If you could visit two cities in Central/South Am in Nov, which win?

Discussion in 'Central/South America' started by dstober, Dec 13, 2013.  |  Print Topic

  1. dstober

    dstober Gold Member

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    Looking to plan a 7-10 day trip in Nov 2014. Important factors:
    • family of 4 (2 teens)
    • mix of culture (good food paramount, along with interesting architecture/museums)
    • warm weather for at least one city, preferably with beaches
    • potential for side trips
    • fairly adventurous but we'd like to end up in a nice hotel at the end of the day
    Lima is being considered along with some place in Costa Rica. Other thoughts, experiences, recommendations?
    Thanks for any help!!
     
  2. viguera
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    viguera Gold Member

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    That's EZE.

    :)
     
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  3. dstober

    dstober Gold Member

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    Thanks, Viguera. What would be your recommendations for hotels or any side trips? There is plenty of good food and drink, I know. :)
     
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  4. dstober

    dstober Gold Member

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    Wow, just looked for any potential UA Awards DEN-EZE and nada. :(
     
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  5. jonspencer

    jonspencer Silver Member

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    I would also vote for Buenos Aires for a city destination, lots happening, not over-priced

    if you must go to Central America (CA), the cities kind of suck, San Jose is nothing special, I like Managua better or maybe even Panama (city).

    Costa Rica or Panama are however probably best in CA for family travel
     
  6. dstober

    dstober Gold Member

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    Thanks, jonspencer. Anyone have beach ideas?
     
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  7. Newscience

    Newscience Gold Member

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    Regarding Central America, I think that San Jose, Costa Rica, is likely a quiet and generally safe place for families. Panama City, Panama has more in the way of "adult action" with casinos, nightclubs, and was really jumping when I was there a few years ago. I'm surprised that no one has mentioned Quito, Ecuador for a family vacation, although there's no beaches there. But it certainly has natural sights and eco-tours galore. And if you're really into eco-touring and love the ocean, the Galapagos is the place to head to, but I suspect trekking there with a family including children could be challenging.
     
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  8. dstober

    dstober Gold Member

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    Thanks, Newscience! My kids will be 17 & 14 by next November, so it's a little easier than traveling with young ones, at least generally. ;) Seriously, they are both pretty good travelers but definitely like more activities than museums. I've been thinking Lima for it's food & culture, then somewhere else for beaches or eco-tours. Quito might be a good stopover on the eco-tour side. I'm sitting on quite a few UA miles, so I'm looking to lock this in before Feb 2014 and the award changes. Galapagos would probably be a good choice, but not sure if we'll have enough time. Thanks for adding to the options to consider!
     
  9. NYBanker
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    NYBanker Gold Member

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  10. dstober

    dstober Gold Member

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  11. viguera
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    viguera Gold Member

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    Yeah it's one of those rare places that you really have to look for, because they usually don't show up everywhere -- the limited number of rooms doesn't help, but their rates are reasonable.

    I've been doing research on CR myself for our family vacation next year, and right now we're looking into Papagayo. The Hilton there is very nice, and there's an Andaz opening next year but all I can see are renders (no real pictures or reviews obviously) so that's still up in the air. We've been looking at Cala Luna as well, a small boutique place a bit out of the way, which should be good for families.

    The area is not really suitable for sightseeing though, it's more of a relaxing beach vacation type of place. If you really want to stick with your sightseeing / cultural plans then you'll have to stay closer to the capital.

    Keep in mind that November is the end of the green (rainy) season and somewhat unpredictable, so that might throw a monkey wrench in your beach plans.
     
  12. anileze

    anileze Gold Member

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    If you are looking for beaches in Central Am. The pacific coast of Costa Rica is very popular. But you might have to take a puddle jumper from San Jose, CR, unless you are able to land in Liberia. There are some beaches in Nicaragua and Honduras which are Unspoilt and pristine. There are great beaches in Colombia both pacific side, and on the border of Venezuela. Then there is Brazil :) Beaches and more beaches. If you cannot make it to Bs. As. Then definitely go to Rio. However, U.S citizens have to fork Out reciprocity $ for visas. To do Galapagos right you would need at least 10 days. And that trip is not cheap - 10k per person all told.
     
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  13. marcwint55

    marcwint55 Gold Member

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    I would highly recommend Buenos Aires. It is a great destination by itself, but you can also take the ferry over to Montevideo, Uruguay which is a fantastic place, and very close by is Punta Del Este. You could very easily spend 30 days between those destinations without spending too much money and still have a great time without the kids ever getting bored.
     
  14. jonspencer

    jonspencer Silver Member

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    +1
     
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  15. dstober

    dstober Gold Member

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    I think it may come down to which destination(s) I can get the best award seats to. Thank you all for sharingour thoughts! I'll likely check back with you for more suggestions / must sees once we get it narrowed down! Thank you all for sharing your thoughts! :)
     
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  16. Bay Pisco Shark
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    Bay Pisco Shark Gold Member

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    You could end up spending a fortune in Uruguay if you aren't careful. That said, Punta del Este isn't yet near peak season yet in November. Buenos Aires doesn't have anything close to a worthwhile beach anywhere nearby.

    The central coast of Chile is nice, although I don't know if you have much if any *A options to get there anymore. Viña del Mar is a pleasant beach city - no fancy resorts. I'm going next week!
    [​IMG]

    The weather is very similar to central California coast late spring (in November) - cool/overcast nights and mornings, clearing most afternoons. There are other coastal towns nearby that have options, too. It is also an easy drive from SCL. It is also very close (a short drive, or a metro ride) to Valparaiso. [​IMG]
     
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  17. dstober

    dstober Gold Member

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    Awesome pics and good feedback, Bay Pisco Shark! Thanks!
     
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  18. jbcarioca
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    jbcarioca Gold Member

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    I recommend Santo Domingo if you've interest in history of the Americas. It is the oldest city in the Americas (others claim it, Santo Domingo is the real thing) and has the oldest cathedral and a few early 16th century buildings, all in the lazy, relaxed Caribbean atmosphere. *A is easily available through Copa, especially. None of my photos come close to the ones on various websites so…
    http://www.colonialtours.com.do/santo.htm
    Oddly, Santo Domingo is generally less crowded than are many other less interesting places. IMHO, it is certainly worth checking out. Frankly, it's one of my favourite places; not so helpfully half the world seems to have favourite places for me.:confused:
     
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  19. Snowbird22

    Snowbird22 Member

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    I went to Buenos Aires in December 2012 with my two teenagers and we loved it. Side trips to Uruguay and Mendoza. We enjoy good food as well and we often book cooking classes when travelling. We had an awesome experience at a cooking class in Buenos Aires, empenada's steak, red wine etc... I could dig up the name of it if anyone PM's me.
     
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  20. jbcarioca
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    jbcarioca Gold Member

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    Since nobody responded to Santo domingo I'll try another option. Santiago is a very entertaining place with lots of good food and plentiful natural sites and other attractions. There ought to be some quite well informed opinions on the board so I'll elaborate little about that. After a little time there you might take the family to Easter Island. It is nearly impossible to get to except from Santiago or on of the islands to the west, notably those of Tahiti. Easter Island has lots of wandering area for teenagers and has the world-famed statues. There are many otehr places but Easter Island ranks with Galapagos as one of the most interesting places I have gone that are unique. The very remoteness makes it very special. Generally speaking you really need OW status to make this journey work since the major access is via OW carriers. Lan and AA also have the best connections to get to Santiago, although that is true of Lima also, and much of South America.
     
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  21. Jenny & Curt
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    Jenny & Curt Gold Member

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    You might consider a BA or AA miles on LAN (not sure why you'd say status is required -- just miles!) to go SCL-IPC, stay three nights (consider this place, and use the owner as a tour guide: http://www.chezjerome.net/), then fly IPC-LIM. That way, you'd get to experience both Santiago and Lima, but with a bonus of an unforgettable trip to Easter Island. You could book your long haul as two one-way awards. (Home to SCL, then LIM-home.)
     
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  22. Jaimito Cartero
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    Jaimito Cartero Silver Member

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    I'd just be wary of countries with big visa fees. Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Paraguay spring to mind, first. Multiply by 4, and these fees can take a big chunk of your budget.

    I like EZE a lot, but I think they're due for a financial crises in the next couple of years. Tons of petty scams, pickpockets, and the sort, too.

    Lima is great, as long as you're in the tourist section. Go outside this part, and the city is quite bleak and depressing.

    Costa Rica is pretty nice. Roads can be interesting, and some petty crimes in San Jose, especially at night, downtown. Beaches are fair to very good. Personally, I'd be careful with all inclusive places, as food quality is only average unless you spend big bucks.

    Crime is an issue all around the world, but I caution people in Central and South America about it even more so. I've had pickpockets, tons of scams, and so many taxis trying to rip me off, I've lost count.
     
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  23. andhoova

    andhoova Silver Member

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    I'd vote for BA as well. We spent 3 weeks traveling in Argentina this past Nov/Dec and had a great experience. We didn't feel unsafe anywhere in the city.
     
  24. KnowmadAdventures

    KnowmadAdventures New Member

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    Hello! You may have locked this in by now, but in case you haven’t, or for others looking for a similar trip, I think you were on a great track with Lima! Buenos Aires is also a great destination that people have recommended, and I think it would be a good fit for what you are looking for as well. Peru definitely also has everything that you are looking for: culture, beach, side trips, adventure, family friendly, awesome luxury hotels and it is a very affordable South American destination for a family! However, I actually would spend more time in the other destinations in Peru than in Lima. Here are some different destinations where you could split up your trip. If you have 10 days, I would recommend picking two from this list.

    Cusco/ Machu Picchu / Sacred Valley: I would recommend at least 5 days in this area if you decide to do Machu Picchu. In the Sacred Valley you could visit an indigenous community, do horseback riding, shop at a traditional Peruvian market in Pisaq, see ruins at Ollantaytambo, go on a short day hike, and much more kid-friendly things! Another option that might be fun for your family outside of Cusco is a rafting trip on the Urubamba River. I would recommend doing this on the southern and upper parts of the river, and not in the Sacred Valley. The water is cleaner there, and the rapids are fun, but safe! Some great luxury hotels in the area are: Machu Picchu Pueblo hotel in Aguas Calientes, the Quinua Villa Boutique in Cusco, which is a very small but lovely boutique hotel, and Sonesta Posada del Inca in the Sacred Valley. With all these hotels you can have adventure by day, but great food and beautiful, comfortable accommodations at night.

    Amazon Rainforest: You could either hop over from Cusco on a short 40-minute plane to Puerto Maldonado and stay in a nice resort along side the Madre De Dios River near the Tambopata reserve (this is in the Southern Amazon Basin), or you could go up north to Iquitos to take a luxury cruise. If you choose the luxury cruise, I recommend devoting at least 4 or more days to that portion of your trip and you will most likely need to fly from Lima, however there are occasionally flights from Cusco. If you add the Tambopata reserve onto the end or beginning of a Machu Picchu trip, it is very easy to get to from Cusco and you can do that with just 3 or 4 days. There are lots of kid/ teen friendly activities at both locations that include wildlife sightings (pink and gray dolphins up north, and giant river otters down south), visiting indigenous communities, walking on a unique canopy walkway system (this is only at Reserva Amazonica lodge), fishing for piranhas, and much more! Not to mention both the luxury cruises (I recommend the Delfin Cruises or Aqua Expeditions) and the lodges have amazing cuisine.

    Lake Titicaca: You could also easily add this destination on to a Machu Picchu trip or a Southern Amazon Basin trip. Make sure to not start off with this at the beginning of your trip however because the altitude here is over 12,000 feet and could easily leave you all feeling sick. This lake is the highest navigable lake in the world and full of things to do like kayaking around its shores and over to Taquile Island where you can even spend one night with a family, seeing the floating Uros Islands, and more. Staying with a family could not only be a great learning experience for your kids, but it’s another great opportunity for some fantastic Peruvian cuisine! Some great luxury accommodations are Titilaka lodge or Casa Andina Private Collection Isla Suasi. If you would like accommodations closer into the town of Puno (although there is not much to see or do in the town) check out Casa Andina Private Collection Puno. I recommend at least 2 days here, but 3 days is really the ideal amount of time.

    Beach: Since you are looking for some beaches, I would definitely recommend ending or starting off your trip at the beaches in Northern Peru. Fly from Lima to Tumbes, then transfer to the Máncora area. I would prefer to end the trip there for some relaxation time, soaking up the sun, and you could even look into surf lessons for those interested.

    Lima: Flights from Lima back to the U.S. generally leave between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m. Therefore, if you would like to get some time in Lima as well, this would fit in really well right at the end of your trip. Transfer to Lima the day before your flight out. Just one night in a hotel there will leave you with a full day of touring and eating your way through the city before departing on your evening flight. Lima is a great spot for food! I recommend checking out Huaca Pucllana, a restaurant located amongst the ruins of Huaca Pucllana. This is an amazing place to enjoy a terrace dinner. Try humitas verdes (tamales) and causitas pucllana (balls of mashed potatoes with shrimp and avocado).

    I hope this helps, and happy travels to you and your family! If you have already decided, where is your family headed off to?

    Renee, Knowmad Adventurer
     
  25. Bay Pisco Shark
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    Bay Pisco Shark Gold Member

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    Chile no longer has a reciprocity fee for USA passport-holders (it was never a "visa fee") and is one of the safest places in the Americas. I have had a small handful of problem taxis, and I've let them have it. (Chile is the one place that the taxistas wouldn't want an issue with the police.)
     
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