So I'm hoping to go to South America next year for four months in November 2016-February 2017, I know it's super early but I'm a poor uni student and need to start saving early.
I was wondering how much time I should spend in each country and roughly how much money I should save (airfares from Australia to South America don't need to be included, however transport once backpacking does). I want to travel on a budget, plan on staying in hostels, however I do realise that Galápagos Islands will be expensive... I'm a little bit of a foodie so want to eat nice food out occasionally however plan on mostly cooking for myself to cut costs.
Ideally, I would like to travel to Ecuador (and Galápagos Islands), Peru, Bolivia, Argentina and Brazil. I was thinking of spending 2 weeks in Ecuador ( plus 1week Galápagos Islands) so 3 weeks here, 3 weeks in Peru, 2 weeks in Bolivia, 4 weeks in Argentina and 6 weeks in Brazil. Is this time frame unreasonable or will it give me enough time to see a lot(most things)? I love nature and beaches and so want to see the glaciers in Argentina, Manchu pichu, salt flats, mountains, beaches, nature parks.
I really want to make sure that I'm not rushing it too much and so that I get a chance to see everything (most things). Seeing as I only have four months, I could always cut out a country to experience another more, and do it another time. I was thinking if anything I would cut out Brazil and do it another time as it is so big,however ideally I want to do all 5 countries!!
Also would love some tips on amazing, unmissable places that you have visited in these countries
I would personally minimize the time in Brazil if you are on that sort of time frame.
I would have only an additional week in Ecuador, so 2 including Galapagos, 3/4 in Peru, at least three in Bolivia (go to the Amazon from Rurrenabaque), 4/5 weeks in Argentina and then the rest in Brazil.
It is dependant where you want to go in Brazil though?
Argentina is a big country and to get down to the El Calafate is a long journey down. There is also some great things to do through the central in Cordoba/Mendoza and then half way down in Bariloche.
In Aussie $$, I'd suggest for Ecuador/Peru/Bolivia approx. $50-60 a day, depending if you want to booze/party a little as well, and then Argentina and Brazil will cost a bit more.
The buses are brilliant the whole way along and will definitely be able to do a lot of overnight buses to keep costs down.
Any more direct sort of questions let me know.
Borisborough has a recommendation on how to lower your cost of travel in the Galapagos. See it under his recent "Educador Travel" posting on this forum.
Argentina has a parallel exchange rate, so if you bring US dollars, you'll get more pesos at the unofficial exchange places that your hostel or hotel can recommend. You'll get much more than if you exchanged your money at a bank, or at an ATM. How much more? About 50 percent. Check the latest "blue dollar" exchange rate at this link: http://www.lanacion.com.ar/dolar-hoy-t1369.
Because of economic and political turmoil, Brazil is less expensive than it used to be for travelers from overseas. Plus, internal flights on TAM and GOL are relatively inexpensive, so you can cover great distances at reasonable cost. Personally, I would favor spending more time in Brazil and less time in Argentina by deferring travel to Patagonia for another trip. You'll save time and money.
If you're thinking of doing the Inca Trail, you need to book in advance, as it is capacity controlled. You will be visiting Machu Picchu during the rainy season. Go online for information.
No need to do much cooking to save money. Meals aren't expensive.
It's good that you have some idea of where you want to go; and how much time you want to spend in each country. But try to be flexible. You might want to linger in some places.
Finally, use the travellerspoint mapping system to plot your itinerary. If you're from Australia, I suspect your direct entry point to South America is Santiago, unless you're traveling first to North America.