We've been back from China for almost a week now and have spent most of that time getting ready for the trips to come. A lot of tactical items need to be complete for Europe: International Driving Permits, purchasing travel clothes that will actually dry quickly, swapping out my defective Surface with one that hasn't crashed in 5 days, etc. And then planning for South America. The goal is to plan one trip ahead during our periodic returns to Austin. So that means this week has been all about South America.
So far we've reviewed the destinations and made broad choices about where we want to go and what we want to see. The items that made the cut, in order that we'll see them, are:
- Iguazu Falls
- Pantanal Wetlands area
- Panama Canal
- Machu Picchu
- Lake Titicaca
- Mendoza wine region
We'll also see other cities along the way, but primarily because they are on the path to one of the above, not because we planned around them (Sao Paolo, Quito, and Santiago are good examples of this).
Our deadline was to arrive in Valparaiso several days before our Antarctica cruise begins on December 20th. That will give us time to rest, do any pre-cruise shopping required, and meet up with the bag of cruise-clothes that we'll ship down from Austin.
For those that are interested in more details on how we got to this itinerary, we basically followed this process:
1) Ask for recommendations
2) Do a ton of reading and research, with heavy reliance on the following sources:
- Footprint South America Handbook
- Lonely Planet guide books (if you are an Amazon Prime member you can download many of them on Kindle for free with KindleUnlimited)
- Use google to find one of the million of travel bloggers out there who have been where you're thinking of going
3) Check transport options to make sure you can get from place A to place B in an orderly fashion - this is why we are doing Brazil first and then going back up to Panama...it's very hard and/or expensive to get from Peru or Bolivia to Brazil
4) Verify availability for critical destinations (eg, Pantanal tour) for targeted dates
5) Make sure everyone agrees
6) Iterate based on outcome of steps 3->5