South America Travel Tips
We don’t use the term South America Travel Specialists loosely… it’s a claim we make because we have travelled the continent many times over. We know the back streets and the best rooms to stay in the best hotels. We have established relationships with trusted local providers. And we love booking South American trips for our clients.
If you are considering a trip, here are our best South America travel tips to save you time and money on your travels.
English in South America
In most of the areas that tourists will visit, English is widely spoken… but if you want to bring a smile to the face of a South American, having a few words of Spanish up your sleeve will certainly do the trick.
In Brazil, the language spoken is Portuguese. It isn’t spoken much in other countries.
If you are planning to head off the tourist trail – in South America this is the best way to travel – having a little understanding of Spanish is more important as English is not so common in smaller and remote communities.
Although, the challenge of ‘Spanglish’ conversations is certainly an experience!
For our travellers, we recommend an introductory tour in each country you visit with one of our private English-speaking tour partners. This allows you to ask all your questions and practise your Spanish or Portuguese. Having a local’s insight to the region is an absolute bonus!
Is South America safe?
No matter where you travel in the world, there are always elements of risk if you aren’t careful.
South America is as safe as anywhere in the world.
Our local guides are conscious of safety and start by briefing travellers on what to look out for to keep themselves safe.
Basic travel awareness and paying attention to your surrounds is the best advice we can give!
Before any of our clients travel to any destination, we talk through areas and situations to avoid… and usually our travellers are surprised at how safe they actually felt on their journey.
Rail travel in South America
Unfortunately, rail travel in South America isn’t some highly interconnected system of trains… but most cities do have a cheap and efficient train system.
We usually recommend taxis more than trains as they are a reasonably priced and safe way of getting around town.
In Peru, The Andean Explorer takes you between Cusco, Lake Titicaca and Arequipa and is a fantastic experience.
For a train experience in Ecuador, Tren Ecuador is a wonderful four-day journey from Quito to Guayaquil, that travels along volcanoes and local villages.
Buses in South America
For long distance travel, buses in South America are the way to go.
Unlike the window of an aeroplane, from a bus window you have a perfect view of the countryside whizzing by.
Some bus services offer lie-flat beds and a meal service, just like travelling by plane.
For South American air passes and internal flights, LATAM is the major South American airline. It flies from Sydney and Melbourne direct to Santiago and then connects to 155 cities within South America.
If you travel to South America with a LATAM ticket, expect to receive substantial discounts for flights within South America.
We have access to LATAM’s full range of discounted fares and can help you plan your journey to maximise the benefits and minimise delays.
South America visas
Visas for South America aren’t required for Australian citizens.
If you clear customs in Santiago, Chile, you will be charged an entry fee… otherwise you can enter all South American countries freely.
Yellow fever vaccinations are required in some places and malaria medication is recommended in some areas. We provide details on all requirements to our travellers as part of our service.
Power supplies in South America
Each country has different power supplies so be sure to pack an international adaptor. A multi-country adaptor will save money and space in your luggage.
In some areas you travel to, power outlets may be limited, so be sure to pack a contingency of backup chargers for your devices that you can use and charge as required.
Pack a corkscrew
This may be the most important tip we provide… particularly if you are staring down a delicious bottle of Chilean wine that you just can’t crack open! Most South American wine bottles still have corks, so pack a corkscrew with you if you want to pick up a bottle or two to taste along the way.