Gringo Trail

The Gringo trail is term for places in Latin America visited by gringos, that is, people from North America or (Northern) Europe. It is the Western Hemisphere’s equivalent of tropical Asia’s Banana Pancake Trail.

This article is an itinerary.

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Rio de Janeiro with the iconic Sugarloaf mountain

Tips for travel in developing countries and Tropical diseases apply in most countries on this itinerary, with all diseases of the “big mosquito trio” (malaria, yellow fever and dengue) being present in many places.

Latin American countries in general have a more relaxed visa policy, with many more nationalities being able to enter the countries visa-free than the Schengen Area (not to speak of the United States). Westerners are in general able to travel visa-free to all Latin American countries, though there may be all sorts of entry and exit fees when crossing borders (ranging from a few USD up to 20). Argentina, Brazil and Chile, however, have a policy of charging citizens of certain large English-speaking countries as much for a visa as their citizens are required to pay when they wish to travel to the USA, Canada or Australia. There is (in theory at least) a common travel area encompassing Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua called CA4, but the effect this will have on you is probably minimal as most people get visa-free entry to those countries anyway. You may benefit from no entry fee being levied traveling between those countries, though that is hit or miss. If you are charged a fee at one of the borders of one of those four countries to another of those four, being polite but firm may go a long way in convincing the border agent otherwise.

Outside tourist destinations (and not necessarily even there), English is not widely spoken. Study some Spanish, or if you head to Brazil, Portuguese before your trip. Beware that the pronunciation and grammar differ from the versions spoken in Europe. Some terms may have a different slang meaning and some slang terms may not be commonly understood. While you should have no big problem speaking European Spanish, pitfalls like “coger” (meaning “take” in Spain but a vulgar term referring to intercourse in much of Latin America) may on occasion draw laughter from locals. In the Andes a smattering of Quechua or Aymara doesn’t hurt, but if you’re on the tourist trail, Spanish or Portuguese is all you really need.

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