Wow!!! Today is the day where I embark on my longest vacation I’ve ever taken. I’m about to begin a 4 week trip in South America full of adventure, adrenaline, unknown, culture, food, & good times!! My friend Kate & I are meeting in Caracas Venezuela on Tuesday. I am flying on United from Omaha to Houston in the evening, and then the midnight red eye flight from Houston to Caracas.
In total we will be visiting 3 countries. All 3 are brand new for me, which is surprising to me b/c I feel like I’ve been to most of Latin America. Apparently not! I just love it so much. We are spending 2 weeks in Venezuela, 2 weeks in Brazil, and 3 days in Argentina. Heck, I wish we had more time!
Here’s the map of where we’ll be throughout the trip.
If you go to the top of the page and click “Travel Schedule” you can see my day by day rough itinerary of where we’ll be. I’ll save you the time and show you:
Mon May 7 – Fly to Caracas 6:05pm
Tue May 8 – Arrive in Caracas 5:24 AM, night bus to Merida (12hr)
Wed May 9 – arrive in Merida – Posadas all over Plaza Las Heroínas in the central.
www.wikitravel.org/en/Mérida_(Venezuela) – posadas, hikes, activities.
Thur May 10 – rafting
Fri May 11 – rafting
Sat May 12 – rafting
Sun May 13 – canyoning
Mon May 14 – bus to Barinas (3.5 hr) then 10pm bus to Ciudad Bolivar (11 hr)
Tue May 15 – arrive Ciudad Bolivar – book falls tour at airport
Wed May 16 – Angel Falls
Thur May 17 – Angel Falls
Fri May 18 – Angel Falls
Sat May 19 – Ciudad Bolivar. bus to Manaus
Sun May 20 – bus to Manaus day 2 & arrive (can stay Holiday Inn 15k points)
http://www.manausjungletours.com/en/ $225 3 day Adventure tour
Mon May 21 – Amazon tour
Tue May 22 – Amazon tour
Wed May 23 – Amazon tour
Thur May 24 – Amazon tour
Fri May 25 – Manaus – waterfalls around Presidente Figueiredo
Sat May 26 – Manaus – flight to Rio at 12:35am that night (midnight)
Sun May 27 – arrive in Rio at 10:41am – El Misti House Copacabana
Mon May 28 – RIO – El Misti House Copacabana
Tue May 29 – RIO – El Misti House Copacabana
Wed May 30 – RIO – El Misti House Copacabana
Thur May 31 – RIO – El Misti House Copacabana
Fri June 1 – RIO – El Misti House Copacabana
Sat June 2 – flight from Rio (SDU) 8:23am to Iguazu (IGU) 12:10.
Sun June 3 – Iguazu Falls
Mon June 4 – Iguazu Falls
Tue June 5 – Fly from IGU (Brazil) at 1:15pm to GRU, & home from Sao Paulo (GRU) 9:25 PM
Wed June 6 – Arrive home (OMA) at 10:05 AM
Obviously you can see from that itinerary, there’s several times where we don’t have rooms booked, or tours booked. That’s because in Venezuela you want to exchange your money on the “black market” so you get 8 bolivares per USD instead of 4. The gov’t has a fixed rate and their currency is broken, so most people and companies will just sell you the currency at that rate. When you say “Black Market” it sounds really sketchy, but it can be as simple as an exchange of money with a hotel clerk.
That said, most of the areas we’re going to that we don’t have reservations are really built around people just showing up and checking in at “posadas”, basically a guest house or hostel. They will be really cheap, ranging from $5-$20 a night on the lower end of the spectrum.
We are wrapping up the trip at Iguazu Falls which is on the border of Brazil, Argentina, & Paraguay. We are staying at the Sheraton Iguazu which is the only hotel actually INSIDE of the National Park. I’ve read that you can just walk right onto the hiking trails from the back lawns of the Sheraton and beat the crowds. You can count that I’ll be doing that!
The room we’re staying in, just a regular room with 2 double beds normally sells at $540 USD a night, which is ridiculous if you ask me. I was able to book it for 12,000 SPG points a night for free! I wish badly that they would have had a points and cash redemption option as seeing my SPG points balance drop 36k was painful. That’s why we get the miles though – earn and burn people! They’re not earning any interest, and the programs aren’t generally getting any better! This will be a really nice way to end the trip – at a really nice, relaxing hotel that we didn’t have to pay for, in a little bit of luxury after roughing it for 4 weeks in jungles and hammocks!
I’m very very excited for the trip! Crossing off several things from my life travel list including:
- Angel Falls
- Rio De Janeiro
- Amazon River / Jungle
- Iguazu Falls
Man I could write a few paragraphs alone about what I’m excited to see in Rio De Janeiro alone! Good thing we have 6 nights there!
I grabbed some new backpacking gear at Scheels this week to add to my (ridiculous) collection. If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter @TravelandCredit , then you’ve already seen this:
Obviously that’s not all I bought, but it makes for an exciting picture!
Upgraded my headlamp. This one had the highest lumens and distance available and the strap connectors on my other one broke. Figured I’ll use it a lot this trip, especially in the Amazon. Snake bite kit was $5 and while I’m sure our guide in the Amazon will be prepared, I don’t want to find out the hard way, plus it was cheap and it’s cool to say I have one, haha. It’s pretty simple though. The knives were necessary. Wikipedia says that Anaconda & Boa attacks in the Amazon “do occur”.
Please keep Kate & I in your prayers as Venezuela is a very high crime country with an extremely high murder rate – double that of Mexico’s last year, even with the drug war going on. I’ve never been mugged or hurt while traveling, but I claim part of that as protection from the Lord. Let’s stay that way! Travel safe everybody.
I’ll be updating from Venezuela & Brazil while I can and obviously doing a full review on the Sheraton Iguazu!
Until the next time I get internet… – David