|Subject: Traveling alone in South America|
I usually travel alone and was in South America about 15 years ago. The
places visited were the Amazon (Manaus) which is an absolutely fascinating
place. On the one hand you had the mud (it was May and rainy season) and
shacks which contrasted sharply to the lovely mansions which still stand
and which represent an era when rubber was a highly prized commodity.
It was also quite a surprise to see an opera house in Manaus. I stayed
at the Tropical hotel which was very nice and very safe.
I loved Rio. Of course, you take the necessary precautions and don't flaunt your money, i.e., don't wear anything that even resembles gold. The hotel I stayed at had a safety deposit room which was a good way to meet others in your hotel as every morning you'd go down and take x amount of dollars. I wore a thin purse under my t-shirt/top and in my regular bag had a purse with about $20-$30 US so if one was robbed, you wouldn't lose too much. To the beach, I took towel, suntan lotion, hat, book and NO purse. I did, however, have a few dollars wrapped up in a plastic Baggie and pinned inside my swimsuit (just in case I saw something being sold on the beach that I really, really wanted). When I went to a nightclub, I took a tour. I don't know if they still offer those tours, but it was a safe way (for a woman) to spend an evening out enjoying the nightlife and seeing the beautiful costumes the performers wore (similar to what they show on TV during Mardi Gras). Similiarly, I enjoy soccer so the tourist office also offered a tour to the soccer game. So, once again, it was safety in numbers. However, going to a soccer game in Rio, especially as it was some Brazilian championship game, was something else ... once is more than enough. I did a lot of walking in Rio and also signed up for various sightseeing tours both in and around the city.
Iguassu Falls was also on my agenda and it was really relaxing going to sleep at night and hearing the falls cascading down. My hotel was right by the falls.
As far as Buenos Aires goes ... I can honestly say it is the one place in all my travels that I would never go back to. Perhaps because it was the mid 80's, but it's the one place I didn't feel safe in. Unfortunately, I'd booked to say 4 days in Buenos Aires and it was a pleasant relief to fly back to Rio.
I flew Varig airlines which is one of the best airlines I've ever flown. Their service was great. Of course, this was 15 years ago and I've never had occasion to fly them since so it's understandable to assume that things have probably changed.
Anyway, talk to your travel agent. When I went (alone), the travel agency arranged it so that there was someone there to meet me at the airport and take me to the hotel. They were associated with a local travel agency so at least you had a contact person if you needed help with anything. However, you did have to make your own way to the airport for your various flights.
If you are worried about languages, Berlitz has a great little book (and it is little and easily fits into a jacket pocket) which has phrases in about 15 languages. Also, the local consulate's office usually has a wealth of information.
Good luck in your travels Marty