This tour was FULL ON. In a good way and with some hiccups. Definitely make sure you're up for constantly being on the move because this tour is nothing short of fast paced. I found myself sick when I arrived to start the tour and honestly I got worse as time went on. I ended up having to see a doctor in Cusco, Peru and was diagnosed with bronchitis, a throat and sinus infection, YAY ME. Haha. First things first, TRAVEL INSURANCE. Get it.
Take lots of meds with you, cold and flu, altitude sickness, normal panadol etc, gastro, everything. Apparently our group was the least sick any group has been, but I'll tell you what, you're pushing your body to the limits with lots of walking and exploring and weather changing at every destination. We had sunny weather in Miraflores, pouring rain, thunderstorms, snow slush in Puno. See what I mean? So I recommend taking a jacket and warm clothes, or if you're up for buying alpaca jumpers and crazy pants like I did, do that.
In South America, you'll rarely see an elevator, so if you have a suitcase, prepare to be dragging that thing up staircases, which is what I did, didn't really bother me, but just for the heads up.
SPANISH! Oh gosh, how could I forget. Okay, if you're going to SA, I HIGHLY recommend learning some simple phrases or if you're like super talented, learn more than that. The language barrier was much more intense than I thought. I couldn't flip through my language book fast enough to understand what they were saying. You'll be playing charades, a lot. But for your own sake and for fun, learn some things. It's actually rewarding when you smash out a full sentence AND they understand what you said.
I was never let down by the food in SA. Churros, chocolate, empanadas, you name it. Oh and for the Guinea Pig, well, that tasted like chicken, and it was 'meh'. But alpaca was definitely nice, try that. Just be open to everything. Especially pisco sours, be very open to them, mwuahaha.
Money wise, I think I spent a good $2000-$3000. Including optionals and food, gifts etc...I can't remember, but I came home with money. It's very cheap over there apart from the major cities. Peru, cheap cheap cheap. Argentina, a bit more expensive…and Brazil, relatively cheap!
Okay so skipping along, Machu Picchu, was just far better than anything I could have imagined. Really. Like a dream. We luckily had amazing weather so we were very lucky. I dipped out on the Inca Trail as something was stuffed up in my booking but me and one of the boys ended up climbing Machu Picchu Mountain, and that was INCREDIBLE. Take photos, LOTS of photos. If you love photography like I do, definitely take an DSLR with you. You'll capture some crazy moments.
Places I LOVED. Colca Canyon was definintely a favourite. very remote, but beautiful views. The little cabin-like hotel you stay in is gorgeous. A warm fire to laze around, board games, it's just cosy. There's also a crazy pet alpaca that roams the halls like a ghost in the middle of the night and you don't want to get on his bad side. But when waking up there was the snowy mountains in the distance, gorgeous. If you get the chance, do the zip lining. That was a rush for sure!!
Honestly just driving around on the bus, you get to see so many beautiful views…Peru is just landscape heaven. Make sure you do take good shoes to walk in, runners etc…
GIRLS YOU WILL NEVER NEED HEELS. DON'T BRING THEM.
I loved Puno/Lake Titicaca - seeing the floating markets, having lunch on the island and playing soccer with the locals was a great experience.
I must say you don't get a lot of rest time on this tour. I found it very exhausting in the sense that you will some days be up at 4am. Yep, 4am. Haha, but the early bird gets the worm right? I guess every tour is like that, 5-6-7am wake ups. But be prepared for that. This wasn't a huge party tour. We went out some nights, karaoke, played drinking games, had a few big nights, but it wasn't 'that' kind of tour. Which was fine.
Argentina, Buenos Aires was actually a little daunting for me. I didn't really like it there. Just a lot of men harassing you on the streets, so make sure you cover up ladies - if you don't want that attention. But we didn't have a lot of time there anyways, so I'm sure there would have been more to see?
Iguassu Falls was amazing. DEFINITELY recommend doing the speedboat tour. As you go right in and under those waterfalls. Waterproof camera, check.
Brazil, brazil, brazil. So Buzios, was a time to relax. Pool time, go for some walks, do a bit of shopping, definitely go to the crepe place for food. Oh so yum. But yeah this is the chill out time.
And then onto Rio, Rio was reeeeally cool. Saw a lot here. Christ the Redeemer was amazing! Again, perfect weather, so we saw him in all his glory. Haha. We went to Sugarloaf mountain, a huge view of Brazil, that was awesome. Ended up getting to go to a soccer game in maracana stadium - EPIIIICCCC. If you get the chance, do it. The crowd is so insane, you think your country is sport crazy - go there.
Okay so things I wouldn't recommend in Brazil. The Favela Party - hit or miss. We ALL had to go together to this party which was in a huge club in the Favelas. Lots of seedy men and locals, we had our own sectioned off area upstairs, but It just wasn't that good. it's good for a few hours and then a few of us wanted to go home, but in that, EVERYBODY has to want to leave because you all came together.
Another thing I didn't like was we couldn't end up hang-gliding because the weather wasn't good, so they cancelled it, but we couldn't get our money back because they were going to see if we could do it the 'next' day. But that day was meant to be our free day to explore. So we all wanted our money back but didn't get it unless the next day again was cancelled. It was, so we got our money back. But I didn't like the mess around, because we would have lost spare time in Rio. With that day we ended up going to these really good markets in the centre of the city, lots of bits and bobs, I then went and soaked up some sun on Copacabana beach, sooo nice. Had lunch at some restaurant where the waiter gave us a rose - sweet.
I left the day after our tour ended - kind of wished I had another day or two to relax because we didn't get THAT much free time. So definitely do that if you can.
The people on my tour, were awesome. We had the best mix of people, from South Africa, London, America, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. PERFECT. Quite a few couples on this tour - but everyone became really good friends, like brothers and sisters. You really get to know everyone on a personal level and I loved it. I've already met up with some of these people and know I will see them all in the future!
I could keep writing but my hands are sore now. All in all, the good comes with the bad. You've honestly got to make the tour your own. If you want to do something, DO IT. If you really don't want to do something, DON'T DO IT. It's your holiday at the end of the day - and my best advice would be, listen to your body, listen to your mind, and just take each day as it comes. Soak up every opportunity.
I hope this helps! And if anyone wants more information, feel free to message me or email me, I'm happy to share my experiences :) I also have a blogging website you can check my adventures out on!
My Contiki was: adventurous-breath-taking-rewarding