Corcovado Mountain

80 Days Around the World – A South American Legacy


With almost three months to enjoy the sights, tastes, and excitement of an international adventure where else to start but Rio de Janiero. Visit the first week in March for the celebration of Carnival, the fabulous parades, costumes, and annual city excitement of the biggest party in South America. Walk over to the Sambodromo for the center of the Carnival festivities and a chance to see the most beautiful men dressed as women covered in bright colors, feathers, sequins.

If you have extra money, purchase the Sambodromo tickets ahead of time to ensure a great spot for the festivities. For a cultural tour around Rio, take the Corcovado Rack Railway to the top of Corcovado Mountain, visit the iconic Christian statue, Christ the Redeemer, then take a look out onto all of the splendors of Rio de Janiero.

Travel to Rio de Janiero

 

The mountain brings over 300,000 visitors a year to see out over downtown Rio, Sugarloaf Mountain, and all of the beaches and lagoons that attribute to the Brazilian landscape. On a sunny day on the shore, visit the famous Copacabana, the big city seems just inches away, making it an interesting mix of beach life and urban dwelling.  If you didn’t happen to catch Rio during Carnival, don’t worry the party is still going. Have a wild night out in the Cidade do Samba where locals perform in traditional Carnival attire and teach the crowd how to move your hips to the Samba beat. This is the birthplace of the Samba, and a great place to visit, purchase souvenirs, or hit the Latin club.

To save on your trip opt for street side vendors serving up the local dishes along the way, some simple but tasty delicacies are grilled bananas, empanadas, and a number of black bean assortments. The Brazilians love their meat, so sample some Churrasco (Portuguese for barbeque) hot off the coals.  Next Stop Puerto Iguazu, Argentina for the world famous Iguazu Falls. The folklore behind the falls is worth reading in the information center. The tale involves a jealous God who intended to marry one of the most beautiful women on earth, in a last ditch effort to escape, the woman and her lover fled by canoe. The god was so angry he cut the water making the 270 raging waterfalls. The Iguazu National Park can be discovered in as little as a day, or up to a week.

Iguazu National Park

flickr image by Deni Williams

 

Take the walkway to Devil’s Throat for photos of the falls, but beware of surging water, so pack an extra set of clothes. Or if you’re an ecotourist, hike the massive river area and find a spot for camping. The waterfalls are yours to explore. Next stop, Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina. Test your luck at the tango in any of the hundreds of Milongas dance bars. There are several off the Plaza Bohemia and the Salon Canning. Remember that women and men sit on opposite sides, steal a glimpse or a wink to procure a dance partner. Oddly eerie, but fascinating the Cementerio de la Recoleta, is a city center mausoleum, cemetery, and scattered chapel site directly next to the big city. Follow the crowds to Evita’s grave, its simplicity will surprise you.

A trip to the capital would not be complete without a walk around the Casa Rosada. The official offices of the Argentinean president are situated just east of the Plaza de Mayo. This is a great historical area to snap photos and see the colonial history of Buenos Aires. Onward to what some call the southernmost city of the world, Ushuaia. Pack a little heavier for this voyage, it can get chilly.

Take a hike through the Tierra del Fuego National Park for beachside trails and array of animal life. Some also take a side train from the park to the Fin del Mundo, the end of the world. The most popular tourist outing in Ushuaia is the Martial Glacier, some tours spend 12 days hiking the Glacier and surrounding areas. Take some panoramic photos of the bay at the foot of the Glacier. Whether it’s one day or 12, spend some much-needed time outdoors in the southernmost tip of Argentina. Up the eastern coast of South America there are several cities and small towns to stop during your 80-day stretch of the continent.

Torres del Paine national park

flickr image by Doug Scortegagna

 

The next east coast recommendation is Puerto Natales, Chile, see the view of the town and landscape from the Mirador Torres, inside the Torres del Paine national park. Greet the large bear statue at the city gates, and take in a small Chilean village with snow peaked jutting mountains abutting the vast coastline. There are several day or weeklong activities along the northern road along the way. Hike the famous Fitz Roy located along the Chile and Argentinean border. The village of El Chalten will warm your heart with its quaint mountain village culture of fresh cooked food and gracious hosts.

Remember to pack heavy if traveling up to Fitz Roy, conditions can worsen quickly, and you don’t want to descend the mountain before meeting the peak. Next stop, San Carlos de Bariloche, a town set in the Argentinean lake district with views of massive lakes and peaks, enjoy the Swiss inspired village with fondue and chocolate, then take a bike ride up the Cerro Camanario. San Carlos Bariloche is another waterfront area you can take your time exploring through the lakeside coves and fresh air. Keep the tour headed north the city of Pucon, Chile. If you have had your fill of trekking take a day trip to the local hot springs, or take the easy chair life to the Villarrica Volcano, one of the most active volcanoes in Chile.

The journey continues as we head to Valparaiso, Chile, the graffiti city of Chile, the local urban art will show you a side of this culture that greatly differ from volcanoes and high peaks. Valparaiso also sports a swanky beach town known as Vina del Mar. For abeach break from your mountain vacation, enjoy fresh fruit and snacks at the beach. On to the northern cultural capital of Peru, Chiclayo, the fourth largest city in Peru, Chiclayo boasts the friendliest city in the country. It’s nicknamed “The Capital of Friendship” and also has one of the longest standing indigenous populations in Peru.

Take a tour of the main square with colonial architecture and the royal tombs of the Sipan museum, located in Lambayeque. Up to Ecuador we find ourselves in Cuenca. The colonial stone architecture, iconic dome, and spread out city lights are an inviting look into Ecuadorian life. The tour of the city starts in the historic district, recently recognized as a Unesco World Heritage Site. Visit the Iglesia de el Sagrario, the oldest cathedral in Cuenca, dating back to 1557.

Nestled between the old cathedral and the more recent additions, take a walk through Abdon Calderon for a city center park experience. The final stop on our 80-day trek through South America are the legendary Galapagos Islands. Heavily protected buy conservation laws, this area is owned by the government of Ecuador and is over 1000 kilometers from the mainland. I hope we have budgeted accordingly, because this once in a lifetime site may break the bank. There are a number of travel agencies that will book your boat tour for a 3 day to 20-day tour of the 13 main islands.

Take in the beauty that inspired Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution and see the gallery of wildlife that inhabits the area. Over 90% of the islands are deemed as a part of the National Park. The strict rules of the park mandate that everyone travel with a guide and the entrance fee can be up to $100. Spend your time wisely taking a guide recommended tour to maximize your experience. Many visitors stay on small chartered boats parked out on the Galapagos bays. The marine life will come right to the boat giving up close impressions of just how sacred this area is. What better way to finish a trek around South America, than lazily sitting on deck facing the picturesque Galapagos Isles.

Date posted: 15th July, 2015

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