Trip overview

A trip overview…just to have for my records!

I started my trip by flying from Chicagoto Lima, sleeping in the airport, then taking an early flight to Cusco. I spent 3 full months in Ollantaytambo volunteering (1 month with a host family, 2 months in the filthy volunteer house). During this time, I took trips to Puno (Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world) for 5 days or so and also to Arequipa (ColcaCanyon, the 2nd deepest in the world) for 10 days or so. After I finished my volunteer work, I started my trip by heading straight toLa Paz. I spent some time in the city, enjoying the things cities offer that I had been deprived of the past 3 months. I then did the “Death Road” downhill biking trip, going from 14,000 feet to about 3,000 feet in a few hours, ending in Coroico. I stayed here for a few days enjoying jungle fruits and hiking through coca plantations. I jumped on one of the dirtiest buses you’ll find and rode it 20 hours around breath-taking cliffs (literally thought I had a 50-50 chance of making it through the trip). Along the way, some good events for story happened to me, including a 4 year old girl squatting to take a pee into a small plastic bag, and also having a naked baby on my seat as I got off the bus to get some food (the mom thought it was a good time/place to do change the baby). When I got to Rurrenabaque in the jungle, I took a 3 day tour of thePampas, the jungle. Was a really cool tour with many caimans, birds, pink dolphins, and a lot of mosquitos. 24 hours on a bus and I was back toLa Paz to spend Christmas. My friend fromPeru came and we spent Christmas eve with 10 Couchsurfers from all over in the house of a girl fromBelgium. Next, a few days in Potosi, the highest city in the world and home to a mine that made the city one of the richest hundreds of years ago. After, I went to Sucre and fell in love with the smaller city feel and nice people. I spent New Year’s Eve there with a mix of travelers, including many Brazilians. I then took 4 full days of Spanish classes and met some really nice Bolivians there for a good 10 days in total in Sucre. I then went to Uyuni for a 3 day tour of the salt flats and surrounding desert and beautiful lakes and mountains. No doubt one of the most unique places as far as scenery and is a must for anyone going to Bolivia. After the tour, I took a bus to Tupiza (but not before losing the back left wheel). In Tupiza, I rode on horse for the first time through theland of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Finally, after 5 weeks, bus to Argentina.

The cost of everything in Argentina was shocking and tough to get over. I had to change my way of traveling and could not eat out proper meals twice per day like I was doing in Bolivia. So I am proud to say that my total time inArgentina, I ate out 2 proper meals (proper meaning sitting down to eat in a restaurant). Otherwise I ate cheap things on the street, made sandwiches, or cooked. So first in Argentina was Salta, a cool city. Met some cool Argentines and went to a pena, a typical fiesta at a bar where people bring their instruments. After just 1 night and 2 days, on to Cordova, a nice city (and extremely hot in the summer). Another quick 2 days and 1 night, but met some nice people who I still keep in touch with. Finally, onto Buenos Aires. More couchsurfing events (which were fun), but I didn’t think anything too special of the city. I didn’t give it too much of a chance since I went with a couchsurfer outside of the city, but it still just felt like a normal city to me. Probably didn’t help that my expectations were high for the city. But I did manage to see a bit of tango on the street and didn’t die in the 100 degree heat. I took a boat across the Rio de la Plata to the beautiful old city of Colonia in Uruguay. It was small enough that walking around for a few hours was enough. Then on to Montevideo, where I spent a few days biking around the city and going to the beaches. Finally, back through Colonia (where I missed my first boat), then back toBuenos Aires to catch a flight to Ushuaia. My side trip toUruguaywas expensive and wasn’t much time, so I wish I would’ve just stayed more time in Buenos Aires. But I am happy to have a feel for the country and might return.


So onto Ushuaia, where I met a really cool Couchsurfer and stayed with him in the southernmost city in the world. My second day there, I found a decent deal going to Antarctica, so I took it. 2.5 smooth days there, 5 incredible days inAntarctica, and 2.5 rough days back, it was the best experience I have had. The general atmosphere, the icebergs, the animals, and going someplace that not many people go. Well worth the several months I will have to work to make back the money!


After, I started making my way north in bus. I stopped inPuerto Natales,Chile, where I was hosted by a Couchsurfing family. There happened to be 17 other couchsurfers one night I was there. From there, did an amazing 3 day trek in Torres Del Paine. Afterwards, I went up north to Patagonia and made stops in El Calafate (there is a glacier, but didn’t go), El Chalten (3 great days of day hikes), and Bariloche (great biking through the lakes region). Up north to my last stop ofArgentinawhich wasMendozafor the wine tasting. At the end of my time there, I got a bit sick and carried that with me to Santiago, Chile. I was going to head to the coast to Valparaiso and Vina del Mar, but I laid in bed for 2 full days. It was worth it to feel better, because afterwards I went up San Pedro de Atacama in the desert. Beautiful and unique place on the edges ofBoliviaandArgentina. Snow capped mountains in the background and surrounded by desert valleys. Had a few good days of biking there. Finally, headed north to Arica (walked around a bit) and to Tacna, Peru. I adjusted back to the Peruvian life by eating fresh ceviche and eating anything and everything I saw on the street. The following day, I bussed it to Ica and then a short taxi ride to one of my favorite places, Huacachina. The giant sand dunes surrounding this little oasis were incredible. The tour consisting of dune buggies and sand boarding topped it all off. Bus up to Lima was next, where I spent a long weekend (including my birthday) with Troy, a friend from Stockton. Surfed, ran in a small town on the coast, and enjoyed being around a familiar face for a while. The final stop in Peru was the north in Chiclayo, where I stayed with the cousin of the husband of a friend of mom (complicated, I know). Spent a day with them, who were extremely friendly and hospitable.


Bus up to Ecuador (after a 3 hour delay because of a truck stuck in the mud), up to Loja. A few days not doing much but computer things. Not many memories here except eating Mexican food. Up to Cuenca, a beautiful small city which reminds me of Sucre,Bolivia. I met some more Couchsurfers here and had a fun time going out. Afterwards, made it to Quito. I was going to stay 3 days but stayed a week. More couchsurfers and couldn’t pull myself away from the nice company and also the beautiful old town of Quito. Only spent less than 2 weeks in Ecuador and is a place that I would love to spend much more time.


From Quito, went up to the border of Colombia. I got to the border at 6pm and had no idea where was my destination. I looked in my guidebook for about 10 minutes and decided that Popayan was it. The Colombian character definitely stuck out here. Extremely friendly people that I had heard about. Wouldn’t let me pay for the empanadas, showed me around the city, invited me to stay at their house. Very, very friendly. I was going to head to straight to Salento, but some Argentines convinced me that I had to go to Cali. Nothing special about the city city, but everything else I loved. The people, the culture, the dancing. Ugly city, but by no means boring. Then up to Saleno and the area where I tried some coffee, left utterly disappointed that I think I can find better Colombian coffee in theUS! Next, up toMedellinwhere Pablo Escobar used to dominate a drug war just a few decades ago. Cleaned up now and an interesting city to see. Finally, what I had been talking about for many months, making it to the Caribbean! First was Cartagena, just before Obama and the big prostitute scandal.Cartagenais an absolutely beautiful city, what I think is the most beautiful inSouth America.  Afterwards was Santa Marta and Taganga, two decent places to go to the beach. In Taganga, I got my Scuba PADI certificate where we would go a few miles away from Taganga and into some of the clearest water you’d see with a lot of wildlife. Afterwards, 2 days in Tayrona National Park with the typical Caribbean beaches you think of…fine sand, clear turquoise waters, hot weather, sleeping in hammocks (have to mention the massive amounts of mosquitos). Finally went back toSanta Marta and flew toBogotafor a few rainy, but fun days with another Couchsurfer who I had met in Cusco. And finally a flight back to spring-time in Chicago.


Peru – 103
Bolivia – 37
Argentina – 22
Uruguay – 3
Antarctica – 11
Chile – 16
Ecuador – 11
Colombia – 21


Total days – 224


Hours in bus: 384
Hours in plane: 16
Hours in boat: 122
Countries visited: 8
Continents visited: 2

Ollantaytambo Peru 09/06 – 12/08
Cusco Peru Various days
Arequipa Peru 10/10 – 10/19
Puno Peru 11/08 – 11/12
La Paz Bolivia 12/09 – 12/13
Coroico Bolivia 12/14 – 12/16
Rurrenabaque Bolivia 12/16 – 12/22
La Paz Bolivia 12/23 – 12/26
Potosi Bolivia 12/27 – 12/29
Sucre Bolivia 12/30 – 01/08
Uyuni Bolivia 01/09 – 01/14
Tupiza Bolivia 01/14 – 01/15
Salta Argentina 01/16 – 01/17
Cordova Argentina 01/17 – 01/18
Buenos Aires Argentina 01/19 – 01/22
Colonia andMontevideo Uruguay 01/23 – 01/25
Ushuaia Argentina 01/26 – 01/27
Antarctica Antarctica 01/27 – 02/06
Ushuaia Argentina 02/06 – 02/07
Puerto Natales (Torres del Paine) Chile 02/07 – 02/11
El Calafate Argentina 02/12 – 02/14
El Chalten Argentina 02/14 – 02/18
Bariloche Argentina 02/19 – 02/22
Mendoza Argentina 02/23 – 02/26
Santiago de Chile Chile 02/27 – 03/01
San Pedro de Atacama Chile 03/02 – 03/03
Arica Chile 03/04
Tacna Peru 03/04 – 03/05
Ica/ Huacachina Peru 03/06 – 03/08
Lima Peru 03/08 – 03/12
Chiclayo Peru 03/13 – 03/14
Loja Ecuador 03/15 – 03/16
Cuenca Ecuador 03/16 – 03/18
Quito Ecuador 03/19 – 03/26
Popayan Colombia 03/27 – 03/28
Cali Colombia 03/28 – 04/01
Circasia/Salenta Colombia 04/01 – 04/02
Medellin Colombia 04/03 – 04/04
Cartagena Colombia 04/05 – 04/07
Santa Marta Colombia 04/07 – 04/08
Taganga Colombia 04/08 – 04/12
TayronaNational Park Colombia 04/12 – 04/13
Bogota Colombia 04/14 – 04/17

About Trent

I started Frugal Purpose to share my love of personal finance to assist your pursuit of a more fulfilling life. I am a financial analyst by trade, traveler at heart, and want to share with you the beauty of this world.


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