Planning for South America

We decided on South America many months ago, or rather my daughter, Emma, pitched the idea to me in a way that was convincing enough to change my mind. I was planning to go back to Southeast Asia, one of my favorite regions of the world. I still haven’t seen Laos or Myanmar, and I wanted to share Cambodia with her.

Emma had other ideas: “We’ve never been to South America. Don’t you want to go somewhere new?”

Maybe, I thought.

“And it would be good for me to work on my Spanish,” she said.

Damn, she knows my weakness.

When Emma and Oliver were younger, I had strict bedtimes for them, but they knew they could stay up later if they were reading. Much in this same fashion, Emma knew that I wasn’t going to deny her an opportunity for her to work on her Spanish.


In the beginning stages of my research, I learned that flights around South America are expensive. Budget airlines are not as common as they are in Asia and Europe, and I was finding that flights from one country to the next were as expensive as my roundtrip flight out of Chicago.

We decided that we would travel mostly by bus. Well, I decided this. When I told Emma, her eyes grew wide, and I could tell she was reliving our experiences from last summer busing around Central America.

I ended up finding round trip flights from Chicago to Bogotá and from Lima back to Chicago for $510.81.

The adventurous part of our trip will be getting from Bogotá to Lima by bus. I’ve mapped out a tentative path that has us winding through the hills of Columbia and Ecuador and sleeping our way through long stretches of Peru on overnight busses.

Here’s our (rough, flexible, liable-to-change-at-any-moment) itinerary:



















Aguas Calientes

For me, the most exciting part of traveling to South America is interacting with South Americans and letting opportunities come to us instead of planning a detailed list of things we must see.

Before Emma and I went to India in 2015, she asked me “What we were going to do in Varanasi?”

“I don’t know.”

“What are we going to do in Jaipur?”

“I don’t know.”

The only thing I could tell her with any certainty is that in Agra, we were going to see the Taj Mahal. That much I knew.

In that same spirit–what are we going to do in South America?

I have no idea, but guaranteed we won’t leave without having seen Machu Picchu.

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1 thought on “Planning for South America”

  • We LOVED Peru! And want to go back. Some great places where we didn’t have enough time were Ollantaytambo, Qenqo, Pisac, the hot springs at Aguascalientes’s Caliente, Raqchi, Pukara, and on and on. 🙃 Would love to chat with you about it–and if you are bored I can share my travel log. 🙄

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