The South America Realities

The Realities Set In

Wow! Its been 3 weeks already! So its been all about study, and discovery! Lets point out the pretty obvious, South America is YYUGE (huge). I was comparing my travels around Vietnam, Laos and Thailand on a map and that is roughly the total length from top to bottom of just the small part of Brazil we are considering visiting. It is after all an entire continent, not just a few small countries… also maps as we know them always compress such land masses.

We’re simply not going to be seeing all of Brazil, so from Rio we will most definitely remain in the south, visiting beaches, islands (Paraty & Ihla Grande) and most definitely the Iguacu Falls. Curitiba for some history and I would like to travel through São Paulo just to experience one of the Megacities of the world. The current thinking is actually to fly into São Paulo and experience Carnival in the big city. I’d like to keep Rio for after Carnival when everything calms down a bit.

I have roughly fleshed out a route that I would like to take, and it seems to fall in line with the regular backpacking routes. Similar to that of the Banana Pancake Trail through SE Asia, it has its own name, the Gringo Trail. I guess that’s what happens when we all use the Lonely Planet as a guide. I would love to get up into Central America, but may have to leave that for another trip :/

General Tips

Whilst searching and surfing the web I found a few general tips that I thought were worth jotting down:


  • Packing Cubes will be our best friend. Now I am guessing this is for those people who use the traditional ‘stuff in the top’ backpack. I prefer a hybrid wheelie bag/backpack combo, not that I am looking for the wheels per se, but definitely the wide flap open lid style of the wheelie bag.
  • Medicine is easily accessible and often solid by the pill. This is handy to know, also means I can leave parts of my large first aid kit behind.
  • Take a headlamp, far more useful than a keychain LED. This is good advice, especially for when sneaking into dorm rooms late at night.
  • Pack for all Temperatures
    • A mix of shirts (including long sleeve), shorts, pair of jeans, cheap thermals and a few thick hiking boot socks


  • Daily Almuerzo (Menu Del Dia) – A daily changing lunch deal of soup (with potatos and corn) with a plate of rice, meat, beans and salad. $2.50-$5. Make this your mail meal of the day.
  • Find local restaurants and avoid overpriced tourist traps. Get off the main roads where you will find double the food for half the price.
  • Try bringing your own bottle of water to restaurants. Often some will simply run across the road and buy a coke for you, pour it into a glass and not give you the whole drink. Would have been better if you bough the coke yourself.


Now a lot of my research of late has been digging deeper into the cost of flights. Flying from Cape Town or South Africa in general is not cheap. Most of the time you spend a lot of money just getting off the African continent let alone heading toward the part of the world you want to go. We have a few options, head up to the UAE and travel via Dubai or Doha is the first route that comes to mind, but with 9hr flights traveling north it seems a bit insane. The second option is to fly direct, and SAA along with Latam Brazil offer direct routes, but those cost around R13k ($950) which although not terrible does make me a bit nauseous. So that leaves us with the 3rd more unique offering :p Yup, that would be to fly via Luanda, Angola with TAAG the local Angolan Airline. Their price is just insanely competitive at R7k ($500) and from South Africa the 3hr flight north to Luanda sounds bearable before the haul across the Atlantic. We have not booked a single thing yet, but after some serious digging TAAG and Angola seem like an extremely tempting option.


A few of my travel/adventure friends have mentioned to me before that I must definitely learn some of the local languages. Ultimately Spanish (localised spanish) is the more predominant language through out South America, so Duolingo & Memrise have been installed on our phones! ¿cómo está? 😀

south america notes

General Tips / Links:

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