there in winter and it was bloody cold, didn't get near a beach. Arrived in BA in July and it was comparible to Melbourne, perhaps colder. From there flew to Rio, was 30 odd deg and awesome, like flying to Cairns here in July. Your plans might be influenced by what time of year you plan to visit. It's a big place.
 

Silent Alarm

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I was there in winter and it was bloody cold, didn't get near a beach. Arrived in BA in July and it was comparible to Melbourne, perhaps colder. From there flew to Rio, was 30 odd deg and awesome, like flying to Cairns here in July. Your plans might be influenced by what time of year you plan to visit. It's a big place.
Yeah was keen on going in summer, maybe even around their Lollapalooza (March). Winter seems pointless to me. I know it is beautiful and snowy down in the south by going to New Zealand is probably pretty similar and way cheaper.
 

Occidental

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Yeah looks pretty nice. Honestly I think I've seen the peak of touristy (the bottom half of Rome where it starts sloping down and back up, parts of Florence) and we always manage to find a way to get out of it, find some cool places to eat, a little known swimming spot. Bit rich to get angry too considering how annoyed locals in those areas must be these days. It looks a cool little town though. What are the beaches like?

The reason I ask is because it's possibly my next big trip. Maybe for a month or so. I like warm, mediterranean places where you can sit in open squares having local lagers and some nice food, walk around, see some sights, bright colours and cobblestones and cool buildings... but also a good beach to lounge on with a book and some wines for a week too. It seems Argentina doesn't have especially great beaches. And as I'm seemingly more interested in its north, I guess Uruguay is the place to go.

So best beaches in (southern) Uruguay? Argentina even?
Anywhere on the coast near Buenos Aires is so influenced by the enormous Rio de la Plata, that you don’t have sea water and beaches, but you have esturine river water and kinda muddy sand. Nothing wrong with the water - it’s not polluted, but it’s muddy/silty. You really are swimming in an enormous river & not the ocean. You have to travel a long way to get to what we would consider clear water.
Catching a ferry to Uruguay is really easy from B.A. Closest stop is Colonia. A nice coastal town, really quite small, tree lined cobblestone streets, nice old colonial buildings. The water over there is still brown. It’s a great little stop to catch your breath & relax after the hustle of B.A. Catch a bus further east to Montevideo. Much smaller city than B.A. It’s like B.A is London & Montevideo is Adelaide. It’s a bit tatty, the old town is really interesting though - decent plazas, restaurants, bars etc. I had the best empanadas ever at the old port building there. They love their meat grills & food is great. The football stadium & museum was quite good to visit. I was lucky to be there for carnival & their parade was fantastic. Montevideo has a beachy suburb called Pocitos. The water is clearer, but to an Aussie it’s still a bit murky. It’s a huge curving beach with condos all along it. It’s ok I guess.
Keep travelling east though and you finally get to clear sea water at Punta Del Este. (Eastern Point) This is the Gold Coast of the region. Hotels, bars, clubs, high rises, casinos and big beaches with clear sea water and decent waves. It’s not really my thing (so touristy), but you may like it. The locals all complain that everything there is owned by cashed up Argies from B.A and they treat the local Uruguayans appallingly. Bars full of Argies, clubs full of Argies & Uruguayans all waiting tables.
That’s definitely the beachy place of any note close to B.A.
If beaches is really what you’re after, then I don’t really recommend the region. But that said - I loved the place - beer, food, architecture, football, culture, nightlife, great cities.
 
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Silent Alarm

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Thanks for the post, yeah not really ticking too many boxes unfortunately. A bit of a shame as it's a little annoying to be walking around in the beautiful heat all day and to feel you're in Italy but not being able to say 'ah, go to a beach the town after this hey?'
 

kirky

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Well it has come together perfectly. Flights to Santiago booked, 7 internal flights (cost $1,364-) booked, Macchu Pichu 4 day trek booked, Amazon 4 day wildlife expedition booked (should be good camping in the Amazon rainforest), Lake Titicaca and Colca Canyon booked.

Only accomodation in big cities/towns and Nazca lines trip to go.
 

Godzke

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Met my missus in Foz do Iguacu so have done the falls 3-4 times now. It gets no less impressive each time you see it. Hot Tip: Don't bother visiting Niagra Falls once you have seen Iguacu Falls. It will be the most underwhelming moment of your life.

Doing both sides of Iguacu is a must. Argentinian side is better, which means you need to be on that side to explore it but on the Brazilian side to see it and take the best photos.

Well it has come together perfectly. Flights to Santiago booked, 7 internal flights (cost $1,364-) booked, Macchu Pichu 4 day trek booked, Amazon 4 day wildlife expedition booked (should be good camping in the Amazon rainforest), Lake Titicaca and Colca Canyon booked.

Only accomodation in big cities/towns and Nazca lines trip to go.
7 internal flights for $1300 is a job well done. The first time I went to S.America was on a boys trip and we got 4-5 flights for about $1000 on a LAN "Airpass". The more you build on the "airpass" the cheaper it got. Our last flight was $20 (incl taxes and luggage)!

That boys trip itinerary was as follows:
- Fly in to Lima (via Santiago connection) for three nights staying in Miraflores (probably the only decent area in Lima in my opinion)
- Flight to Juliaca and a bus connection to Puno (2 nights) where the Lake Titicaca tours were departing (the boys did that, I was bed-bound with severe altitude sickness)
- Bus to La Paz (3-4 nights) where we did Death Road, San Pedro Prison and Route 36
- Bus back in the opposite direction to Cusco for 7 days (5 of those on the Inca Trek)
- Flight to Puerto Maldonado for an eco tour over Xmas. About 4-5 nights. Cracking fun in the jungle.
- Flight to Sao Paulo and straight on the bus to Rio (fu** that was a long bus ride). Nothing comes close to Rio for new years and we loved it. Rumours circling that Black Eyed Peas were playing that night but we never saw them. 2 years later I hear Will.I.Am on the radio being interviewed and he was asked "what's the best gig you've ever done" "Rio New Years" nearly crashed my car. I think they were on Ipanema beach and we were on Copacabana (or vice versa).
- Bus to Ilha Grande for a few nights. Supposed to be very beautiful and it is but a lot of rubbish there as well. Has a more simple island life feel to it (bit like Phi Phi but with less of a buzz). Was ok.
- Flight to Foz where I met the missus in a hostel (she was a local). Nights on both sides of the border. If you're avid shopper and you befriend a Brazilian in Foz then ask them to take you across to Ciudad Del Este in Paraguay. No one checks your passport, you just walk across the border. s**t is cheaper over there and no sales tax.
- Overnight bus to Buenos Aires. 6-7 nights in Milhouse hostel. I think it's more fun that what we experienced. It was a bit subdued given it was early January and all the locals leave town.
- Bus to Cordoba for a few nights (uni town with plenty of young talent). You want Argie minge you go there.
- Mendoza was the next stop and one of the highlights of the trip. We did sky-diving, cycling around the wineries and were even lucky enough to do midnight water rafting in the mountains. Seriously amazing.
- Overnight bus through the Andean mountains to Santiago. The city is nice, the locals are a bit s**t in my opinion. When walking with some birds the local guys do this off wolf-whistle and it's as unsettling for me (as a guy) as it is for the girls. Massive ******* creeps over there.
- A few more nights in Valparaiso to finish our trip (2 months all in all). Great little port town with a bohemian feel about it.

Anyone seen any huge spiders or snakes over there?
Missed out on seeing an Anaconda but saw three different varieties of tarantula when we did an Amazon eco tour out of Puerto Maldonado (Peru). I loved spiders growing up so seeing these things crawl out was ******* sensational. Can see it the other way though.

I remember talking to some Aussies in a hostel in La Paz and this girl said they did an Amazon kayaking tour in northern Bolivia. They were slowly paddling along before her oar got jammed and she couldn't move it. She looked in the water and saw Anaconda resting its head on the end of the oar, looking straight back at her. As much as I love snakes I'd absolutely lose my s**t if that happened to me.
 

kirky

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Now Nazca lines trip booked and included is dune buggies and sandhill tobogganing. Using Air BnB in most of the places.
 

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