South America Travel Guide
South American countries attract large number of travellers from around the world, as all together they create a unique place, where history and culture of different nations are merged. South America is a nice place to spend vacation due to long white beaches, lost cultures of the Incas and Aztecs, the Amazon jungle and snow-capped peaks of the Andes. Add the diversity of unusual sights as well as hiking trails and recreation options that are hard to be found anywhere else.
When you visit South America for the first time you probably face a dilemma which country should you pick to start exploring the continent. The majority prefers to start with Peru which has largely preserved its unique culture due to the fact that more than half of the country’s population are indigenous people.
The first place to visit is the ancient city of Machu Picchu. Located high in the mountains it is quite difficult to reach. However, if you do manage to get there, you would get truly spectacular views. While staying there you can visit famous Sun Gate, the ancient observatory and more than two hundred other buildings such as temples and palaces. The main feature of these buildings is that they are rock-cut or built of huge boulders that are carefully adjusted one to another.
A picturesque place in Peru that is worth visiting is the mountain lake of Titicaca. The lake is remarkable due to the fact that people who live there build their huts on reed islands. These huts make up villages. But how they do that? The base for these huts consist of multiple layers of rotten reed laid on top of one another for thousand years.
One of the most famous destinations in South America is Rio de Janeiro, visited for its stunning beaches and colourful carnivals. Carnival is the national pride of Brazil that attracts travellers from around the world to attend it and to dance Samba. The symbol of Rio de Janeiro is the statue of Christ the Redeemer, which is visible from anywhere in the city.
Brazil is also known for its pristine nature, featuring a variety of flora and fauna. Forests along the Amazon River include nearly 60% of all life forms known on Earth. The Waterfalls of Iguazu are the widest waterfalls in the world situated on the border of Brazil and Argentina.
If you get the chance, visit the famous Easter island (Rapa Nui), which belongs to Chile. The giant stone moai idols are its main sights, that stand with their back to the sea all across the island. These idols have a height range from 1 to 21 meters, and weight up to 20 tons. The reason why ancient inhabitants installed these statues is yet to be discovered so far.
Another mysterious place in South America is a desert of Nazca, which is also known as the pearl of the continent. Mysterious pictures of animals and geometric shapes located there. To watch these pictures you have to look high above the ground as the length of lines is up to 23 km. As with Easter Island, the purpose why these pictures were created is also unknown.
If you find yourself in Bolivia, it is worth trying to get to Uyuni salt flats, which are located in the southern part of the country at an altitude of 3.6 km above sea level. Lake diameter is 300 km, while salt thickness in some parts as high as 10 meters. During winter time frozen salt form fantastic shapes of enormous size. It is curious that near the lake was built a hotel made of salt blocks.
Bolivia attracts urban travellers with its most mountainous town La Paz, which is located in a huge crater of an extinct volcano. The city itself is located at an altitude of 4 thousand meters above sea level, where no vegetation can be found. Near the town there is another great sight of moon valley that is a maze of deep canyons.
Activities in South America are an unforgettable experience, an opportunity to plunge into the secrets of ancient civilizations and enjoy the majestic power of wildlife.
AVERAGE COST OF TRAVEL IN SOUTH AMERICA
Accommodation – The accommodation price in South America depends on the country you stay in. You can find hostels for 8-18 USD per night in Chile, for 10-15 USD in Brazil and 9-14 USD in Argentina. Hotels prices also differ from 24 USD per night in Rio De Janeiro and 46 USD in Buenos Aires. To save money on accommodation you may consider staying with locals for weekly price.
Food – Food is cheap in South America. In Rio you can spend around 6-7 USD while eating fast food or in inexpensive restaurants. Mid-range restaurant would be more expensive, around 25 USD for two persons. Having a meal in Buenos Aires would set you back for 13 USD in inexpensive restaurant and mid-range, three-course meal is around 50 USD.
Getting Around South America – The best way to pass through long distances in Argentina is by plane thanks to an extensive network of air routes and airports availability in major cities. Tickets are best booked in advance. Please note that flight delays may occur. International bus routes connect Argentina with neighbouring countries: Chile, Bolivia, Uruguay, Paraguay and Brazil. The price for One-way ticket using local transport is 0.50 USD, monthly pass is 25 USD, taxi prices start from the normal charge of 2 USD.
Buses that are used by locals have several levels of comfort. The most convenient and expensive called leito, this type has integrated beds instead of seats. Night buses should be booked at least one day except Rio – Sao Paulo route which departs every 30 minutes. When you travel long distance it might be more convenient to fly in the airplane. Brazil has a dense network of domestic airlines, that connects major towns. One-way ticket for bus in Rio is 0.85 USD, monthly pass is around 44 USD, taxi start within normal charge – 1.30 USD.
The most popular ways to get to distant cities in Chile are by airplane or by ferry. There are several companies offering long-distance bus transport. There are no problems with the schedule. Trains of the State Railway Transport System (Sistema Estatal de Ferrocarriles) run from Santiago to Temuco. Trains are inexpensive and have several car types to provide various comfort levels. However, problems with roads and trains occur from time to time, so the journey might be delayed. One-way ticket in Chile is 1 USD, monthly pass is around 43 USD, taxi start within normal charge less than 1 USD.
Entertainment – The place of nightlife and other bulk of sights is in Santiago, adventures can be found even in small town of Puerto Natales, Patagonia though. Districts of Bellavista, Bosque Norte, Suesiya, Las Condes are well-known for their gorgeous restaurants that offer meals for 30-55 USD. District of artists, actors and writers is Bellavista, located between the San Cristobal hill and Mapocho river. Suecia street attracts nightclubs lovers and disco fans. If you want to rent a bicycle in Santiago it would be free for the first 30 minutes. The next hour is around 0.7 USD, the second hour – 1.4 USD. Ticket price to the Chilean National Museum of Fine Arts is around 1 USD.
Sightseeing in Argentina is a bit more expensive than in other South American countries. Visit to Evita Peron museum is around 2.5 USD, a boat ride to the falls would be 100 USD. Ticket to Iguazu Falls is around 12 USD. The ruins of San Ignacio Mini – 2.5 USD
Activities in Brazil are quite cheap for budget travellers. Ticket price to the Botanical Garden is 1.5 USD, lifting to the Sugarloaf mountain is 11 USD, museums prices start from 0.75 USD. The ticket price to the Corcovado mountain train starts from 14 USD off season.