#1 4-28-2017 6:18 PM

mecarber
Couch Potato
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Help! Can't decide between Central and South America

Hey guys,

So I've been planning a backpacking trip through Latin america but I'm having some trouble deciding which countries to go to. I was originally planning on only doing South america (Colombia-Ecuador-Peru-Bolvia-Chile-Argentina-Brazil) but lately I've been considering either going to Central america instead, or doing Central America and part of South America. Optimally I would like to do both, but I just don't think I have enough money for that. I saved up $14,000, and I'm estimating that I'll have about $12-13,000 left after all my pre-trip expenses. I have no time constraints so money is the only factor.

In terms of what I'm looking for in this trip, I'm interested in places that are warm, have beaches, lots of adventure activities (i.e. ziplining, cave exploring, jungles, sandboarding, surfing, etc), friendly outgoing people, and pretty/interesting natural landmarks. I feel like Central America has a lot of what I'm looking for but I also feel like South America has so many more beautiful/unique sights.

Does anyone have any suggestions as to what I should do?

Thanks in advance for the for the help!

 

#2 4-28-2017 9:52 PM

ulis
Uli
Vienna, Austria
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Re: Help! Can't decide between Central and South America

With that amount of money you should be able to travel backbacker style for at least 1 year or more.
Chile, Argentina, Brazil are a bit more expensive, the other South American countries are quite reasonable. Ziplining, cave exploring, jungles, sandboarding, surfing, etc. are also on the expensive side. Buses in South America are reasonable but the distances are big, there is not much of cheap airlines. for your planing take care of the raining seasons.

 

#3 4-29-2017 12:49 AM

margunn
margunn
Bergen, Norway
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Re: Help! Can't decide between Central and South America

I also think you have enough for about a year. Unless you are planning on staying in hotels not hostels. Also if you do a lot of expensive activities it might not last that long, but either way I think you can get a quite long long trip. How long where you planning to be away for?
I suggest you start in Costa Rica. Great country for adventure, they have most of the activities you are after. Not sure about sandboarding though,but you could go up to Nicaragua. I did sandboarding in Leon, that was really cool. From Nicaragua travel back down to Panama, so the you get to do some of Central America. You can't cross the Panama Colombia border by land, so either by boat of fly. I did a 4 day sailing trip to Cartagena. It was absolutely amazing,so relaxing and beautiful. Cheaper to fly though 😉
I traveled through all of Central America,but only been to Colombia and Quito in South America,but this is 7 years ago now.

 

#4 4-29-2017 1:04 AM

shavy
Belinda
Belgium
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Re: Help! Can't decide between Central and South America

With that amount you mentioned you will cover all countries in South America. Hostel is cheap, I have quite travel to that part of continent, one of my favourite at the moment. I wish I have much more time like you have........You can crossed from one country to another overland if time is not a problem for you. Same as central America easy to crossed border but you can't get that far by land to South America you need to fly........from Costa Rica to Panam easy by bus

Last edited by shavy (4-29-2017 1:19 AM)

 

#5 4-29-2017 5:01 AM

kvom
Kirk
Cumming, Georgia
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Re: Help! Can't decide between Central and South America

Nicaragua has a lot of the adventure items you're looking for and is very inexpensive.  You might start there and then skip over CR and Panama to Columbia.  Banos in Ecuador is also a good target for you to investigate.

 

#6 4-29-2017 7:34 PM

carryonwandering
Anna
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Re: Help! Can't decide between Central and South America

For that amount of money you can do both central and south america. I'd second Costa Rica for adventure activities and landscape but it's getting expensive these days. Nicaragua is a cheaper alternative and from what I hear offers similar activities these days. I didn't particularly like Panama but that's a personal choice so I wouldn't worry about spending much time there.
I did all through Souther America as well and Ecuador, Colombia and Bolivia are pretty cheap if you get off the backpacker circuit. Chile and Argentina will be more expensive no matter what but still worth doing.
With no time limit and that amount of money you are sure to have an awesome trip no matter where you go.
Safe Travels :-)

 

#7 5-1-2017 3:34 PM

matthew
Matthew
Nottingham, England
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Re: Help! Can't decide between Central and South America

Wow, with that money, and no time constraints, you won't struggle. 

I've done both, and from your descriptions, I'd say Central America would suit you better.  I did 6 months there, and on another trip, 6 months in SA.  CA is much more compact, and so you will not be sat on buses for hours on end.  There is a heck of a lot to see and do, and the countries offer something different in each.  To put it in  perspective, you can fit all the CA, spare for Mexico inside any one country from Venezuela, Columbia, Peru, Paraguay, Bolivia, Argentina or Chile..... says it all really. 

I'd start in Mexico, and take your time.  See what you want in CA, and you should have plenty of money to get into SA.  CA is a lot cheaper than most of SA, so prepare for a price hike, especially in Brazil, Chile, and Uruguay. You don't need to plan too much, as CA is so simple to get from A to B.  Just make sure you keep back a decent amount for a flight home, and then see how far you get.

 

#8 5-4-2017 10:10 AM

Globevoyager
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Re: Help! Can't decide between Central and South America

Central America all the way!!! Loved loved loved it so much. Spend 3,5 months there last winter backpacking from Panama all the way to Cancun seeing everything in between. My best trip ever!!!

Been also to Southern America. Nature is more stunning. Traveling felt less safer and harder.

 

#9 5-29-2017 11:38 AM

katzgar
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Re: Help! Can't decide between Central and South America

dont overlook Belize.  caves, cave tubing, national parks, hiking, garafuna cultural stuff, snorkeling are all great.  very friendly english speaking people.  food is typical fryjack and jerk chicken.  beaches are not great.

 

#10 5-29-2017 1:32 PM

grandmar
RosalieAnn
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Re: Help! Can't decide between Central and South America

Generally, if you have good snorkeling, then you also usually have reefs offshore which keep the beaches smaller. It's a trade-off.

I agree - Belize and Costa Rica are great for adventure travel - and it isn't as crowded and is also cheaper if you go off season (June, July, August). You cannot overlook Tikal for sights to see in Central America.   

You might also take into account that Peru, Chile, and Argentina do have areas that are somewhat chilly at some seasons of the year (June, July August) and it won't be very warm at the higher elevations. So go to the cheaper places during the high season (November to February).

 
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