Down is Up and Up is Down

So there’s been plenty of thinking and talking and hand-wringing these last couple of weeks over finalizing our route, since we need to up and book our major airline tickets relatively soon (what with us leaving in now less than a month!). I wrote earlier about our first realization that all of our ducks were not in a row.

Since then, we’ve called Continental and talked about our flight options.  We’ve looked over weather patterns and high seasons and low seasons until we’re sick. Most places, this doesn’t even seem to matter … in fact, it may be preferable to go in low season to avoid all the people. India, of course, is one notable exception. We’ve kept up with the ongoing current events, what with there being no US embassy in either Bolivia or Venezuela these days. This certainly makes what were originally highly prioritized destinations much less certain … its never good to be in a country where there is no embassy to work on your behalf should something come up.

I guess, given the circumstances, its a very good thing we did not book our tickets earlier. As I’m sure you all are aware, situations change in a hurry and the best laid plans seem woefully off track. So with that in mind, we’ve more or less flipped our original plan, and have completely reversed our track through South America.

We’re still heading off to Nicaragua first for a few weeks, but then, instead of heading to Caracas to start our South American journey, we’re flying directly into Buenos Aires and working our way down to Patagonia in November (springtime there). We’ll then head up through Chile, perhaps (or perhaps not) entering Bolivia, then making it up to Peru in time for Christmas and a New Years climb of the Inca Trail.  We’ll then continue up to Ecuador and out to the Galapagos, may or may not go to Venezuela, but either way, return back to Buenos Aires through Brazil and leaving South America in mid-March.

We’ll spend mid-March through mid-June in Africa, generally the rainy, low season in most of the places we’re headed. This makes things lusher, which I’m all for, but animals can allegedly be more elusive. Though oneyearonearth had no trouble at this time of year and really enjoyed it. On the plus side, places like Victoria Falls are at their best this time of year with all the precipitation and low season rates are to be had.

We’ll have an open jaw here, flying in to Johannesburg and out of Addis Ababa, then hoof it straight to Bangkok in mid-June. We’ll spend the summer in Southeast Asia, to mid-August, visiting Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Malaysia. There’s a mix of rainy seasons and dry seasons depending on what side of the “peninsula” we’ll be on, so I don’t think there’s any point worrying about the weather. We’ll go, we’ll see, we’ll get wet if we have to =).

After this period, we’ll head to India in mid-August, hopefully at the end of the Indian monsoon.e’ll spend about a month here, although we’ll be hardpressed to see all the things we would like to in that time, Bhutan, Darjeeling, Taj Mahal, Delhi, Mumbai, etc. We’ll do the best we can. Then its on back home, though since we have an extra leg available on our RTW tickets, we may stop in a remote Pacific island. Any suggestions?

So there you have it, our RTW trip version 2.0.  What do you all think? Any improvements? Disasterous decisions? Speak now or forever hold your peace folks.

15 Replies to “Down is Up and Up is Down”

  1. It all sounds fantastic to me. I can’t even begin to comprehend all of it. Just let me know where you all will be in early March because that is probably when Terry & I will meet up with you.

  2. I’ve updated the Where Are We Now page (see link on the navigation bar at the top of the page) to better indicate our current plan. I’ll hopefully be filling in the Africa and Asia parts with a bit more detail soon. The dates are all estimates, and in the end the only thing that will really be locked in is when we leave one continent and arrive on another. All the rest of the travel will be by the seat of our pants, so we may stay longer in one place than we originally intended or get the heck out of a place faster than we thought we would.

  3. We were in South Africa the month of May and early June and in Tanzania the rest of June. The weather couldn’t have been better. May in South Africa is bliss not only due to the great weather but to the extreme lack of crowds.

    The only comment is your SE Asia timing. Summer in SE Asia can be brutal due to monsoons in certain places and huge crowds at the beach. If you plan it right (one side of the peninsula at the right time, avoiding the “hot” beach areas, etc.) and have a bit of luck, you should be fine.

  4. It didn’t make much sense to my brain the first time, and I still don’t get how you plan something like this.

    I’m sure each scenario would have its own pros and cons. Hopefully this one has the most pros and least amount of cons.

  5. I went to most places during the “wrong” season and I don’t have a single complaint about the weather anywhere I went. It can often add to the uniqueness of the experience. Your plan sounds great and good to hear that the RTW ticket plan worked out for you.

    Two comments:

    1)Try to avoid Vietnam during the week of the Tet New Year (February-ish??). The whole country literally shuts down. I was there then and couldn’t get from Point A to Point B (luckily I got ‘stuck’ in a cozy beach town for 5 days).

    2)Is any South Pacific island a bad choice?

  6. @ “its never good to be in a country where there is no embassy to work on your behalf should something come up.”

    What?! I really don’t understand why this is an issue. I’ve been to 37 countries now and many of them didn’t have my national embassy. It never crossed my mind to even consider the fact. Why would I shorten my travel because of a bureaucracy?

    They seem to provide no concrete help for a short- or mid-term traveller unless you’re jailed or deported…and what’s the chance of that? In case of a national disaster you are likely to be treated with all the foreigners whether you have a local embassy or not.

    I could possibly concede some advantages for ex-pats or long-staying travellers.

    Is there something magical about US embassies? or is it just something fundamental I’m missing?

  7. see it all worked out!!

    I still think an RTW is not the way to go here…you could probably find cheap tickets as you go…i found a ticket to beijing for 200 dollars….you don’t get deals like that on a rtw ticket but you are determined so so be it..

    but you won’t be here until june!!! wow! hopefully i will still be here….

    also, monsoon season is ALLLLLLL over here. you’ll face rain no matter what coast you are on during june-september…..it’s just a matter of degree….. though the malaysian gulf is nice…that’s an exception…

  8. Wow, you two. Sounds amazing. I have input on a South Pacific island!! Granted, I have never been to well, most of them, but I spent 2 months in Samoa and it was amazing. (not American Samoa, mind you, Western Samoa). It’s a beautiful, amazingly non-touristy country that I would love to tell you more about, if it fits the bill. I also went to Fiji, and I thought Samoa was a much better experience. Fiji was far too touristy for my taste, and it was much more complicated to get to the desirable areas. Samoa is a small country (two main islands), and that was part of its charm for me. It’s easily accessible by bus or a rental car, and there isn’t a huge amount of Western development, so you can dive right in. Granted, I haven’t been to Tonga or Tahiti or any of those islands, and I would love to go. You probably can’t go wrong!

  9. There is no magic about U.S. embassies, but when the ambassador has been asked to leave, the Peace Corps has evacuated and the U.S. government is offering free flights out of Bolivia for U.S. citizens, chances are that things are not too stable. Although instability is common in Bolivia, these events are more extreme than the usual strikes, etc. I know an American bishop there- I will ask him about the situation and let you know what he says….

  10. @ Magnifique: An evacuated embassy is different from a non-existent one. That makes more sense.

    I’ve been to Samoa and Fiji and I agree with Samoa being the less touristed location. In general people are friendlier. Fiji does have its upsides though. The “backpacker boat” through the Yasawas is a blast. You have so many days to visit as many islands as you wish. They vary from small, local projects where you often sleep in simple huts to internationally funded island-wide night clubs/resorts like Treasure Island.

  11. ditto on the western samoa suggestion.

    Who are you looking ar purchasing your RTW ticket from? Just a note: we paid $1400 less per ticket by booking it in South America with One World. For some reason One World tickets purchased outside North America are cheaper.

    I’m in Bangkok now with Nomadic Matt and yes, it rains everyday but nothing that should stop you from doing what you want. Grab your raincoat or umbrella and just go. Monsoon season in India could be a different story though..

  12. We’ve also had good luck arriving in places in the month or two after high season – you’ve got your pick of accommodation, lower prices, less tourists around, but the weather isn’t too awful yet.

    We weren’t organized enough before we set off to buy a RTW ticket. It worked out for us though since we kept getting “stuck” in places we liked; we’d have paid tons of fees if we had actually bought a ticket.

    Just to let you know, I included you guys in a meme weblog award. I’ve been enjoying reading your stories these last few weeks and look forward to reading more as the “real” adventure begins.

  13. @Derek: I hope we have as good luck in Africa as you all did. Well, I actually hope that for our entire trip. Every time I visit your site and see that you only had 11 days of rain, I’m amazed.

    @Scott and @Audrey: We tend to visit places in the “wrong” season and usually have a great time anyway, so I’m not too worried. The lower prices are always nice too!

    @Matt: I hear what you’re saying about the RTW tickets, but since we’re doing it for free with miles, we just can’t say no. Though there are cheap flights out there, every little $200 or $500 we save, will be more activities we can do, etc. Plus with miles going to the way of the dodo bird, this seems like the best way we can use them.

    @Sean: As I mentioned above, we’re using miles for the RTW tickets, so we’re just booking them from the U.S. I had heard that it was cheaper to book elsewhere, and that’s awesome you all were able to save so much doing it that way! Also glad to hear that the weather isn’t keeping you from doing anything in SE Asia.

    @Craig and @Magnifique: I think Magnifique hit on what we were trying to say. Sometimes we post in a rush and aren’t quite clear. Not having an embassy in a country is one thing; having the embassy pull out is another (and the one that we’re more concerned about).

    @Kate: I hadn’t thought of that one, but I remember you talking about it. We’ll have to discuss on the phone when I get back to the U.S. in early Oct.

Leave a Reply