Central & South America Recap

Central & South America Recap: He Said/She Said

Lynn Travel Central America, South America Leave a Comment

As we prepare to head to Africa and Europe, what we have dubbed as Phase II of our trip, we wanted to take a little time to reflect on everything that we did during the 4 months that we spent in Central and South America.

We had some good times and some challenging times but all of our memories will last forever. Here are some of our (to date) trip highlights.

The Stats

11 countries
45 cities
137 days
48 different accommodations
51 bus rides
8 flights
4 boat rides
2 train rides
380.5 total hours of traveling (equivalent of almost 16 days)

Highlights by Country

Belize

Favorite part
Lynn – Seeing so many turtles and eels when we were scuba diving.
Andy – Snorkeling so close to the stingrays and nurse sharks.

Sea Turtle While Scuba Diving in Belize

Worst part
Lynn – Getting eaten alive by sand fleas.
Andy – Having a kitchen in our apartment, but not being able to use it because of the ridiculous cost of groceries.

Memory
Lynn – Spending our first anniversary together on the beach and realizing that we had so many things to look forward to both on our trip and in life.
Andy – The moment I realized we were actually doing this 7 month trip, and it had just started!

On a Bench Swing in Belize

Guatemala

Favorite part
Lynn – Spending time at a local’s house, both enjoying the diving board/rope swing and having dinner where we got to spend time with the family.
Andy – This was also my favorite part. We had a great day and evening hanging out with Jorge’s family.

Andy on the Rope Swing at Jorge's

Worst part
Lynn – Really liking Guatemala but realizing that we couldn’t see more cities since we had a flight scheduled out of Flores.
Andy – Seeing the huge cockroach that scurried out of our bathroom on our last morning in Flores.

Memory
Lynn – Enjoying our time at Tikal, the Mayan ruins, without many other people around.

Jumping in Front of Temple 1 at Tikal

Andy – Having our first happy hour drinks in Flores from a roof top and watching the sun set over the lake.

Sunset in Flores Guatemala

Panama

Favorite part
Lynn – Arriving at the San Blas Islands for the first time.
Andy – The crystal clear water of the San Blas Islands.

Beautiful Island in San Blas

Worst part
Lynn – Having a meltdown at the airport because I thought that the cab drivers were ripping me off.
Andy – The lack of airflow in our boat cabin, along with the humid weather and plastic covered mattress… not a good combination.

Our Cabin on the Sailing Koala

Memory
Lynn – Watching Andy get his haircut in the equivalent of a cage on the sidewalk.
Andy – Having a police officer stop me from recording the subway train as it entered the station. Apparently that’s illegal.

Andy Getting His Hair Cut in Panama City

Colombia

Favorite part
Lynn – The view from La Piedra in Guatape.
Andy – The Exito grocery super store, which had everything!

Panoramic View from La Piedra del Penon

Worst part
Lynn – Traffic in Bogota.
Andy – Watching our DSLR and tripod blow over and crash to the ground because of the wind at the castle in Cartagena. Luckily, everything was OK!

Memory
Lynn – Meeting people from the US while watching a soccer game and continuing to travel with them for a few days after.
Andy – Waking up numerous times on our night bus thinking that we were close to driving off a cliff.

With Friends at the Top of La Piedra

Ecuador

Favorite part
Lynn – Swinging at the edge of the world.

Lynn Swinging at Casa del Arbol in Banos Ecuador

Andy – The view from the top of the basilica in Quito was pretty amazing.

Selfie from the Top of Basilica del Voto Nacional in Quito

Worst part
Lynn – Being on the bus from Banos to Cuenca and seeing a man try to grab my bag from under the seat.
Andy – The moment I realized that the bike ride to the waterfalls was not just an easy ride along the river.

Memory
Lynn – Being fascinated with all of the science experiments that were performed when we were on the equator.

Relaxing on the Equator at Mitad del Mundo in Quito

Andy – When we realized our bus left earlier than we thought from Cuenca and we had to have a taxi chase down the bus so that we could get it to pull over and let us get on.

Peru

Favorite part
Lynn – Riding a dune buggy through the sand dunes in Huacachina.

Dune Buggy on the Sand Dunes in Huacachina Peru

Andy – Watching the clouds slowly clear at Machu Picchu.

Worst part
Lynn – Not seeing any sunshine the entire time that we were in Lima.
Andy – The combination of 90% humidity, sunscreen, and bug spray during our time in the Amazon.

Memory
Lynn – Hiking up the trail to get to Machu Picchu, then finally seeing the ruins before too many people arrived.

Sitting on a Rock with Machu Picchu Behind Us

Andy – Hiking up to the top of one of the large sand dunes in Huacachina to watch the sunset.

Close to Sunset During Our Hike on the Sand Dunes in Huacachina Peru

Bolivia

Favorite part
Lynn – Spending time in Sajama National Park.
Andy – The day we saw Sajama mountain reflected in the lagoon and hiked to the top of Acotango volcano.

Panoramic of Sajama Mountain and the Reflection Lagoon

Worst part
Lynn – The accommodations during our jeep tour through Bolivia.
Andy – Having to leave behind the amazing breakfast we had each morning in La Paz at the Rendezvous Hotel.

Breakfast Spread Part 2 at Rendezvous Hotel in La Paz Bolivia

Memory
Lynn – Riding for hours upon hours in the jeep on terrible, bumpy dirt roads.
Andy – The look on Lynn’s face when our guide Pablo told us that we would have to pay for showers at our one hostel by the Uyuni salt flats.

Chile

Favorite part
Lynn – Having amazing weather in Pucon and being able to see the volcano perfectly.

In Front of Villarrica Volcano on a Clear Day in Pucon Chile

Andy – Getting to see the red light of the magma spurting out of Villarrica volcano in Pucon.

Villarrica Volcano at Night in Pucon Chile

Worst part
Lynn – Everything about San Pedro de Atacama.
Andy – Freezing cold showers in San Pedro de Atacama.

Memory
Lynn – Being super cold but also super excited to see penguins in Punta Arenas.
Andy – Being shocked when a car actually stopped at a stop sign and let me cross the road, which was a first in South America, and continued throughout Chile.

Penguins Checking Out Lynn at Isla Magdalena in Punta Arenas

Argentina

Favorite part
Lynn – Hiking around El Chalten where we had perfect views of Fitz Roy mountain.
Andy – Our entire first day of hiking in El Chalten… just amazing weather!

By Lago Capri in Front of Fitz Roy Mountain in El Chalten Argentina

Worst part
Lynn – Blowing our budget since everything was so much more expensive than we thought it would be.
Andy – Our 43 hours of bus rides to get to Mendoza for Christmas.

Memory
Lynn – Falling off my bike when we went wine tasting in Cafayate.

Lynn Falling While Biking to Wineries in Cafayate Argentina

Andy – Getting to see a huge chunk of the Perito Moreno glacier fall off into the lake in El Calafate.

Ice Falling from the Glacier at Perito Moreno Glacier

Uruguay

Favorite part
Lynn – Walking around Colonia del Sacramento before the hoards of tourists arrived.
Andy – The friendly people of Uruguay that were very helpful on numerous occasions.

Standing in the Doorway of the Old LIghthouse in Colonia Uruguay

Worst part
Lynn – Waiting forever to get our visa for Brazil.
Andy – The rude woman at the Brazilian Embassy who was anything but helpful.

Memory
Lynn – Realizing the the entire city of Montevideo shuts down for Children’s Day.
Andy – Relaxing on the roof-top deck of our hotel in Colonia del Sacramento with a couple of local beers.

Brazil

Favorite part
Lynn – Seeing Iguazu Falls.

Falls from the Lower Trail at Iguazu Falls in Argentina

Andy – For me it’s a tie between seeing Iguazu Falls and the view from the top of Sugar Loaf mountain in Rio.

From the Top of Sugarloaf Mountain in Rio de Janeiro Brazil

Worst part
Lynn – Having rain the entire time that we were in Rio and Paraty.
Andy – Being on a bus from Iguazu Falls to Rio for over 26 hours when Google maps estimated it taking 14 hours.

Memory
Lynn – Getting up to the Christ the Redeemer statue and not being able to see much of anything because it was so foggy.
Andy – When our overnight bus stopped at 1am for dinner and woke up everyone on the bus.

Foggy View from Corcovado Mountain in Rio de Janeiro Brazil

Our Favorites

Country

Lynn – Peru – everything was cheap, it was super easy to get around and there were so many things to see/do.
Andy – Peru – Machu Picchu and the sand dunes in Huacachina stand out, but there are also so many other things to see and do there.

Top 3 Cities

Lynn

  1. El Chalten, Argentina
  2. Ica, Peru
  3. Banos, Ecuador

Andy

  1. El Chalten, Argentina
  2. Banos, Ecuador
  3. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Best Accommodations

Lynn – Panorama B&B in Aguas Calientes, Peru
Andy – Rendezvous Hotel in La Paz, Bolivia

Best Bus Ride

Lynn – Rio Uruguay bus from Buenos Aires to Puerto Iguazu. We had a hot meal, wine, a personal TV and a full 180 degree lie flat seat.
Andy – Rio Uruguay for sure. Lynn mentioned it all. Can’t be beat.

Rio Uruguay Bus in Argentina

Our Least Favorites

Country

Lynn – Uruguay – there wasn’t a whole lot to see and do.
Andy – Uruguay – the people were great, and maybe if we had made it to Punta del Este it would have been better, but there just wasn’t a lot to do.

Bottom 3 Cities

Lynn

  1. San Pedro de Atacama, Chile
  2. Bogotá, Colombia
  3. Salta, Argentina

Andy

  1. San Pedro de Atacama, Chile
  2. Salta, Argentina
  3. Bogotá, Colombia

Worst Accommodations

Lynn – The boat during our sailing trip from Panama to Colombia
Andy – I have to agree with Lynn on this one… even though our boat trip was amazing, it was definitely not easy sleeping in that small hot cabin on the boat.

Worst Bus Ride

Lynn – Our Andesmar 19 hour bus ride from Bariloche to Mendoza. We had annoying kids behind us, the bus was dirty and our seats were not comfortable
Andy – The one Lynn mentioned was bad, but our longest bus ride in South America from Iguazu Falls to Rio de Janeiro drove me nuts.

Our Final Thoughts

We had a really good time seeing a lot of really amazing things in Central and South America. From the ancient ruins of the Mayan people to the pristine beauty of Patagonia and great wineries, we saw so many different things.

It wasn’t all fun though. We endured a lot of really long bus rides with uncomfortable seats, freezing cold temperatures, crazy drivers and annoying fellow passengers. We sometimes struggled with the Spanish language and the cultural differences quite a bit.

If we could do it over again, we would. Of course we would make a few changes, spending more time in certain places and less in others. Hindsight is 20/20 though and those places that we didn’t get to see are still going to be around when we decide to make another journey south.

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About the Author

Lynn

Bitten by the travel bug during a semester abroad in college, Lynn was able to travel around much of Europe on a shoestring budget. Her travel motto is "If I haven't been there yet, it's probably on my list". When she isn't daydreaming about her next trip, you can find her cooking in the kitchen, reading blogs on how to travel the world on points or spending time with her fluffy cat Gingerbread.