The Plan: Central & South America
Do you plan out every minute of your vacations? Does it feel stressed and chaotic instead of relaxing? Are you exhausted by the time your trip is done? Traveling slow without a laid out plan is the best way to take in a culture really get to know a place. Spend time enjoying what the area and people have to offer without the stress of having to see everything. You can always go back.
I have a definite departure date. I have a desired plan of travel. Nothing else is planned. The following is my general path and some of the things I would like to see along the way. I will be backpacking this trip. Everything I need will be packed into a backpack. I will be hitchhiking and taking some buses along the way. I will also be staying in hostels, couchsurfing, and staying in private rooms when my budget allows. I will not stick to any schedule but instead, float along the breeze like Forrest Gump and let the wind take me wherever it desires.
My plan is to fly into Cancun, Mexico and then get the hell out of Cancun. I believe Cancun is far too touristy for me. The prices are too high for this my budget on this trip. I will quickly move onward to more budget friendly locations in Central America.
Belize is my first stop in in Central America. Belize is a very touristy country and unfortunately, I will be arriving in the height of tourist season. There are some awesome caves in southern Belize that would be great to see. So, I will spend a few days exploring Belize before traveling out of the country.
Guatemala has some amazing scenery with many Mayan ruins including Tikal. There are amazing places with old colonial style buildings such as Antigua. Lake Atitlan is an amazing lake surrounded by 3 volcanoes. I plan to stay in Guatemala for at least 4 weeks so I can soak up all of the culture.
Honduras has been labeled the "Murder Capitol of the World." Tourism is on the rise and most of the violence is gang related violence in the major cities. There are some amazing places to visit in Honduras. I will be visiting the Copan Ruins and then onward to Utila Island where I will be spending quite a few days learning to scuba dive. Utila Island is one of the most popular (and cheapest) destinations in the world to learn to scuba dive.
There is a hostel in El Cuco, El Salvador that is on a spectacular beach. La Tortuga Verde is the name of the hostel where they release sea turtles into the ocean. I intend to stay here for a few days and soak up some sun...maybe I will be lucky enough to watch a turtle release.
Rich with culture, scenery, awesome beaches, and extremely low prices; Nicaragua is a place I intend to spend some time! Ometepe is a volcano which has formed an island in the middle of Nicaragua. Ometepe is a popular place to visit. I will spend a couple of days on the island exploring!
Costa Rica is an extremely popular tourist destination and for many good reasons. Costa Rica is one of the most bio-diverse places on the planet. There are amazing rainforests, beaches, and a ton of wildlife. The unfortunate part is that the prices in Costa Rica have increased to the point of making this the most expensive destination in Central America. I will only be spending as much time as my budget will allow.
Panama is a popular place it but I haven't really found a whole lot of interest here. I would really like to see Panama City at night and also the panama Canal. I haven't found anything else that will keep me here for an extended time, especially since there are some amazing places in South America I want to see! Onward to South America!!
San Blas Islands
The San Blas Islands are often thought to be part of Panama but they are actually their own nation. The native population have tried to stick to their cultural heritage without being influenced by tourism and tourists. The San Blas Islands can only be reached by boat and are usually a stop on the boat trip to Colombia. This is how I will be arriving. This is my last stop in Central America and then on to South America!
Colombia has been known for drug cartels and violence with the notoriety of Pablo Escobar but that has all subsided and this amazing country has seen tourism on the rise. Colombia is supposed to be an absolutely amazing place to visit with the old colonial town in Cartagena, a 16th Century castle, the Andes mountains, the Amazon jungle, excellent food, and many other great reasons to visit. This should be a welcome start to my trip through South America.
Another amazing place in South America is Ecuador. Located directly on the equator (for which the country is named), Ecuador has a very warm tropical climate. Like Colombia the Andes and Amazon are fantastic but also the capitol of Quito which also has Spanish colonial buildings,16th and17th century palaces, along with some of the most ornate churches in the world. I am looking forward to the photographic opportunities in Ecuador.
Charles Darwin made the Galapagos Islands famous because this is the place where he studied the ecosystem that had been untainted by humans. Most of Darwin's theories were based on his experiences in the Galapagos Islands. The Galapagos Islands are actually part of Ecuador but require extra travel arrangements. I plan to spend a few days around the islands getting some wildlife photography and just experiencing this amazing place.
I am extremely excited to visit Peru. The culture and amazing Macchu Picchu have drawn me to Peru. I hope this country is amazing as I think it will! This is definitely going to be a great place for some photography! I will be spending some time in Peru exploring for sure. I will spend some extra time here to really soak in Peru.
All of the travel guides say that Bolivia is a "must see" destination if you are traveling to South America. It took me a long time to make a decision about Bolivia. I decided to make my way through Bolivia to see what all of the hype is about. I know I will definitely be riding a bicycle down the Road of Death. Who could resist this temptation? I will also be visiting the largest salt flats in the world at Uyuni, Bolivia. I will have to explore to find all of the other "must see" places. I may end up spending far more time in Bolivia that I intended if it lives up to the hype!
My first trip through Argentina will be through the northern part of Argentina to see Iguazu Falls which is a group of waterfalls that stretch for over one mile. I have seen photos and videos but I am sure none of which can do it justice. This is a place that I absolutely want to see and photograph. Then I will be headed right back out of Argentina until later in my trip.
Chile is the country that made me want to go to South America. There are far too many things to see in Chile to list. I will blog my entire trip and I am sure that a large portion of my blog will be based on Chile. I will be spending a few weeks in Chile where I will go all the way down through Patagonia until I reach Cape Horn. This will be my first visit into Chile during this trip. For an amazing video about Chile click here.
I absolutely cannot miss Easter Island. It requires a 4.5 hour flight out to the island. I plan to spend several days on the island exploring and learning as much as I can because I am absolutely fascinated by these statues. I also have photography ideas for some of these site I want to try! I imagine this will be one of the highlights of this entire trip. Since the flights depart from Santiago, Chile, I will be visiting here before I go south into Patagonia.
This time through Argentina I will be spending much more time as I come up from the south after visiting Cape Horn. I will make my way to Buenos Aires where I will spend a few days before I begin my trek back towards Chile for the final leg of my trip.
Chile (final stop)
My final destination will be Santiago, Chile. I will spend a few days catching up on anything I want to see or I missed the first time around. I will spend a day or two in Santiago before I fly back to Billings, Montana.