Frequently Asked Questions

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The answer is yes, but there are places and situations that are dangerous, however, easily avoidable.

Nowadays South America is highly recognized tourist destination and the government with the help of the police makes sure that measures are taken to make people feel secure in towns, cities and tourist destinations.

Some safety notes: do not take your valuables with you, leave them locked in a safety deposit box; keep your spending money, camera and phone close to you, preferably beneath your clothing; do not go to areas where tourists are not expected; always use taxis with official identification.

On arrival in each city, you will be met, by our local representative, who will usually be holding a sign, bearing your name. You will be transferred to your hotel and, the guide will advise details of your sightseeing excursions. Should you wish to arrange any additional sightseeing, you may do so with the local guide.

In the unlikely event that the guide is not there to meet you, you should attempt to call the relevant operator from the airport and if you cannot make contact, then you should take a taxi to your hotel and contact the tour operator at a later stage. This is only for unforeseen circumstances.

In South America most of the spoken languages are Portuguese and Spanish, while in Suriname the official language is Dutch, in Guyana and the Falkland Islands it is English and in French Guiana it is French.

Each country has its own currency with US Dollars being readily exchangeable throughout most of South America and accepted in many large hotels, top-end restaurants, supermarkets and major stores. Argentina – Argentinian Peso (ARS) Bolivia – Boliviano (BOB) Brazil – Brazilian Real (BRL) Chile – Chilean Peso (CLP) Colombia – Colombian Peso (COP) Ecuador – US Dollar (USD) – Peru – Peruvian Nuevo Sol (PEN) – Uruguay – Uruguayan Peso (UYU)

Please check websites such as www.xe.com for up to date exchange rates prior to your departure.

South America can vary greatly in terms of prices in each country. Our South America tours include breakfast daily and many other meals may also be included in your itinerary. As a rough guide for additional spending money based on having moderately-priced lunches and dinners and buying a few souvenirs at local markets, we suggest the following budgets:

  • Bolivia: USD $15-25 per day
  • Peru, Ecuador & Colombia: USD $20-30 per day
  • Argentina: USD $ 25-35 USD per day
  • Brazil & Chile: USD $ 35-45 per day

Generally, it is best to arrive with at least $200 crisp American dollars per person. If you would like to order local currency from your bank ahead of time, that is helpful but you will pay a fee. In most South American countries there are abundant ATMs that will accept Visa or Cirrus affiliated cards, and will distribute local currency at the best exchange rate. If you contact your bank ahead of time they may refund or waive the international ATM fee, generally around $5 USD. Bring two cash cards if you can. Credit cards are often accepted at nice restaurants and shops. Cabs and markets may accept U.S. dollars, but we recommend only having U.S. Dollars as backup funds. Traveller’s cheques are very difficult to exchange in South America so we do not recommend these.

While tipping is ultimately at the discretion of the individual, there are certainly cultural guidelines for showing gratitude for services provided.

It is customary to leave a tip of 10% of the bill in restaurants

Hotel porters are usually happy with a approx. US$2

If you are on a day tour or transfer, then depending on the duration a small tip of US$1-5 per person is appropriate.

You do not need to tip taxi drivers, but people often round off the fare in driver’s favor.

The Spanish word for “tip” is “propina.”

Please consult your GP or a travel clinic about health and vaccination requirements. Advice for travellers is available at www.smartraveller.gov.au and www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk. Yellow fever and malaria precautions are recommended for visiting the jungle, Iguazu Falls and some parts of Colombia, Brazil, Peru and Ecuador. Yellow Fever certificates are sometimes required if you have recently visited a country with an infected area. Children under 6 require proof of vaccination against polio to enter Brazil. Some GPs do not recommend yellow fever vaccinations for travellers over 60 years old. Please seek medical advice before you travel.

Yes, we will make sure that the hotels and restaurants are aware of the dietary requirements and you will be given meals that fit your diet.

Visas are not required in advance for Australian citizens visiting Peru, Chile, Argentina, Ecuador, Colombia or Bolivia. For Australian passports endorsed in any way and all other passports, please ask the appropriate consulate (see contact details below).

To visit Brazil (even Iguazu Falls from Argentina), Australian citizens, and citizens of the US and some other countries, must obtain a Brazilian visa before travel. It is important to apply for your visa well in advance of your holiday (at least two months before travel). Full details on making a visa application can be found on the website of the Brazilian Embassycamberra.itamaraty.gov.br/en-us/tourist_visa.xml

There is an immigration entry fee to enter Chile for citizens of Australia, and citizens of the US, Canada and some other countries. To enter Chile, a fee of USD $110 must be paid upon arrival in Santiago’s international airport.

There is also a reciprocal entry fee for US and Canadian citizens visiting Argentina. This must be paid in advance on the www.migraciones.gov.ar website and proof of payment must be shown at the arrival airport in Argentina. Prior to July 2017, an entry fee was also payable for Australian citizens visiting Argentina, but this is no longer the case.

We strongly recommend that everyone purchase travel insurance, since unforeseen circumstances can prevent you from going on your trip. These include death, injury, sickness of a family member, business partner and/or domestic partner. Travel protection also includes lost or damaged luggage upon a client’s arrival; a plane delay resulting in additional expenses; medical assistance if a client becomes ill or injured abroad, and medical evacuation. It also includes termination or layoff from one’s place of employment, terrorism, bankruptcy and default. There are several companies that offer travel insurance; therefore, it would be wise to inquire about the different options available and what exactly is covered by each.

You will receive eTickets approximately 30 days before departure, along with your final itinerary and emergency contact details. Our representatives in South America will give you your hotel and excursion vouchers when you arrive. Please check airline tickets carefully in case timings have changed after we issued your confirmation.

Electronic, rather than paper, tickets are now issued by a majority of airlines and have the advantage that they cannot be lost or stolen.

No physical documentation is issued. Instead you take a copy of your flight itinerary to the airport with you in order to check-in and receive your boarding pass.

Flight tickets are issued electronically. An itinerary will be emailed to the email address that you provided at the time of booking- this acts as your e-ticket and you must print out a copy of your itinerary and take it to the airport with you in order to travel.

In order to add your Frequent Flyer number to your flight please visit your airline’s website directly to manage your booking online.

Frequent Flyer programmes are operated by the airlines directly.

Unfortunately, South America Tours don’t have access to Frequent Flyer accounts and cannot issue points or take payment using Frequent Flyer points.

Please contact your airline directly for information or to add Frequent Flyer points to your account.

You can reconfirm your flights up to 72 hours in advance by checking your flight status on the airline’s website.

South America Tours will only notify you of schedule changes to your flights before you leave your country of residence.

Once you are overseas, you will need to contact the airline you are travelling with to check if there have been any changes. On arrival in each city, you will be met, by our local representative, who will usually be holding a sign, bearing your name. You will be transferred to your hotel and, the guide will advise details of your sightseeing excursions. Should you wish to arrange any additional sightseeing, you may do so with the local guide.

We generally provide vehicles big enough for you and your luggage to fit comfortably. We do not generally place a limit on luggage, although if your group is bigger than 2 people and you all plan to bring large amounts of luggage, please let us know to ensure that the vehicle we provide has enough space. That said, there are luggage limits specified by other providers, as follows:

FLIGHTS:

Baggage allowances depend on the airline, however common international flight allowance is between 20-23kgs and 15-23kgs for domestic flights. All airlines allow international limits on domestic flights when issued on the same ticket. Some popular airline baggage allowances can be found here; Qantas | LATAM Airlines | Aerolineas Argentina Avianca | Skyairline

MACHU PICCHU:

The trains have a luggage limit of 5kgs (11lbs). This is rarely enforced but, since there is no motorized transport in Aguas Calientes (other than the buses from the center of town to Machu Picchu) and there is limited luggage storage space on the Vistadome trains, we strongly suggest that you take only an overnight bag and day pack with you. The rest of your luggage will be taken to your hotel in Cusco by your driver, so it is waiting for you on your return.

 AMAZON JUNGLE

Different jungle lodges have different polices, but generally there is a limit of 10kg (22lbs) per passenger, plus your day pack, due to the space available on the boats. When you arrive in Puerto Maldonado, you will have the opportunity to re-pack your things at the operator’s headquarters, and they will provide you with a duffle bag for the items you wish to take, if you don’t have a suitable bag/case. The rest of your luggage will be kept safely in locked storage at the operator’s headquarters. Jungle lodge operators all ask that valuables not be left in the storage room; you should take these things with you.

 TREKS:

Different routes and trekking operators have different luggage limits, depending on if there are porters or mules carrying the equipment. In general, the limits are the following:

  • Inca Trail group service: 7kg (15lbs), including the rented sleeping bag and sleeping mat (around 3kg/7lbs in total)
  • Inca Trail private service: 7kg (15lbs), including the rented sleeping bag (around 2kg/5lbs)
  • Inca Trail luxury service: 10kg (22lbs), bedding separate
  • Other treks group service: 8kg (17lbs), including the rented sleeping bag and sleeping mat (around 3kg/7lbs in total)
  • Other treks private service: 10kg (22lbs), including the rented sleeping bag (around 2kg/5lbs)
  • Other treks luxury service: 11kg (25lbs), bedding separate

We are part of Australia Federation of Travel Agents (Accreditation Number 12675) and proud members of ATAS (Accreditation Number 12406)

ATAS vets travel agents against strict criteria to ensure they meet certain standards, are reliable, well trained and professional businesses. ATAS agents need to meet high standards of business discipline, training, compliance with Australian Consumer Law and compliance with a strict code of conduct – ensuring your piece of mind when booking travel.

We have met these strict standards and criteria in order to become nationally accredited. Our accreditation means we are the best in the industry, credible, well trained and a professional business. This means you can book your travel knowing you’re in the safe hands of a trusted and reputable travel agent.

Further information can be found at www.atas.com.au/travel-agents

Your balance payment is due 61 days before you travel.

Some itineraries require a higher deposit. Details of this will be provided at time of booking. Your South America Tours invoice will show exactly what date your remaining balance payment is due.

Altitude sickness generally occurs when you increase altitude quickly. Because the atmospheric pressure decreases, you are not able to take in as much oxygen. Altitude sickness can affect people in different ways. Most people experience shortness of breath and a slight headache but nothing more. If you have a heart condition or other medical condition which may be affected by travel, please consult with your physician before travel – and let us know!

You are likely to be affected by altitude if you visit any of the following places:

  • Mainland Ecuador (not Galapagos)
  • Machu Picchu, Colca Canyon and Lake Titicaca, Peru
  • Atacama Desert, Chile
  • La Paz, Lake Titicaca and Uyuni in Bolivia
  • Some areas around Salta, Argentina

The vast majority of people travelling in these areas have a wonderful trip and are not seriously affected by the altitude. It is always best to be prepared, however, and to understand a bit about altitude.

Book with a travel agent who is a local expert. A good South America travel agent, like South America Tours, will plan your trip so that you increase in altitude gradually. At South America Tours, for example, we often arrange for our passengers to sleep the first two nights in the Sacred Valley rather than Cusco. Sleeping at the lower altitude of the Sacred Valley usually gives you a better nights´ sleep, so you can enjoy Machu Picchu free of headaches.

Drink plenty of fluids, including coca tea in Peru and Bolivia.

Take it easy on the first of travel

Acclimatize if you are doing any trekking such as Inca Trail.

Check with your mobile phone provider. Each company is different and they can give you the most up-to-date information, although generally charges will be high. Many smart phones or tablets can be put on airplane mode to avoid roaming charges, and can then use hotel wi-fi signals to access internet and email.

Using your mobile phone with roaming can be very expensive. Most hotels have computers and wi-fi internet available. In addition to email, these can also be used for inexpensive internet phone service programs such as Skype, Facetime, WhatsApp if you need to be in contact by phone.

Additionally, you can use calling booths or paid accounts with Skype in internet cafes as a very inexpensive way of making calls.

Most countries in South America use the European style outlet which contains 110v. Please visit the below link for more information on each country: Most countries in South America use the European style outlet with 110v. Visit the following link for more information: electrical outlet.

GENERAL TOUR:

  • Passport
  • Visas
  • Travel Insurance documents
  • Itinerary and tickets
  • Cash
  • Credit card
  • Photocopies of important documents – keep in suitcase & an electronic copy on your email
  • Suitcase or backpack – most of our tours don’t require a backpack but ask if you are unsure
  • Day pack
  • Toiletries
  • Sunscreen
  • Medications (if required)
  • First aid kit
  • Clothes – jacket for cold climates, jumper, dress, shirts, t-shirts, long pants, socks, underwear, rain jacket, swimmers, hat. Smart casual clothes (if planning to eat at some nice restaurants)
  • Comfortable shoes with good grip and sandals or flip flops
  • Sunglasses
  • Phone
  • Camera & Charger
  • Laptop/tablet & charger
  • Converter/adapter

INCA TRAIL:

You can typically expect anything from warm and sunny to freezing cold and rainy in the day time when doing a trek in Peru. Evenings are almost always chilly and we suggest dressing in layers so you can easily adapt to the conditions. We recommend you to take the following;

  • Valid passport
  • Daypack
  • Water bottle
  • Hat
  • Towel and toilet paper
  • Snacks: biscuits, energy bars, chocolate, etc.
  • Cash (there are no ATM machines in Aguas Calientes)
  • Swimsuit (if you plan on visiting the hot springs at Aguas Calientes after the trek)
  • Walking sticks or poles (rubber covers required in order to avoid damage of the Inca Trail). Can be hired in Cusco if you require them.
  • Trekking shoes
  • Warm clothes (jacket, fleece and sweaters)
  • Light-weight shirts and T-shirts
  • Long-sleeved cotton shirts
  • Warm wind and waterproof jacket
  • Warm pants & shorts • Waterproof gloves
  • Hat, beanie, scarf, or other face protection
  • Fleece
  • Woollen socks
  • Thermal underwear
  • A bright flashlight
  • Binoculars
  • Camera with extra memory cards and extra batteries
  • Sunscreen
  • Insect repellent
  • Sunglasses (polarised, close fitting are best)
  • Plastic bags – Plastic zip-lock bags will protect your camera from the rain.
  • Medications – bring a sufficient supply of any medications you regularly take; prescription and over-the-counter including your preferred motion sickness remedy, as well as copies of your prescriptions.
  • If you wear prescription glasses or contact lenses, be sure to pack an extra pair.
  • Cash for souvenirs.
  • Credit card to settle your bill at the end.

AMAZON JUNGLE:

  • Valid passport
  • Hat
  • Long cotton pants and shorts
  • Light-weight shirts and T-shirts
  • Rain coat or long poncho (100 % waterproof)
  • Socks
  • Long-sleeved cotton shirts
  • Water bottle
  • A pair of sneakers or hiking boots and sandals
  • Insect repellent
  • A bright flashlight
  • Binoculars
  • Camera with extra memory cards and extra batteries
  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses (polarised, close fitting are best)
  • Plastic bags – Plastic zip-lock bags will protect your camera and binoculars from the rain
  • Daypack
  • Bathing suit
  • Converters/adapters as needed
  • Medications – bring a sufficient supply of any medications you regularly take; prescription and over-the-counter including your preferred motion sickness remedy, as well as copies of your prescriptions.
  • If you wear prescription glasses or contact lenses, be sure to pack an extra pair.

PATAGONIA:

  • Thermal underwear top
  • T-shirts
  • Long sleeve t-shirts
  • Polar fleece/Jumpers
  • Wind stoppers
  • Medium-weight fleece jacket
  • Breathable Waterproof jacket (Gore-Tex, sympatex or similar)
  • Breathable Waterproof pants (Gore-Tex, sympatex or similar)
  • Thermal underwear bottoms
  • Full length hiking pants
  • Lightweight cotton pants
  • Hiking Shorts
  • Gloves (Waterproof)
  • Good hiking boots (with good support for the ankle) for those who are trekking.
  • Sandals
  • Thick (hiking) socks
  • Swimsuit
  • Small towel
  • Head lamp / torch and extra batteries
  • Sun glasses
  • Water bottle
  • Camera, extra batteries, lens cleanser.
  • Binoculars
  • Walking sticks (adjustable preferred)
  • Toilet paper
  • Beanie
  • Cap for the Sun
  • Toiletries
  • Hiking Kit
  • First aid kit

Want to Know More?

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