South America FAQ thread
Replies: 83 - Last Post: Mar 14, 2013 1:37 PM Last Post By: JennRaine
Feb 22, 2005 10:35 PM
Mar 15, 2005 11:53 AM
Apr 14, 2005 1:23 PM
May 31, 2005 10:24 PM
33How soon in advance should I book my guide for the Inca Trail hike to Machu Picchu?
As soon as you can! During peak season (May-Oct) they fill up over 3 months ahead. Current regulations limit the number of people who can start the trail each day to 500 (including porters I think).
This site shows the number of remaining slots:
Jun 2, 2005 1:12 PM
Jun 7, 2005 1:59 PM
Could anyone tell me phone numbers of good agencies IN Galapagos? (in Puerto Ayora, for example)
I've seen the subject in several topics, but never actual agencies names nor phone numbers. Apollo (congrats for Galapago topic), do you Know if this aspect is in any topic?
Thanx to everybody!
Jul 7, 2005 3:39 PM
36I have updated my website to include a lot of travel tips, photos and advice for salar de uyuni trips
Navigate your way to the bolivia section
Jul 26, 2005 5:57 AM
37Torres del Paine Trip Report: This is a report about my 5 day trek on the W. I have tried to include as much information as I can to help others plan there trip.
Aug 11, 2005 1:15 AM
Aug 21, 2005 3:55 AM
39Main differences between the 3 most popular Carnivals in Brazil
- This has been the preferred one by the Thorn Tree crowd for the last 5 years. It is celebrated along 26 kilometers of streets filled with approximately 2.2 million people. While it’s the biggest street party on Earth according to The Guinness Book of World Records, it’s also a giant open-air festival of Brazilian music for FREE. About 411,000 out-of-state visitors, mainly from Rio and São Paulo, come to participate in the 282-year-old party. In Salvador it’s all about participating in Carnival, and not only watching when some of the best Brazilian bands and singers are in action.
- From Thursday 8 p.m. (23 Feb. 2006) to Ash Wednesday 5 a.m. (1 Mar. 2006)
- Music rhythms: samba-reggae, pagode, afro (percussion and dance music played by “blocos Afro”), ijexá (candomblé songs played by “blocos de afoxés”), axé, pop, rock, romantic, arroxa, capoeira.
- January/February is the dry season
- Foreign visitors: 71% Europeans, 19% South Americans, 8% North Americans
- Average daily expenditure by foreigners who came in 2005: US$94
- Crime rate (homicide) during Carnival: 2003=0.2/day, 2004=0.5/day, 2005=0.0/day
- Carnival in Recife and Olinda is celebrated by approximately 1.5 million people along 12 Km of streets. About 100 dolls that are 3.6-meter tall, some dating as far back as 1932, are unique to the Saturday parade in Olinda. Meanwhile, O Galo da Madrugada, which is the biggest Carnival bloco in the world, parades in Recife featuring 28 trios elétricos. Other highlights in Olinda are A Noite dos Tambores Silenciosos on Sunday night and Bacalhau do Batata, which parades on Ash Wednesday for the 43rd year. One can also do a daytrip to the city of Bezerros (107 Km from Recife) to see the 100-year-old parade of Papangus on Sunday morning.
- From Friday 7 p.m. (24 Feb. 2006) to Ash Wednesday 1 p.m. (1 Mar. 2006)
- Music rhythms: mainly frevo and maracatú; also caboclinho (war dance), forró, mangue beat (rock), ciranda, coco-de-roda, orquestra de pau-e-corda, afoxé (afro), samba, reggae.
- January/February is the dry season
- Foreign visitors: 94% Europeans, 1% South Americans, 4% North Americans
- Crime rate (homicide) during Carnival: 2003=2.2/day, 2004=2.8/day, 2005=2.7/day
- It takes place along a 700-meter runway, also know as Sambódromo, an open-air stadium built 21 years ago to house the two-day extravaganza that dates back to 1932. About 70,000 people cheer from the grandstands, with tourists paying from US$100 to US$4,000 to watch the spectacle. The main parade (on Sunday and Monday) consists of 6 samba schools per night with 4,500 people each, in colorful costumes and on floats; it’s a commercial show for Rio-based TV networks to promote Brazil abroad, so it’s very nice for photos and video. Although largely ignored by the locals (93% of cariocas run away from it), it’s popular among rich/old foreign tourists.
- From Saturday 9 p.m. (25 Feb. 2006) to Tuesday 11 p.m. (28 Feb. 2006), although it’s a local holiday only on Tuesday.
- Music rhythm: samba
- January/February is the rainy season, often with floods
- Foreign visitors: 50% Europeans, 17% South Americans, 26% North Americans
- Average daily expenditure by foreigners who came in 2005: US$191
- The “Champions Parade” is on the Saturday following Carnival and features the top 5 winning samba schools from the previous weekend; that’s the best way to see the highlights in Rio at a lower admission cost.
- Crime rate (homicide) during Carnival: 2003=22.5/day, 2004=9.2/day, 2005=10.6/day
Dangers & annoyances:
Rio - Armed robbery against foreign tourists in Rio during two days of Carnival 2005, from Sunday morning to Tuesday morning, published by Jornal O Globo, which is the biggest and most respected daily newspaper in Rio:
- Sunday 10 a.m.: Russian tourist was attacked by robbers who couldn’t get anything from him, so they beat him and disappeared.
- Sunday afternoon: Greek tourist Estefano Voibatist was robbed at the beach in Leme.
- Sunday afternoon: Irish tourist Johana Mickiney was robbed of her glasses worth US$770 in Maracanã.
- Sunday evening: Dutch tourist was robbed and shot in the leg by 3 men, while he was on his way to the Sambódromo by taxi.
- Sunday evening: two Japanese tourists were attacked while they were getting ready to parade with the samba schools by two armed men who took US$2,700 worth of photo gear and cash, plus the entry badges for the parade.
- Monday morning: The Youth Hostel in Botafogo was robbed by armed men, who sacked 10 tourists and took all valuables from the hostel safe.
- Monday 8 p.m.: English tourist Madelaine Nichola Burton, 29, was robbed by a 15-year-old armed thief in Avenida Atlântica.
- Tuesday 3 a.m.: American tourist Spencer Croncky, 25, was robbed by 7 men armed with knifes.
- Tuesday 5 a.m.: group of teenagers attacked American tourists, among them Robert Paul Murphy, 37.
- Tuesday morning: Australian tourist had his backpack taken by robbers in Copacabana.
Salvador – There wasn’t any occurrence of armed robbery against foreign tourists and locals in Salvador during six days of Carnival 2005, with 2.2 million people in the streets.
An opportunistic pickpocket putting a hand in your pockets is an annoyance that may happen while being squeezed in the middle of the crowd. If you don’t want to run that small risk, which unlike in Rio, doesn’t involve violence, machine guns and life threat, just wear Bermuda shorts/pants without pockets and keep your money for the day in an inside pocket; or simply dance and celebrate 2 to 5 meters away from the passing crowd.
Recife - Beware of pickpockets in the same way as mentioned above. Armed robbery happens in a much smaller scale than in Rio.
Accommodation: it’s advisable that accommodation be booked between August and November regardless of the city you choose to go, although you may be offered a home stay on arrival if you are lucky. Look at this thread for an extensive list of places to stay.
Feedback from past years: you can find feedback from people who came for 2004 and 2005 carnivals all over South America on this thread.
Sep 1, 2005 3:03 AM
40This information has been provided by finnfinn:
Colombian Tourist Visa for the Irish
I am travelling on an Irish Passport and therefore need a visa to travel to Colombia. I have found it a bit of a chore to apply and have had to find ways around the bureaucracy involved in getting a visa. It has took me a bit of time, so here are my instructions that will hopefully help you out!
I am in South america at the moment and the here is a list of the things that you need for to apply for a tourist visa:
1. Photocopy of your passport with a copy of your picture AND photocopies all the stamps that you have got from other countries you have visited (straightforward).
2. Application form (straightforward). Just make sure that you have a hotel to stay at, as it asks for your hotels telephone number and address.
3. 3 passport photographs (straightforward). Make sure you are looking at the camera and have a white background!
4. Onward ticket. Not so straightforward, unless of course you have an onward ticket! But what you can do is get an e-ticket off the internet, when the reservation appears on the screen, print it and when it comes to pay (the next screen), just dont! It is sufficient for your online ticket. There are loads of airlines that deal with e-tickets.
5. Reservation at hotel. Relatively straightforward, but do a search on the internet or guidebook and email a hotel/hostel with the dates that you are planning to stay there and get a confirmation email from them and this will suffice for your reservation.
6. A copy of your bank statement or evidence of sufficient funds for the duration that you will be staying in colombia. This could prove quite difficult to obtain if you are out of your home country when you apply. But what you can do if you have internet banking is print off a statement online. Again this is sufficient for the visa.
ok, one more thing that you need to do, is write a handwritten letter to the consul (this is the case if applying in south america, definitely in quito and lima, not sure about other countries). There is no standard letter, you write your own. The letter can be written in English and goes something like this (believe it or not!).
I plan to arrive in Colombia on dd/mm/yy
I plan to stay for x days
I will be leaving Colombia on dd/mm/yy
I will be staying at x hotel which is at x address
I promise that I will pay my way while I am in Colombia
I state that I have sufficient funds for my stay in Colombia
I promise that I will leave the country at the end of my visa or when the consul decides i have to.
Your name, signature and date
The letter was the one that got me, i thought the idea was really funny!
Finally (!) you need to make a copy of EVERY DOCUMENT mentioned above except for the application form itself and your passport photographs. Hand this in with the original photocopies and you have made your application!
Good luck and hope that this saves you more time than i spent with this farce!
oh yeah i replied to someone else´s post here also here is a bit more info!
dont bother your hole applying in lima, the guy there will ask you 100 questions and query you as to why you want to go to colombia etc. he scrutinised my passport and hes there saying oh uve been to cambodia and vietnam, im there yes, so what! i heard that you can be waiting 3 weeks there. Also he said "if he decides to grant me a passport he would recommend giv¡ng me one month, how generous! so i sacked it off and applied in quito. i applied on monday and got it friday, 60 days, i think it was a bit quicker cos i had an english birth certificate. but apparently the guy told me it takes 8 days for an irish passport! the guy is nice there also, but cant speak much english so hope ur spanish is ok!
in colombia now so my info is deffo correct, glad that this FARCe is over!
Sep 22, 2005 11:31 PM
The situation with foreign currency exchange in Venezuela is hard to explain. I don't understand it very well, myself. But I'll try to make it as clear as possible given my limited knowledge of Economics and having to explain it in a language that's not my native tongue.
To avoid a significant decrease in our international reserves, in 2003 the government issued a restriction on purchase of foreign currency. For that, an agency called CADIVI was created. This agency is responsible for approving purchases of foreign currency. Individuals are only allowed to buy only up to US$4,000 a year. Importers have to go through an enormous amount of paperwork, in order to have their purchase of foreign currency approved. Like any government agency, CADIVI is slow and inefficient.
That has generated a "black market" where depending on the demand, the rates changes everyday. In January 2004, the black market reached a high of Bs. 3,200 per dollar. That's why I always advise travelers to buy any local newspaper when they get there, so that they know what the current rate is and have some room for negotiation.
I hope I'm not confusing anybody.
Jan 17, 2006 11:28 PM
Feb 8, 2006 10:50 AM
43Options for storing digital photos:
1) Burn them onto CD in internet cafes. Bring a few empty CD's for the cafes that don't provide empty ones for you. Always check the CD after burning and before erasing your memory card! You could decide to burn two copies and send one home for extra safety. It can be expensive. (In Tanzania usually around US$5 per CD.) Check whether your camera is automatically detected by most systems (Win2000/XP), or whether you need to install software first. In that case you need to bring the software on CD, and ask the internet cafe owner if you're allowed to install it.
2) Bring a portable hard drive / storage device, especially made for memory cards (with slots for the cards), for example by Sitecom or other brands.
3) Bring a portable storage device / MP3 player like iPOD or iAUDIO which you can connect to your camera (slower than option 2). Check whether it's all compatible and whether you need to buy connection cables.
4) Bring a portable CD burner and empty CD's, burn when/where you want to (but bulky: device and CD's). Again, you could decide to burn two copies and send one home for extra safety.
5) Upload to web based storage sites (for example PBase.com, for about 25USD you get a huge amount of space), but uploading can take ages.
6) Bring loads of memory cards, small and light weight, but way more expensive than the other options.
7) Bring a laptop computer and store them on there. Bulky and heavy, and a target for thieves. Only a reasonable option if you need to computer for other purposes too.
Or a combination of two of these options for EXTRA safety (for example 1 + 3).
As to options 2 and 3:
20 GB is a nice amount of space to have on a storage device, especially if you also want to bring music (option 3). 30GB or 40GB is even better if you're snap-happy or have a camera of 8 megapixel or more.
If you want to check how many pictures that will allow you to store: put the memory card in your camera, set your camera to the quality you'll want to use. See how many pictures that allows you to store on that card.
If it's a 1GB card and you have a 20GB storage device, then multiply that number of pictures by 20 and that's the amount of pictures you'll be able to store on the device. If your card is a 512MB one, multiply by 40, and so on. (512MB x 40 = 20GB)
Always test the device at home before you leave.
More details can be found and questions can be answered in the branch for "Computers, Cameras and Phones".
Mar 7, 2006 10:42 PM
44COLOMBIA TO PANAMA (REPOSTED)
I copied this from a previous post by somone called Karenes, I think it is very valuable information and I hope no one minds me putting it here.
Link: click here
Take a bus to Turbo. Its safer to travel during the day. From Medellin buses depart the caribe terminal each hour and cost 45,000 pesos ($20). Journey time is 9 hours. From Cartagena you have to go to Monteria and change there to get to Turbo.
Basic to expensive accomodation is available in the centre of Turbo. Residencia Turbo charges 7000 pesos (3) per person.
The harbour is a few minutes walk from here. Boats depart at 9am, but arrive an hour before to get a ticket as boat gets full, and to check in with immigration. Dont get your exit stamp here. Price is 40,000 pesos ($18) to Carpugana. Ride can be bumpy and takes 2.5 hours. Put backpack in binliner as can get wet.
Get your exit stamp at the DAS in Carpugana by the harbour
Accomodation is available here from 7,000 pesos ($3) per person. Hotel Uvita on the harbour is very nice for ($5). Nice resorty town to stay in for a few days.
In Carpugana launches to Puerto Obaldia cost $30. Price is for the whole boat, regardless if theres 1 or 4 people. Not many locals continuing on to Puerto Olbaldia so look out for other travellers if you are travelling alone.
At Puerto Olbaldia (the town is a military base) get your entry stamp at immigration. You will be asked for an exit ticket but can blag it by saying you have an e ticket and havent printed it out yet.
Basic accomodation is available at Pension Conde for $5, and food is limited. Nothing to see or do here, but you may get stuck waiting for the next flight. Flights get booked so arrive a few days before in Puerto Olbaldia to make a reservation at the office there, or make a reservation at the Panama city office.
From Puerto Olbaldia aeroperlas flies to Panama city at 9am Wednesday and Sunday. Cost is $57. Journey time is 1 hour. Again you have to go through immigration at the airport, but can blag it.
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