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Backpacking through South & Central America

May 08, 2019

Backpacking through South & Central America

Here is how you can plan your dream adventure in the vivacious and mysterious Latin America.

“One must estimate the amount of money that will be spent each day to which a 20 percent could be added as a buffer in case of accidents or emergencies.”

Planning expenses

It is important to plan the budget ahead of time. One must estimate the amount of money that will be spent each day to which a 20 percent could be added as a buffer in case of accidents or emergencies. Many backpackers on a budget have very comfortably survived on a meagre budget between USD 60 to USD 80 per day.

“To benefit you need American dollars in cash. Buy dollars in India before you leave and change it to the local currency on time of arrival. Do your research before travel but American dollars are universally accepted in South and Central America.”

Foreign exchange

A number of South/Central American countries have currencies pegged/fixed to the US dollar where a better parallel (black market) exchange rate can exist. To benefit you need American dollars in cash. Buy dollars in India before you leave and change it to the local currency on time of arrival. Do your research before travel but American dollars are universally accepted in South and Central America.

Also, do carry some money in the form of travellers cheques and forex cards for a safety net.

Visa Planning

Unlike Europe, you will need a separate visa to travel into different countries in South America. Procuring visas can be a long and cumbersome task involving tons of paperwork. Plan in advance and obtain visas while at home, collating paper work in a foreign country can be difficult to do.

Flight tickets

South America is quite cheap by international standards; at least once you are here. Flight tickets will probably be the chunkiest of all your expenses. Flights to that part of the world from India are long and expensive. Proper planning is essential to avail best deals. Keep your eyes and ears open for deals on airfares.   

“Spanish is widely spoken in South and Central America, barring Brazil that speaks Portuguese the national language of most countries is Spanish.”

Local language advantage  

Spanish is widely spoken in South and Central America, barring Brazil that speaks Portuguese the national language of most countries is Spanish. You don’t need to be fluent in Spanish, but a basic level makes a huge difference in this region.

Safety and Security

Although South America is mostly safe and peace loving there have been incidents of theft and petty crime. It is therefore advisable to practise caution. Crowed places such as markets and bus stations are where most petty crimes occur. Some violent crime, take care at night and during civil unrest (stay well away from demonstrations) – road blocks and unrest around Easter time common. On the whole, these are all minor issues and it is a fairly safe country on regional standards.

Food

The sub continent is a perfect place for a culinary adventure of a lifetime. With each region having it is own diverse produce and cook styles there is just so much to choose from. Vegetarians however might have a hard time finding food. Happy Cow is an excellent resource, with a comprehensive list of vegetarian restaurants and stores worldwide. Listings here are usually up-to-date and include user reviews; the site also has a travel forum, great for advice and trouble-shooting. Useful links to vegan-specific travel info can be found at Circle Our Earth.

What to see

The top places you will want to see before leaving include Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, The Amazon Basin, Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia, Patagonia, and Machu Picchu. There is something for everyone – beaches, forests, big cities, adventure and luxury. Do your research on what other places you might want to visit while there. The options are literally endless.

 

 

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