Thursday, December 1, 2016

Chile, Argentina and Uruguay! Itinerary, Planning Resources & Trip Costs.

Perito Moreno Glacier, Argentina
(Photo by Luca Galuzzi.  Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license.)

We're going to South America!  I don't think we had even left Thailand yet when Bro and I talked about where we would go to next.  That was this past February.  Of course, South America came up.  I've only been to one country - Peru.  Bro's never been.  It's a big continent and we bounced around ideas of where we would like to travel to.  We finally settled on Chile and Argentina.

Over the summer, I brought the trip idea up again with Bro.  Was he still on for going down south and indeed he was.  And then time flew by.  Before I knew it, I was traveling to Korea and China.

I had been back home barely a few days when Bro asked how it was going with the South America trip.  Uh....I'm still working on my laundry from the Korea China trip and I'll get to it soon???  That was  my answer.  Of course, thoughts of the trip had already permeated my brain.

First step was for Bro to request his leave. Once that was approved, the next step was to book our flights.  We both found very reasonable deals and in a matter of just a few days had nailed down that one task.  Then, as with all the other trips, it fell on my shoulders to put the trip together.

Trip Itinerary
The plan was to arrive into South America via Santiago and to depart via Buenos Aires. I started building the itinerary with figuring how how many days we needed to spend in Santiago and the Atacama Desert. I then worked backwards from Buenos Aires and then filled in the blanks with our time in Patagonia.  The original plan for Patagonia was to rent a car and drive around but after researching our options, it proved to be less and less desirable.  It would be more cost effective and efficient for us to make our way around using public transportation.  It also turned out that I allocated more time than really necessary to see the highlights of the region.  So, that meant I could move up the dates for our time in Buenos Aires, leaving about 4 days to cover before we would have to leave for home.

Atacama Desert, Chile
(Photo by ESO Photo Ambassador Stéphane Guisard. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons.)

I looked at places to visit in Argentina and had originally considered a visit to Iguassu Falls.  I started to research Iguassu and it seems like the consensus is that you should plan to spend a full day on the Argentinian side of the falls and then half day on the Brazilian side.  Well, therein lay an issue.  For Americans, we rightfully need a visa to enter Brazil and the visa costs $160.  Granted it's a 10 year visa, I just did not feel it was worth the money.  Better for us to visit the falls when we do a trip to Brazil.  So Iguassu was out.

So, now I was back to trying to figure out how to spend our last four days.  I have to admit, nothing around Buenos Aires was really attractive. There are beaches down the coast but they didn't really appeal to me either.  In looking at day trips from Buenos Aires, I discovered that Uruguay is a short hop, skip and ferry ride away.  So, a bit more research  later and I decided we would spend our last 4 days in Uruguay.  We would base ourselves in Montevideo and do day trips from there.

With the timeline filled, I then had to work on accommodations, transportation and tours.  Bit by bit, all the pieces of the pie began to fall into place.


Trip Map


Trip Planning Resources
When I first started traveling, a trip like this would literally take me a couple of months to plan out.  But with so many trips under my belt, I've built up a portfolio of web resources that have proven useful over many trips.  Each trip does require different resources but there's a lot of common overlap.  As a result, the bulk of this trip came together in just two weeks!


Official Tourism Websites:
   Chile: http://chile.travel/en/
   Argentina: http://www.argentina.travel/en
   Uruguay: http://www.turismo.gub.uy/index.php/en/

General Country Travel Information:
   Wikipedia
   Wikitravel
   YouTube

Maps:
   Google Maps

City Guides:
   National Geographic
   Fodor’s
   New York Times Travel
   TimeOut

Ideas For Day Trips/Excursions:
   Viator

Travel Advice Forums:
   Lonely Planet Thorn Tree
   TripAdvisor

Tours:
   denomades.com

Accommodation:
   Airbnb
   booking.com

Transportation:
   Kayak,Expedia, and Travelocity (general flight information)
   Rome2rio (travel route and transportation options)
   Urbanrail.net (train and subway information)
   Copa Airlines
   Avianca

   Sky Airline
   Bus Sur (bus for Patagonia)
   Buquebus ferry Buenos Aires <-> Montevideo)

Currency and Payments
    xe.com (exchange rates)
    PayPal

Historic Weather Information
    Wunderground

Electricity:
    Voltage Valet


Trip Costs
Depending on what type of traveler you are, some people would consider this to be a budget trip and others would not.  For me, it's a very reasonably priced trip a s I tend more towards being a budget traveler than being a luxury traveler.  Here are the costs.  Note that food, except for breakfast in the hotels is not included as well as entry fees to the parks, museums, etc.


I still have a few more things left to do - build the Google city maps (with locations of places of interest, for downloading onto my mobile phone), work out the details for our day trips from all three capital cities, find an Argentinian estancia that we can spend the day at and book tango performance in Buenos Aires.

I also want to do some reading on the places that will be visiting.  In years past, I had more time for pre-trip reading but with trips happening as frequently as they do now, I barely have time to finish up my blog for a previous trip let alone time to read up for the next trip.  Sad to admit this, but I still have yet to finish my blogs for my previous two trips - Thailand and Myanmar and Korea and China.  I'm working on them as fast as I can!!

Last but not least, I have to put together my packing list. This trip will be a bit of a challenge, packing wise, because we have to accommodate for quite a range in temperatures - cold and dry in Atacama and Patagonia and very hot and humid in Buenos Aires and Montevideo.

The trip is still several weeks away and I have a ton of work to do so off I go!