South America FAQ thread
Replies: 83 - Last Post: Mar 14, 2013 1:37 PM Last Post By: JennRaine
Feb 16, 2003 5:08 PM
South America FAQ threadZedd_at_LP writes: The countries covered by this FAQ are: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile & Easter Island, Colombia, Ecuador & the Galapagos Islands, Falkland Islands, French Guiana, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay, Venezuela. Antarctica is covered here.
LP already have some information about the region in the World Guide, and also in the Postcards section.
Then there's the LP hostel booking site which can be found here: LP travel services
Please add any useful travel advice and links that you use in this thread!
Mar 9, 2003 11:39 PM
This topic has appeared on other TT branches, so I thought it would be interesting for people here to read some tips that I find important… and please all you "regular posters", add your own suggestions:
1- See if someone has already asked your question by pressing the "Search" button and typing the keywords. Some questions have been done to death, like "Carnival accommodation in Salvador" and others, so they no longer get answers because people are tired of answering the same thing over and over again.
2- Read a few pages of posts. The most frequently asked questions are covered at least every week. I recently traveled for several months in Eastern Europe and the Middle East without having had the need to post a single question on the TT; all replies to my questions had already been answered on previous pages for each branch.
3- Update your profile (when you're logged in, click on "Profile" at the top of your page) and mention anything about you that would be helpful to know under "Bio". An 18 year old Brit on his first trip abroad usually wants different advice from a Greek family with an infant, or a couple in their 60s from Arizona... the more you write about yourself, the better your answer will be. Don't forget to check "Profile Visibility" after that, and click on "Update Profile" afterwards.
4- Also, tell us what your main interests are; you will get different answers depending on whether you want to visit museums, spend your time night-clubbing, or go hiking in the wilderness. If someone asks to have an itinerary designed for them and doesn't even mention whether they prefer big cities or nature, five-star resorts or hostels, I generally go to the next question on the theory that either they are not seriously looking for an answer or will not find my opinion useful as I travel differently than they do.
5- Do not ask general questions like "What is there to do in Brazil?"…people who know the answers are probably sick of typing that much stuff for people they don't know and just won't answer. Do some of your own research first to ask informed questions about specific things. If you've already done some research, and got part of the answer, tell us, so that we don't waste our time on things you already know.
6- When using words like "cheap, reasonable, nice, fun, interesting, etc" give some idea of what such words mean to you. Some people's idea of expensive might mean moderately priced to me.
7- If you post and don't get many responses or have additional questions, try adding a more specific reply to your original post to move the original thread up the board. This is far preferably to starting a new thread, which annoys everyone who has responded to your post and doesn't let new people have the benefit of what has already been written.
8- Thank people for the answers, either in the thread or with a PM. And don't abuse people for not giving you the answer you wanted. Perhaps you got the wrong answer because you didn't ask the right question, or you didn't ask it in the right way.
May 7, 2003 12:14 AM
21. When taking taxis from an airport to your hotel, travel in the more expensive airport taxis and ensure that the drivers have official identification. Never take a taxi waiting outside the airport grounds.
2. When traveling from your hotel to the airport, go with a taxi recommended by the hotel.
3. Try not to arrive in a new city or town late at night.
4. Travel in a group if possible.
5. Learn the basics in Spanish/Portoguese before you arrive . Don't expect that people will speak English.
6. Keep your valuables hidden.
7. Avoid going on your own to remote areas/ruins where tourist would be expected to go. Seek local advice or take a guide.
8. Read the guide books and talk with other tourists to find out which areas are best avoided.
9. When leaving discos late at night take a taxi home no matter how close your hostel is. Outside most discos you'll find a street vendor selling cigarettes. Usually these people know all the taxi drivers and can recommend a safe one.
10. When arriving in a new town, keep to your original plan and stay in the hostel that you have decided on. Don't let the taxi driver persuade you that your hostel is fully booked and that he knows a cheaper and better one. He'll be working on commission and the hostel probably won't be in a safe part of town.
11. Even better, when arriving lane/train in a new city, try to reserve your hotel in advance, preferably with a hotel that has an airport/station collection service.
12. Don't wear expensive looking jewelry.
13. On public transport have your day pack close to you at all times, preferably with the straps around your legs or padlocked to the luggage rack. On buses your backpack will normally go outside, either on top of the roof or in the external luggage compartments. On long distance buses ask for a receipt for your bags. On short rides just keep a careful eye out each time the bus stops to off-load bags. In the event of having your bags stolen, stay with the bus – you will probably require a declaration from the bus company accepting responsibility for the loss in order to claim any money from your insurance company.
14. Leave your valuables in your hotel safe when making day trips or longer tours. Obtain a receipt not just for your money belt/wallet etc. but for its contents, with each item listed.
15. If you have to leave your passport and credits cards together place the credit card in a sealed envelope and sign your name across the flap. At least when you return you know for sure no-one else has been using it.
16. If planning on going to market areas, crowded streets, fiestas etc. don't go with all your valuables. Leave them in the hotel. If your planning on buying something expensive keep your money safely in a money belt. Try to be discreet when opening it! To protect small change in your pockets you can stuff a handkerchief in after.
17. If the pavements are really crowded, especially in market areas, walk in the road.
18. If you suspect someone is following you, stop and stare them in the eye until they go. If you really get a bad feeling about a place, go with your first instincts and leave.
Bag slashing is rare nowadays but for added safety you can wear your day pack on your chest.
19. If it's on your back try to walk without stopping. If you need to stop, sway your pack gently from side to side so that you can feel if anyone is tampering with it.
20. When putting your bag down on the floor, to take a photo or just to sit in a café, remember to put your foot through the strap. Not only will it be impossible to snatch, you also won't forget it! This is the most common type of theft – tourists forgetting bags in cafes and on returning to ask if anyone has seen it, you've guessed it, it's gone.
May 8, 2003 10:35 PM
3Also a date of travel, obviously only if you know it, really helps. Something rough. Only because 'I am travelling to Ecuador, should I book accommodation in advance?' is nearly pointless without some idea of the time of year. People usually mean near future, but others plan up to 2 years in advance...
#2 - good points, but 1 is a bit excessive in many South American cities. In many places you will just pay three or four times the amount for official airport taxis, when in reality the local, licenced ones are reliable and safe. Taxis waiting outside airport grounds are usually just avoiding paying stupid entrance taxes rather than lurking in the hope of robbing from you...
May 31, 2003 6:23 PM
4Those security warnings are generally good, I would add:
-don't use 'bumbags' or 'fannypacks' EVER, they are absolute targets for thieves.
-money belts are useful to transport valuables from one place to another but yo should never have to dig into them direct when in public, it's like advertising that you're carrying loads of wonga. When out and about I always leave the moneybelt in the hotel safe and just have cash in my pocket or carry a handbag and purse like the locals. Karrimor backpacks with bottles of water in the side scream tourist! money! In South America at least it's quite easy to blend in, well maybe not in the more remote parts of the altiplano but in cities in general.
Jun 8, 2003 11:33 PM
5For the first time traveller i would suggest to take a look at this
obviously these are personal view (the authors / not mine) but still it goes a little bit more
at lenght then what is possible on TT,
Jun 12, 2003 6:48 PM
Aug 12, 2003 6:14 PM
7Actually, as an amendment.. this is the best post ever!!
I come to Thorn Tree very seldom.. if ever.. mainly because if I read it everyday, I'd have to answer the same questions over and over and over and over on a daily basis!!
Oddly, when I do searches for myself, I find nothing.. probably because I am looking for specific information.
If I did 'weather' 'march' 'peru'... i'd probably get 1000 matches easily..
anyhow, to the poster, i think you are the most right-on guy we've seen in a long time.. filled with common sense, but completely missing on most thorn tree posters..
However i agree with a follow-up poster who said that the people who this post needs to reach the most will probably completely disregard it... meanwhile it will catch the attention of all the smarter guys who just take this common stuff for granted.. unfortunately..
Sep 1, 2003 4:47 PM
Sep 15, 2003 7:19 PM
This is a good site I found with information on average weather for various cities.
Sep 19, 2003 5:02 AM
10In response to the question of why TT regularly deletes posts, I would guess that webpace is not limitless, and TT has formed the opinion that it is better to have a constant inflow of new information answering the same old questions. That could make sense as the situation, and therefore the correct answer, can change overnight.
Another reason is to get new and varied info and find out what type of info is commonly asked - "market research" if you like, where the market is people who go travelling. Perhaps the people at LP want us to know how misleading word of mouth advice can somethimes be; or how utterly opposing views can both be given in response to the same question. All great fodder for LP's next edition.
Since this appears to be the only "permanent" post on TT South America, I am going to give here a link to an article that gets asked over and over on TT: how to hitch a ride on a boat from Panama to Colombia.
It will be interesting to see if it gets deleted from this thread.
Oct 1, 2003 2:35 PM
Dec 14, 2003 12:39 AM
- Bad experiences on the road containing details of hotel owners, travel agents, language schools, etc. should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org, who will forward all the information to the publisher and updating author.
- It would be great if more travelers who have been asking questions on the TT could spend some time posting replies to questions after they came back from places they've just visited. Upon return, please do a trip report as well! It really helps other travelers following in your wake! It is a nice thing to do and makes you an active "full circle" member of the Thorn Tree community!
- Post your travel related questions on the Thorn Tree forum and let the PM's (private messages) only for private issues. Remember that when you post questions on the TT forum more people can help you out. Also, you can read different opinions and more travelers can benefit from the replies given to you.
Jan 14, 2004 1:49 AM
13One more advantage of posting on the TT forum instead of asking through PMs: the replies will be delivered directly to your private e-mail address (provided that you subscribed to that thread).
To subscribe to a thread:
Before posting: check the box “subscribe to this thread” at the bottom left hand corner of your page.
After posting: look to the right of the message tittle, or to the right of the number of any reply, and you will see four icons. Click on the icon to the left of the envelope, either on the OP or on any reply. Then a new page will open and you will have to click on the “subscribe” button.
Jan 18, 2004 7:42 PM
one advice more before you post a question, buy a map of the country you wanna travel to and have a
good look on it, before you ask questions like : is there a ferry connection between Lake Titikaka and La Paz (was a good one), or how to go from Arica to Cuzco, a quick look on the map will answer this question in a second.
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