Author Topic: Travel in South America costs?  (Read 2902 times)

ElGrillo

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Travel in South America costs?
« on: March 18, 2016, 10:10:39 PM »
Hello everybody! I'm going to be studying abroad in Ecuador this summer, and after the session is over (lasts from the end of May until the end of June) I plan on having a week to do my own traveling, or perhaps travel with another partner or two.

I plan on having around $500 to last me for that extra week, which is either nothing or a lot, depending on how you look at it. My question is this: for those of you with experience in traveling in South America, is this a reasonable budget for one week or should I plan on more? Also, what country or other cities would you recommend visiting, and what activities would be fun? I love the outdoors, museums, and am really open to most experiences.

I'll be in mostly in Cuenca for the actual semester, so I'm looking to venture in other cities during that extra week. Also, in case it makes a difference in advice it's worth it to note that I can speak Spanish fairly well, and will be better after the semester is over.

I know there are probably countless articles on Google with budget guidelines, but I'm looking for what are your personal experiences with the cost??

hankscorpio84

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Re: Travel in South America costs?
« Reply #1 on: March 18, 2016, 10:30:20 PM »
I'm not super familiar with Ecuador, but have traveled all over Colombia and Brazil.  You should have no problem with a $500/week budget.  A decent private room at a hostel goes 20-30/night, less if you stay in the dorm.  Most hostels have kitchens where you could cook a bit for yourself, but I always found no-frills restaurants and cafes with a "set lunch" - a big plate with rice, beans, and some kind of meat for a few bucks.  I found that getting around for daily things by cab vs. bus varied from place to place, and if you are traveling alone or with a friend.  Cabs almost always come out ahead when splitting.  Be sure to ask around before booking any long range bus tickets.  There are different levels of service (nice, luxury buses vs. old, loud rattletraps) and the prices can vary based on who is selling you the ticket.  Many people in Latin America are mustachian out of necessity, so pay attention to the locals!  If you've already been there a month you should already know all the secrets by then :)

ElGrillo

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Re: Travel in South America costs?
« Reply #2 on: March 18, 2016, 10:40:11 PM »
I'm not super familiar with Ecuador, but have traveled all over Colombia and Brazil.

Both Colombia and Brazil are on my list of places to look into! What cities in Brazil would you recommend?

hankscorpio84

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Re: Travel in South America costs?
« Reply #3 on: March 18, 2016, 11:15:19 PM »
I only went to Rio (and all of the short trips around Rio like Buzios, Paraty and Petropolis) Iguacu falls, and Florianopolis, over the course of almost 3 months.  Brazil is just too huge to see it all at the pace I like to go.  I was there in 07-08 also when the dollar was not nearly as strong, so it stretched the budget a bit more than it would now.  Rio is a must see, so are Iguacu falls - nice town too.  If I had to recommend one place it would be Florianopolis - actually Ihla de Santa Catarina, the island with all the beaches near Floripa.  Weather wasn't as hot as Rio in the summer.  Good bus system, great beaches, surf, and fun people.  My favorite was a bar only accessible by foot that had a local salsa band every Sunday.  When they ran out of limes to make caipirinhas they didn't shut down, nor did they frown upon customers climbing the trees to get more limes :)

Abel

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Re: Travel in South America costs?
« Reply #4 on: March 19, 2016, 12:52:36 AM »
Ecuador is wonderful, Cuenca being among one of its nicer cities. I bicycled from the Colombian border at Ipiales through Otavolo, Quito, Ambato, Cuenca, Loja, eventually on to Peru. I think your budget will be more than sufficient. Bus transport is cheap (bicycles are pretty amazing in the Andes but I understand if that is unrealistic for your week of adventure). Hostels also very accommodating. And I personally loved the set lunches you can find at small road side restaurants in countless neighborhoods or villages, not only for the simple and big portions of good food (better and more flavorful than a lot of the inland food you'll see in Peru for example) but the good conversation with the families that often run them.

Get out in the mountains and ecological reserves as much as possible! Banos is a great place to see if you can make it. Quito is definitely worth a day, walking around the colonial old part of the city is very nice, lots of hikes in the area as well.

Also in my experience, Ecuador has the finest bakeries in all of S America, north of Argentina. Lots of delicious, delicious baked goods which hit the spot when you're hungry from riding a bicycle all day!

nanana13

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Re: Travel in South America costs?
« Reply #5 on: March 19, 2016, 01:46:16 PM »
$500 for a week in mainland Ecuador should hold you over nicely, especially if you are okay with staying in hostels.

Despite the strong dollar at the moment, places like Brazil and Argentina are still a bit expensive in comparison to countries in the northern part of the continent (e.g. Ecuador, Colombia).

Have fun!

dreams_and_discoveries

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Re: Travel in South America costs?
« Reply #6 on: March 19, 2016, 02:03:56 PM »
I'd do day/weekend trips during the semester to Ecuador, then pick one country to explore for the other week - otherwise you'll spend so much time travelling. Enjoy the experience, your Spanish will be amazing afterwards.

otter

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Re: Travel in South America costs?
« Reply #7 on: March 29, 2016, 01:23:09 PM »
I second the advice to pick one place (certainly one country, and preferably only a part of it) for your free week and don't spend too much of that time traveling.

If it were me, I would get a flight to Santa Marta, Colombia, then take a bus to Parque Nacional Tayrona, which is divine. I'd happily spend a whole week there. But this may not be to your taste. (Warning: costeņo Spanish can be difficult ot understand :) )

My only experience in Latin American is with Colombia (where much of my family is from) and Venezuela (where I was born.) Colombia is terrific. Venezuela is a shitshow - don't bother.

Capsu78

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Re: Travel in South America costs?
« Reply #8 on: March 29, 2016, 01:53:04 PM »
I spent 10 days in Quito last year- found an excellent family run B&B for $28/night and the hostess would not let me up from the breakfast table- basically an opening fruit plate, then rolls and cakes, then an egg dish with meat!  I was pretty much fed through late afternoon. 
Ecuador was nicely described to me as a land mass about the size of Colorado, but with hundreds of miles of coastline, all the way up to 19,000 feet volcanic mountain peaks and everything in between- including the Galapogos Islands and the start of the rain forest.  I had no problem filling out the time from one base in Quito.
It will cost more than you plan if you want to go to Galapogos, but if you could swing it I would do that over leaving the country for another.  I used this tour company to set up a couple of day tours, but he caters to trips anywhere in Ecuador so you might get some ideas of what you may want to do from following his itineraries:

 http://www.luistipan-ecuador.com/en/about-us.html

SandyBoxx

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Re: Travel in South America costs?
« Reply #9 on: March 29, 2016, 08:35:55 PM »
We have only hit up 3 south american countries (Peru, Ecuador & Panama), and Peru has been our favourite thus far.  We found our dollar went MUCH further there, and the people seemed much more friendly!

If I only had a week and wasn't sure I would be back, I would try to book the Inca Trail hike with http://www.perutreks.com/ as they were amazing, the food was outstanding, and they treated their staff much better than some of the other (ahem - Canadian and UK) companies.  We did the trail back in 2006, but 3 different groups of friends have been since - and it sounds like the service and food quality is still very high!

Spend the day or two ahead of the hike touring the sights around Cuzco and enjoying Cuzquena & Pisco sours, then add a day onto the end of your Inca trail hike and overnight at the hot springs in Aguas Calientes before returning on the train.

Have a great trip!