How expensive is South America?
Just before the EU Referendum in June 2016, I mentioned that a leave victory would see the cost of travelling abroad creep up and thats exactly what happened. Luckily my trip to South America happened just a couple of months beforehand. Whether the cost falls over time depends on a number of factors, but for now some of the prices I came across might be slightly more expensive now.
I spent just over a month travelling from the Pacific Coast to the Atlantic Coast and in that time I managed to see four different countries. There's a couple of big omissions; Argentina and Colombia but I managed to see Peru, Bolivia, Chile and Brazil and there is a variation of cost between the different countries.
Compared to the cost of travelling around Thailand, South America was considerably more expensive, even in Bolivia which was the cheapest of the countries I had visited, however there are certain things you can do to make sure you get the best value for money. As I mentioned in my post on travelling around Thailand, the more you get to know a place, the cheaper the cost per day becomes.
How expensive is South America? Here's my take...
Chile in pictures
Chile is strange in that the country is not particularly wide, but is one of the longest north-south countries in the world. This means the geography of the country is incredibly varied. From the worlds driest desert in the north, to the large metropolis of Santiago in the centre and the natural scenery of lakes and mountains in Patagonia in the south. Compared to its neighbours, Chile is also a developed country and this was pretty obvious as soon as I crossed the border from Bolivia.
Chile lacked some of the charm of Peru, the excitement of Brazil or the uniqueness of Bolivia but it was still worth the visit. The Atacama desert in the north was something particularly impressive, just a vast expanse of dry heat.
Unfortunately I didn't have time to visit places such as Valparaiso or Patagonia but in this article I have included a selection of my favourite photo's that I took in the country, pictures that I think can give you a feel for Chile, its culture and its attractions.
SE Asia v South America
South East Asia or South America. These two parts of the world have seen an explosion of popularity over the past decade and for most people the decision of where to visit first is often a difficult one. In this entry, I'll try and rate each of the locations on factors that are important to the average person and come up with an overall rating.
Things to consider
Before I get things started, its important to note that my experiences over the two locations will vary. I spent more time in South East Asia, and it was also the place I decided to visit first. There are important locations missing from both locations. I didn't visit Laos in SE Asia and I didn't visit Colombia and Argentina in South America. Personally, I feel that Argentina is a significant omission due to the size of the country and the number of things to see and do. Ratings and experiences are also very subjective, my experience could be significantly different from the experience of others so I'd bare this in mind when you make your decision.
Finally, a comparison between the two locations isn't an exact science. The phrase apples and oranges comes to mind. Peru and Brazil have completely different cultures, speak completely different languages, yet for the purpose of comparison they have been lumped together under a loose 'South American' category. This entry is a subjective rough overview of my experiences and can form part of your research into each location.
Airport Rating *****
Reception of locals ****
After a week of playing catch up following my flight cancellation in Peru, the day had come when I was finally back on schedule. I got an early morning transfer from San Pedro de Atacama to Calama airport about an hour and a half away. Driving along the empty highway between the two towns in the darkness with no street lights was oddly relaxing and I drifted off on a number of occasions. I reached Calama shortly after sunrise and entered the small airport. I walked right up to check in and presented my passport. "Flying to Santiago?" the check-in lady asked. "Yep". "Okay, your flight has been cancelled".
Is this girl on crack, I thought to myself. I asked if they could put me on a train but I was told that there was no train station in the city. So I asked what my options were. She told me the airline was on strike and the next flight would be leaving in 6 days. Yep, she must have hit the crack hard, I then asked whether any other airlines were flying out from the airport and she told me there was one more and I could see if they had any spare seats. I asked for a letter showing that the flight was cancelled. I then spoke about what I would be entitled to which she agreed with and also told me I would be compensated for the flight once I got to Santiago, which I thought was pretty ironic.
San Pedro de Atacama & Calama, Chile
Airport Rating ***
Reception of locals *****
San Pedro de Atacama bore the brunt of the consequences of my cancelled flight. Having planned to spend a whole day there with a night tour of the desert, I managed to reach the town 12 hours later than I had originally planned, meaning for me, it was more of a resting place as opposed to a town I could explore.
As I mentioned in a previous entry, the flight cancellation had meant that I had to switch my three day salt flats tour to a one day tour. The three day tour would have slowly worked its way down Bolivia and into Chile, reaching San Pedro in small manageable journeys. As I had switched to the one day tour, I had to make one long journey from Uyuni to San Pedro via Calama.
British Sikh, born in the Midlands, based in London, travelling the world seeing new cultures.