As we make our way through South America, we will put up the most useful things we have learned along the way! Hope they are helpful to you, and please pass them on!
Argentina Tips & Travel Advice
1. If you own the most recent Lonely Planet Argentina or South America on a Shoestring books (March and August 2010 respectively), the most important thing we can tell you is that the prices listed in there are WAY, WAY off! There has been more than 20% inflation since those books were published and I would add at least 20-40 pesos to any price listed. We worked out our whole budget for Argentina based on that, and it has been nearly impossible to stick to, even with cooking our own food instead of eating out.
2. Argentine Spanish is pronounced very differently to Latin American or Castillian Spanish and is quite confusing until you understand the changes. The three most common are: ‘LL’ – instead of the ‘y’ sound the double L makes, they use a ‘juh’ sound. Example – Rio Gallegos is pronounced Rio Ga – jay – gos. ‘Y’ – Instead of the ‘y’ sound, its also a ‘j’. Example – Yo tengo is pronounced Jo tengo. And the last is is ‘S’ – instead of ‘s’, it’s a ‘sh’. Example – Mas is pronounced Mash.
3. The South of Argentina seems to be about 50% more expensive than the North. Expect very high prices (for the budget traveller) in Patagonia.
4. The plumbing in many places in Argentia cannot handle the amount of toilet paper people need, and so nearly everywhere will have signs to throw your used paper in the trash can/rubbish bin. Thats for all toilet paper used, even when it seems disgusting. Better that, then blocked toilets.
5. Patagonia is cold, even in the summer. Bring a decent jacket, a beanie and some mittens, at the very least.
1. Get out of the Retiro bus station as soon as possible. A high number of pickpockets occur there. Beware of the scam where fake money is dropped on the ground and a helpful person telling you you’ve dropped it. When you turn around to see, they will pickpocket you. – (submitted by Jamie, UK)
2. When taking a taxi, check your money first. If you only have 100s, ask taxi drivers if they have change for 100 before you leave. A scam is to take your real 100, look like they are searching for change, and will give you a fake one back. – (submitted by Jamie, UK)
Bolivia Tips & Travel Advice
1. Bolivia ia at very high altitude and so is pretty cold, even in the summer. Be prepared with lots of layers, a hat, mittens, and scarf. We met many people who didn´t have enough clothing and had to buy loads once in Bolivia.
2. Speaking of high altitude, be prepared for the possibility of getting altitude sickness. It´s not pleasant. Bring aspirin to thin the blood or invest in some specialized medicine.
3. Most Bolivian buses do not have toilets, even at long distances, so go beforehand, and bring toilet paper for when you do stop.
4. The majority of roads in south and central Bolivia are not paved. Be prepared for a bumpy ride but it´s worth it for the gorgeous scenery.
1. The border crossing from Argentina to Bolivia at La Qiaca is freezing when you arrive early in the morning. Have your coat or heavy jumper, and hat easily accessible. It´s hard to believe as Northern Argentina is very warm, but it´s true.
2. The border opens at 7am for Bolivians, but foreigners have to wait in a queue until passport control opens, sometime after 8am. Get there as early as possible, because a huge queue starts. We´ve heard of people arriving after 3pm, getting turned away to come back the next day. Also, if it´s raining, know that only the first 30 people or so are under shelter, the rest are in the open.
1. There is only one ATM/Cashpoint in Tupiza, and it doesn´t accept all cards. Some Visa and Mastercard debit cards were turned down, we´re not sure why. You can get a cash advance on your credit card from the machine though, or as a last resort, there is a private cash advance company on the opposite side of the central square from the ATM.
Salt Flat Tours
1. The accomodation on the Salt Flat tours is very basic. Some don´t have running water or proper toilets and very few have working showers. You´ll be roughing it.
2. Expect to get cold, wet and dirty, and bring appropriate clothes.
Chile Tips & Travel Advice
1. Patagonian Chile is one of the windiest places we have ever encountered. Be prepared for dust storms, and definitely bring a windbreaker and sunglasses.
2. Chile has a much wider variety of fruits and vegetables than neighboring Argentina. If you are coming or going to there, take advantage of the Western style supermarkets!