Travel suggestions for backpacking the Americas.

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    Jun 14, 2010 1:25 AM GMT
    In 2011, I will be taking 7 months to backpack through both American continents – from southern Argentina to Canada. Now ... I'm not going to see everything in that time so I'm after ideas from RJs for where to go and what to do.

    I'm a bit adventurous and try to avoid the main tourist trails, although there are some great sights that can't be avoided.

    I'm open for any ideas please. And of course gay-friendly locations will be on the agenda.
  • calibro

    Posts: 8888

    Jun 14, 2010 6:40 AM GMT
    glacier national park
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    Jun 14, 2010 11:02 AM GMT
    Think about overlanding in South America. There are several good websites to look at, here's one of the best:

    Luck you! Have a great time!
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    Jun 24, 2010 2:57 PM GMT
    Make sure you get either a plane or boat ticket from Colombia to Panama.
    the crossing from south to central america is very dangerous thru the forest because of the guerrillas and forest animals.
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    Jun 24, 2010 3:17 PM GMT
    I enjoyed trekking in the Chachapoyas in Peru, because there were so few tourists there, but that was in 2001. Don't think it would change that much, since there are no commercial flights into the region.
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    Jun 24, 2010 11:19 PM GMT
    I have checked your profile before replying, and I can see that you are from Cairns, North Queensland.
    Backpacking was a joy to me back in the 1990s, from my home in the UK, Cairns was one of my stops on the solo Round-the-World backpacking trip I completed in ten weeks in 1997. I stayed at the YHA hostel on the esplanade, back then a mudflat, but I have heard that this has now been developed into a resort beach. (Can you verify this?) From Cairns I took a catamaran to both Green Island and to Port Douglas for Low Isles, where in each location I snorkeled, for the first time in my life, over the corals of the GBR. It was absolutely superb!!!
    For the complete trip I had to use public transport, because I don't hold a driving licence.
    I have backpacked both the USA and Canada using the Greyhound Bus Ameripass ticket, which should be available for sale in Cairns. There is (or was) a Trailfinders agent there, where such a pass can be purchased. One advantage, especially in the USA is traveling at night, saving on accommodation fees. But hostels I found to be superb for backpacking. Where there is a lack of personal privacy at a hostel, this is made up for by buying a cooking your own meals - not only did I save money this way but it gave me a greater sense of independence - and enabled me to make friends with other travelers to boot. To my knowledge, there are two hostel organisations in both the USA and Canada - HI AYHA and Rucksackers America with their "Banana Hostels".
    Since I backpacked overseas several times rather than on one trip, if I were to put all the trips I completed into one time slot, it would be about a year long. This would include visiting - and hiking- the Grand Canyon in Arizona and standing by the edge of the Niagara Falls (Horseshoe Falls in Canada is the better of the two falls there).
    On the other hand, "Flydrive" vacations may be better for you, as there you have the freedom to stay off the tourist trails. Unfortunately, ALL the top sites and the most striking locations are tourist hotspots.
    Good luck!
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    Jun 24, 2010 11:26 PM GMT

    They have people in every city and location that are local and will be able to tell you more... Often they will offer you a place to stay too
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    Jun 24, 2010 11:27 PM GMT
    I always wanted to do that, btw.... can I come along??? icon_razz.gif
  • coolarmydude

    Posts: 9191

    Oct 17, 2010 10:53 AM GMT
    In the US, you can hike the Appalachian trail from Northern Georgia all the way to the State of Maine.

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    Oct 17, 2010 11:03 AM GMT
    O and don forget to hop a quick boatride to Curacao if your on the Venezuelan coast icon_biggrin.gif
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    Oct 17, 2010 4:20 PM GMT
    Hey, I love Central and South America, I've been to eight countries between the two. It sounds like you will primarily be on the east (which is funny, I did the west coast), but here were the highlights for me and you can then figure out which would work with your itinerary.

    * San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua...beautiful little beach town, infrastructure in Nicaragua is beyond terrible so it took us forever to get there, but it is stunningly beautiful and very relaxed. I've known other people that have gone there and everybody agrees. Be sure to stock up on "Flor de Cana" rum. At least when I was there, there were government mandated blackouts every night to conserve power, these were really fun and a great way to end up meeting random people.

    * Chile. Sounds like you are doing Argentina instead, but I loved everything about Chile. Santiago and Valparaiso are both fantastic cities. Santiago has a huge gay district too. Also, we took the flight out to Easter Island which was expensive and long (5 hours away) but worth it. Unbelievable white wine too, take a wine tour if you're there.

    * Panama. Although the boat we got was kind of cheesy, it is cool doing to Panama canal. Bocas del Toro is a beautiful, laid-back beach spot on the East Coast.

    * Machu Picchu. I know you said you are avoiding the obvious tourist locations, but this one is popular for a reason. It can get overcrowded, but I've heard the government will be slowing the amount of tourists who can come see it to preserve the site so this may be your last chance.

    * Galapagos Islands. I can't even describe how awesome this was. Easily the coolest place I've visited. The wildlife is unreal...swimming with sea lions who play with you, sitting right next to giant tortoises (it felt like sitting with a dinosaur), wading with Galapagos sharks...everything is so unimpressed by your presence and therefore it's so easy to (safely) get up close. Not only that, but the town on the island we stayed was so chill. The locals were beyond friendly, the two (!) bars were so fun and always had a good crowd, the food was fantastic. It is a fairytale spot. To get there you have to take a flight from Ecuador, which is a super cool country in and of itself.

    Good luck man, hope you have fun! It is an awesome part of the world.
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    Apr 21, 2011 10:01 AM GMT
    Thanks everyone for some fantastic advice. I will take it all on and plan my trip around it. If you are over there and want to catch up, give a yell and I will make it happen.

    I will start with a multi-day hike on the John Muir trail then to Los Vagus and another multi-day hike through the Grand Canyon NP. Then onto some icon American cities and places Washington, New York), including New Orleans before heading down through Central America into South America. There I will concentrate on the west – Ecuador, Chili, Peru etc before flying out of Buenos Aries.

    You have given some great advice and sorry I haven't replied before this, I have only just now followed up on this blog I started.

    Keep the ideas coming.