Where can I have a weeklong adventure in Latin America?
May 29, 2006 11:39 AM   Subscribe

Two friends and I are looking for a crazy adventure story-of-a-lifetime vacation in Central or South America for roughly a week, and I am completely stumped. Help?

I hate these "where should i go?" posts, but I am literally stumped.

One of my friends is totally insistent on a non-trendy, unpredictable, write a book about it vacation.

She suggested building houses in Nicaragua, which I'm not against, but I work 14 hour days, 7 days a week working reconstruction in a war zone... that's not quite the vacation I had in mind. I am not against a rewarding experience, so don't hold those back, I just had no suggestions at all to counter her idea. I'm all about saving the world too, but, like, not for free.

Central and South America are because of travel time constraints. Time is the only real consideration here; cost is more or less irrelevant.

Please pitch ANY ideas because I don't exactly have a library to go browse lonely planet books and the impersonal internet searches I have done have let me down.

ALSO: I speak Spanish, they don't, if that helps.
posted by bryak to Travel & Transportation (19 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
How about Bolivia? It's definitely 'story-of-a-lifetime' territory, and you can do once in a lifetime locations like the Yungas Road (widely accepted to be the world's most dangerous road - terrain wise).

You have altitude, you have city, but you also have amazing mountains, jungle, and the ability to head into some extremely remote (yet still surprisingly well travelled) areas into the Amazon, without significant time requirements.
posted by wackybrit at 11:44 AM on May 29, 2006


Does your friend simply want a socially relevant vacation? Because if so, that might be something for them to pursue on their own. Why not rent a beach shack in the Costa Rican jungle and learn to surf? Or do a mini-trek?
posted by mrmojoflying at 11:53 AM on May 29, 2006


Go to Guatemala and Honduras! I went on a 2 month trip to learn Spanish, to dive and to see Mayan pyramids and it was unreal. You will be able to do it all for a low low price and well, the people, the land, the loco bus drivers... its just irresistable.

and Semuc Champey could be the garden of eden, no joke.

Happy Travels.
posted by Meemer at 12:10 PM on May 29, 2006



I second meemers suggestion from what I've read.

Note to meemer:meemer: I'm doing the same trip in a weeks time. Email me!
posted by lalochezia at 12:18 PM on May 29, 2006


Well, wherever you go, whatever you do, see "The Motorcycle Diaries" before you leave. That'll really put in the mood.
posted by JPowers at 12:54 PM on May 29, 2006


I've always held a perverse fascination with the Atacama Desert in Chile.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 1:05 PM on May 29, 2006


If you want the adventure of a lifetime, try conducting business in Buenos Aires for one day. Sorry, I've had a very stressful day.

More constructive suggestions:

If you wanted, for example, to teach English or help out in some rough/disadvantaged neighborhoods in Buenos Aires, I could point you in the right direction -- a very good friend of mine is a travel agent who arranges this sort of thing.

The other thing that comes to mind is something I did this weekend: biking on the coast of Uruguay. I "only" biked 80km and I did it in a day, but you could make a multi-day trip out of it, I'm sure. It was beautiful -- forest and pasture on one side and dunes and beach on the other -- and I had the road to myself a lot of the time. (Obviously, it wouldn't have to be Uruguay, it's just what leaps to mind.)

E-mail's in the profile.
posted by veggieboy at 1:09 PM on May 29, 2006


Myself, its about how you travel. Ride across a mountain range on horseback or trek.

My dream trip: Take the silk road to Krygrystan and then ride up into the mountains guided by nomads. I'm sure you can come up with the analogous trip in S.Am.
posted by zia at 1:37 PM on May 29, 2006


Climb the Machu Picchu? On horseback?

Take me with you?
posted by funambulist at 1:59 PM on May 29, 2006


If you want a "I can't believe I survived it" kind of story of a lifetime, you could explore the Darien Gap. A friend of mine just did it and lived to tell the tale.
posted by meerkatty at 2:10 PM on May 29, 2006


Fly to La Paz, rent a car, head into the jungle, via the Yungas road, which is indeed one of the most beautiful/mindnumbingly-scary roads I've ever been on. Or go to Lake Titicaca, the worlds highest navigable lake.
posted by signal at 2:17 PM on May 29, 2006


Learn to refine the coca plant in Colombia. Bring back your finished goods. The real adventure will begin when you hit customs!

Seriously, Panama's supposed to be cool. You can see the Atlantic and Pacific in the same day. See how taking out a dictator and installing a democracy can really work.
posted by Frank Grimes at 2:43 PM on May 29, 2006


you could explore the Darien Gap. A friend of mine just did it and lived to tell the tale.

Unfortunately crossing the Darien Gap takes weeks, and I'm not sure you could get very far into it within a couple of days. It'd take quite a while just get to the area in general :-(

Lake Titicaca

It's worth going just for the name.
posted by wackybrit at 3:20 PM on May 29, 2006


a socially relevant vacation

/derail

What the heck is a socially relevant vacation?
posted by frogan at 3:29 PM on May 29, 2006


Well, wherever you go, whatever you do, see "The Motorcycle Diaries" before you leave. That'll really put in the mood.

Chasing Che is a travelogue based on recreating Guevara's ride in modern times and trying to track down people that he met along the way. A great read to complement the movie based on the original adventure.

My only experience is in Honduras, but I had a great time in San Pedro Sula, Cortez, the ruins in Copan, and a weekend on the Bay Island of Roatan. Feel free to e-mail if you'd like more information on that stuff specifically.
posted by Ufez Jones at 4:15 PM on May 29, 2006


www.vwvagabonds.com
Might give you some ideas.

They wrote "Wide Eyed Wonderers" about their travels in a vw bus from San Diego CA to the tip of South America and then Africa.

I was going to suggest e-mailing them, but alas, they are on the road again. Good luck!!!
posted by snsranch at 4:36 PM on May 29, 2006


It's not exactly battling piranhas or wielding a machete in search of El Dorado, but what about a week in Cuba? Assuming you're a USian, it's a bit of an adventure to get there, and you'll probably be the first on your block to do so. And, as MeFite LarryC says, " ... Cuba is infinitely fascinating, really an island out of time. And you can't help but fall in love with the people."
posted by rob511 at 4:56 PM on May 29, 2006


patagonia in the south of argentina is unbelievably beautiful. it's like middle-earth. you could drive down there from buenos aires to bariloche and explore from there.
posted by BigBrownBear at 11:35 PM on May 29, 2006


mrmojoflying: Funny story; that was EXACTLY the vacation we had originally planned, but it wasn't so much up our third's alley, and since we would enjoy doing what she wants to as well, she won.

Thanks so much for the great input! Semuc Champey, Yangas Road, Macchu Picchu by animal, Patagonia, Uruguay by bike, teaching in Buenos Aires, and the Darien Gap have all made the contender list. Thanks for all the great input.

As for the Atacama Desert, it sounds fascinating, and I love the desert, but the desert is the LAST thing I want to see on this vacation.

Thanks again! Great stuff.
posted by bryak at 11:46 PM on May 29, 2006


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