My boyfriend and I are heading over to South America in January 2006 on the first stop of a RTW trip.
I have read loads of info on getting around SA - much of it conflicting. Basically we are planning to spend around 3 months in the continent and want to fit in as much as possible, without racing from place to place. I have read some info on the organised overland tours, however some of these are quite pricey.
If anyone can provide any advice on travelling between countries and the approximate daily living costs this will be most appreciated. Likewise any info on what we shouldn't miss whilst we are there!
Havent been to South America yet, so you might be able to get some more specific advice from other members, but have been doing a lot of research on South America for an upcoming trip.
Seemingly, a budget of about $50 a day is a reasonable amount. Obviously, some countries are more expensive than others, but that seems to be a good average. The tours are much more expensive by the looks of it and would really take a chunk out of a travel fund.
Bus journeys can be long, but there are lot of bus companies and the standard is quite good. In the rainy seasons in some countries the roads can be a bit of a mess apparently, and so overland travel can result in delays.
From what I can gather, train travel is less reliable and less comfortable for the mostpart. Buses or flying is the way to get around.
What countires are you planning on visiting?
I can speak for Chile, Argentina and Bolivia. Travelling is very easy overland without resorting to a pricey tour company. Buses are plentiful and the roads are good. I believe similarly decent roads exist between big centres in Peru and Brazil as well.
The biggest issue will be distances. Multiple days may be spent just in travelling if you want to try and fit in too many countries. Buenos Aires to Santiago or Patagonia to Buenos Aires are 30+ hours spent on a bus.
Thanks for the replies so far! I see what you mean about the long distances Greg - this is something that we're going to have to have a good think about.
The countries that we have in mind are Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Peru and Brazil, though we're starting to realise that we may have to cut this list down if we want to spend time getting to know the places and avoid being constantly on the road!
In South America it would be advisable to fly into the major cities and then bus it around to smaller places within the country from there. Some big cities are good to get between by bus (e.g Buenos Aires to Santiago), but distances are far.
Having said all that it is far more scenic on the bus than on the plane.
There are several wonderful guide books, many country and city specific, regarding travel in Central and South America. As someone who once did the updates for one in the pre Internet pre Cell Phone era they can be your best friend and most valuable companion both prior to and during your journey. As I read this thread I figured it is best for whoever read "conflicting information" to go the Bookstore and pick out the best and most concise books on sale (Just because one guide has a "branded name" does not mean it is the best for your journey)as well as maps and study, and research your destinations well on the internet, no one is going to plan a complicated journey for you for free on an internet travel forum or message board. In the late 1960s I made my first trip to Europe clutching F-----s "Europe on $10 a Day" that book saved me a lot of time and money..but something I had not factored in changed my entire planned itinerary after 4 days..the people I met..after that travel became more about people than destinations and sightseeing for me..eventually got married in Europe...you never know..remember the guide book and the websites are just that..guides..find and make friends at each place you travel to.
Friends are very important!!!!