General Itinerary

Essentially, the plan is to start in Los Angeles, California, USA. We intend to take public transportation, i.e. buses and trains, to Tierra del Fuego, and then return. The general plan is to head down the west coast of Mexico, Central America, and South America. We will then return up the east coast through Brazil. We are still formulating our basic itinerary and dates are very flexible. We don't want to be rushed and are strongly considering taking a 2-4 week Spanish immersion class early on, possibly in Mexico or Guatemala. Please let us know in the comments if you know of anything you think we should do, places to see, etc. that we might not otherwise find out on our own through general web searches/travel books.

Also, if you have friends or family that live in these areas who would be interested in lending out space on their couch for a few nights, we will happily cook and clean to pay our way (or pay with money). We are not necessarily looking to stay at resorts and beaches all the time, probably will do some volunteer work with impoverished children, building schools, etc.

So here goes, starting with our departure from Los Angeles on October 26
arrive in Chihuahua on October 28
-visit the Museo Histórico de la Revolución Mexicana which was Pancho Villa's headquarters
-check out various other museums and cultural exhibits
-visit the local Cervecería
-Chihuahua has a Trolley Turistico which is a 45 minute ride of famous sites in the city, narrated in Spanish so it should be interesting
-Día de los Muertos

Bus trip from Chihuahua to Mazatlán
Arrive in Mazatlán around November 4
-Sarah is especially excited to eat carne azteca stuffed with huitlacoche (also known as corn fungus) at La Tramoya
-visit the secluded Isla de la Piedra
-take a tour of Las Labradas
-tour the jungle - see a coconut plantation, birds, etc
-see the saltwater pool below the Olivera statue on Paseo Olas Atlas

Bus trip from Mazatlán to San Patricio-Melaque (potentially by way of Guadalajara)
Arrive in Melaque around November 10
-Relax on the beach!
-keep relaxing on the beach until we get bored

Bus from Melaque to Colima
Arrive in Colima around November 15
-Based on our research, Colima appears to be a very safe university town where many people have moved to raise their children
-Eat mole at ¡Ah Qué Naniche!
-visit the Volcán de Fuego - yes mom that's the volcano of fire
-Eat Tacos and see hand-blown glass at Los Naranjos
-take a taxi to the pyramids at La Campana

Bus from Colima to Zihuatanejo
Arrive in Zihuatanejo around November 21
-"play" with the harmless whiskered sharks in the water
-folklórico dancing
-hang out at the playa la ropa where a galleon famously crashed covering the beach with its silk cargo

Bus from Zihuatanejo to Oaxaca
May require an overnight stay in Pochutla, then catch a small bus to Oaxaca, arrive around November 27
-Enjoy the art and architecture of Oaxaca
-Café Central - hang out in the social hub of Oaxaca
-Eat at Cenaduría Tlayudas Libres, known for its large tlayudas
-Museo de las Culturas de Oaxaca
-Museo Textil de Oaxaca
-check out the vast cacti species at the Jardin Etnobotánico
-Fundación en Via - a local tour provider that promotes micro-finance
-Can't go to Oaxaca and not go to a Mexcal distillery
-Drink soem Café Oaxaqueña at Cafe Los Cuiles, and other places, no doubt

Our first "transmigrante" border crossing from Mexico to Guatemala, Oaxaca to Antigua Guatemala may be a lot for one day, potentially stop over in San Cristobal Las Casas for a night
Arrive in Antigua December 5
-Relax in the parque central
-we've been told not to eat Ceviche in Guatemala due to cholera fears, but if anyone can shed some light on this, we are both ceviche lovers
-Volcán Pacaya
-Volcán Acatenango - this may need a day of relaxation beforehand as it is a fairly strenuous high altitude hike
-eat ice cream at Helados Sarita after hiking up Acatenango
-Haggle at the Antigua Market
-Empanadas and coffee at Fernando's

Take the chicken bus from Antigua to Quetzaltenango
Arrive in Quetzaltenango around December 11
-This is probably where we will take a Spanish immersion course. We hope to find one that can offer a homestay so we can really immerse ourselves in the culture, however we felt that Antigua would be too touristy for that sort of thing.
-Quetzaltenango also has plenty of nearby volcanoes to check out
-Drink Cabro - the local beer
-Visit the market at Zunil

Bus from Quetzaltenango to Flores
Depending on the length of our spanish class, potentially arrive in Flores around January 15
-Visit Tikal, spend a night or two in a hammock
-See the mayan ruins, as well as the howler monkeys, toucans, coatimundis, jaguars, etc

Bus from Tikal to Guatemala City, overnight in Guatemala City, bus to Santa Ana, El Salvador
Arrive in Santa Ana January 21
-Very colonial city, check out the Teatro de Santa Ana
-Eat Pupusas
-Haggle at the Mercado Central (probably just leading to more eating)
-Visit the largest Mayan temple of El Salvador, Tazumal
-Climb to the top of Volcán de Izalco which is still active

Bus from Santa Ana to Apaneca
Arrive in Apaneca around January 28
-Apaneca is El Salvador's second highest town by elevation, some easy hikes, flower nursuries, known for being a mellow town
-Very old churches to visit
-potentially a good place to relax after spending a night in Guatemala city and then Santa Ana
-Visit the Laguna Verde, a crater of an extinct volcano
-Take a buggy tour through the nearby mountains

Bus from Apaneca to San Salvador
Arrive in San Salvador around Febuary 2
-Visit the Centro de Intercambio y Solidaridad, a community advocacy organization. Perhaps take a day trip to a coffee plantation or find a good place to volunteer

Bus from San Salvador to Tegucigalpa
-This part of the trip has Matt worried a bit, going from one capital city to the next, lots of hustle and bustle, might be a little too much activity for two retirees, might have to take a detour to a small town, but we'll see how we feel
Arrive in Tegucigalpa around February 7
-Follow the history of Honduras in teh Museo Nacional de Historia Y Antropologia
-Visit the Harley Davidson Café to buy a t-shirt
-Drink a Licuado at the Licuado Shop

Bus from Tegucigalpa to Copán Ruinas
Arrive in Copán around February 12
-Relax for a few days after two straight capital cities
-Bird Reserves
-We've been told to try the anafre at La Llama del Bosque
-Take an organized tour of a local village or two

Bus from Copán to Managua, Nicaragua - Tika Bus runs this route, although it may require us to go back to Tegucigalpa
Arrive in Managua around February 17
-Lago de Managua
-Visit the Arboretum Nacional
-See the museum at the Palacio Nacional
-See the ancient footprints at Huellas de Acahualinca
-Go swimming at the lagoon preserve La Laguan del Apoyo - a lagoon in an extinct volcano's rim surrounded by jungle

Quick 90 minute bus ride from Managua to León
Arrive in León around February 25
-Do some volcano climbing with Quetzaltrekkers
-Drink some sugar cane liquor, Lijon, while relaxing on the Peneloya and Penitas beaches
-Sarah might take a cooking lesson with NicAsi Tours

Bus from León to Granada
Arrive in Granada around March 3
-Help build homes for the poor with La Prusia
-Visit the isletas of lake Nicaragua, wrangle up a homestay with our new and improved Spanish skills?
-Catch a concert at Casa Tres Mundos
-Marvel at the cigar making process at Dona Elba Cigar
-Test out a rocking chair, Granada is famous for them, as well as pottery
-Eat some street food servied in banana leaves at the Parque Central
-Sarah intends to participate in the wednesday Karaoke night at La Ronda

Bus from Granada to Puntarenas, Costa Rica, might require a short stopover in San José
Arrive in Puntarenas around March 11
-Puntarenas is a popular destination for Costa Ricans on vacation, we intend to spend some time on the beach meeting other travellers
-Hire a local fisherman to take us around looking at crocodiles and other wildlife
-Mangrove forest
-Visit the Main pier and the Paseo de los Turistas

Bus from Puntarenas to Dominical - the largest city in the south of Costa Rica
Arrive in Dominical around March 19
-Beach, Beach, Beach
-Surfing, whale-watching, rafting, and Beach, Beach, Beach

Bus from Dominical to Boquete, Panama
Arrive in Boquete around March 28, still haven't decided where exactly in Boquete we will stay
-Boquete is sort of like the "off-the-beaten-path" version of Costa Rica, more hiking and agriculture
-Hike the Quetzal trail (5-7 hours)
-Hike/drive up to the top of Volcán Baru
-Visit hot springs

Bus from Boquete to El Valle
Arrive in El Valle around April 5
-Visit the private zoo at El Nispero
-Visit/Volunteer at the El Valle Amphibian Conservation Center
-Hang out with the locals, El Valle is sort of a trip into "Old Panama"

Bus from El Valle to Panamá (City)
Arrive in Panamá around April 12
-Visit the canal
-Visit the old city
-Eat at one of the many authentic chinese food restaurants
-Drink Panamanian coffee, also there is Cuban coffee available


At the moment, we aren't sure if we are going to take a quick flight over the Darien Gap or if we will take a boat and visit the islands in between, either way, we figure we will end up arriving either at Santa Marta, Barranquilla, or Cartagena, so for the time being we'll assume that we end up in Santa Marta and continue south

Arrive in Santa Marta around April 20
-Drink lots of water while hanging out on the hot beaches with aggressive tchatchke vendors
-Visit the two main suburbs of El Rodadero and Toganga
-El Rodadero is more high end, catering to wealthy Colombians
-Toganga is a fishing village which has become popular with foreign backpackers
-Visit Simon Bolivar's (El Libertador) place of death, now gardens filled with iguanas, etc.
-Maybe do some Scuba diving
-Visit the El Dorado bird reserve

Bus from Santa Marta to Barranquilla
Arrive in Barranquilla around April 26
-Check out the architecture of Barranquilla, maybe find the statue of Shakira too
-Barranquilla is nicknamed "Curramba" which means party - lots of bars, loud music, etc

Bus from Barranquilla to Cartagena
Arrive in Cartagena around May 1
-Hang out on the beaches to relax for a day
-Take the Chiva Bus, or party bus, drinking and playing loud music around the city to help us take in the architecture
-Take a ferry to Playa Blanca and spend a few nights in a hammock on what is said to be the best beach in Colombia
-Check out the emerald shops in the walled city
-Visit the Jardín Botanico de Guillermo Piñeres, slightly outside Cartagena in Turbaco
-Tour the 500 year old forts in the old city as well as the Castillo San Felipe

Bus from Cartagena to Medellín
Arrive in Medellín around May 9
-Visit the Botero Musuem
-Look for a retirement home in the wealthy neighborhoods of El Poblado, or suburbs Laureles and Envigado
-Take the metro with the skytrain extension to view the city from above
-Visit the Pueblita Paisa - a recreation of a typical Antioquia village
-Visit the various museums and universities
-Play with the animals at the Medellín Zoo
-Visit the Ferrocaril de Antioquia - the old train station
-Do some light sightseeing on the Turibus
-Maybe catch a movie or a play in one of the many theaters
-Soccer! or ¡Futból!
-Drink some Colombian Coffee
-Partake of the Aguardiente Antioqueño - black licorice Schnapps

Bus from Medellín to Bogotá
Arrive in Bogotá around May 20
-Bogotá is a very big city, but it has the same calle/carrera system so we should be able to get around without too much trouble
-Ride the transmilenio
-Rent a bike for the sunday Ciclovia when parks and major roads close to vehicular traffic and are open only to bicycles
-Take a bike tour here and there of various neighborhoods
-Visit the Gold Museum and see pre-Spanish art crafted on Gold
-Visit the Museo Nacional - build in an old fort - Botero, Dali, Picasso, etc.
-Visit the historic downtown neighborhood
-Avenida Septima on Friday and Sunday nights - street performers, live music, etc

Bus from Bogotá to Calí
Arrive in Calí around May 28
-Go to a salsateca in the salsa capital
-Visit the best zoo in South America
-Watch a soccer match on Sunday
-Sarah might take a Salsa lesson

Bus from Calí to Popoyán
Arrive in Popoyán around June 3
-Popoyán is the old religious center of Colombia, as well as being the first city to ever be designated a "City of Gastronomy" by UNESCO
-Eat numerous meals, genuine food available at Plaza Bolivar for about $1.00 US

Bus from Popoyán to Ipiales, colectivo to Rumichaca to cross the border into Ecuador - Bus from Tulcan to Quito
Arrive in Quito around June 11
-Visit the many museums in Quito
-Visit the Jardin Botanico with a glassed in orchidarium
-Walk down Calle de la Ronda - a restored area of old town Quito, possibly take a walking tour of old town
-Weigh ourselves at the "Middle of the World" about 45 mins out of Quito, lots of indigenous music, we might weigh less on the equator, or we might have gained a lot of weight at our prior destination
-Try some Ecuadorian beers

Bus from Quito to Baños de Agua Santa
Arrive in Baños around June 17
-Very touristy area
-Take a cablecar ride to some of the waterfalls
-Possibly take a multi-day jungle tour
-Visit the Church of Nuestra Señora del Agua Santa - a neo-gothic church made with volcanic rocks
-Eat some melcocha, sugar cane taffy, for which Baños is known for
-We've been told we have to go to the Leprechaun Bar to try a Flaming Bob Marley Shot

Bus from Baños to Guayaquil
Arrive in Guayaquil around June 24
-Hang out on the banks of the Río Guayes
-Visit the Malecon Simón Bolivar - a long park beside the river
-Visit the Parque Histórico which also has a small zoo
-Shop at La Bahia

Fly from Guayaquil to the Galapagos
Arrive in the Galapagos around July 1
-Find a last minute deal on a cruise of some type for about 4-5 days
-Do 2-4 days of self-exploration

Fly from Galapagos back to Guayaquil, Bus from Guayaquil to Cuenca
Arrive in Cuenca around July 8
-Take a bath in the thermal baños, not to be confused with the prior baños
-Cuenca is a very colonial city on the Intramericana

Bus from Cuenca to Peru, via Huaquillas, Ecuador/Tumbes, Peru to Piura
Arrive in Piura around July 13
-Good place to get used to Peruvian food
-Excellent Ceviche
-Drink some Leche de Tigre

Bus from Piura to Trujillo
Arrive in Trujillo around July 19
-Visit ruins in Chan Chan about 5 kilometers down the road
-Large local shoemaking industry, maybe we can get some expert commentary on our Vibram FiveFingers
-Eat seafood at the beach

Bus from Trujillo to Lima
Arrive in Lima around July 26
-Biggest city in Peru
-Lima was declared the Gastronomy Capital of the Americas in 2006 (not by UNESCO)
-Eat at one of the many Chinese and Japanese restaurantes called Chifas with a strong Peruvian influence
-Take the free 2 hour walking tour through Lima provided by Lucid Lima, which seems to be an advertisement for their all you can drink session in Miraflores every saturday night which we will also probably partake in (Lucid Lima Pub Crawl)

Bus from Lima to Cuzco
Arrive in Cuzco around August 4, this is a long 25ish hour bus ride
-Take it easy for a few days given the altitude, drink some mate de coca to ease said altitude sickness (soroche)
-Many museums and galleries in Cuzco
-Visit the Plaza de Armas
-Have coffee in the Plaza de San Francisco
-Play Sapo - a game played at bars where you have to throw coins into the mouth of a toad
-Drink a type of corn beer called chicha
-Sarah might take a chocolate making workshop with organic cocoa beans
-Eat some alpaca steak - this will be different than other types of steaks, not only because it is alpaca, but because the alpaca are used throughout their lives for other purposes, and are only slaughtered when very old
-Eat some cuy, or guinea pig
-Try a lomo saltado, and aji de gallina
-Chicha Morada - drink made of purple corn
-The fun starts with the Inca trail, normally high season is June-August, and it looks like we will be arriving during the middle of it. During this time period especially it is important to book several months, or in some cases, years in advance. Since our itinerary is extremely flexible we won't be booking in advance and may have to hunt around town for cancellations. In addition, we may arrive after high season depending on the overall pace of our voyage. We have also been looking at traversing the Salkantay Trail which is about 7 days and slightly more strenuous than the typical 4 day Inca Trail, both of which end at Machu Pichu.

Bus from Cuzco to Puno
Arrive in Puno around August 17
-Puno is a small touristy town near Lake Titicaca
-Many floating islands near Puno
-Visit the lake

Bus from Puno, Peru to La Paz, Bolivia
Arrive in La Paz around August 24
-Shop at the mercado de las brujas - purchase a dried frog, or other witch-like musical instrument
-Visit the Plaza Murillo
-Mirador Killi Killi
-Take in the great view of the city at Parque Laikacota
-Go to a folk music club, Peñas

Bus from La Paz to Cochabamba
Arrive in Cochabamba around September 1
-See the Christ the Redeemer statue that is bigger than the one in Río - Christo de la Concordia
-Visit the Museum of Natural History
-Relax in the hot springs at Aguas Calientes
-Cochabamba claims to have the best food in Bolivia, we will provide a detailed report

Bus from Cochabamba to Sucre
Arrive in Sucre around September 9
-Visit the Parque Bolivar
-Hike through the waterfalls at Siete Cascadas

Bus from Sucre to Potosí
Arrive in Potosí around September 16
-Many old silver mines
-Some mines have tours, allow the tourists to set off some dynamite to further the progress of the mine, we are supposed to bring gifts and food to the miners as they are paid very little and work in extreme conditions

Bus from Sucre, Bolivia to Iquique, Chile
Arrive in Iquique around September 22
-Walk down Baquedano st - check out the cobblestone constructed in the 19th century
-Many sites to visit from the war against Bolivia and Perú
-Many good chifas to eat chinese food
-Drink a pisco sour

Bus from Iquique to Calama
Arrive in Calama around September 18
-Visit the Copper mine at Chuquicamata
-See the ruins at Chiu-Chiu
-Visit the geysers at Tatio
-Check out some salt flats - might have to rent a 4X4

Bus from Calama to Copiapó
Arrive in Copiapó around September 23
-Relax in the park in the plaza
-Be surrounded by the hills around the city

-Bus from Copiapó to La Serena
Arrive in La Serena around September 28
-Visit the observatory
-Spend a day in the Jardin del Corazon - a japanese style garden
-Eat some locally grown papaya
-Very long stretch of beaches
-Play with the penguins, dolphins and sea lions at Isla Damas which is about 120 Km north - near a village called Los Choros

Bus from La Serena to Santiago
Arrive in Santiago around October 5
-Visit the Parque Metropolitano
-Visit the Plaza de Armas - heavy Peruvian influence here
-Visit La Chascona, one of Pablo Neruda's homes
-Visit the teatro municipal
-Visit the oldest church in the city, Iglesia Y museo de San Francisco
-Visit Palacio Cousino
-Potentially do some mountain climbing
-Drink lots of wine

Bus from Santiago to Valdivia
Arrive in Valdivia around October 11
-Visit the fish market, feed some pelicans and sea lions
-Take a tour of the 17th century forts, mostly narrated in Spanish
-Eat Curanto - a plate of steamed shellfish, sausage, chicken leg, and potatoes

Bus from Valdivia to Puerto Montt
Arrive in Perto Montt around October 15
-Eat some seafood

Take a ferry from Puerto Montt to Punta Arenas
Arrive in Punta Arenas around October 21
-Visit the Museo del Recuerdo - a collection of old steam engines and cars as well as old farm implements
-Punta Arenas used to be a penal colony
-Many museums about pre-Spanish ethnic groups
-Visit the penguins at "Seno Otway"
-See the whales at Rey Jorge Natural Sea Park

Bus from Punta Arenas to Ushuaia (about 11 hours)
Arrive in Ushuaia around October 26
-The southernmost city in the world!
-Visit the Museo del Fin del Mundo
-Hike the Glacier Martial
-Take the Tren del Fin del Mundo
-Hike through the different national parks, see all the bays and waterways
-View the Beagle Channel

Bus from Ushuaia to Puerto Madryn, Argentina - Possibly by way of Rio Gallegos
Arrive in Perto Madryn around November 4
-Visit the penguin colony at Punta Tombo
-Go to the rocky beaches at Punta Loma
-Do some fishing in the atlantic if we can't afford to buy food
-Whale watching

Bus from Puerto Madryn to Buenos Aires
Arrive in Buenos Aires around November 11
-Take a river cruise in La Boca
-Hang out with the hipsters in the Palermo Viejo district
-Watch/Play some futból
-Learn to tango
-Wine tasting
-Take a Jewish tour of the city
-Visit the zoo at Lujan
-Drink some local Malbec
-Visit an artisan fair
-Listen to one of the many rock concerts going on

Ferry from Buenos Aires, Argentina to Colonia, Uruguay
Arrive in Colonia, Uruguay around November 17
-Visit the old historic center of this small town
-Check out the musuems
-Go to the top of the lighthouse

Bus from Colonia to Montevideo
Arrive in Montevideo around November 22
-Visit the Ciudad Vieja
-Visit MAPI - a museum of indigenous art and archaeology
-Palacio Legislativo - the first national parliament in South America
-Check out the old Sephardic Synagogue
-Go to the "Rambla" a waterside roadway where locals hang out
-Visit the Pocitos neighborhood, where an old prison was transformed into a shopping mall

Bus from Mondevideo to Piriapolis
Arrive in Piriapolis around November 28
-Relax in this small, laid-back beach town after the hustle and bustle of Mondevideo
-Walk up the Cerro del Toro (Bull's Hill) and take a picture at the statue of the bull, have a picnic

Bus from Piriapolis to Florianópolis, Brazil
Arrive in Florianópolis, Brazil around December 2
-Learn a little Portuguese while on the beach
-Relax in this half island/half mainland town
-Find a secluded beach only available by hiking trails
-Visit the Catedral Metropolitana
-Eat some very fresh seafood

Bus from Florianópolis to Iguaçu Falls
Arrive in Iguaçu Falls around December 7
-Visit all the waterfalls
-Also visit the Parque de Aves in Foz do Iguaçu, birds, reptiles and butterflies

Bus from Iguaçu Falls to Rio de Janeiro
Arrive in Rio de Janeiro around December 13
-Hang out at Copacabana, and Ipanema
-Visit Cristo Redentor
-Hike the Sugar Loaf Mountains
-Trek through some subtropical rainforest at Parque Lage
-Visit the many museums
-Learn Samba by watching a real Samba troup practicing
-Possibly take a tour of a Favela
-Eat lots of meat

And thus ends our planned itinerary. We figure that once we get to Rio, we will have either run out of money, or run out of energy and we will have to figure it out there. We may decide to stay somewhere that we have discovered on our journey, or may come back to the states to seek new opportunities. As you can see the itinerary is very flexible and we don't really have set dates at this time, we are taking the approach that we will figure it out when we get there, and if we like a place we have the flexibility to stay longer. That said, if we don't like a place, we can always elect to leave the next day. It looks to be an amazing voyage, we'll send you pictures from the road!!!


  1. This is the b&b we saw on househunters intl.

  2. Ask for the Surf Room.