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other than europe

Hi Friends,
Do you think that Rick Steves will go to other areas? Maybe a country in South America. I have only done European travel guided by his books and videos. I really would only want to venture to a new country in South America with his guidance. What is your opinion. If one had to choose a country in South America that was safe and stable and suitable for a first time trip to South America for a non Spanish Speaking over 60 female solo traveler, what would be your recommendation. Or wold you not recommend it. And any guidance for research and travel book that you would use like Rick Steves books. Thanks so much for your help. This is a new line of adventure I would like to pursue with confidence, assurance and plenty of knowledge . I value this forum so deeply. Thank you!!!

Posted by
148 posts

Thank you so much. I will absolutely learn Spanish phrases. Not difficult. And get the books immediately. Thanks again. Rally great reply !!!

Posted by
291 posts

I'm not sure Rick Steves ever will (though I'd love it if he did!). I think a big part of what makes Rick Steves' Europe so valuable and worthwhile when it comes to European travel is his decades of experience traveling to Europe, his extensive knowledge of European history and culture, his network of guides there, and the many months per year he continues to spend there. It could be difficult to come up with similar offerings on South America, without similar years of extensive work and experience going in to it.

South America (and even Central) do have quite a lot to offer, though.

Costa Rica is a safe and stable country, hugely popular with tourists for it's amazing nature and adventure travel options - gorgeous beaches and jungles, a well-established tourism infrastructure, English commonly spoken.

In South America, I'd second the Ecuador suggestion. I was lucky enough to have lived there for 5 years as a teenager and you'd be hardpressed to find a country that can offer so much, within such a small footprint. It has some of the Andes' most impressive mountains and volcanoes, pristine Amazonian rainforest to their east and cloudforests to their west, amazing beaches, the Galapagos, well-preserved Spanish colonial architecture, indigenous culture, and even great climate.

If you want to visit South America but get a taste of Europe in it, Argentina and Uruguay could be worth looking at. Argentina in particular might seem reasonably familiar to people who have traveled to Europe. Buenos Aires gets called the Paris of South America (ok... perhaps a bit of a stretch). BsAs is a lively, sophisticated city, the food is amazing (assuming you like red meat and lots of it), Patagonia is stunningly beautiful (and has cities and towns that look like they were pulled out of the Alps or southern Germany and dropped in to Argentina). There's opera and flamenco, and you might never run out of wineries to visit if that's your thing.

I really could go on and on and write paragraphs encouraging people to visit Colombia, Bolivia, Peru, and Chile as well (Beyond living in Ecuador before, I took a year off from college and ventured down to La Paz, Bolivia, and used that as a home base to backpack through South America, with multiple visits to various parts of South America since). Indeed, I'd even say it's the ideal continent for someone who has visited Europe before and wants to try out something new, with hints of things they'd find familiar from European travels (some of the languages, architecture, religious elements, cuisine). It can be quite affordable, also - a welcome break from some of Western Europe's pricier destinations, just as parts of eastern/southeastern Europe might be.

But really it comes down to what you're after? Nature? History? Cities? Food and Wine? What you're after will help determine where you'll go, and you'll be amazed at how much of what you want can be found in a single country.

As tyrker mentioned, Footprint guides are pretty much the best you can get for South America (not just South America as a whole with their Handbook, but also individual countries). They're also the best about keeping their books updated. Having said that, I relied on Lonely Planet guides in years past and loved those. The books they do have are great, though their South America offerings aren't as extensive as Footprint's. They tend to be quite backpacker focused, but still very useful for all.

Posted by
148 posts

Dear 1885BD,
I as so grateful for your wisdom sharing. I think you have guided me absolutely correctly. Costa Rica is the perfect country to begin with on my new ventures. Then Ecuador. You are absolutely correct. I am so relieved to have a plan of focus and study now for 2020 Costa Rica and Ecuador. Your experience and willingness to share your knowledge has really given me the clear vision I was seeking.
Sincerest best wishes to you. I have started the day with keen anticipation to a new world of discovery !!!
thank you thank you thank you

Posted by
2284 posts

I’ve got another suggestion, not South America but still Latin America... If you like big cities, Mexico City is safe and feels somewhat European and also obviously very Mexican. It’s big and bustling, but the Condesa neighborhood is beautiful and tree lined. Polanco is very, very high end, that’s where the 5star luxury places are. Condesa is upscale but more comfortable for me.
The public transit is good, and uber is very popular. Great museums, churches, palaces, food (everything from world famous Michelin places to street stalls), you can go to the pyramids at Teotihuican in 40 minutes by bus, tour, or uber. And it’s an easy flight from most of the US.

However there’s not a ton of English spoken. People are very friendly and willing to help so if you learn the very basics and have an app or phrase book you will be fine. I think that applies for a lot of Latin America.

Posted by
2361 posts

I agree with Ecuador and Costa Rica is on my bucket list. I've been to Guatemala 3 times on missions trips and love it, but would only go on a tour since safety is a concern-we never went anywhere at night and we were shepherded by a local at all times.

Posted by
2685 posts

With all due respect to the RS followers, there is much more to the globe than his expertise. His premise was always to introduce Europe to Americans. He has stated he would never get into the Asia market and that Europe will be his stomping grounds.
I did a lot of solo and global travel before arriving on this forum and though I read RS guides, I also read others (free from the library) and choose the guidebook that works for the trip I have in mind.
I tend to like Lonely Planet and Bradt guides, so consider them as well for your initial research.
Something to consider is that you could do a group tour of a country and then stay on to do your independent travel. 10 years ago, Peru was my initial foray into more 'exotic' travel after raising family. I did a tour with a friend and arrived early for some extra days on my own in Lima. I found Peru a large country and due to some mining strikes going on, glad that I had a tour to deal with the logistics. I might have found myself stuck in Pisco after they closed the PanAmericana highway for 3 days. I use GAdventures (and no, it isn't just for young athletic types). Fast forward 5 years and I went on my own to Ecuador. I had some 'tour' type environment in the Amazon and on Galapagos Islands cruise - but that is the only way to see these regions. Otherwise I hired a local bird guide for days in Mindo area, was on my own in Quito and Otavalo. I kept things within 3 hours of Quito by plane or bus and had plenty to do - but birdwatching adds a different layer to travel. Cuenca and the small towns around Otavalo is a region with expats so there is more english and you may feel some reprieve to hear some english around you.
Costa Rica is well established on the North American tourist routes. Panama Canal was built by Americans, so parts are feasible.
For age group, Overseas Adventure Travel may work - they don't have a single supplement. Though ask around. I used them in 2011 but they may not have the same reputation now. Road Scholars also had Costa Rica trips and on their 'Special Offers' section, there is a section of 'no single supplement'. I think they might offer a roomies option but I haven't used them directly. I do often look at their Costa Rica trip as given the logistics, it is somewhat affordable. My Cdn$ exchange, however, makes it less so.

Posted by
148 posts

Dear Maria, Cala and Mira,
You have all broadened my thinking so much. I did not realize how inside the safe box of traveling I have been. I am so excited to my investigative research for South American planning. With all these options and thoughts you have given, I am certain to find the right country and trip to commence a foray in to new lands. Terrific folks you all are. Thank you

Posted by
4948 posts

Believe it or not, Rick Steves did at one time (early '90s) publish a book "Asia through the Back Door". Google it and you might find it. I have a copy of one edition. It appears like it was actually researched and written by another person based on Rick's style, with a bit of Rick oversight. I guess it didn't take off.

I've used Lonely Planet guides for Central America and the Caribbean but never been south of there.

Posted by
1507 posts

I did a GAdventures tour of Ecuador and Peru last year. The tour was National Geographic branded (which had more Rick Steves-type elements than other tour companies). The company specializes in Peru and has a big presence there. I was satisfied for the most part with the tour - guides were fantastic, hotels were comfortable, logistics were fine (with the exception of the transition from Ecuador to Peru, which was not well executed, and the cost of the solo supplement was disproportionately high). There are plenty of other tour companies (Intrepid, Road Scholar) that have similar formats. I used Lonely Planet guide books and the internet to plan free time activities. I traveled solo and have very basic Spanish (no one else on my tour spoke any). The same principles apply as Europe - keep your wits about you, read up on local customs, and be aware of any local safety concerns. The only place I was warned about safety was downtown Quito, and even there I felt pretty safe (but I didn't go out late at night). Be aware that the elevation in both countries is significant, so plan for some arrival down time to get used to it.

Posted by
2284 posts

One place that I haven't been but is on my list is Peru. Machu Picchu is so famous that it might be overcrowded, but you don't need to worry about lack of tourist infrastructure. The city of Cusco looks fascinating.

About 10 years ago, Samantha Brown did a Travel Channel series called Passport to Latin America. You could try to find that (it's on itunes for purchase, libraries may have DVDs) and watch to see what travel to these places is like. It's a little dated, so do research for up-to-date info, but it's really good.

Posted by
3203 posts

Rick himself was just in Guatemala, recording a TV special on worldwide hunger. But he won’t be producing any travel guidebooks for Guatemala. And he’s said that his favorite place in the world to have visited was India, but again, he’s not creating any Back Door guidebooks there, either.

He’s included info for a quickie side-trip to Tangier, Morocco in his Spain guidebook and TV shows for decades, suggesting a chance to dip one’s toe into waters quite different than the rest of his European travel books cover. And then there’s Australia, New Zealand, and islands throughout the world, plus Antarctica which is seeing more people and possibly fewer penguins these days.

Posted by
665 posts

I'm a little leery of Argentina due to the economy. Last time everything got messed up down there they limited the amount you could access from ATM, and that was all in pesos, and also inflations was crazy. I know folks who got stuck down there because they couldn't access their Stateside banks and couldn't get a flight out.

Countries I'd seriously consider are Belize, Uruguay, and Paraguay. In fact Uruguay is on my "to do" list if we don't end up in Spain next year.

Posted by
6147 posts

I really would only want to venture to a new country in South America
with his guidance

I would consider looking at it a bit differently. The key reason one's "guidance" has any currency is because they are the alleged expert who knows the area well enough to write and speak authoritatively about it. Rick doesn't have any particular expertise in South America, so why not turn to others who do? I used a very good Foot Print Guide (https://www.footprinttravelguides.com/latin-america) to do an independent trip to Northwest Argentina (I'm not sure what the prior comments are about being "stuck" or able to leave - if you bought a plane ticket back, I don't see what the problem is). We even rented a car to cover some smaller areas, and it was a fantastic trip (but due to huge size of the country, we ended up taking 2 internal flights as well). Their economic crash was in early 2000, a long time ago. They're slowly getting back on their feet, in some fits and starts. I had no issues traveling there except maybe getting small coins.

Except for Venezuela and some parts of Brazil (and some parts of Colombia close to the border areas, especially with Venezuela), I can't think of a South American country I would be afraid to travel to. Peru has tons of visitors, Ecuador has tons of expats living there, Argentina is great, Chile as well. Even Colombia is safer than it has ever been in the past. Don't expect it to be exactly like Europe - in many places, for example, buses are much better than trains and can get you everywhere. Distances are vast, although there are many walkable cities teeming with street life. There are so many travel books out there now covering South American countries, check out your local library or bookstore. It does help to know some Spanish, you will not find much English in smaller areas. On the other hand, you'll have no issues in heavily touristed places.

Also, if you're interested in Central America and want to go on a tour, then Caravan is a good company since they're been running those tours for a long time.

Posted by
4128 posts

We have been to South America three times. Don't worry about the language, many persons, especially in service positions speak English.

Also, there are other tour companies that are excellent other than Rick's.

We have been to Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Argentina and Uruguay in South America. We did three separate cruises in 2011, 2014 and 2019. Also, we did land trips in conjunction with each.

Our favorite SA countries are Peru, Chile and Argentina. They are all different and even the cuisine is different. There is a lot to see and do there and costs are significantly below Europe.

We just did a wonderful 4 day tour of Cusco (ancient capitol of the Inca Empire), the Sacred Valley, with many Inca archaeological sites and the incomparable Machu Picchu. Our tour was with PeruAgency.com
The tour was fantastic, three full days of touring with four star hotels, most meals provided and for 2 days a PRIVATE guide. Also, we had another day on our own in Cusco.

The total cost of this tour was $799 pp. Machu Picchu is NOT to be missed. It is one of our top 10 places in the World that we have seen.

Also, we did a cruise Around the Horn of SA (Cape Horn) from Buenos Aires to Valpariasio, Chile. Fantastic trip, we visited Patagonia, Terra del Fuego, saw many penguins at two sites as well as other wildlife. We did five days in Buenos Aires prior to the cruise and 3 after the cruise in Chile.

The food in Peru is on special and on par with French and Italian cuisine. Chile has fresh sea bass and great crab filled empanadas. The Steaks in Argentina were the best ever.

There are many travel books, we like Rick Steves, but he doesn't have one of SA. There are specific books for each of the countries that I mentioned.

This is the one we used for Peru:
https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/359965/dk-eyewitness-travel-guide-peru-by-dk-travel/9780241368800/

Posted by
1147 posts

geovagriffith: Kind of hijacking this post but could you give the name of the Machu Picchu tour you took? Sounds terrific! Was there much hiking? Did the elevation other you? Suitable for 70+ healthy seniors? Not seriously considering this but interested in your answers. Thanks in advance for any info.

Posted by
148 posts

Dear geovagriffith, Can you tell me the tour company you used? I would like to do that.
Dear Sta, CL, Tom_MN, Mira, Cyn, KGC, tyrker, Agnes
Wow ! I mean Wow ! This is so fantastic. That I am printing all the replies to use as the outline for study and important points to note and be conscious of when planning, choosing, etc. Extraordinary, Wonderful folks, each and everyone of you. I am rally infused with enthusiam, and I started meeking and with trepidation.

Posted by
148 posts

Thank you one and all. Tremendous replies. I have a true blueprint form which to continue. I started meek and unsure . Now I am infused with enthusiasm and clarity. Thank you one and all. Really !! I have so much info now.
Can you tell me the cruise you went on, geovagriffith?

Posted by
6147 posts

I think you'll do great planning a trip, and the resources have only gotten better (I have to admit that planning a driving trip in Argentina about 10 years ago was quite a challenge, but still doable). I remember being utterly surprised at how many books are there in the travel sections of bookstores (or libraries) covering South America, much more so than in the past. I remember when Colombia was way off the-radar and seen as a dangerous pariah, and now it's on the tourism circuit and much is written about it beauty, interesting colonial and modern cities and architecture (Medellin, Bogotá, Cartegena, etc.). Gate 1 conducts tours there and has for some time (for example).

My next trip will be to Ecuador because it's so compact and biodiverse at the same time. I found the different ecosystems in Argentina fascinating, but the beauty of Ecuador is it will shrink all of that down into a manageable geographic space. If you're at all interested in Ecuador, do check out some books (plenty is written about the Galapagos, but the mainland itself is very interesting too). I've already spotted some info on lodges you can stay in high in the cloud forest/ mountains if you're interested in hiking and seeing a lot of birdlife, which I love. You can easily mix some independent travel covering easy terrain like cities with lodge/ tour components (for less accessible or wilderness areas), and this is true of other countries as well.

Posted by
2361 posts

When we went to Ecuador, we did a 4 day 3 night river cruise on one of the tributaries of the Amazon. I can't recommend a company because this was back in the 90's, but it was wonderful.

Posted by
3203 posts

rockawayrox, partly in order to attract more tourism, more and more of the world is investing in infrastructure, and that’s also changing the lives of the locals in places that were remote or less developed not so long ago. Having said that, there are some places (including up in the mountains of Colorado) where niceties like indoor plumbing aren’t necessarily available, and arrangements have to be made for food, water, washing and toilet facilities, and the like. And a visitor’s expectations may have to be adjusted accordingly. There are luxury resorts, too, which can cater to affluent travelers, and that may or may not be what you’re looking for.

Rick Steves filmed a show on Egypt, and said that due to the intensity of Cairo, and to have a chance to get himself established and ready for the trip to come, as well as for safety reasons, he splurges on a more expensive, nicer hotel in that big city. Different people have different levels of comfort dealing with new experiences, and what may seem like an unsafe or unsanitary condition for one traveler might seem like just a new adventure for someone else. Don’t let yourself get into a situation where safety is a concern, but some pre-trip research should give you the necessary information on any place that might be more off the “beaten path.” And again, if a destination is welcoming visitors, they are likely making sure it’s a place visitors will want to return, and to refer their friends.

In addition to the Lonely Planet guidebooks mentioned above for places all over the world, there’s also a useful series published by The Rough Guide, not as “rough” as it might sound!

Posted by
4128 posts

The name of the tour company is PeruAgency
Price didn't include airfare.
Love Peru, the people are wonderful. There is so much history there and the food is wonderful.
Here are details:
This excursion allows you to know intimate attractions and landscapes such as the Sacred Valley, with terraces that dress the mountains and picturesque villages where the past is part of the present and Machu Picchu (the Inca jewel built with the wisdom of the ancient Peruvians in an ecological environment)
Visit the enigmatic and wonderful city of the Incas-Machu Picchu, and discover the city of Cusco, also known as the "Navel of the World", seductive, impressive, whose history lives in the streets, squares, valleys and villages.

DAY 19 MARCH. - ARRIVAL TO THE LAND OF THE INCAS - EXCURSION TO THE CITY
Am Arrival to the city of Cusco. Reception at the airport and transfer to hotel.
P.M. Guided tour of the city of Cusco and nearby Ruins.
Visit to the Cathedral located in the Plaza Mayor. The Renaissance style predominates in the façade and in the interior, with an interior decoration very rich in cedar and alder carvings.
Then you will visit the Temple and Convent of Santo Domingo (Dominico) and El Koricancha (Inca temple).
We will continue towards the outskirts of the city, Sacsayhuaman, it would have been a construction of religious character, but because of its location and style it was considered by the Spaniards and chroniclers as a military building, Qenko continues or "labyrinth" is considered a sacred place in the Ceremonies were held in honor of the Sun, Moon and stars then Puka Pukara would have served as a tambo or resting place and accommodation and finally visit to the Fortress of Tambomachay that would have fulfilled an important religious function linked to water and regeneration from the earth. Return to Cusco and transfer to your hotel.
Hotel accommodation in Cusco.

DAY 20 MARCH. - SACRED VALLEY OF THE INCAS (overnight)
Breakfast at the hotel.
At 8:00 a.m. Approx., the pick-up of the passengers starts at your Hotel. Full day excursion to the Sacred Valley. Visit to the town of Pisac. Known for its handicraft market and Inca archaeological sites among which you can see an irrigation system, an astronomical observatory, a solar clock or Intiwatana and andenería. Lunch in Local Restaurant. Visit to the archaeological complex of Ollantaytambo. Built during the Inca period as a fortified area that includes a temple, platforms and an urban sector. You can distinguish two sectors, one linked to worship and religion; and the second set dedicated to housing. It was an important administrative center that probably also fulfilled military functions, as its walls and turrets show.
Transfer to the Ollantaytambo train station. After the visit to the archaeological complex transfer to the train station to take the train to Aguas Calientes or Machu Picchu Pueblo, arrival at the station of Aguas Calientes, transfer to your hotel.
Accommodation.

DAY 21 MARCH. - MACHU PICCHU, WONDERFUL CITY INCA
Breakfast at the hotel.
Very early in the morning I pick up from your hotel and transfer to the station to board the bus that will take you after 30 min., Approximately to the wonderful Inca citadel of Machu Picchu. Passenger climbs on his own to the huaynapicchu mountain (1 hour of climb and another hour of descent) then you will have
Start of the guided tour around 2:30 to 3 hrs. Bus to Aguas Calientes. Buffet lunch at the local restaurant. When returning, show up at the train station 30 minutes before the train leaves. Return to Cusco. Arrival, reception and transfer to your hotel.
Accommodation in Cusco

DAY 22 MARCH - CUSCO DEPARTURE / ... (D)
Breakfast at the hotel.
At the appropriate time, transfer to the airport, flight to Lima and then return to your country of origin.

IT INCLUDES:
• Shared services, in English
• Detailed excursions on the Itinerary
• Professional guides
• All transfers
• Tickets to the p

Posted by
30932 posts

rockaway,

From what I remember, Rick has travelled extensively to other countries, including those in Central America, Cuba, Africa (?) and other places. I believe he's been asked this question before at the RS travel events in Edmonds, and the answer has always been that Europe is his area of expertise and he doesn't plan on offering tours to other countries. I suspect that Rick Steves Europe is pretty much at the limit just providing tours to Europe so I doubt they'd have the capacity to expand to cover other regions of the world. The City of Edmonds would have to expand to accommodate a larger RS organization! There's also the issue of researching and producing guidebooks for other regions, finding local guides and developing the connections that would be required such as hotels, transportation firms, etc. In short, I think "RS South America" is highly unlikely.

I'm sure there are reliable firms offering tours to South America. You could have a look at.....

Posted by
148 posts

Thanks Ken ever so much. Great to hear from you. You have always answered my queries so well. You are a wealth of excellent guidance.Thank you one and all

Posted by
3226 posts

Yes, Rick Steves often goes to other areas. Will his company ever offer tours to places other than Europe? Doubtful.

He has found his place in life, and it is offering tours of Europe that have a specific feel to them. After all these years he has a large operation with lots of helpful contacts throughout Europe that provide for the smooth operation of the tours he has. While they offer new tours from time to time or reorganize their current tours to be more efficient and adjust to changing conditions (like eliminating Vatican visits for a few of the Italy tours that always had it during a period when all of Vatican city was unusually crowded), expanding to another continent would be a slow and expensive endeavor.

I would be overwhelmed with happiness if he would expand to Japan or Australia, both places I have always wanted to go but have not been able to find much in the way of tours that fit the RS philosophy. Would I enjoy other types of tours to those areas? I'm sure I would. But I have come to enjoy the RS approach more than any other. And of course he would have to change the name of his company if they offered tours elsewhere. :-)

Posted by
4128 posts

rockawayrox,
The cruise was the Celebrity Eclipse from Chile to San Diego. Cost of a balcony for 15 days was $1449 pp.

Posted by
122 posts

HI Rockaway Rox planning solo travel in South America is a great idea. At age 70 I spent 6 weeks in Ecuador- I felt safe and well cared for! Before departure try to learn some travel Spanish...it helps in small towns! I used mainly bus transport. I did a very inexpensive one week language school in the small town of BANOS. I did not go to northern Ecuador. From Banos I spent a week in CUENCA- lots to see and do! Then I headed to GUAYQUIL ( not my favorite/ hot + humid in May) From Guaya I started travel along the coast. Lodging and food were very reasonable. NO I did not have $ for the Galapagos but spent a day touring "poor man's Galapagos"
I found booking.com and airbnb to have good options for my budget.
good luck planning I think you will find costa rica or Ecuador//

Posted by
148 posts

Brilliant. Very inspired by your happy travels. Thank you for sharing Really grateful to know how doable it is. Ecuador, here I come !!!

Posted by
595 posts

Imprint Tours is a small tour company run by a Rick Steves guide and advertises to have a similar style of travel in other parts of the world. Sarah and Trish, two other RS guides, also run tours through them. Their offerings change every year, but it might be worth looking into. We have not taken a tour with them yet, but hope to in the future.

Posted by
148 posts

Thank you Tamara,
I was not aware of this at all. This is a real great lead. Thanks !!!

Posted by
4 posts

I can suggest British Virgin Islands. I'm fond of travelling and I like to discover new countries. Last summer I spent my summer vacation in the Caribbean Islands. I booked british virgin islands sailing charter to explore the most popular Caribbean sailing destinations. It was awesome trip!

Posted by
148 posts

Thank you. That sounds marvelous. It has been a while since visiting that region. IT's a great idea. And less flying time is alway a huge help. Thanks again !!!!

Posted by
148 posts

Dear greysolive25,
Is that the exact name of the company? Do you have a website? I am actually quite keen on this idea. Appreciate your time

Posted by
122 posts

HI I did 6 weeks solo at age 70 in Ecuador and enjoyed it very much. Cuenca was a perfect spot to stay a week before I headed to the beaches. I could not afford Galapagos but I did see blue footed boobies on a day tour.
Costa Rica is very easy for solo travel as well.
For PERU check out deals by Gate 1 travel. I have friends who gave it a thumbs up...my motto: if not NOW then WHEN...do your research and go for it...you don't need a tour guide 24/7
Happy travels from another senior

Posted by
148 posts

Thank you cjleisch and all,
I am so inspired and have delved deep into research. The fun and adventure has already begun. That is what I enjoy also. The research is as if the adventure has begun. So I am intensely eager for this new area of the world. THANK YOU THANK YOU