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Old 12th August 2014, 1:06 PM   #1
dinkleton Thread Starter
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Default South America in 8 weeks time for 6+ months.....

Hi all, looking for people who have been to South America or somewhere similarly large and remote.

I'm only eight weeks out from heading off, very excited, also a bit nervous. Just want to clear up a couple of things before I go:

- Communications/Gadgets/Photos -
I'm still not sure what to take here. I have access to a basic point and shoot camera (12MP I believe), my Nexus 5 phone, and a Canon DSLR.

I am currently thinking... Buy a tablet of some kind, and take that plus the point and shoot. Leave the phone and the DSLR behind. Tablet for communications and taking notes while wifi is available, and P&S camera for the obvious. Also take several memory cards for storage backup.

How does this sound for a long-term trip? I love the Nexus for taking quick snap photos, it's basically just as good as the P&S, but lack of expandable storage is shitty.

- Money/cards -
Currently have an ING Orange Everyday, which served me well for my recent trip to Thailand. But I'm thinking something completely free of fees for this trip, and just transferring my balance to a 28 Degrees card or something like that. On top of this, I am thinking about applying for a Citibank credit card or something - with a limit of around $10k to be used as a backup only. Does this sound about right?

I plan on carrying a little cash on me in each country, just withdraw when I get there; depending on how remote I am. In bigger cities I'll just carry the cards, in villages/more remote, I'll be sure to withdraw cash before I go there, etc.

- Luggage/Backpacks
I've got my gear sorted, but I keep wondering if my backpack is going to be too much of a PITA. It's a 60 + 15 from mountain designs, very nice pack and very comfortable, but I've laid out all that I plan on taking and it just seems way too big for what I plan on taking lol. I keep thinking, maybe I should attempt to travel light? Carry-on luggage everywhere? Take only a few pieces of clothes and wash once every 5 days or so while at hostels, can't be that bad can it?

The idea of getting off a plane, and heading straight for the doors seems pretty bloody nice. Also completely squashing the chance of lost luggage (which apparently occurs frequently in South America). Can anyone shed some light/experience on this? Would I be wise to take something bigger on a long trip?

The 15L day pack is perfect for small hiking trips which I plan on doing, but that means leaving my large pack back at hostels which I'm not sure I'm keen on doing? Kinda looking for alternatives.



Anywho... Exciting... And I just booked my sky dive in Arizona today - kicking the trip off with a tick off the bucket list and a bit of a bang
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Old 12th August 2014, 1:51 PM   #2
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get a citibank plus card.

don't worry about carrying too much tech. from my understanding you will be mugged at least two or three times, if not more considering you are going to be there for a while. nature of the beast. remember to carry a decoy wallet in the hope that that might fool your muggers.

good luck on your trip - although why are you skydiving in arizona? there is literally nothing to see in that state. shouldve booked your skydiving in san diego or san francisco - both beautiful cities in beautiful surrounds. i did my first skydive on the north shore of oahu island in hawaii and its something i'll never forget.
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Old 12th August 2014, 1:59 PM   #3
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Personally, I'd be taking the Nexus 5 and transferring via USB cable/bluetooth - haven't tried this out, but I've seen the flash drives with micro USB connections which you may be able to use with the phone? You'll want to be backing up those pictures regularly as there's every chance you'll be losing your camera at some point. The handy thing with Nexus is it will double as a tablet for movies, entertainment and comms if your laptop goes walkies...

We used 28 degrees for our long-term travel, but that was before the 3% cash advance fee (which applies now even if you are in positive credit). Still free for purchases, but we tended to use cash for most things when travelling. Heard that ATM's are sparse around SA, but we didn't have too much trouble in the capital cities (Buenos, Rio and Santiago).

When we travelled we hauled 2 full-size suitcases and 2 carry-on cases everywhere - it sucked, but we aren't light travellers. If you can get away with light, go for it.

Pro-tip: Take a good first aid kit that includes a sharps kit. A friend got sick in some godforsaken place in Brasil and had to go to hospital. She got their last fresh needle...

Qualifying experience: nearly 12 month-long trip with wife around s/e Asia, and a 6 week trip around South America
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Old 12th August 2014, 2:27 PM   #4
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good luck on your trip - although why are you skydiving in arizona? there is literally nothing to see in that state. shouldve booked your skydiving in san diego or san francisco - both beautiful cities in beautiful surrounds. i did my first skydive on the north shore of oahu island in hawaii and its something i'll never forget.
Only spending a week in the US before heading south (staying with a friend in AZ), so wanted to seize the opportunity and get it done first up. I realise the scenery probably isn't the best but I do like a good desert.

I'd much rather get it done in the US as well, not keen on the idea of doing a dangerous sport like that in a third world country where safety usually isn't a number one priority.

If I love it... I'll do it again on the coast at some stage
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Old 12th August 2014, 8:08 PM   #5
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good luck on your trip - although why are you skydiving in arizona? there is literally nothing to see in that state. shouldve booked your skydiving in san diego or san francisco - both beautiful cities in beautiful surrounds.
You're kidding, right? Arizona has some of the most spectacular scenery in the continental USA... Grand Canyon, Mountain Ranges, Desert, Forests, it has it all...

As for the OP's questions... I wouldn't take anything you wouldn't want to lose, break or get nicked on a trip that long... If buy a "burner" for a phone, cheap tablet/laptop to keep in touch with family/friends back here, and a cheapish but decent quality P & S camera for the rest... Unless you're a serious photographer, the SLR just ends up being dead weight and a trouble-magnet... Undesirables see you with a pricey camera around your neck and nekt minnut you've got a knife pointed at your guts... That's not South America specific either... Best way to avoid trouble is to not draw attention to yourself, IMO...
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Old 12th August 2014, 9:33 PM   #6
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Thanks for the tips guys, pretty much just what I was thinking especially RE the DSLR camera... I think I'll take the P&S, a bunch of back up/extra storage, a cheap tablet, and my Nexus (it's got a broken screen anyway, could be good for a backup camera if needed, or quick video etc.)

I'm seriously unsure about packing; whether to go regular, or try to travel light for carry on. I think realistically I'll need clothes for all climates, which means packing light might prove difficult... We'll see, I'll have a play.

Maybe travelling light is something you could do in SEA or Africa given the standard climates, but South America being so big and varied it might be harder to do it.

As for the cards, sounds good with the Citibank Plus, awesome that there's still no ATM transaction fees on that thing! Can anyone recommend an actual credit card as well? Given the Citibank Plus is debit.

Cheers
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Old 12th August 2014, 10:04 PM   #7
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I just got back from 3 weeks in Chile/Peru......did the Machu Pichu climb

I took my ipad mini loaded with movies etc for the fligths, my nexus 5 and also my new Olympus O-M10 camera, similar in size to a P&S....I found I didnt need anything else at all, Had a 65L backpack with 20L daypack which sufficed for avarything, I did the same and did some washing every few days and it never cost more than $1 per Kilo and there were plenty of places. Cant help with the CC as I took my visa debit card and cash

Enjoy the trip
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Old 13th August 2014, 8:36 AM   #8
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don't worry about carrying too much tech. from my understanding you will be mugged at least two or three times, if not more considering you are going to be there for a while. nature of the beast. remember to carry a decoy wallet in the hope that that might fool your muggers.
Have you been?

I spent 6 weeks in Mexico and 3 months in Peru, Chile and Argentina and didn't get mugged once. Must have been doing it wrong!

To the OP, what are you doing over there, and how far south are you heading, that will probably make a big difference to what you need to take regarding clothes etc.
My advice, skip the Inca Trail, full of bogans and people that are only there to say they did it, and in turn dont give a shit about anyone or anything. Case in point someone decided it was to hard to use the bathroom so just took a dump on the trail. If you want to see machu picchu (which is worth it) just catch the train to aguas calientes and do a day trip up.
If you want to do some walking the the "W" or the full circuit in torrens del paine is way more rewarding that the Inca Trail.

As for tech, it was a few years since i went (07/08) so things have changed but i would take the minimum you need, you wont really use it that much anyway. I took my DSLR and had no dramas, however P&S have come along way in 7 years so if i was doing it again i would seriously consider just as small camera. Buy a lot of small memory cards, fill one up duplicate it and send one home and keep one on you - that way if you loose your camera you dont loose your 128gb card with everything on it!

Get decent travel insurance and dont stress about your Tech and its all good, odds are if you loose, break, get mugged then you basically get a free upgrade from your insurance!
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Old 13th August 2014, 9:12 AM   #9
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I was initially worried about the mugging/crime aspect, because on the internet you read all kinds of things. But everyone who has actually been has said they haven't had any troubles. Just be vigilant like you would be in any developing country and you're fine. Don't carry too many valuables on you, try to fit in with the crowd, etc...

I'm doing all the way from Mexico down to far south Argentina/Chile (including Torres del Paine), I haven't booked any hikes yet so I'm all up for advice there - some people say to do the Inca trail, others don't. I'll decide once I get there I think - won't be in Peru until April next year if it all goes to plan so got a bit of time. Thinking myself and the missus (she's joining me in January to continue on) will just get to Cusco and decide from there since March/April isn't quite high season, we should be right to book a hike apparently?

I can't remember what my P&S camera is, but I know it served me well for general photos in Thailand and Vietnam. I plan on taking a fair bit of short video, 1-3 seconds, more than photos. As I want to put together a bit of a video collage with 15-30 seconds worth of video from the best moments in each Country. P&S does a much better job of staying in focus in video than the Nexus does.

Hepsily - 6 weeks in Mexico, I'm there for 4 weeks - what route did you take? Mexico City and south through to Cancun or something different? Also, Spanish - did you know any before you left? Worth doing a short course in Mexico while I am there do you think?
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Old 13th August 2014, 9:17 AM   #10
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Have you been?

I spent 6 weeks in Mexico and 3 months in Peru, Chile and Argentina and didn't get mugged once. Must have been doing it wrong!
admittedly i have only been as far south as mexico. and i didnt get mugged there, although at the same time i never felt truly safe. this is even compared to my experiences in unsafe asian countries such as pakistan, india, bangladesh (family's home country) and certain parts of vietnam/thailand.

everyone i know who has gone to south america has said it was a wonderful experience but that they had all been held up/mugged at least once on their trip - i am not saying it is a reason not to go, but a reason to be more vigilant than you might otherwise be, and to carry only minimal tech. I wouldn't have a problem carrying my NEX-5 around seedier parts of south asia, but i certainly wouldn't do it on a beach in argentina.

5tumpy - you are right, arizona does have some cool scenery, but as far as im aware you arent allowed to skydive near any of the cool scenery (such as the red mountains near sedona and the grand canyon). and having driven through the entirety of arizona, including not only the pretty northern parts but the barren southern parts, i would be surprised if the OP is skydiving anywhere other than over the suburban wasteland that is phoenix...
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Old 13th August 2014, 10:07 AM   #11
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I didnt get mugged either , Id recommend instead of the inca trek take some time and enjoy the towns along he way, Ollantaytambo is brilliant as is Aguas Calientas
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Old 13th August 2014, 10:50 AM   #12
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Hepsily - 6 weeks in Mexico, I'm there for 4 weeks - what route did you take? Mexico City and south through to Cancun or something different? Also, Spanish - did you know any before you left? Worth doing a short course in Mexico while I am there do you think?
We flew into Cancun and made our way back to mexico city;

1 Week in an all inclusive resort in playa del carmen just to ease our way into it then hostels for the rest
Tulum
Merida - 1 week, did a Spanish course here (3 days)
Campeche
San Cristóbal de Las Casas
Oaxaca - 2 weeks, did a full on Spanish school here for a week
Mexico City
Taxco
Querétaro

there were a few smaller stops in-between as well

flew out of Mexico City.

I think its totally worth doing a Spanish course - the more of the language you know the more you will get out of the trip.

As for booking the inca trail in Cusco its no problem at all, my advice is stay away from the larger groups (GAP, Intrepid, etc.) and pick a small local group. ill try to dig up the name of our tour company, they were awesome and only 8 in our group. You walked past some of the bigger groups 40+ in camps and you might as well be staying on kuta beach!
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Old 13th August 2014, 1:56 PM   #13
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I was initially worried about the mugging/crime aspect, because on the internet you read all kinds of things. But everyone who has actually been has said they haven't had any troubles. Just be vigilant like you would be in any developing country and you're fine. Don't carry too many valuables on you, try to fit in with the crowd, etc...
Had my shorts stolen on Ipanema beach and had to walk back to the hotel in my underwear, but apart from that had no issues. Just don't be stupid and flash cash and expensive things about. No different to combodia, vietnam, thailand etc.


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6 weeks in Mexico, I'm there for 4 weeks - what route did you take? Mexico City and south through to Cancun or something different? Also, Spanish - did you know any before you left? Worth doing a short course in Mexico while I am there do you think?
Learn Spanish! Having only previously travelled through Asia it was a massive shock to learn how little English is spoken. The aussie accent makes it worse for them as we don't pronounce our 'r's. I did about 10 lessons of Pimsleur tapes which helped a bit when combined with the Lonely Planet Latin American Spanish book, and once you're there you'll start to pick it up well. Am hoping to travel over there next year for an extended trip also, and plan to take plenty of spanish lessons before and hopefully come back after the trip knowing spanish at a comfortable level
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Old 13th August 2014, 7:57 PM   #14
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I was initially worried about the mugging/crime aspect, because on the internet you read all kinds of things. But everyone who has actually been has said they haven't had any troubles. Just be vigilant like you would be in any developing country and you're fine. Don't carry too many valuables on you, try to fit in with the crowd, etc...
Yeah, IMO it's all about how much of a target you make yourself... The muggers aren't going to risk getting arrested if they don't think you have anything worth stealing, are they? On the other hand, if your have a $2000 camera around your neck, latest iPhone in your hand and a backpack on, guess what's going to happen?

Play it smart, be street smart, and you'll be fine...

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5tumpy - you are right, arizona does have some cool scenery, but as far as im aware you arent allowed to skydive near any of the cool scenery (such as the red mountains near sedona and the grand canyon). and having driven through the entirety of arizona, including not only the pretty northern parts but the barren southern parts, i would be surprised if the OP is skydiving anywhere other than over the suburban wasteland that is phoenix...
Well then, let me educate you... This is all from a 2 minute google mind you...

Grand Canyon National Park Airport Skydiving

Red Rock Skydiving- based about 80 miles from GCNP and 100 miles from Pheonix- Plenty of beautiful scenery in that area

I think that illustrates my point perfectly, so I'll stop thread crapping now... Suffice it to say that despite you apparently exploring every inch of Arizona, you clearly haven't got a fucking clue what you're talking about...
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Old 14th August 2014, 7:48 AM   #15
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Well then, let me educate you... This is all from a 2 minute google mind you...

Grand Canyon National Park Airport Skydiving

Red Rock Skydiving- based about 80 miles from GCNP and 100 miles from Pheonix- Plenty of beautiful scenery in that area

I think that illustrates my point perfectly, so I'll stop thread crapping now... Suffice it to say that despite you apparently exploring every inch of Arizona, you clearly haven't got a fucking clue what you're talking about...
That first link is strange, on the front page it talks about skydiving over the Grand Canyon, then when you click a bunch of links it talks about skydiving over Nicaragua's Pacific coast.

I cancelled my Arizona skydive yesterday - I dived into it without really investigating, and while the one that I booked seemed to be the most popular (price and reputation), it's not in the best of locations. Currently looking around for better options (the Red Rock skydiving you posted looks good, will enquire with them).

OT: Looking into getting a Nexus 7 tablet at the moment. I'm not sure I want to spend the extra on an iPad? Never used a tablet in my life so not sure. Also trying to figure out what power adapter(s?) I'll need to take as well.
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