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South America Trip Recap

10 January 2013 34,173 km / 21,234 mi (map)

I’m back from my amazing trip to South America. Having had a few days to rest and catch up, I thought I’d share some reflections on how it went.

All told, I traveled about 34,000 km / 21,000 miles in 16 flight segments over 28 days. Tara had less time available so she joined me for the subset of the trip from Rio to Buenos Aires.

Knowing that I had some lay-low time after the trip (i.e. now!), I pushed for an agenda that was intentionally ambitious and nomadic. Neither Tara nor I had seen any part of South America prior to this trip and, being the curious people that we are, we wanted to see as much as we could in the time we had available.

Where Would I Go Next?

Lots of people had suggestions for other places I should have visited on this trip. In no particular order, these come to mind should we decide to make a South America Trip #2:

  • Peru, especially including Machu Picchu
  • Galapagos Islands (of course)
  • Wine country of Mendoza, Argentina
  • Pantanal region of Brazil
  • Far southern Chile (lakes and fjords farther south than I visited)
  • Columbia (This may be the most surprising entry of this list, but I’ve heard from many sources that Columbia’s safety has improved dramatically in the past few years and it’s fast becoming a very appealing and even trendy place to visit.)

Some of these were just the painful sacrifices one must inevitably make when setting a time and dollar budget for a trip. Some I just didn’t know enough about beforehand.

Thank Yous

No trip of this scale would be possible without some important contributions from key people. A big think you to …

  • my parents, for watching our 4-year-old daughter while both Tara and I were away. Thanks also to Margaret, Donna, and Lyndsey for providing them some much-needed relief.
  • my daughter, for being very patient while one or both of us were away. She was a real trouper.
  • Rollie Haugen of Ladyslipper Travel (2023 update: no longer open) in Walker, MN. This is the third trip she has planned for us. (The previous two were our trips to Costa Rica and New Zealand/Fiji in 2007.) Each of these trips have come together very smoothly for us. In each each case, she did a great job of blending our input with some great ideas of her own.
  • Adobe, for offering a very generous sabbatical program (6 weeks of continuous time off for old-timers like me plus the holiday shutdown that everybody takes) — and for paying me well enough that I could afford a big trip like this.
  • My co-workers, for actually leaving me alone while I was away. I needed the break more than I knew.
  • Flavia Cosmelli of Blumar Travel in Rio de Janeiro. I had planned to spend my first week traveling with a friend and fellow photographer who knows Brazil well. Due to some family circumstances, she had to cancel at the last minute and so I arrived in Brazil with nothing more than a hotel reservation I had made for the first two nights. Rollie was out of town and suggested I work directly with her partner agency in Rio to fill in the gaps. Flavia answered my “call” on their online chat application and stayed with me for most of an afternoon as we navigated the very limited supply of last-minute lodging and domestic flights and came up with some great ideas. She suggested the Salvador leg of my trip and I was happy to see this historic side of Brazil.
  • BorrowLenses for providing some great camera equipment to complement my own. I rented an infrared-modified Canon 5D body and a 100-400 mm lens for this trip. The rental process was very straightforward. The equipment arrived exactly on the scheduled day and in perfect condition. The only downside was that I had to send it all back after the trip! I have a feeling I’m going to have to acquire an IR modded camera.
  • you, for following along. I’ve enjoyed the comments you’ve posted here and on social media as the trip progressed.
Seattle, Washington, to South America, and back · 34,173 km / 21,234 mi

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