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Greener Travel Options for Visiting South America

Given the disconnected transportation network of the region, here are some helpful hints for greener travel while visiting South America.  In some respects, it seems that traveling to and through South America is very complicated and time-consuming.  Yet, for all the delays, the scenery of the region more than makes up for any traveler hassle.  Whether it’s exploring the Andes Mountains, Amazon River or Rainforest, Iguassu or Angel Falls or taking in an entertaining soccer match or beach game, South America offers explosions of color, wildlife and culture at every turn. 

So, as you consider your next global travel opportunity, below are some (hopefully) helpful hints for greener transportation options while traveling through South America

  • Train Travel – there is no developed rail network within South America, which forces travelers to go to individual country websites for research and booking.  As always, the Seat61.com site should be your first research point for traveling through Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, or Peru.  Along with that, packing some patience wouldn’t hurt either.  Another option for Peru is the all-inclusive Orient Express Hiram Bingham train service from Cusco to Machu Picchu. 
  • Boat Travel – South America is home to the world’s largest river system – the Amazon basin – and as such the network of navigable rivers in the Amazon basin is huge.  Boat travel is a vital part of the region’s transportation of goods and passengers, but with a long and heavy rainy season that runs from December through April, the transportation system changes dramatically every six months.  A good planning website for Amazon River cruises is Amazon Voyagers.
  • Bus Travel – although the most common form of transportation, there is no extensive road network within South America either resulting in long bus trips lasting more than 24 hours.  In addition, since there is no regional bus company or network, each country has its own road and bus quality standards.  However, a great website to start your bus timetable research is My World South America. Another no-frills option is to travel by Bamba Hop-on Hop-Off bus.

Bottom line – factor in some considerable time for delays and connections, and your next trip to South America will be well worth it!


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