In Podcast 11 in my travel podcast series, I talk to Craig and Linda from Indie Travel Podcast about their 4 months travelling with friends in South America, visiting Chile, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina and Uruguay. They pick out the highlights of their trip, and give some advice on travelling by bus, how to avoid scams and pickpockets and how they enjoyed staying with locals on this trip.
- Craig and Linda flew into Santiago because of the cheap flights from Auckland in New Zealand. The city is surrounded by mountains and can be bathed in smog although Craig & Linda enjoyed their time there with museums and great street food.
- Patagonia in southern Chile has amazing scenery although Craig & Linda didn’t visit, as it is one of the most expensive regions to visit in South America and they didn’t have enough time.
- The island of Chiloé is a great place to relax and slow down, with a Pacific Island feel with food being cooked in underground ovens, and a place you can spot seals and dolphins.
- In northern Chile, the area around San Pedro de Atacama is beautiful although the town itself is a tourist trap. You can use San Pedro de Atacama as a base for trips into the surrounding area but as an alternative you can approach from the north from Uyunay in Bolivia. This region is known for its natural beauty with mountains and salt flats.
- Craig and Linda enjoyed an astronomy tour with a Frenchman who has set up telescopes in his house to view the very clear night skies in this area that has very little light pollution.
- Linda and a friend spent a weekend in Valparaiso in Chile with plenty of street art, funiculars and brightly coloured houses where the local government had commissioned open air murals around the town. They also visited Viña del Mar, the coastal resort of the region.
- Unfortunately, Chile is one of the most expensive countries in South America for food and accommodation, along with Uruguay and Argentina.
- Craig and Linda travelled by overnight bus from Santiago to Antofagasta and up to Lima and spent 7 weeks in Peru, 3 of which were in Cusco where they attended a local language school to learn Spanish.
- Cusco is not representative of Peru as a whole as it is very touristy, being the main jumping off point for trips to Machu Picchu. We discuss the pros and cons of visiting Machu Pichu which is a major site but also expensive and crowded by comparison to other sites that receive far less visitors.
- From Cusco they enjoyed a trek through the Sacred Valley, visiting local villages that were well off the tourist trail.
- Craig and Linda didn’t visit Machu Picchu preferring to spend time at some other lesser known pre-Incan sites near Trujillo such as Huaca del Sol and Huaca de la Luna.
- They especially enjoyed their time in the northern cities of Trujillo, Chachapoyas and Chiclayo and wish that they’d spent more time there than in Cusco.
- From Peru Craig and Linda travelled to the shores of Lake Titicaca, stayed at Cococabana and did some walking on Isla de Sol, a large island in the lake.
- They visited the Uros floating islands made from reeds that were constructed as a refuge for the local people but have now become a major draw for tourists and brought more prosperity for the locals.
- They had mixed feelings about La Paz which Linda loved as they stayed with locals and she enjoyed the street-food. Craig found the city dirty and felt unsafe as they were targeted with 3 pick-pocket attempts while they were there.
- From Uyuni in Bolivia Craig and Linda visited the salt flats for a 3 day 4 wheel drive tour staying in a salt hotel and ending at San Pedro de Atacama. They loved the amazing play with perspective, coral islands covered with cactus and the heat haze with the mountains in the distance.
Argentina and Uruguay
- Craig and Linda visited the Iguazu falls from both the Argentinian side which they found more developed but also more crowded and from the Brazilian side which had less visitors. The car to take them to the falls was arranged through their hostel and was only a little more expensive and more convenient than taking public transport.
- From Puerto Iguazu they took the bus to Montevideo in Uruguay where they stayed with a friend who took them to his grandmother’s Lake House. This was close to the popular beach and surfing resort of Punte del Este which was reputed to have the best surfing on Uruguay’s east coast.
- They also enjoyed Montevideo which was a relaxing place with plenty of culture and galleries, a contrast to the buzzing atmosphere of Buenos Aries. They also spent some time in in the town of Colonia in Uruguay.
- In Argentina Craig and Linda did some wine tasting in the Mendoza and la Plata regions but found it difficult to take part in the wine tasting unless you were part of a tour as the wineries would only open their cheapest wines to try.
Tips for travelling by bus in South America
- As they were travelling on a budget, Craig & Linda used long distance buses to get around, normally travelling overnight, despite the fact that Linda finds it difficult to sleep on buses.
- The standard of the buses were best in Chile and Argentina and in Peru there was also a wide range of standards with some very high quality buses.
- At best these buses can be similar in style to air travel with comfortable, reclining seats, airline style meals and drinks and even sometimes on board wifi.
- Depending on the bus, you can book semi-cama seats that recline 45-60 degrees, Cama with 160 degree reclining, and even full cama that lie flat.
- Craig and Linda suggest that you research your options and book with an bus operator that has a good reputation, even if it costs a little more.
- Always keep your valuables with you on the bus and keep hold of any day-packs , especially when sleeping.
- You may like a seat at the front of the bus that has more leg-room and you should also check the position of the toilet before selecting a seat to avoid unwelcome smells.
Couchurfingand meeting locals
- On this trip Craig and Linda enjoyed staying with locals through Couchsurfing.org – even though their options were more limited as they were travelling in a group.
- They combined this with staying in hostels which also gave them a break from speaking Spanish and an opportunity to catch up on the work for their Indie Travel Podcast site, as they also earn a living through the website.
If you enjoyed this travel podcast please check out my other podcasts in my Travel Podcast Archive
Other Indie Travel Podcasts on South America
Photo Credits: All photos by Craig and Linda and can be seen on their Mars-Hill Flickr site
More South American stories to enjoy
It’s a few months since I gave you a round-up on some of the places I’ve been writing around the Web and there are some long overdue thank-you’s I need to give to those kind folk who gave Heather on her travels the thumbs up recently.
Thanks for the mention
First up, some big thanks or the following mentions – I love you too!
Tours4Fun gave me a write-up in their Crush4Fun feature in which they highlight travel bloggers that catch their fancy – Tours4Fun offer value-for-money tour packages as well as designing custom tours based on the preferences of travelers and they’d love to connect with you via their active travel Tours4Fun blog
On GuidetoOnline Schools.com I was featured as one of their 50 Awesome European Travel Blogs and was happy to be in good company with some of my own favourites such as Europe a la Carte which features top travel tips from all over Europe, Lady in London featuring some great places in the capital, and Gran Tourismo written by my friends Lara and Terry who are slowly working their way around Europe, living like locals.
You may have noticed that I’m doing a lot more video these days and over at Tripfilms, one of the best websites for online travel videos, I was featured in their Better know a Member series with this post: Better Know a Member: HeatherOnHerTravels. They asked me for some hints and tips on travelling and so I decided to make a video response – do take a while to check out my random thoughts on travel as I put on my best BBC travel presenter persona.
At Travelinsurance.org they went one better with their 51 Fantastic European Travel Blogs article in which Heather on her travels was included as one of the top General European blogs and again many of my favourites were there too such as Foodie favourites Londonelicious and My Kugelhopf as well as the bargain hunter’s hotel blog of choice, Eurocheapo and the full-time family travellers SoulTravelers3
On Privatecharter.net there was a round-up of 50 Pilots blogs and sites featuring my article on Confessions of a Commercial Airline pilot – no nothing steamy, but my article with a pilot friend lifted the lid on wads of cash, dodgy dealings and how airlines shave corners off their costs.
And thanks go to my friend Christine from Almost Fearless for featuring my guest article on 10 tips for traveling by dug-out canoe in the Amazon basin from my time in Ecuador. Among my tips are to use wellies (that’s rubber boots to some of you) in the rainforest just like the locals do and to buy a poncho rather than using a waterproof jacket.
You may be interested that these days I’m writing in a few other places around the web;
At Europe a la Carte, do check out the following posts;
Cycling by the sea in Istria, Croatia – in which I tell you all about cycling in the lovely province of Istria in northern Croatia both beside the sea and inland through the vineyards and olive groves
Three free museums to visit in Bristol, England – Many museums in the UK are now free and there are some great ones in Bristol to check out including a restored Georgian House owned by a Bristol slave merchant.
Things to enjoy in the Brecon Beacons in Wales – in which I share some of the great outdoor activities you can find in this lovely green and mountainous area of Wales
At the Sunshine.co.uk blog you’ll find the following articles;
Searching for the Caretta Caretta turtles on Zante in Greece – in which I give you some tips on how to learn about and see the endangered turtles on Zante in an ecologically sensitive way.
The Tastes and Flavours of Lisbon – in which I take you on a culinary tour of some of the delicious eats and drinks we enjoyed on our trip to Lisbon.
And at the Lastminute.com blog, you may enjoy getting creative in manchester with some ideas on the great free museums and exhibitions you’ll find in a city that’s not just about football and nightlife.
I’ve also been writing about some of the lodgings that we’ve enjoyed staying over the years at Uptake lodging blog so do take a look at the following;
Boutique apartments and rooms at Circus Hotel in Berlin – in which I describe our stay in the gorgeous budget boutique Berlin hotel where our teenage girls were thrilled to have their own little apartment.
Eco-friendly villas and turtle spotting on the Greek island of Zakynthos – about the quiet resorts of Vasilikos and Gerakas on Zante where you’ll find a range of villas and apartments for all budgets through Ionian eco villagers who manage accommodation on behalf of local owners in order to prevent this end of the island, where the turtles nest, from becoming too overdeveloped.
A family break in the forest at Center Parcs at Longleat, England – about our New Year break in forest cabins at Centerparcs with plenty of cycling, swimming and sporting activities for our children.
Boutique hotel-hostel at Hôme Rooms Deluxe in Valencia, Spain – the hybrid boutique hostel-hotel with en suite rooms each individually designed by a local artist, as well as the self catering facilities and free internet that you’d expect from a hostel.
So many thanks once again to everyone who hosted my work and I really do appreciate you coming back to Heather on her travels for lots of great new post, videos, podcasts and photos – see you again soon!