Great job everybody, this forum is really great! I've been reading around quite extensively, yet the information is sometimes overwhelming, so I'm asking for your advice! And thanking in advance
We (me & my boyfriend) will be flying in from Europe to Buenos Aires on 12 Feb'14 and flying out from Rio on 1st of March. That's all that has been settled so far, so we have 16 day excluding in&out to plan the journey in -between. I was thinking to stay 3-4 days in Buenos Aires, take the ferry to Montevideo in Uruguay for 1 day, travel on land (bus, I assume), with stops, to Iguazu Falls, then fly to Rio where to spend the last 4-5 days.
As you can see, there are a lot of gaps there, so please pitch in as much as you like! Where to stop on the road, what do you recommend seeing? Do you recommend a different approach? Can I take the bus from Montevideo or I have to return tu Buenos Aires? How many days is optimal for Buenos Aires (btw, in which area should I look for accomodation)? What Brazilian low-cost airlines do you recommend? And I can go on
Another aspect is that in Rio the day before our departure is the first day of Carnaval (didn't plan it, but it turned out just great) so I believe I should book accomodaton quite fast. What area should we look for? I made a no-cancelation fee reservation just in case, but without much study, in Lapa, near the Arches (as it says). What do you think? And how may days should we stay in Rio ? The vibe should be really good before Carnaval, right?
We're not on the lowest budget possible, but would like to keep it real (use public transportation, no fancy restaurants, have efficiencies wherever possible), so we're trying to plan ahead.
Thanks a lot for reading all this and helping out!
PS. What currency should we bring? Better EUR or USD? I assume USD, but just to check (sure, we'll also have credit cards)
For everything in Argentina bring crisp new $100 US Dollar bills and exchange them into Argentinian Pesos. (If you use your credit/debit cards in any bank or ATM you pay the government rip-off exchange rate.)
Thanks a lot for the advice, Terry! Din't know the exchange rate could be that different.
By new you literally mean new? I'm asking because, for example, in Tanzania they wouldn't take US dollars older than 2000 and had different exchange rates for 1 / 5, 10/ 50,100 bills. Other countries might do the same.
Any other advice on itinerary / what not to miss in and around Buenos Aires?
Yup, we sure do intend to have fun!
Official government rate is a little over 5.5 Pesos per $1 USD. Unofficial rate is over 9.5 Pesos per $1 USD. As you can see the savings is massive.
You can easily handle the unofficial exchange yourself, but if that's intimidating then a local at your hostel should be able to assist. If they give you a rate of 8 or 8.5 they make some money for their trouble and you still come out way ahead of the government rip-off rate. The murky waters of money exchange are discussed in great detail here.
When I say "new" bills I mean ones that are in good shape with no rips, tears or writing on them. That's standard procedure almost anywhere in the world. And yes, $100 bills are always better than smaller denominations, don't even bother with the small bills, many exchange facilities won't even accept them.
Buenos Aires is a fabulous city, especially if you're nighthawk. Lots of places that rock all night. Costs vary wildly of course... BA can be a big money drain if you're not careful.
Terry is exactly right. Follow this advice, it is the best unknown secret of Argentina!
I can offer help with planning your trip around Brazil if that helps, sorry to reply so late but I don't check this very often.
You need to be pretty security conscious in the area aroun d the arches of lapa. It's got a fantastic vibe but just know that this is a spot where the con artists and thieves hang around. Keep your wits about you, don't flash around cash, cameras or mobile phones, and relax and enjoy the party street vibe.
I ive in Brazil now, not far from the pantanal, so can provide you with information about the Southern Pantanal as well, if you are interested in visiting here. Let me know what sort of advice you would like and i will give you my feedback. How exciting for you x
Thanks a lot for the reply, both Terry & Ecolily!
Terry, very useful info on the Argentinian exchange rate, I've been documenting myself consequently.
Ecolily, thanks for the watch-out, we'll try to stay safe . What neighborhood of Rio would you recommend to look for accomodation? I dindn't go for Copacabana or Ipanema because I'm more into bohemian streets & pubs than beach parties Plus, we're not on a high budget. Staying just for the first day of carnival makes it a bit more challenging to find accomodation.
And wow, you live near the Pantanal - I've seen some amazing pictures!!! We'll go to Iguazu but dates are not fixed yet - would you recommend integrating a few days in the Pantanal between Iguazu and Rio? Would that be doable in a decent logstics and price? Or what else would you recommend inbetwen Iguazu and Rio?