The Facts & Figures of My South American Adventure… (just in case I lose my diary)

I’ve finally finished putting the vast assortment of South American photos I’d collected during my recent travels on Facebook. It’s taken me a while, I really was snap happy but how could you not be whilst wandering around that glorious continent.

SouthAmerica

The last South American album I uploaded on to Facebook was from Iguazu Falls in Argentina and it featured my last ever South American bus journey. This got me thinking, well how many bus journeys did I take during my whole trip of South America? Which was the longest or shortest? Then, that lead me to think, how many different places did I sleep? How much money did I spend in March or how much money did I spend in Peru? What was the highest altitude I reached? And so on and so on…

SO ladies and gentleman here is my latest blog, you’ll get the answers to those very intriguing questions (haha).

I bring you the Facts and Figures of my South American Adventure…

  • Total length of trip: 8 months and 24 days.

It was 8 months and 24 days of enjoyably slow travel. I travelled from Caracas in Venezuela all the way down to Argentina by land. I kept a diary of each place I visited along the way but I know one day this will possibly get thrown away or lost so I really wanted to get this info typed up and online so that it will never be forgotten. Also if you’re thinking of doing a similar trip maybe this will give you an idea of what can be managed (that is if you’re like me and Tom, we don’t rush).

Here’s where we went each month & how many places we visited…


Month

Number of countries visited each month

Names of countries visited each month

Number of places visited each month

Names of places visited each month

February

2

Venezuela, Colombia

12

Caracas, Maracay, Puerto Colombia, Coro, Maraicaibo,

Maico, Santa Marta, Tayrona, Cartagena, Medellin, Manizales

March

2

Colombia, Ecuador

8

Manizales, Salento, Popayan, Ipiales

Quito, Mindo, Sua, Papallacta

April

1

Ecuador

7

Tena, Banos, Latacunga, Quilotoa, Salinas, Riobamba, Cuenca

May

2

Ecuador, Peru

6

Cuenca, Vilcabamba,

Piura, Chiclayo, Trujillo, Huaraz

June

1

Peru

4

Huaraz, Lima, Huaccachina, Cusco

July

1

Peru

4

Cusco, Arequipa, Colca Canyon, Puno

August

1

Bolivia

8

Copacabana, La Paz, Cochabamba, Santa Cruz, Samaipata, Sucre, Potosi, Uyuni

September

2

Bolivia, Argentina

10

Uyuni, Tupiza

Huamahuaca, Salta, Cafayate, Tafi del Valle, Mendoza, Bariloche, Villa Angostura

October

3

Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela

8

Villa Angostura, El Bolson, Puerto Madryn, Buenos Aires, Iguazu Falls,

Foz Du Iguacu,

Caracas

So many places!!!

When I started the trip there was no definite end date. Myself and my trusty travel partner Tom just decided that we’d travel for as long as we could on the money we had. Therefore you can kind of tell when we started to run out of money. When we were fairly relaxed we didn’t visit that many places (see May, June & July). But when we started to run out of money we travelled faster and took in more places because we were desperate to reach Argentina. Plus by that time we’d booked a flight home so we moved a long at a quicker pace so that we wouldn’t miss our flight.

  • The place we stayed the longest: Cusco, Peru 

Cusco City - 12-06-2011 008 Cusco City - 12-06-2011 019 Cusco City - 14-06-2011 072

We stayed in Cusco for just over 3 weeks, with a two 2 trip to Machu Picchu thrown in the middle. This was because we wanted to see as many of the Inca Ruins as possible (we ended up seeing them all, check out this blog for more info). Also it was Machu Picchu’s 100th Birthday whilst we were there which meant there were celebrations, shows, dances and events on each day. Plus before we travelled to Cusco in Peru we had travelled from Taiwan to Indonesia, Thailand, England, Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador SO we needed to slow down a bit and make somewhere home for a while. It was hard to leave, despite the incredibly cold weather.

  • The place we stayed the shortest: Papallacta, Ecuador

south_americaClipai

I’m not counting the places which we planned to stay one night because it was just to break up a journey. I’m counting the places which we had planned to stay for a while but they turned out to be utterly rubbish therefore we left straight away. We had planned to spend a while in Papallacta because it was a hot spring town with lots of walks and springs. After living in Taiwan this was definitely going to be good, hot springs are heaven. However this was not the case. The only accommodation we could find was awful and about 40quid a night. The hot spring was empty and there was no real town. I don’t even have any pictures of the place, which is saying something for me! We arrived at night and left the next morning.

  • The highest place we visited: Pastoruri Glacier, Peru, 5200m (17 060 ft)

Glacier Pastorouri - 01-06-2011 023

This is a tough competition in South America because The Andes run all along the continent. They are known as the “Roof of the America’s” with more than 100 peaks over 5000m (16,500ft). We travelled along The Andes for most of our trip meaning that we were at a very high altitude for most of the journey.

the-andes0

In fact because I spent so much of my time over 3000m I thought I’d give you another amazing table of facts. Here are the Top 10 Highest Places I visited in South America

Rank

Place

Altitude

(all figures are estimates from the internet or from photographs which I took of the information signs!)

1

Peru, Pastoruri Glacier

5200m (17,060ft)

2

Peru, Lake Churrup

4450m (14,599ft)

3

Peru, Lake 69

4400m (14,435ft)

4

Bolivia, Potosi

4090m (13,418ft)

5

Ecuador, Quilotoa

3914m (12,841m)

6

Peru, Puno

3827m (12,628ft)

7

Bolivia, La Paz

3650m (11,975ft)

8

Bolivia, Copacabana

3481m (11,420ft)

9

Peru, Cusco

3400m (11,154ft)

10

Ecuador, Quito

3016m (9895ft)

I think the high altitude is another reason why we travelled very slowly through Peru!! Tom experienced a little altitude sickness after hiking to Lake 69 and I experienced it after a rushed walk to Pastoruri glacier (read about that here). Not to fear though it only takes a few large coca teas to stop the headaches and the nausea.

Peru standing on the Pastouri Glacier 01-06-2011

Peru Lake Churup 27-05-2011 Huaraz 29-05-2011 065

  • Total Number of Buses Taken: 60 buses exactly (I can’t believe it’s as precise as that!)

Salta 09-09-2011 028

I have only counted bus journeys which took us from one place on to the next. I have not counted bus journeys which were for day trips or sight seeing. 60 bus journeys in nearly 9 months of travel by land. That’s A LOT of time spent on a bus (I’m not going to work that one out don’t worry).

  • The first bus journey: Venezuela, from Caracas to Maracay (4 hours).

Maracoy 07-02-2011 004

  • The last bus journey: Argentina Iguazu Falls to Foz du Iguacu in Brazil (about 10mins, so this was also our shortest journey by bus).

Foz du Iguacu 27-10-2011 139

  • Total number of night buses taken: 10 night buses (see table below for lots of interesting details, I hope you sense my sarcasm. Although maybe it will be useful for you if you are Google-ing bus durations and you’ve stumbled on my blog).

Number

Journey

Duration

1

Colombia:

Cartagena to Medellin

13hours turned into 17 hours because the bus broke down!

2

Peru:

Trujillo to Huaraz

9 hours

3

Peru:

Ica to Cusco

20 hours

(the best night journey, flat beds, English films, waiter service, blankets & pillows)

4

Peru:

Cusco to Arequipa

12 hours

5

Bolivia:

Samaipata to Sucre

15 hours

(the worst night journey, despite it not being the longest, it was the roughest and most unpleasant)

6

Argentina:

Tucuman to Mendoza

15.5 hours

(this was after getting off a morning 3 hour bus journey from Tafi del Valle and waiting in the terminal for 5ish hours. So it was more like a 24hour bus journey!)

(I blogged about something scary which happened on this journey here.)

7

Argentina:

Mendoza to Bariloche

22 hours

8

Argentina:

El Bolson to Puerto Madryn

11 hours

9

Argentina:

Puerto Madryn to Buenos Aires

19 hours

10

ArgentinaBuenos Aires to Iguazu Falls

19 hours

If you want to know what buses in South America are like have a look at one of my previous bus themed blogs here.

Money

Lastly here are a few facts and figures about how much money we spent in each South American country. This was very carefully collected by Mr. Budget Tom. We weren’t on a tight budget, we ate out most of the time (until Argentina), treated ourselves to lovely baked goods and made sure we did at least one big adventurous thing in each country (horse riding, white water rafting, coffee plantation, Machu Picchu etc.). We didn’t stay in any hotels, only hostels and we used the cheaper bus companies towards the end of the trip (which means unfortunately we didn’t take any VIP Argentinian buses).

I hope it’s useful so you can get an idea of how much money you can spend in each country. However you must take into account that Colombia was the first country which we properly enjoyed eating out and drinking lots of cafe coffee in. Therefore we splurged A LOT in Colombia BUT we couldn’t do the same in Argentina as we didn’t have as much money left as it was our last country. However if we had travelled to Argentina first we would have spent much more money in that country as there was lots of great (expensive) things to spend your money on.

  • Average daily spend in each country for TWO PEOPLE:

(Including the cost of a hostel, food, drink, transport, tickets etc.)

Colombia average = £36.01

Ecuador average = £30.13

Peru Average = £30.78

Bolivia Average = £26.79

Argentina Average = £41.22

Argentina completely blew our budget it is SOOO expensive in comparison to the other South American countries I travelled around. The daily average for Argentina could have been even more if we’d been able to splurge. However we very rarely ate out and we stayed in more dorm rooms so we brought our daily budget down a lot. AND remember Colombia could have been cheaper but we went to a cafe EVERY DAY and drank lots of coffee and ate plenty of cakes!

Ecuador Vilcabamba Hostel 03-05-2011 Argentina Cafayate Food 09-09-2011 Peru Trujillo Beer 21-05-2011

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There you go, if I lose my South American travel diary I’ll feel much better knowing all the random facts I collected are stored safely here.

Ecuador Vilcabamba 18-05-2011

The image below is a Wordle for this blog, I love them!!!

A Wordle for this blog!

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Read my last blog about biking along The World’s Most Dangerous Road.

For more details about travel in Peru and Ecuador check out Tom’s travel blog.

If you want to change continent completely have a read of this blog, Two Travelling Teachers. They write about their adventures in Asia, New Zealand and Europe.

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5 Comments

    1. Nicola Fletcher

      Oh thanks so much, that’s nice. I was hoping all the random info I jotted down over the 9months might be useful to someone planning their trip.
      I’m going to do a more detailed blog about what it cost because my boyfriend’s got a whole book of what we spent etc I thought it’d be too much for this blog.
      You’ll have a great trip IT’S AMAAAZING 🙂

      1. gemmafottles

        I’ve been trawling WordPress for so long trying to find something exactly like this, you can get a lot out of guide books but it’s so much more useful reading someone’s actual, unbiased experiences. Oh wow, sounds good! I’ll keep an eye out for it.

        Yep, I cannot wait!

      2. Nicola Fletcher

        Yeah that is true and the Lonely Planet never seems to be too accurate. Before our trip we found a few bloggers who were doing the same trip just a bit ahead of us, which was really useful, we basically followed them down South America! 🙂

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