Traveling safely… for a year in South america with my wife and two girls of 5 & 7 years old)
We planned to go south in 2015 with our daughters…so instead of moving frequently …we expect to stay 8-12 weeks per country.
We are looking for information about good lodging spots in National Parks or elsewhere and safe countries to travel around.
Don’t be shy to share your passion about your great moments.
Thank’s a lot,
One possible itinerary is Argentina–Brazil–Chile–Bolivia–Peru. Argentina and Chile are particularly “safe”, and I’ve never had any problems in Bolivia and Peru, but as long as you take the same “common sense” precautions that you would travelling with young children anywhere in the world, you should be fine. Some people find Rio intimidating, and there are neighbourhoods here – as there are in most big cities – that you’d do well to avoid with kids.
Health could be a bigger consideration, such as avoiding the jungle in Brazil, Bolivia and Peru if you don’t want to give your kids anti-malarials (see the malaria maps at fitfortravel.nhs.uk/destinations/south-america.aspx for specific areas) and being aware of altitude sickness in the altiplano regions of Bolivia and Peru in particular.
Argentina is an amazing country, and diverse enough (and big enough!) to easily warrant 3 months of your time. Buenos Aires, Mendoza (and the wine region) and the Iguazu Falls are obvious year-round highlights, but make sure you time your trip here for the southern hemisphere summer (Nov–April), when you’ll also be able to head south – I spent six weeks in Patagonia updating the Rough Guide to Argentina a few years ago and it remains one of my favourite places in the world.
Patagonia is huge, though, so you’ll need to pick your spots. The Peninsula Valdes is a must: superb wildlife-watching (penguins, elephant seals, whales and – sometimes – orcas) and some great places to stay (try rinconchico.com.ar or puntadelgada.com). You could also take in the nearby Welsh towns of Trelew and Gaiman, and the penguin colony at Punta Tombo.
It sounds like you’d love Parque Nacional Los Glaciares, which is essentially El Chalten, for trekking around Mount Fitz Roy, and El Calafate, for the Perito Moreno glacier. It’s only about 3hr from El Calafate to Puerto Natales in Chile, the jumping-off point for Parque Nacional Torres del Paine – the famous “Circuit” and “W” hikes will be too much for the kids, but there are plenty of great day and half-day hikes to try instead. One experience not to be missed in Patagonia is staying at an estancia (estanciasdesantacruz.com), tucking into asados and maybe helping out on the farm.
You could then carry on down, via Punta Arenas, to Ushuaia, for its end-of-the-world atmosphere and flights back up to Buenos Aires (around 3000km away!). From BA, you can make day-trips into the Pampas at San Antonio de Areco or across the River Plate to Colonia del Sacramento, a lovely little town in Uruguay.
You could then head north, maybe via the wetlands of the Esteros del Ibera, to the Iguazu Falls, on the border with Brazil, and then work your way up to Rio. After you’ve spent time in Parati and on the beaches of southern Brazil, you could fly to Santiago in Chile and travel overland from there to La Paz in Bolivia, a trip that takes in some incredible scenery – particularly the salt flats at Uyuni and the surrounding area – and some interesting towns in Potosi and Sucre.
It’s just a short (ish) hop from La Paz to beautiful Lake Titicaca and on to Cusco in Peru and the Inca sites of the Sacred Valley – don’t miss the Colca Canyon on the way, where condors glide past so close that you can actually hear the wind beneath their wings (I feel a song coming on!). The four-day Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is probably beyond your scope, but there’s plenty of other, less demanding walks around Cusco itself. Cusco – and pretty much the whole region from the Chile/Bolivia border onwards – is at altitude, so it pays to take your time along the way and make sure you’re properly acclimatised. After Cusco, you could head down to Nazca and then make your way north along the coast to Lima.
Anyway, that’s just one possible itinerary, to which you could probably add a lot in the year you’ve got. Plus other countries – there’s a post elsewhere on this site from a couple who are about to head to Colombia with their six-month old…
Not exactly answering your question, but the biggest bit of advice I’d give for such an ambitious trip would be to make sure your grasp of Spanish is as good as possible.
Obviously if you had time for a little conversational Portugese (to help you get by in Brazil) that’d be great but with all of this year to immerse yourself in Spanish before you travel, it would without a doubt it’ll be a massive aid for both the trip and your safety.
Can not recommend highly enough that you do it!! We just travelled through Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador and Colombia with our two year old daughter. An absolutely fantastic experience and our daughter loved it (even if she won’t remember a thing).
Do loads and loads of research on medicals/vaccinations, altitude sickness and have a list of english speaking doctors with you in each country / town. I did this an we had no medical problems whatsoever whilst travelling (3 months) but you never no.
Happy to answer any specific questions…