3 months in South America, our budget

The budget is one of the crucial parameters in preparation of a long-term journey. We spent three months in South-America from January, 5th, 2012 to April, 5th, 2012. During those three months, we visited Argentina for three weeks, Chili three more weeks and Brasil the rest of the time. Unfortunately for us, they are the three most expensive country in South-America and one should precisely keep track of expenses if she does not want to stay stuck in one place eating rice and beans for the last weeks of the trip!

The following table includes details about our expenses in all the place we have been. We were not keeping ultra-precise logs but the following numbers should be quite close to reality. The price are mentioned in Euros, the date as DD/MM/YY.

Date Location Food Accomodation Transportation Activity
4-9/01/12 Buenos Aires, Argentina 125 279 0 0
10-12/01/12 Puerto Madryn, Argentina 30 52 306 60
13-15/01/12 El Calafate, Argentina 60 78 183 80
15-17/01/12 El Chalten, Argentina 45 33 100 0
18-20/01/12 Villa O’Higgins, Chile 50 48 136 0
20/01/12 Cochrane, Chile 20 39 60 0
22-23/01/12 Coyhaique, Chile 70 60 86 0
24-29/01/12 Puerto Varas, Chile 90 200 160 120
30/01/12 → 02/02/12 Pucon, Chile 60 90 100 80
03-04/02/12 Santiago, Chile 75 85 160 0
05/02/12 Puente del Inca, Argentina 10 70 140 0
06-07/02/12 Mendoza, Argentina 30 41 20 25
08-10/02/12 Cordoba, Argentina 52 52 113 100
11-12/02/12 San Ignacio Mini, Argentina 50 40 156 15
13-14/02/12 Carlos Pellegrini, Argentina 20 32 193 40
15-19/02/12 Florianopolis, Brasil 125 144 280 0
19-24/02/12 Curritiba, Brasil 188 200 150 72
25-29/02/12 Rio de Janeiro, Brasil 290 160 212 60
01-03/03/12 Minas Gerais, Brasil 130 120 150 10
4-6/03/12 Iguaçu, Brasil (*) 110 156 450 108
7-10/03/12 Salvador, Brasil (*) 170 172 950 0
11-14/03/12 Lençois de Bahia, Brasil 100 149 43 15
15/03/12 Brasilia, Brasil 30 0 100 0
16-21/03/12 Pantanal, Brasil 326 483 220 400
22-25/03/12 Chapada Dos Guimaraes, Brasil 100 120 75 60
26-28/03/12 São Paulo, Brasil (*) 40 41 458 60
29/03/12 → 2/04/12 Itatiaia, Brasil 300 345 60 0
3-4/04/12 Rio De Janeiro, Brasil 40 92 96 0
23 days Total Argentina 2.609€ (113/day) 402 677 1.209 320
18 days Total Chile 1.789€ (99/day) 365 548 675 200
49 days Total Brasil 8.126€ (165/day) 1.949 2.183 3.269 725
90 days Total without air fares 12.525€ (139/day) 2.716 3.408 5.154 1.245
4 january 2012 Fligh Paris-Argentina 0 0 1100 0
4 april 2012 Flight back to France 0 0 1100 0
90 days Budjet Total 14.725 € 2.716 3.408 7.354 1.245

(*) Including the flight

The overall budget is 14.725 €, including transportation, food, accommodation and visits, but excluding the equipment cost. I may detail in another post what we took with us.

Half of the budget was dedicated to transportation, this includes our 2.200 € flights from Paris to Buenos Aires and from Rio de Janeiro to Paris. It’s interesting to note that the cost was the same if we took a round-trip Paris-Buenos Aires and an extra flight from Rio to Buenos Aires, or just a flight to go to Buenos Aires and a return flight from Rio. Apart from the flight, the budget still dedicated  40% to transportation. The second main expense was accommodation (27%), then food (22%) and last but not least the visits, about remaining 10%. We mainly slept in hostels, dormitory or double room. We tried to choose 4 beds dorms, best compromise between price and comfort. We enjoyed our hotel in Buenos Aires, the Bohemia Buenos Aires Hotel Boutique, nice and well situated. The lovely Hôtel Español of Coyhaique in Chile and the astounding Hotel do Ypê in the Itatiaia Park, close to Rio de Janeiro.

We only camped once, in Carlos Pellegrini, but keeping the tent with us was really reassuring, we knew that in any case we had a roof with us! We would not recommend some of our accommodations, our hostel in Puerto Madryn, Argentina, was not clean, our Cabana in Cochrane, Chile, our hostel in Coyhaique, Chile, and the hostel Pouso da Trihla in Lençois de Bahia, Brasil (where the maid tried to rob us).

We did not go a lot to restaurants, except in Chile, where a bunch of small restaurants proposed menus for less than 5 euros, and in Brazil when Claude and Philippe visited us. Likely we missed out a lot of meals and the times we only ate a banana, some crackers with dulce de leche were numerous.

Our activities were mainly walks and visits. We visited towns, parks, walked a lot to discover the cities, this was free! We did not take the time to visit a lot of museums or exhibitions, already clearly occupied with the basics. Some places needed an entrance fee, however, and that could be expensive: Punta Tumbo, Valdez Peninsula, Perito Moreno, parks in the surroundings of Puerto Varas and Pucon, climbing the Villarica Volcano, the visit of a Bodega near Mendoza, the Jesuit ruins close to Córdoba_ and at San Ignacio Mini, the barque trip in Carlos Pellegrini, the small train in Curitiba, climbing to the Corcovado and the Paõ de Açucar in Rio, some churches in Minas Gerais, and finally an excursion to the Pantanal and the Chapada dos Guimarães‎.

Looking at the daily budget for two persons, we can see the difference existing between those three countries, 100€ per day in Chile, 113€ per day in Argentina and 165€ per day in Brasil! The Brazil budget should be taken with care, though, as we took the plane three times when Leeloo’s parents where with us, to visit the most beautiful places during the 15 days they were with us. Removing the air-fares, with a more straight route without the zig-zag we did in plane, the budget of the Brasil would have been 136€ per day, but still this is the most expensive of the three countries we visited.

For people going on a tight budget, compared to us, some money could likely be saved on accommodations, camping more often or sticking strictly to cheaper hostels, the budget could lower from 19€ per day to 11€ per day per person. I think it’s hard to reduce the food budget, as we rarely had extra and we really ate little with Leeloo (we can eat cheap food for months). Maybe from 15€ per day to 12€ or 13€ per day per person, but i’s going to be very hard to go lower, except if living on bread and water.

Regarding transportation, if we remove the flights from the budget, we almost took the cheapest bus every time, except for the trip from Buenos Aires to Puerto Madryn, and from Cordoba to Posada, when we chose ejecutivos buses. I think it would be hard to spend less than 21€ per day per person, except if you choose to visit less locations and stay longer. To conclude, I would say that for this kind of trip, in those countries, it would be really hard, given the prices when we were there, in 2012, to plan on anything lower than 45€ per day per person.

Travelling with someone does not really change the individual budget, nearly all the accommodations have a per-person price, not for a room price, especially in hostels. If you stay in an hotel, then the double room is usually not twice as expensive as the single room, but anyone on a tight budget would not go to an hotel, as they are really expensive most of the time. Moreover,  hostels give the opportunity to meet people. Regarding food and transportation, being solo or with someone does not change anything, except if you rent a car.

As a conclusion, I would say that three months are clearly not enough to visit those three countries, and we mostly did not visit the north of each countries. I guess that 5 months would have been better to have a more exhaustive tour. But in any case, it would be really difficult to plan on a budget lower than 50€ per day per person.

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