Backpack Safety America Month on September, 2024: Backpacking South America Question?
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backpacking in South America does not have to be dangerous, provided you apply common sense. It also doesn't matter whether you backpack alone or in a group. Last year I backbacked 4 months through South America (Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia), and 6 months through Central America (Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama) by myself and did not find it dangerous.
What is South America like?
I am from Southern California and travelled in Central and South America for 10 months last year, and will go again to South America in September for about 6 months time. I am a backpacker too, male and solo as well. I met a lot of backpackers from all over the world including some single girls in their early 20ies.
South America is pretty inexpensive with the exception of Brazil and Chile. Brazil seems to be the most expensive country in South America. I stayed at hostels and also with local families. Hostels will run you an average of about $ 10.00/night in a dorm room, sometimes breakfast is included. I used to make reservations at the hostels a few days in advance through either www.hostelbookers.com or www.hostels.com. Some larger hostels offer backpackers to work at the hostels, not for money but for free accommodation and sometimes a free lunch or dinner.
I travelled within a country and from country to country by bus. The long distance buses are pretty good, all with air conditioning, sometimes tandem drivers, and most of them are realtively new. Also, bus travel within South America is pretty inexpensive.
Here's an examples of bus fares:
COLOMBIA: Cartagena to Bogota, 22 hours, about $ 50.00
COLOMBIA: Bogota to Cali, 15 hours, about $ 28.00
COLOMBIA: Cali to Ipiales, 15 hours, about $ 20.00
ECUADOR: Quito to Guayaquil, 10 hours, about $ 10.00
PERU: Lima to Cusco, 22 hours, about $ 50.00
BOLIVIA/PERU; La Paz to Lima, 32 hours, about $ 90.00
You can eat pretty cheap as well. A typical meal "Comida tipica", consisting of rice/beans, some meat, veggies, and a beverage for about $ 3.00 or less in most countries. A bottle of beer at a bar between
$ 1.00 and $ 2.00. A men's haircut about $ 3.00, and a women's haircut not a lot more. For your info, hard liquer in Ecuador is kinda expensive though, but beer is not. Also, in South America you should stay away from the wine, because it is kinda expensive and not that great. However, in Chile and Argentina wine will be your choice of drink because it is very good and very inexpensive.
The cheapest countries I have travelled to in South America are Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia. In Cusco/Peru (gateway to Machu Picchu) I used to have lunch and dinner at a local restaurants (there were no tourists whatsoever) for under $ 1.00 including a beverage.
I know you are on a budget, however, do NOT miss out on some excursions even though some of them are not exactly cheap but totally worth it. In Colombia you got to do the 5 day jungle treking to "La Ciudad Perdida" (The Los City) in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. You will have an incredible experience. It will cost you about $ 280.00 for 5 days all inclusive.
In Ecuador you wanna climb up Mount Cotopaxi up to the glacier at 16,400 feet, and mountain bike down the mountain for about an hour. This is actually pretty cheap. The whole day including organized bus from Quito, lunch, rental of the mountain bike, etc. will cost you about $ 35.00.
In Bolivia you gotta mountain bike on the World's Most Dangerous Road from La Paz to Coroico, which is about 40 miles, and all downhill. You will get an adrenaline rush of your lifetime. This will cost you about $ 100.00 for the whole day all inclusive (about 10 hours). You should book only through Gravity Bolivia, www.gravitybolivia.com. This is the best, safest, and most experienced mountain biking company in Bolivia. The owner is a nice guy from New Zealand.
Ok, and here's what safety is concerned. During my 10 months trip I felt always safe, but of course you have to apply common sense. There are always some parts of the country or cities that should be avoided, but the same is true here in the U.S. Colombia has some bad reputation what safety is concerned, but people usually focus on isolated cases. Colombia used to be an unsafe country, but not any more.
When you decide to travel to South America you should learn some Spanish though. The best way to learn Spanish is in a Spanish speaking country, and it can be very inexpensive. For example, in Ecuador I paid $ 150.00/week for 20 hours with a private teacher.
Also, you said that you wanna go for 3 months. Do youself a favor and try not to do all of South America in 3 months because it is a waste of time and money. I would not do more than 3 countries, honestly, because there is so much to see in each country.
Ok, have a great time and be safe.
P.S. Regarding volunteering, there's not really a website where you can sign up in advance. I suggest to hook up with an orpanage through a hostel. I did some volunteer work in Bolivia at a wild animal shelter, taking care mostly of monkeys, which was fun. If you wanna more ideas, or address, or whatever let me know.
how much do i need to go backpacking in europe for two months?
Hi Austin from a backpacker. Hostels cost around £15 - £25 in most of Europe and some places you can get a budget hotel for the same price as a hostel. Allow £25 for safety.
You'll need around £5 a day minimum for food if you go shopping with people you meet, share the costs and cook and eat together, and another £5 a day for odd bits like stopping for coffees and snacks, buying choccy bars etc.
Nearly all the hostels have kitchens you can use. They are a big money saver.
Then there are travel fares like trains and buses and admission fees to attractions for which you'll need around £5 a day average for a month or two's holiday if you're only travelling every few days.
That's £40 a day basic.
One month of 30 days = £40 x 30 = £1200. Two months = £2400
If you get home after a good tour round and you've slept and eaten OK and not been roughing it a lot and you've seen loads on the way, got into castles and theatres, had some pleasure trips out to local attractions and nights out in town and you've still got £200 left from your basic starting budget you've done pretty good
That £1200 a month basic can soon turn into £1500.
That's only £300 a month more...£10 a day on your basic budget, or £50 a day.
£3000 for a two month trip. Soon adds up.
If you're living it up in nightclubs and seeing expensive shows like 60 Euros minimum to get into an equestrian show at the Spanish Riding School in Vienna or the outdoor operas in Verona or a trip on the Danube from Vienna to Budapest on the fast hydrofoil riverbus for 80 Euros each way you can easily blow £4000 for a two month trip.
You could do the two months on £1800 if you are being very frugal, choose the cheapest countries to visit and the cheapest accommodation every time, eat only just well enough to keep going and don't see much or travel around much and don't have any nights out in town enjoying where you are.
What kind of a holiday is that? Misery. No good at all.
Europe, even the cheaper parts, is expensive if you want to travel around and have a good roof over your head everywhere you stay, eat well enough and have a decent time of it instead of just existing.
Hostels, and see the link on it. Read Willeke and Myself. Willeke is always very good
South America can be cheaper and of course some parts of Asia are very cheap.
You can get a return flight to Lima in Peru these days for around £500 from the UK and see Machu Picchu a lot cheaper than paying a travel agent for it.
Arranging all your travel locally as you go round and buying domestic airline tickets there for the longer journeys, you can do two months travelling around Peru and maybe bits of Chile and see Ecuador or Colombia for a while on £3000 total and live pretty well, and doing all those will involve a few domestic flights and very long bus journeys which are cheap at local prices.
Here's a trip from a few years ago 9 cheaper then) you can do now for around £1600 for a month, including £500 for the big flight from Paris (Air France) or Madrid (Iberia) to Lima, which you get a connecting flight for thrown in for that money from London or Manchester or some other airport in the UK, if there is no direct flight to Lima from the UK.
For example if you book Manchester- Lima with Air France or BA you get a flight to Paris from Manchester to pick up the daily flight to Lima from there.
The Air France flight will have a BA number as well for BA passengers. It's common for airlines to share flights, called codeshare flights.
South East Asia for six weeks...nice