Travel, but how?
South America was our dream destination, the Wedding Travellers mission was thoroughly thought through, but there was still one thing to do - plan the route itself. :)
Firstly, we had to choose the means of travel: public transport and/or hitchhiking is the obvious and cheaper alternative. It’s big disadvantage is the limit of how much you can carry with you. Ivan would have to drastically reduce his photo/video equipment (which he is doing already, but on a smaller scale), we couldn’t print pictures on the spot for local people. Another one was safety - although car is not exactly safe as well, most of the “we got robbed” stories include public transport, messy and crowded bus stations, in line for tickets, in a hurry… Also you would kind of have to stick to the places, where the buses do actually go :)
There are some advantages, of course - you don’t have to deal with almost anything, just hop on a bus and go. Many of the buses are very comfortable and you can sleep while travelling. You will also meet a lot of people and like-minded travellers.
The other choice was to have a car. This would solve a lot of problems and give us a more freedom, as you can drive and stop wherever and whenever you want. You can pack a lot more things, or actually take somebody with you for some part of the trip. And you can also sleep in the car when the weather is bad.
The major disadvantage with car is, obviously, money. Since it’s almost impossible to rent a car for this type of journey (too long+uncertainty of end point), the only way is to do this is to buy one. But even if you have the budget for that, you will have to deal with a lot more bureaucracy, insurance, long delays at border points, maintenance, breakdowns… Our heads were spinning from all the information, so we made a list of pros and cons - and the travel-and-sleep-in-car won. There is even a special word in english for that - “overlanding” - but as it’s a very extensive topic, Ivan will write about it more in an another blog post. :)
Buy a car in South America?
So we’ve decided to buy a car. As we’ll travel in different and challenging conditions, it will be something with four wheel drive that’s easy to fix, but more about that later. Ivan was doing proper research, where, for how much and how you can buy a car. As expected, it’s not that easy.
Brazil and Uruguay have high import tax/toll, so the cars are way overpriced. A vehicle with Argentinian papers can not be driven out of Argentina by a foreigner, even if you legally own it, so that was out of picture. In the most of the remaining countries we’ve found some problems, mostly that you cannot legally buy/sell the car back. There was also the option of shipping the car from Europe, but we decided it's not worth it for us, because of the steep cost of freight shipping and the uncertainty (arrival, delays, things get stolen during the shipping...). The only solution working for us was - Chile.
It’s not completely easy there too, but armed with a bit of patience you can buy a car, that you can legally drive, leave the country and most importantly - sell. We’ve reserved the first month of our journey for finding, buying and preparing the car. During that time, we’ll be staying in Santiago and exploring the neighborhood, or even travel to Mendoza and Cordoba in Argentina, while we wait for all the paperwork. :)
If you decide to buy a car, essentially you have 2 choices - to buy from local, or another traveller. Both have pros and cons, a traveller would have the car already equipped, which would save us a lot of work - but it would have probably seen some bad roads + can be difficult to transfer the ownership. Ivan have studied the whole process thoroughly, again - we’ll bring you more details in a separate blog post, once we’ve bought the car. :)
So, the mean of travel was done… now we “just” had to decide, where do we actually want to go :) We’ve already known a few places and read about many more in books, guides, internet and blogs. Those were and still are particulary good source of inspiration, if you’re looking for some unusual places - Ivan spent hours and hours reading blogs of various travellers and overlanders.
Apart from blogs, probably the best source of information was first-hand - directly from travellers or people that live in South America. Mostly thanks to couchsurfing, we’ve met a few of them, and created a lot of friendships and besides that, learned a lot of unique and interesting information and tips, where to go and what to see. Ivan also made a list of indigenous people living in all of the countries.
We’ve meticulously marked all of these spots on a map, which was getting more and more filled, as you can see above. We’ve then taken weather, events, road condition and other boring stuff into consideration and after a few months, the route was completed.
So this is the schedule, that we’ve come up with:
- October 2015 - Santiago, Chile
- November - Santiago / Mendoza / Cordoba
- December - Patagonia / Bariloche -> Ushuaia
- January - Buenos Aires / Montevideo + Uruguay
- February - Rio de Janeiro / São Paulo / Iguazú + Paraguay
- March - Paraguay / Ciudad del Este / Encarnación / Asunción -> Argentina / San Miguel de Tucumán / Salta
- April+May - Bolivia / Uyuni / Potosí / Sucre / Cochabamba / La Paz
- May+June - Peru / Puno / Cuzsco / Arequipa / Ayacucho / Lima / Huaraz / Trujillo / Chiclayo / Cajamarca / Chachapoyas
- July - Ecuador / Loja / Cuanca / Guayanquil / Alausí / Quito
- August - Colombia / Popayán / Cali / Bogotá / Medelín / Cartagena
- September - Venezuela / Maybe Guyana+Suriname+French Guiana
//2017 Edit: This turned out to be... a bit inaccurate :D In September, we were just in Southern Perú, waiting to go north. Plan for 2-3 months for each country if you really want to get something from them, they are huge :)
Well, this is the end of this post for now. But let me end with one interesting information for all of you - as we are going to travel in a car and we’ll have two seats free, you can join us for a part of the journey. We’ll post more information about it as well, but if you already know that you want to join us, just write us and we’ll tell you more. :) (Brazil and Patagonia are already taken :) )
and many many blogs of other travellers and digital nomads :)