100 days in South America: Reccomendations
December 16, 2012 § Leave a comment
Well, I have to admit it’s kind of bittersweet to reach the end of an adventure like this. I could write a long-winded reflection here about the lessons I learned, the moments that left lasting impressions on me, and the amazing things I saw. But really, I’d rather just stick to this message: Live with no regrets….and speaking of regrets, one of the constant stresses of travel is needing to know weather or not you’re going to get what you pay for, especially when it comes to lodging, transit, tour operators, guides and instructors. Luckily, I didn’t have (too) many brushes with con artists on this trip, and I was lucky have the help of several extremely professional organizations along the way. Here’s my list of the true standouts:
My personal opinion on hostels is that they should be friendly, smallish, have a kitchen I can use and a hammock I can swing in, or a least a porch I can sit on. These are all gems that have their own quirks and perks, but all have friendly and helpful staff, good food, and a chilled out social space.
Maxima’s, Puerto Lopez, Ecuador
Meri Surf Hostel, Huanchaco, Peru
Wayra River, Arequipa, Peru
Bacoo, La Paz, Bolivia
Prisamata, Salta, Argentina
Casona 1920, Iquique, Chile
Arica Surf Hostel, Arica, Chile
Raices Spanish School, Banos, Ecuador
Upon arriving in Quito, I quickly realized that I really, really needed some Spanish lessons. I made the choice to settle down in Banos for a week and take lessons with Marco at Raices Spanish School, and that may have been the smartest decision I made on the whole trip. His lessons were relaxed but very helpful. Seriously, if you’re going to be traveling in South America, take some lessons while you’re there. It makes the trip so much smoother and more enjoyable!
Muchik Surf School, Huanchaco, Peru
I totally fell in love with surfing on this trip. I took lessons with three different companies, and Muchik was head and shoulders above the competition. Instructors Chicho and Omar drill students on the specfics of how to catch the wave, so when you do, it’s not just dumb luck.
Apumayo Expediciones, Cusco, Peru
My dad and I went on a four day multi-sport tour in Manu National Park with our guide Noel operated by Apumayo. This company operates all of their own tours (as is not always the case with some of the cut-rate operators in South America) and offers a variety of treks around Cusco ranging from jungle tours to the Inca Trail. Highly recommended.
Tupiza Tours, Tupiza, Bolivia
It can be a little daunting for backpackers to choose a tour company when it comes time to venture out to the Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia. I would have to say that I definitely feel good about my choice to start the tour from Tupiza rather than Uyuni, and I feel really really good about my choice to go with Tupiza tours. They were well organized, showed us a ton of cool places, and the food was awesome.
RESPONS Sustainable Toursim Center, Huaraz, Peru
There’s no shortage of tourism companies in Peru, but it is hard to come by a company that’s actually offering responsible tourism. RESPONS offers a lot of great responsible programs ranging from home stays in indigenous communities to trekking. They’re also a great source of information about the Huaraz area.
Huascar y Huandy Rural Community Tourism, Yungay, Peru
One of the most memorable experiences from my trip was my two day home stay experience in Humacchuco, Peru. I hiked with them, cooked with them, farmed with them, learned about herbs and traditional medicines and played with their kids. It was so nice to actually be able to get to know these people instead of having a typical “gawk at people who are different from you” tourist experience. Community based tourism is also a very important source of income for Humacchuco, and helps support maintaining traditional knowledge and way of life.