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Travelling South America !! Please help !!

Travel Forums Central/South America & The Caribbean Travelling South America !! Please help !!

1. Posted by studley (Budding Member 2 posts) 9y


I am a 19 year old student from the United Kingdom and am planning on travelling with two of my friends, During June and July 07.

We are planning on flying into Buenos Aires travelling up to Rio visiting a few attractions on the way. Then making our way through Bolivia to Lima. We have allocated 37 days for the trip and are planning on doing it with no internal flights.

I have a few questions that I would like advice on:

1. Firstly does the above sound possible. Could we do all of the travelling with no tour guides. In the 37 days?

2. None of us speak Spanish so will it be hard for us to get buses, taxis, boats.... to destinations?

3. We have around £1200 around $2350, $64 per day!!! This will need to cover every thing accommodation, transport, food and drink.......except for flights from the UK and Home to the UK. Does is sound realistic or even possible??? ( we do plan to do it cheaply)

4. Will it be safe to travel and plan our own adventure? As South America is known to have dangerous areas!!

5. We are travelling in the winter I think, will the weather still be hot enough to swim in the sea and get a nice tan!!?

6. I said that we plan to do it with no internal flights this is to save money but if any one has any advice or knows any cheap flight or rough prices if we book flights there that would be great?

They are question I have just though of there are probably another few i will been to now, so if any on has any advice be it positive or negative i bet it will help .

Any info on:

Places to go
Prices of anything

All of the help will be greatly appreciated thanks in advance!!

Best regards

2. Posted by u2o41 (Budding Member 18 posts) 9y

Hi Steve,
I did this last year on the same type of budget. Never followed quite the same route but travelled just as far and further over a period of 9 weeks. I travelled overland by bus which are very good and simple to arrange, my spanish is poor. You will be fine, i had not set plan for when i got there just my first two nights booked in at a hostel. Enjoy! Any questions, I will try to answer.

3. Posted by samsara_ (Travel Guru 5353 posts) 9y

Hi Steve

1. You should have no problem travelling without tour guides. They are nice to have on something like the inca trail but for getting around generally you will be well able to do this yourself. 37 days should be enough to do the route you want, although you wnot have much time to sit and chill anywhere. But it is doable :)

2. I didnt have a word of SPanish when I arrived in South America and I got by. You'll pick some up as you go. And the Lonely Planet phrasebook is a handy companion ;)

3. 64$ a day is heaps! You'll live like a king on that. You'll find Brazil slightly more expensive for accommodation (esp in Rio) but Argentina, Bolivia and Peru are very easy on your pocket :)

4. You have be watchful at all times in South America in my opinion, moreso at night. It's a good idea just to have a rough idea of the layout of cities you are arriving into so you dont look like a headless chicken once you get off the bus somewhere. Keep your money and passport close to your body and out of sight, and in Rio dont flash your camera around too much. ;) Other than that, you'll have a ball and you'll find South American people really friendly and interested to meet you. :)

5. I was in Brazil in the winter last year and the days were hot and sunny. (July) You can definitely hang out on Copacobana or Ipanema beach and work on your tan ;) Argentina around that time was grey mostly with a few days of rain, but generally still pretty pleasant.
Cant tell you what Peru or Bolivia are like at that time of year, but I'm there are others here who can. :)

6. I'd recommend going overland as it's the best way to see the countryside and going on the buses are an experience in themselves. Bus travel in Argentina is fab! Brazil is okay. Bring a sense of humour with you for Bolivia and Peru :mrgreem:
If you do decide to fly, there are a few options:
Aerolineas Argentina
Gol Airlines
Varas Airlines

Hope that helps. ;)
Enjoy your trip

4. Posted by samsara_ (Travel Guru 5353 posts) 9y

Man, I smile a lot

5. Posted by studley (Budding Member 2 posts) 9y

Just a quick thank you for the replies so for they have been amazing and so helpful. I am starting to get excited and the replies are starting to build confidence and expectations for my travels.

Thanks again to u2o41, samsara2 and keep the replies coming any help we get is great and appreciated

Samsara loving the smiles

6. Posted by KoalaGirl (Travel Guru 307 posts) 9y

Quoting samsara2

5. I was in Brazil in the winter last year and the days were hot and sunny. (July) You can definitely hang out on Copacobana or Ipanema beach and work on your tan ;) Argentina around that time was grey mostly with a few days of rain, but generally still pretty pleasant.
Cant tell you what Peru or Bolivia are like at that time of year, but I'm there are others here who can. :)

I spent a few weeks in Peru and Bolivia in July and the weather was great. Bolivia was actually quite hot most of the time... it did get cold at night in La Paz though, but all you needed to do was throw on an extra jumper.

$64 per day sounds like more than enough based on my experiences..... have a blast!!

7. Posted by BeckyLloyd (Full Member 3 posts) 9y

Hi Steve

firstly, you are going to have an awesome time!

1) You will be absolutely fine with no guides. you'll probabaly have a better time without them as then you will have the flexibility to change your plans (as you invairiably will!). I recomend making a list of the places that sound really cool to you and that you definately don't want to miss. Allow them a certain number of days each, making sure that you have at least 3 days to play with at the end so you can stay somehwere longer when you discover a wicked place (or a completely new place to go!).

2) With a tiny bit of preprep on language you'll be making your lives a lot easier, but without you'll be more than fine. The LP phrase book is great. Have you thought about doing a 4/5 week basic course in holiday spanish? I found mine really useful.

3) You have loads of money!!! I spent less than that in 6 weeks in Argentina. To give you an idea though - in Argentina a bus that takes about 12 hours will be about US$35 but includes food and drink. In Brasil this will be about the same, but a little more sometimes and not including food (they stop in a roadside cafe but take snacks). In Bolivia and Peru the buses are a lot cheaper (as is everything else!) but also not nearly as nice. There are toilets on all the long distance buses in Brasil and Argentina, but not in Boliva and Peru but they do have toilet stops (in Bolivia this involves a tree or hill!).

4) There are dangerous areas in all countries in the world! There are slightly more in S America than some other places probably, but you shouldn't be affected by this if you stay sensible about being careful with the stuff that is important to you. For example; ALWAYS be ultra careful in bus stations; have 2 photocopies (in different places) of all your tickets, passports, travel insurance and bank details and leave a set at home as well; always keep your passport and any excess money and cards in a money belt under your trousers (and put this in a safe where possible); on buses always keep your day bag close to you; if you are going out drinking take a card from the hostel so you know where to go back to (this is not as stupid as it sounds!), if you feel unsafe don't wait for your friends to say something just walk away from the situation.

6) It is more environmentally sound to take buses everywhere, but as you are short on time you might want to check out the prices of flights as sometimes they are almost the same price as the bus. You do miss out on scenery though. Think about taking night buses when travelling longer distances.

Hostels: Get a Hosteling International card as this will save you money in the long run. Hostels in Argentina are about US$7 to 10. In Brasil they are about US$8-12. In Bolivia they are about US$3-5 and a little more in Peru but not much. Check out and etc for ideas and addresses, but you shouldn't need to book as it is not peak season. In the bus stations and town centres in Argentina there are tourist information stands that can help you find somewhere, but less so in the other countries.

I found STA travel really good to talk to about all this (even if you don't book anything with them!) as there will almost certainly be someone working there who has been to these countries who you can chat to.

Prices: Food is cheap to eat out in Brasil so you shouldn't need to cook too much as breakfast is included in hostel prices. In argentina food is more expensive so prepare to cook in the hostels more (but you must splash out on a regular steak and try the asada!). In Bolivia and Peru the cheapest (and best in my opinion!) are the workers cafés where the locals eat. Listed will be the menu of the day (about 50p) which will be a soup to start and then a main which will be rice and beans and fish or meat. Don't have drinks with ice in though! Beer in Brasil is about 85p for a litre bottle. The price of spirits all over normally includes the mixer and the measure is about 4x what one is at home!

Health: Be prepared to have a dodgy tummy every now and then. It is unlikely to be anything serious, just your body getting used to everything being different. In Bolivia and Peru you can save yourself a bit of this by using bottled water to clean your teeth.

Since I seem to have written you an essay I am going to leave you with all that to digest and go and get a beer and sit on the beach...travelling is such hard work ;)

8. Posted by KoalaGirl (Travel Guru 307 posts) 9y

Hey Steve,

I think BeckyLloyd got it right! Pretty much sums up my experience over there. In fact, BeckyLloyd you describe it so well i think I might just go get me another plane ticket now

...doh! forgot I can't leave right at this moment, but I will follow the advice of

go and get a beer and sit on the beach