South America: An Overview

Two months is not long enough to ‘do’ South America. We took a route that is very common among travellers through Brazil, Bolivia and Peru. We met so many people following this route, that we ended up just bumping into a few of them again randomly. This takes in some great nature, wildlife, scenery and culture; but does not touch the tip of the iceberg of all there is to do.

Brazil
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Rio de Janeiro
Everyone has heard of Rio. Known for its beaches, music and modern wonder of the world, this city has it all.

Ilha Grande
A car-less island paradise – so long as you avoid the uber touristy main town. Here you can laze on the beach or explore hidden waterfalls in the jungle.

Paraty
A beautiful colonial centre, known for its day trips to beach hop or visiting the waterfalls in the surrounding countryside.

Sao Paulo
A sprawling metropolitan city, with so much to explore. A marmite sort of place – you either love it or hate it.

Foz du Iguaçu
The town itself is not very interesting, but the access it gives to the breathtaking falls really put this place on the map. Also used as a gateway to Argentina and Paraguay.

Campo Grande
A city with no real interest – although our opinion may be skewed due to accidentally visiting on Easter Sunday, used as a launching pad for Pantanal trips.

Pantanal
A flooded wet-land for half the year, a jaguar spotters dream the other half. Fantastic for all kinds of wildlife spotting, plus the sense of community you get when you’re all swatting mosquitos together.

Border Crossing – Corumba/Quijarro

Bolivia

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Santa Cruz
Very little for tourists, but well equipped for working travelers. We found out after we left that most of the dodgy illegal stuff happens just out of town, but we felt like it was a relatively safe and nice place to be.

Sucre
A gorgeous city, the constitutional capital of Bolivia. A mixture of traditional life and modern facilities. There are hundreds of Europeans here. It’s often used as a place to stay for a few weeks and study Spanish at one of the many Spanish schools.

Potosi
Another ‘Marmite Town’ – not helped by the high altitude and hills. Tourists often stay here long enough to do a Mine Tour, and then leave. Once one of the richest cities in the world, it’s now one of the poorest.

Tupiza
The ‘Wild West’ of Bolivia – stomping ground of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. The town is surrounded by desert, which makes for some great jeep tours and horse riding trips.

Uyuni
Town where every other building is a tourist agency, with thousands of tours on offer. Used as a springboard for Salt Flat Tours, there is not a lot else to do here.

La Paz
Capital of Bolivia. Lots of very interesting things to do, although you may find yourself thwarted by the altitude. A new Cable Car has gone in recently, with more planned for the future, making transport through the city much easier.

Copacabana
Amazing view over Lake Titicaca – especially at sunset. Lots of tours run from here out onto the lake. There are a few interesting historical sights to see, including the amazing cathedral.

Border Crossing – Kasani/Yunguno

Peru

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Puno
Also a lakeside town, some other tours run onto the lake. The main town does not look out over the lake (unlike Copacabana), so it’s easy to forget where you are.

Cusco
They say it’s the longest continuously inhabited city on Earth, which is highly debatable. It is however, a beautiful and interesting city, with lots to see and do. Thousands of tours run out of here, including the most famous – Machu Picchu. Lots of Westerners come here to live and work or bum around.

Lima
I wish we had seen more of Lima, but sadly spent a lot of time in our hotel room icing my toe. Similar to Rio, it contains something for everyone, but has succumbed to being incredibly westernised. It is absolutely NOT walkable, even if you haven’t got a broken bone in your foot.

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