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Essential information

At a glance

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Argentina: Argentine peso (AR$) Bolivia: Bolivian boliviano (B$) Brazil: Brazilian real (R$) Chile: Chilean peso (CH$) Colombia: Colombian peso (COP$) Ecuador: US dollar (US$) French Guiana: euro (€) Guyana: Guyanese dollar (G$) Paraguay: guaraní (G) Peru: nuevo sol (S) Suriname: Surinamese dollar (SR$) Uruguay: Uruguayan peso (UR$) Venezuela: bolívar fuerte (BsF)
Portuguese, Spanish, English, French, Dutch and over 500 indigenous languages

Money and costs

Daily Costs
Budget (up to)
  • Dorm beds: from US$10
  • Double rooms: from US$25
  • Shopping at markets, eating inexpensive set meals: from US$5
  • Budget jungle lodge in the Amazon per day: US$50–80
  • Hiking and cycling tours per day: from US$50
  • 3½-day Manaus–Belem boat trip (hammock fare): from US$100
Top end (more than)
  • Hiking the Inca Trail (four-day trek) per person: US$600
  • Multiday Galápagos cruise per day: around US$200


Visas are sometimes required, or in some cases other charges must be paid, for example for reciprocity fees or tourist cards.

When to go and weather

Getting to South America

Flights, cars and tours can be booked online at www.lonelyplanet.com/bookings.

Getting around South America

Bus Extensive services throughout the continent, except for the Amazon. You'll find reclinable seats (and super-powered air-conditioning on long hauls).

Plane Useful for crossing immense distances; can save days of travel; prices are generally high, but airfare promotions are frequent.

Car Useful for traveling at your own pace, though cities can be difficult to navigate and secure parking is a must.

Boat Slow, uncomfortable, but brag-worthy transport between towns in the Amazon, with trips measured in days rather than hours. You'll need a hammock, snacks, drinking water and a high tolerance for boredom.

Train Limited networks, generally geared toward tourists.

Health and safety

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