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Need Help Planning My South America Trip

Basically I want to know where specifically in Brazil I should go to see the Amazon River/Rainforest/Brazilian Beaches. Also, I want you to analyze my trip so far to find any flaws and to see if it's efficient. And also any advice related to anything would be appreciated because I am 21 and have never traveled before, let alone solo.
10 years ago, February 1st 2010 No: 1 Msg: #101932  
Please advise me on my trip to South America - I have never done this before (21 years old).

Any advice related for anything to the trip is appreciated.

I am still in the beginning phases of planning out my trip to South America this Summer. I am going to be graduating mid-May. I want to leave late May or early June of 2010, and stay there for 3-5 weeks.

Cost is a factor, but I do not want it to be a deciding factor.

I have a job waiting for me starting July 19th, so I won't mind spending 3-5 grand, because I probably won't have a chance like this for a long while.

I haven't even begun to plan out the logistics - i.e. costs, flight, transportation, living accomodations, visas, other documentation (?), immunizations, exchange rates, weather, what places I should avoid due to crime, what I will need to bring to the trip, etc. (I am probably missing a lot). I am going to be using Lonely Planet's and Frommer's travel guides to help me with some of this stuff, along with internet resources.

For flight, I am thinking of doing it through oneWorld (http://www.oneworld.com/ow/air-travel-options/single-continent-fares/visit-south-america). Is this a good idea?

Here is what I REALLY WANT to see:

(2) Peru - Machu Picchu
(3) Bolivia - Lake TitiCaca ( on the border of Peru/Bolivia), Río Madidi watershed (Parque Nacional Madidi) also (Noel Kempff Mercado National Park)
(1) Brazil - Amazon River/Rainforest/Pantanal/Iguazu Falls/Brazilian Beaches/Rio de Janeiro
(1) Argentina - Iguazu Falls (I hear both sides of the falls are amazing to see.

Here is what I wouldn't mind seeing, but will probably skip due to cost/time reasons:

(4) Costa Rica - rainforests/other activities (ziplining, river rafting, white water rafting, etc.) (this is nice but the rainforest isn't so great compared to the Amazon, right?)
(5) Galapagos Islands (very expensive)
(6) Kaieteur Falls, Guyana - (this place looks beautiful, but again, expense and time).
(7) San Pedro de Atacam in Chile (I don't know how exciting this will be)

What do you think of that list? Is it realistic to do 1, 2, and 3? Should I get rid of (3)? Is it possible to include (4)?

Like I said, I haven't planned much of the logistics yet. I have no idea how long I will stay at a particular location, let me know if you have any estimates.

Here is the specific journey, in my mind so far.

I am thinking that I will land in Peru, somehow find a safe place to stay that is not far from Machu Picchu, and then use a guided tour to visit Machu Picchu. I want to avoid guided tours due to expense, but I am told that it is a good idea to do this for Machu Picchu. After that, go to the border of Bolivia to see Lake TitiCaca/Parque Nacional Madidi. Then somehow travel east to see Parque Nacional Noel Kempff. After that, I will be pretty much on the border of Brazil. Then I will somehow go South to see the Pantanal and the Parque Nacional do Pantanal Matogrossense. After that, I will continue to go further south (a lot). Until I reach Iguazu Falls (Parque Nacional Iguazu). Then, if time permits, I will head northeast to Rio de Janeiro and spend some time there and find a nearby airport to come back to Chicago.

In the above trip, I did not include the Amazon Rainforest/River because I have NO IDEA yet where in Brazil I should go to see this. I do not want to go to Manaus because I understand that this is a beaten path, and I want to go somewhere less traveled, but not overly expensive. I am thinking I visit the Amazon rainforest/river before I head south for the Pantanal, but that will depend on where I want to see it. As for the Brazilian beaches, I am clueless on that as well so far. Please let me know where I should go. Reply to this

10 years ago, February 1st 2010 No: 2 Msg: #101988  
Hello Kenny 😊

With 3 to 5 K to spend for 3 to 5 weeks, if you mean British Pounds or even Euros, I dont think you will need to skip anything because it is expensive. That is quite a lot of money to travel with. Many backpackers would be spending 30 to 50 Euros per day in S. America. You have 3 times that much to spend.

Though, you have plenty of money, you do seem to be time poor. So, dont make your list of things to do too long. The Lonely Planet will have lots of beach suggestions for you, for Brazil. The ones in Rio are great, for a start.

And, there is plenty of crime in many parts of S. America. Rather than avoiding places, I would just be sensible and careful. Take the advice of your hotel or hostel staff.

Reply to this

10 years ago, February 1st 2010 No: 3 Msg: #102040  
I deleted you duplicate post. But, if this one doesnt get enough replies in this forum, I can move it to the other one for you after a while. 😊 Reply to this

10 years ago, February 11th 2010 No: 4 Msg: #103306  
I have updated my trip out of concern for time, please let me know what you think.

My concern for time is due to multiple people telling me that I will not have time to do the following plan in 5 weeks:

Machu Picchu > Lake TitiCaca > Parque Nacional Madidi > Noel Kempff > Amazon Rainforest/River/Brazilian Beaches (I am not sure where to put this, but I definitely want to do this) > Pantanal / Parque Nacional do Pantanal Matogrossense > Rio de Janeiro.

They are saying that I will not be able to do this, and that I should focus on less things and just not rush it and enjoy my time there. What do you think? Is it not possible with bus? What about with flight? I think bus is more practical though, right? Since I doubt I'm going to run into airports randomly everywhere I go.

I don't know how to alter my trip if I am not going to have enough time. I definitely want to see the Amazon!

I researched Puerto Moldanado and it seems like this is more and more of what I am looking for. Maybe this is a better idea. Instead of rushing to Brazil after Lake Titicaca, I can stay in Peru and see the the Amazon from Puerto Moldanado?

Or is it better to see it from Brazil?

Please see my modified trip below.

So here is what I am thinking now.

I start with Lake titicaca > Machu Picchu > Cusco > take a train or flight to Puerto Maldonado > take a boat to Tambopata-Candamo/Sandoval Lake/Collpa de Guacamayos (apparently boat is the only way to access this place, please tell me if you know otherwise) > go south to see Bahuaja-Sonene National Park > go west to see Manú National Park > Iguazu Falls???

Will this work?

Tambopata sounds very exciting, it is one of the most biodiverse places on the planet. It is also home to Colpa de Guacamayos (the clay lick attracts thousands of macaws and parrots each day!).

I don't think I will have time to see Iquitos, right? since that is much further northwest than my current itinerary. Which would you recommend, Puerto Maldonado or Iquitos?

The downside to this is that I will not get to see the Pantanal, nor Iguazu Falls. Is there a way I can still do one of two of these things? If not both =
Reply to this

10 years ago, February 11th 2010 No: 5 Msg: #103322  
It's so hard to know where to start! We went to many of the places you mention and so you could do worse than have a squizz at our blog.

A few things:

One of the best trips we did was going to the salt flats on Bolivia - a wonderful 3 days and some really otherworldy lanscapes. Incredible. You also have the option of finishing the trip at the Chilean border and heading to San Pedro de Atacama. Or, of course, you could do it the other way around. Also in Bolivia, we cycled the Death Road and went to Rurrenabaque to do a pampas tour, which was incredible. Bolivia is also very, very cheap

I might get slaughtered for this, but we were hugely disappointed with Lake Titicaca. Copacabana in Bolivia was quite a nice place, but Puno in Peru is a bit of a dump and the reed islands are a very touristy experience. I wouldn't have felt like we would have missed much skipping it altogether.

Iguacu was a real highlight of our 6 months in SA and I would recommend seeing both sides. An absolute must.

With your budget you could definitely afford some flights, which cuts down on travel time a lot, especially in Argentina, where flights are normally cheap and reliable.

Sorry if that's a bit of a jumbled mess! Let me know if you have any specific questions about anywhere we went!

Reply to this

10 years ago, February 11th 2010 No: 6 Msg: #103339  
I say, relax a bit about it Kenny. It will seem less complicated when you are doing it than when you are planning it. Just make a loose plan and be flexible, then do what you can and change what you cant, while you are there. 😊 Reply to this

10 years ago, February 18th 2010 No: 7 Msg: #104076  
Thanks for the info Ben/Clare/Mell.

I agree Ben, based on the pictures and videos of Lake Titicaca I see, I think I just may skip it.

Here is an update:

Ok, so at least I have something decided. This part of the trip is finalized.. for now.

Chicago > Lima > Cuzco (all flights)

From Cuzco, (after Machu Picchu) I will meet up with a travel agency to do one of their tours through Manu. The question I am trying to answer right now, is which agency?


Here are my 5 options based on researching:

*1. http://manuperu.com/*

*Manu Nature Tours: Manu Cloud Forest Lodge & Manu Lodge (5, 6, 7, or 8 day options) - price not listed, emailed them asking for information on prices.*

This seems like a very good site and it seems like they know what they were doing, if price was not a consideration, this would definitely be my first or second choice.

*2 atalayaperu.com/peru-tours/02-rainforest.php*

*Atalaya Peru*

There are a couple of different options here:

Either the *"Manu Park" 8d/7n tour (PRICE $ 970.00 PER PERSON + s/ 150.00 Park Entrance)*

or the

*Manu & Tambopata National Park 11d/10n tour ( PRICE $1840.00 + S/150.00 ENTRADA PARQUE*)

This also seems like a great site and would be in my top 2 if money was not a factor.

This is where I need help, It seems like the latter is too expensive, is it worth it? I need help in comparing the two trips on this website, and also comparing the trips on this website to that of #1. Although it is difficult without knowing the pricing of #1, but any help is appreciated.

*3. Pantiacolla*

*Cloud Forest, Lake Salvador & Otorongo, Macaw Lick and Pantiacolla Mountains (9days) in and out by bus (emailed for price)*


This one seems a little longer than a few of the other ones, but that may very well be because bus transportation is used. This could also mean it is cheaper, which is good. Although I'm not very impressed with this website, I'm still unsure if it is really going to make a significant difference which tour agency I choose.

*4. Perutravels*


*Manu Reserved Zone Tour (8d / 7n) (1000$*)

This site seems very cluttered, but it seems cheaper than the others, assuming the cost of a single person doesn't shoot the price up.

*5. SAS*

There are several different Manu trips, but I am not sure which one is the best deal.

What do you guys think?

One concern with some of these tours is that the price is assumed based on two people traveling. I doubt that I will get a person to accompany me, so hopefully the prices don't shoot up too much. I will work on getting the pricing based on my situation, but what do you guys think about the tours in general? Which one would you guys recommend?

After Manu, I will be back in Cuzco, and I am still deciding on whether or not I will go to Lake Titicaca. I definitely wanted to do it at first, but after seeing some videos online, it seems like it's a great lake, and it's definitely going to be a great experience living with the natives.. but I don't know if it is for me. It's a good place to relax, but I don't really see anything besides the lake. Assuming I skip Lake Titicaca, I want to go to the Pantanal from Cusco, and then to Iguazu, and then end my trip in Rio. I will continue planning this, but I want to get the Peru part of my trip finalized first. You guys say that I don't need a guided tour for Machu Picchu, so there really isn't much planning to do there right? I just want to get the Manu trip finalized. Reply to this

10 years ago, February 18th 2010 No: 8 Msg: #104100  
If you can find out which tour operators have the best reputation, then choose those ones. I think all the actual places they go would be good, but good service is what is important where tours are concerned in my opinion. Reply to this

10 years ago, March 6th 2010 No: 9 Msg: #105851  
Here is an update for my trip:

- Manu
I have been in contact with 7-8 different agencies for Manu, and after seeing all their offers, I believe DosManos has the best deal, where it is 770$ for 8D/7N. Anyone heard anything good or bad about this agency?


There is a 50%!p(MISSING)ossibility that at least one of my friends may accompany me on at least some of this trip.

So here are the questions I have now:

- Machu Picchu (No Inca Trail)

I will visit this place before or after Manu depending on the dates I am able to book for Manu. Just to be sure, I do not have to use a tour agency for this, right? Simply take the train and go there early in the morning before the tour groups get there?

- Lake Titicaca

I want to try and spend a few days here, but I don't know if I should use a tour agency for that. Maybe if I use the same tour agency they will give me some sort of package discount? But before I look into that, I want to know if it is even necessary to use a tour agency for this - can I just show up there on my own?

- The Pantanal

I want this to be at least 2 weeks of my trip, since this is the place where I can see a lot of wildlife. Can anyone recommend any tour agencies for this? From Lake Titicaca, I will have to find a way to somehow arrive here - I am thinking I will do this by plane since bus would take too long, anyone have any idea what airport I would use to depart Lake Titicaca and where I would land near the Pantanal? Or should I bus it?

- Iguazu Falls

Hopefully I still have time for this. Maybe from the Pantanal it would be a good idea to fly to Rio de Janeiro, since I want to go there anyway. And then from Rio, find a tour agency that'll take me to Iguazu. Or it might be easier to go from Pantanal to Iguazu to Rio and then go home from Rio after spending a few days there.

Thanks for your help! Reply to this

10 years ago, March 8th 2010 No: 10 Msg: #105975  
You can do Machu Picchu on your own, or at least could before the floods washed away the railway line. You should check when the site and transport links are going to reopen. If you do get to go it's worth hiking up from AC early in the morning to get a ticket for Wayna Picchu.
Like Ben and Clare we found Lake Titicaca very disappointing.
The Pantanal is great, but unless you're really interested in animals 2 weeks sounds like too long. We used Ecological Expeditions based out of the HI hostel in Campo Grande for a 4 day 3 night trip. They were pretty good and did what they said they would. You might like to use some of the time to go to Bonito to snorkel in the rivers there, we did the Rio Sucuri which was fantastic.
Iguazu Falls are amazing, you should allow a full day for the Argentinian side and half a day for the Brazilian side. Use public transport to get there, it's very easy in both countries.
There are times / places when you need to use agencies but I would recommend using them as little as possible, doing things on your own is much better. Reply to this

10 years ago, March 9th 2010 No: 11 Msg: #106142  
From what I read, MP reopens on April 1st, so I should be fine.

So are you saying that I should take a train from Cuzco to Aguas Calientes and then hike on foot from AC to MP? And when you say get a ticket for Wayna Picchu, that ticket encompasses visiting Machu Picchu as well, right? Or are those separate?

For the Pantanal Grande, you were near Campo Grande, so you visited the Southern Pantanal, correct? I am leaning towards the northern part right now. I don't know if snorkeling in Bonito would work since I am visiting Cuiaba and Pocone in the north rather than Campo Grande in the south.

Thanks! Reply to this

10 years ago, March 10th 2010 No: 12 Msg: #106152  
Yes, either take the train from Cuzco (it actually leaves from Poroy a few km outside town) to AC - if it's running by then and if you can get a ticket. If not it's possible to get there by road / rail via a place called Hydroelectric, it's a pretty cool journey. On the morning you go to MP hike up to the entrance, you'll need to leave AC early (4am ish). When the gates open (around 6 ish I think) head round to get your ticket for Wayna Picchu - follow the crowds, these are free but limited to 400 per day (which is why you have to get there early).
We were in the southern pantanal. Reply to this

10 years ago, March 10th 2010 No: 13 Msg: #106153  
Perurail has a good website for train information , tickets etc www.perurail.com Reply to this

10 years ago, March 13th 2010 No: 14 Msg: #106389  
Thanks for the info hkwoody!

I have a bunch of general travel questions - they might be stupid, but I have never done this before:

1. cell phone - how is this going to work? Am I supposed to buy a temp phone when I arrive in Peru? Or will my cell phone work there? How will I call my parents back home?

2. Camera space - I have a 12 MP digital camera that has an SD card (haven't check how much space the SD card holds), I'm sure I'll run out of space... so which alternative do you think would be smarter:

a. After the SD card is full, find a computer at a hostel (hopefully they have SD card readers or I will need to bring a USB sd card reader), and then upload the pictures on a private server on the internet and then clear the space on the SD card.

b. Buy like 5 SD cards

c. ??

3. Visas

I'm reading that an advance visa is not required for American citizens to enter Peru. But when I arrive there, I should check with the embassy or consulate of Peru.

So from what I understand, I can simply apply for a visa after I arrive in Peru, but on the other hand, a visa is required for entry into Brazil. Regarding Peru, wouldn't it be easier just to do it in advance while I am still in the United States? So I don't have to waste time going to the embassy? Or is that not even possible? I'm trying to figure out where I can do this ... I'm at http://www.peruvianembassy.us/en.html ... but not seeing anything - if anyone can link me that would be great.

Also, according to travel.state.gov, I should register with the nearest U.S. Embassy if I am traveling in Peru - and I can do this through https://travelregistration.state.gov/ibrs/ui/ .. I made an account there but when I try to add a trip to Peru, it wants my local address and phone for Peru .. I do not know this yet - am I not supposed to to do this until I arrive at Peru?

As for the Brazilian Visa, I am working on that right now, and I should have one before I leave.

So I will only need a visa for Peru and Brazil, right? Will I need a visa for Bolivia if I am visiting Lake Titicaca? Will I need a visa for Argentina if I am visiting the Iguazu Falls (both sides)? I am assuming I will, maybe not for Bolivia - but I just want to make sure.

Thanks! Reply to this

10 years ago, March 15th 2010 No: 15 Msg: #106435  
I wouldn't advise using your mobile phone, the roaming and call charges are going to be huge. The best thing is to use Skype to Skype calls, next best is either Skype out or a calling card.
For sure the card in your camera will get full. We carried a netbook pc and a portable 250GB USB hard drive. Each day we would download from the cameras to the netbook, then copy to the hard drive. We also uploaded to Picasa. I'm not sure if Picasa, Flickr etc keep the full resolution of the pictures or if they compress them (this may be an issue if you want to print them any time later).
I'm not American so can't help on the visa stuff, the best source is going to be the relevant US government website. A word of caution on using those websites for other information on safety etc - they (all not just the US government) are almost always way to careful about the warnings they post, take the information with a pinch of salt. Reply to this

10 years ago, March 19th 2010 No: 16 Msg: #106798  
hkwoody - thanks for the info on the phones/camera, I will look into it! Please read below for my response.


I have sort of figured out how I will get from place to stay and where I will stay:

After landing in Lima, I will stay at the Loki Hostel most likely - I am still looking into transportation for how to get to the Hostel. Also, I am still deciding on whether or not to fly to Cuzco or do train/bus.

In Cuzco, I will probably stay at the Loki Hostel as well. For Machu Picchu, I haven't looked into specifically where I will be staying and what train I will be taking. For Lake Titicaca, Dos Manos will provide the transportaiton (75$ for a 3 day tour). I am still unsure of how to get to the Pantanal from Puno, but I am starting to look into that as well. I may even have to go from Juliaca > Lima > Sao Paulo and then bus it to Cuiaba or something. Hopefully this will be easier once I have finally decided on a Pantanal tour agency, so I know exactly where I need to be. (I am still leaning toward the Northern Pantanal). As for the rest of the trip, I haven't looked into it much but I don't think it should be too difficult. Hopefully everything starts coming together soon, because my schoolwork is not going to get any easier!

I'm still working on comparing Pantanal agencies - I will post again once I have made some sort of tangible progress.

Here's a few random questions:

Should I bring my laptop to South America? I assumed that I wouldn't because in case I get robbed or something. I was thinking that I just bring a couple SD cards, and not even bother uploading pictures on to the internet, but rather just bring a couple 8 GB flash drives and upload them on to there, and them empty out the SD cards. How does that sound? So all I will really need to bring is an SD card reader, flash drives, SD cards, and my camera of course.

I'm not sure if I will need batteries, my camera has a battery charger where I can just plug it in to an outlet. Will this not work in SA?

I'm currently communicating via e-mail with the Brazilian consulate in Chicago in order to obtain a Visa. I cannot apply yet because I am still waiting for my passport in the mail (I had to renew it, it may still be a couple weeks at least). However, one of their other requirements is that they want a print out of the round trip ticket or the flight itinerary or something. However, I do not know which airport or airline I am taking yet, because I am going to go there after Peru... I do not even know the exact dates, and probably won't know the exact dates until well into June when I am on my way to Lake Titicaca. So how am I supposed to provide this information? I asked them and their response was "We do ask that you provide flight itinerary/plans of entry and exit from Brazil."

I replied back reiterating the fact that I will not have that available and explained my situation, and they have yet to reply. I wonder how strict this? Can I not give them estimates? It's pretty ridiculous.

**Medical/Hygiene Help**

I need some medical help - I'm not expecting anyone to give me some professional medical advice, but just opinion based on personal experience, or links to some information.

Anyways, so I needed a Yellow Fever vaccination in order to get into Brazil. Before I could do this, I was told that I need to make an appointment for a travel consultation in order to get my Yellow Card (sort of like a passport for medical history I believe). The consultation was with a registered nurse, and it was free through my school. It lasted almost 3 hours! I thought it would be a waste of time but it was pretty informative. However, it is always nice to have a second opinion, so please let me know if you have any thoughts on what she is recommending below.

The nurse recommended a lot of different things based on where I am going:

-Yellow Fever Shot ($90) (done)
-Swine Flu Shot ($0) (done)
-Typhoid Shot (49$)
-Seasonal Flu Shot (20$)
-Hepatitis A Shot ($3) (this is recommended even if I am not traveling, so I will definitely get this done)
-TB test to see if I need a shot
-Tetanus vaccination (I don't think she mentioned this, and I'm not sure exactly what it is, but I'm reading that I should have this before going into Manu)

-Cipro - I think this is some sort of anti-diarrhea antibiotic drug that I should take if I happen to get really sick and have diarrhea and vomitting. She also recommended bringing some Pepto or Imodium.

-Malaria Medication - She is recommending I take malarial medication. She was unsure about the Malarial risk in the Pantanal, but she said that there is risk in Iguazu, but I'm not sure she knew what was she talking about as she did not seem very confident with regards to malaria. She is using some program/website called Travel Medicine Advisor to make her recommendations. She recommended taking Malarome or Lariam for malaria medication.
This is the main thing that I am unsure about, can anyone help me out with this?

Based on Google searches, I'm reading that there is about a .1% risk for malaria and Leishmaniasis in Manu, and there is almost no risk in the Pantanal or Iguazu either. Obviously these aren't medical documents where I'm getting this information from, but rather from tourists who have had personal experiences with this, and also from tour agencies.
Tourists are saying that the malaria tablets will just make you feel sick and ruin the trip, and there is no point. I should just stick to DEET mosquito repellant (30-50%?), as that will simultaneously protect me from Dengue Fever as well.

As for rabies, as long as I am sleeping with mosquito nets I should be fine, I don't think there is really a need to look into pre-exposure vaccinations for this, right?
I'm assuming the mosquito nets will be provided?

-She also recommended that I make sure that my medical insurance company is covering me when traveling abroad - to make sure that their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expences such as medical evacuation. This is what most travelers do, right? I'm going to call my health insurer soon.

-She also recommended drinking only bottled or boiled water. Will I have to buy a case load of bottled water over there? Where will I get this? She gave me a sheet with all of these tips, they even go as far to say as use bottled water to brush my teeth. Also, never drink unpasteurized milk - that makes sense.
She also said to bring some electrolyte powder patches (i.e. Gatorade) to put in your water because your body will need electrolytes even more in that part of the world.. I forget what her justification was exactly, something about the proper minerals not being in their food I believe.

Please post if you have any input on any of this! Thanks!
Reply to this

10 years ago, March 23rd 2010 No: 17 Msg: #107071  
Some comments.
Laptop - Yes I would take it. We found it useful to have our netbook with us for saving our photo's, email, blogs, research, online bookings etc. Many hostels have free wifi. The guest use pc's are often busy and not always a good standard. We locked it in our locker when we were out of the hostel and kept it in our day pack when we travelled between places.
The power outlets have different pin configurations so you'll need an adaptor but your charger should work ok. You should take a 2nd battery so that you always have one charged. You won't always be able to find a place to charge your battery when you need it.
My girlfriend is Japanese so needed a Brazilian visa. We had no flights into or out of Brazil so gave them details of our inbound flight to Buenos Aires, Argentina and outbound from Santiago, Chile. That along with whatever financial information (bank statements I think) was enough for them to issue the visa.
What you do on the medical stuff is really down to you. We had Yellow Fever jabs and took malaria tablets (doxycycline) when in the Amazon. We couldn't find any high DEET repellent in South America so take that with you.
Insurance is very important, make sure you know what you're covered for. You probably also want to make sure you have some personal liability insurance.
The tap water varies from place to place, but we never resorted to using bottled water to brush our teeth. Not sure why you think you'll need to buy a case ? Bottled water is available in supermarkets, convenience stores, in bus terminals etc.
Don't worry too much, you'll be fine. South America is a great adventure, enjoy it. You can't plan for everything, things will go wrong and you just work your way through them, it's all part of the fun.
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10 years ago, March 23rd 2010 No: 18 Msg: #107105  
Kenny, I'm heading to South America in September but can answer a lot of your questions because I went to Africa last year (plus based on my own research for South America).

Anti-malarials; i took doxycycline in Africa. I'm not going to lie - I got rashes, other people I've heard had crazy dreams, and they also made me VERY sick if i didn't take them with food. But still, I'd personally rather that than malaria ANY DAY. I'd be asking for a second opinion for the areas that you're visiting from a doctor who is a bit more knowledgeable in malaria. I've visited the travel doctor several times for several different things and I always found them to be EXTREMELY confident in EVERY question I've ever had for every region. You also have to remember that a lot of the times, travel doctors will exaggerate their opinions just to cover their backsides. Say for example she did not recommend the anti malarials and you went slightly out of the area you told her you were visiting or one malaria-prone mosquito happens to get inside a plane when the doors open and gets you on the flight or whatever - she would be liable if you caught malaria.

Rabies - mosquito nets don't protect you from rabies. Rabies is contracted from animals - particularly animal bites. I don't personally have any rabies injections; there's a lot of rabies in places like Indonesia, India and some other parts of Asia. I haven't heard of their being a lot of rabies in South America. Basically, when I went to Bali at the beginning of the year the doctor told me - to stay away from dogs. Dogs are one of the main carriers of rabies. Most of the time, in most of the areas you are visiting - if there's a rabies risk; it's mainly for locals rather than tourists. There's stray dogs EVERYWHERE in Bali - basically if we saw one ahead and we had the opportunity - we crossed the road, if not, we didn't touch it or do anything to invite us to be interested in us. Other carriers are monkeys, bats, foxes, skunks (skunks even carry rabies in the United States). Again, when I went to Africa I asked about Rabies - specifically, "i'm going to a lion park where we can walk with and pat lions, could I get rabies?" - the travel doctor said yes, because there is always a SMALL possibility and they don't want to be liable - but I still did it. In Bali, I went to the monkey forests and fed monkeys and had them up on my shoulder... Don't let a fear of rabies stop you from doing things but be smart and don't get bitten. :P

I went to Africa and Bali - both have bad water and like the above poster I've never used bottled water to brush my teeth. I personally don't DRINK the water when I brush my teeth but maybe that's just me? Be more careful with ice, drinks "on tap", and salads (in some places - the higher hotels and stuff should be fine). You won't need a case - remember that EVERYWHERE you go, other tourists will be there too - everyone is going to need bottled water and seriously, bottled water is everywhere. Just buy what you'll need for two days TOPS.

Travel insurance is a must - I would suggest seeking a formal travel insurance policy rather than getting your health insurance provider to insure you overseas - the travel insurance will cover evacuations, and also any equipment you take with you; cameras, laptops, trekking gear etc (up to a certain amount of course), it also offers personal liability, and will extend cover from injury too (if you hurt yourself white water rafting for example - which if you extend your health insurance they might not cover accidents from 'adventurous type activities'. For example, the travel insurance I take out, it covers me for EVERY activity I do EXCEPT being on a motorbike (that's extra). Plus, travel insurance will cover you if your flights/tours etc get cancelled etc. In fact I'd say before you pay ANYTHING for your trip - pay for your travel insurance.

as far as the electrolyte powder goes; the travel doctor has never recommended me those on the bases of there not being as many minerals in those places of the world. They are always good to have if you have a bout of diarrhoea (which is common when you are travelling anywhere with differences in diet - types of food, frequency of food, food hygiene is different, medications etc), but to be honest, I would say there's just as many minerals in the food in South America than there would be at home. The food is actually more likely to be organic because it doesn't have as many shitloads of fertiliser in it. The only problem with bad nutrition when travelling is limited control of your diet - you can only order what's available after all; whether that be from a resturant or even if you go to the grocery store and cook yourself - you only have whats available. To be honest, within reason (eg. there may not always be balanced vegan options, in other places, the meat might not always be safe, the serving sizes might not be enough to sustain you) but, i believe that places like South America, Asia and Africa tend to have more healthier diets than home.
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10 years ago, March 24th 2010 No: 19 Msg: #107214  
Hkwoody – thx for the info!
Krystie – I will look into finding a 2nd advice for the medication – but I think will take all the precautions necessary.
For the rabies comment – I meant that the mosquito nets could protect from the bats, which carry rabies as well. Would that be accurate?
I don’t even like ice so I won’t have to worry about that.
The electrolyte powder was meant to help with hydration – that is what she said, I just misremembered!
Thank you for your input – I addressed some of the other things in the update below.


They responded back saying that they want to present the itinerary that I have + a signed notarized letter describing my travel plans.
So that should be easy enough - I'll try to get that done after I figure out a date/agency for the Pantanal, and when my passport comes back( should be next week)

Cell Phone:

I think I'm going to go with the unlocked phone - it seems the simplest option rather than dealing with Skype, because who knows when I'll have access to the internet.
So I have already unlocked my phone - now it is just a matter of putting the foreign sim card into it.

I have a few questions about this:

I have been researching companies online because there are companies that offer to give you the foreign sim card for the country even before you leave, this way you have the sim card already and you do not have to worry about buying it over there. However, all these companies charge about $2.50-$3.00 a minute. My question is, I know that when I land in Lima, I can buy a foreign sim card at the airport, but what will there rates be? Will they be significantly cheaper? If so, I will wait on buying the sim card. Also, are there any other hidden fees? If I buy my SIM card at the airport in Lima, how will they charge me? Will they ask me for my credit card information? Or will I just pay as I go?


I think I will just buy SD cards and not take a laptop.

From what I understand, here is the differences between USA, Peru, and Brazil:

United States - 120 Volts, K Shape Outlet, 60 frequency
Peru - 110 Volts.. 220 secondary Volts, K Shape Outlet, 50/60 frequency
Brazil - 110 Volts.. 220 secondary Volts, B and K Shape Outlet, 60 frequency

This site is helping me out in determining whether or not I need a adaptor and/or converter:

Besides my cell phone charger, camera charger, and maybe an electric razor, I don't think I will need to bring any other things that would require an outlet.

Flight from Chicago to Lima:

I'm currently comparing different airlines, the best deal I have found is 344$ with Continental Airlines at despegar.com (the weird part is that Continental at other websites is almost 200$ more). The 2nd best deal I have found so far is 450$ LAN airlines based on statravel.com (I think it is a student discount), along with Continental via Studentuniverse(450$).

Transportation from Lima Airport to Loki Hostel in Lima:

I will just get Loki Hostel to send a taxi for me, I believe it is 15$

Transportation from Lima to Cuzco:

For bus, I am trying to use http://www.cruzdelsur.com.pe/inicio_2.php - the website is in english, but as soon as I put my arrival and departure date and hit submit, the results are in spanish and I cannot find a button anywhere to convert it to English. I believe it's about 50-60$ though.

If I decide to fly, Taca and Star Peru do not charge much over a 100$

Transportation from Cuzco to MP:

I don't think I have much choice besides using a train for this, I have been referred several times to perurails.com - but I cannot seem to find a price or make a reservation. Every date that I put, it comes back with the result that there is no availability. Am I doing something wrong? Or is it really all sold out? I emailed them and this is what they said:

"At the moment we are not processing reservations or modifications yet because we are modifying train tickets and reservations that already where made you can check our available spaces in our web page www.perurail.com ones everything is done contact our Callcenter for more information calling to this phone number 0051-84-581414."

From what I gather, they are saying I cannot make a reservation right now. But it still doesn't explain why every result yields no availability, and why I cannot see the rates.

Travel Health Insurance:

I called my health insurer and they said I will have the exact health benefits that I have in the US, overseas - and they will only pay 80% of the cost, and I pay the remaining 20%, up to 1500$. Also, this does not cover all the things that a travel insurer would - it only covers medical expense and evacuation.

So I don't think that is good enough so I will just go with one of the following:

Statravel - 165$
Travelassistnetwork - 180$
TravelGuard - 119$
WorldNomads - 127$
It would seem like TravelGuard is the best deal, but I haven't compared the policies. I think it will take a while to compare the policies.There are a few others as well that I need to find the prices for.


Food & Drink in SA:

I think I have a firm grasp on this now - just stick to water bottles. How will I know if the dairy is pasteurized? If the fruits/vegetables have not been washed in local water? I'm assuming when I am staying at the hostels, I will have to buy food at their cafe, and then also eat out at restaurants, along with any meals the tour agency provides while I am at Manu/LakeTiticaca/Pantanal. So I guess I will just have to continually ask these questions every time I am served? Also, one thing that I don't think I mentioned is that I am vegetarian (lacto-ovo). This will probably make it more difficult! Hopefully not too much.

ISIC CARD: I'm going to obtain this from the study abroad office at my university. They require 22$ and a passport photo - it seems like I can get some nice discounts, so it couldn't hurt.

Pantanal: I'm still in communication with several pantanal agencies
Thanks for your help!
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10 years ago, March 25th 2010 No: 20 Msg: #107228  
I think you're worrying too much, all the places you're going are on the tourist trail and have 000's of visitors every year, almost all of whom have a trouble and illness free time. Don't concern yourself with whether the dairy is pasturised - it most probably is, or the vegetables are washed in local water - almost certainly they are, but so what ? Being a vegetarian will make it more difficult, but not impossible.
For good up to date information on Machu Picchu see the thread in the Peru section of Thorn Tree on the Lonely Planet website. Reply to this

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