All you need to Know about South America
In general, people have a bad image of South America, regarding security throughout the continent, but the reality is quite different. As in all parts of the world, and especially as women, you have to take certain precautions and travel with common sense, but it is not anywhere near as dangerous as the media and those people who have never been and only leave carry by what they hear out there. So, it is much better to arrange and have a guidance with a travel company. So, don’t think too much and explore this paradise in world known as South America. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you need some help!
Our answer is yes. It is better for you to travel covered in case of an accident or trip issue. There are several different types of travel insurance policies available, ranging from trip cancellation insurance to emergency medical evacuation, all of which vary widely by company in what their coverage includes and how much it costs. Make sure you know exactly what your policy will and will not cover before you purchase anything, and always buy your insurance from a reputable company. You may purchase travel insurance from any agency with which you feel comfortable. You may also contact us for insurance. We will gather your information and give you a quote.
If you want to travel in South America and you do not speak Spanish it is not a big deal because nowadays many people already speak English and they can help you if you need help somewhere in South America if necessary. It is important to say that Spanish is the second largest language spoken all over the world and why not start studying Spanish during your visit. It is definitely a plus if you speak Spanish because, locals will feel more confident to you and it will be easy for you to interact with everyone anywhere in South America, with the exception of Brazil because they speak Portuguese. So, you can study Spanish while you tour around in South America.
It depends on your age and nationality. Foreign tourists over the age of 12 pay $100, while children pay $50. Visitors from the Andean Community and Mercosur nations over the age of 12 pay $50, and children pay $25. Ecuadorian nationals over the age of 12 pay $6, and children pay $3. Although this entry tax may seem a bit high, it is important to keep in mind that these fees are helping to protect the Galapagos. By visiting the islands, you are not only enjoying an outstanding and once in a lifetime holiday, but you are also contributing to the conservation efforts protecting the enchanting Galapagos Islands. Visitors from the Andean Community and Mercosur nations over the age of 12 pay $50, and children pay $25. Ecuadorian nationals over the age of 12 pay $6, and children pay $3. Although this entry tax may seem a bit high, it is important to keep in mind that these fees are helping to protect the Galapagos. By visiting the islands, you are not only enjoying an outstanding and once in a lifetime holiday, but you are also contributing to the conservation efforts protecting the enchanting Galapagos Islands.
In addition to the Galapagos Park entrance fee, a US$20 migration transit control card is required to travel to Galapagos. This fee is payable at Quito or Guayaquil airport.
Visitors may arrive to Baltra or San Cristobal airports in the islands by plane, taking off from the Guayaquil or Quito airport in the mainland. No other airports offer flights to the islands.
The main requirement is a valid Ecuadorian tourist visa stamp in your passport, this should have been issued to you upon arrival to mainland Ecuador. There is also a $20 immigration control card that is payable at Quito or Guayaquil airport.
Galapagos is a great year-round travel destination. However, there are 2 seasons: Cool & dry season: July to December with generally overcast conditions and choppier waters. Temperatures between 19 and 25°C, average sea temperature 21°C. Warm & wet season: January to June with sunny skies and occasionally heavy showers. Temperatures between 22 and 27°C, average sea temperature 24°C but can dip lower. In terms of number of visitors, the busiest times of year are July, August, Christmas / new year, and Easter.
When visiting the Galapagos Islands, a National Park and World Heritage Site, all visitors are expected to act responsibly and to treat the environment with respect. Below are 14 rules of the Galapagos National Park Directorate (GNPD) that all visitors are expected to abide by while in the Islands: 1. Visitors to any protected areas within the Galapagos National Park must be accompanied by a naturalist guide authorized by the GNPD. 2. Travel only with tour operators and/or boats authorized to work in the protected areas of Galapagos. 3. Remain on marked trails at visitor sites and respect signs at all times for the protection of wildlife, and for your safety. 4. Maintain a distance of at least six feet (two meters) from wildlife as best as possible, to avoid disturbing them, even if they approach you. 5. Never feed wildlife, as this can cause health problems. 6. Flash photography is not permitted when taking photos of wildlife. Professional photography and videos recorded for commercial purposes must be authorized by the GNPD. 7. Camping is only allowed in a few authorized areas in the Islands. Request authorization to camp at the Galapagos National Park’s offices at least 48 hours in advance. 8. It is your responsibility not to introduce food, animals, or plants into the Archipelago. Cooperate fully with all environmental inspection and quarantine officials during your visit. 9. Do not take or buy any products or souvenirs made from banned substances, including black coral, shells, lava rock, animal parts, or any native wood or vegetation prior to leaving Galapagos. This is illegal and must be reported. 10. Practice “leave-no-trace” principles in order to maintain the beauty of the environment. 11. Pack out all trash and dispose of or recycle it in the populated areas or on your tour boat. 12. Smoking and/or campfires are strictly prohibited within the Galapagos National Park, as fires poses a serious risk to the flora and fauna of Galapagos. 13. Fishing is only permitted on recreational tour boats authorized by the GNPD. 14. Motorized aquatic sports, mini-subs, and aerial tourism activities are not permitted in the Galapagos National Park or Marine Reserve. Failure to adhere to these rules may sometimes lead to warnings, fines, prison, deportation or banning from the islands, based on the severity and potentially malicious intention of the deed. While it’s extremely rare for people to break these rules, it is mostly common sense and good will from all our travelers.
The Galapagos Islands saw a steady influx of tourists, which necessitated the establishment and improvement of policies and laws. These guidelines were established to protect visitors’ safety and sense of security as well as the wildlife that inhabits the islands. As a result, the crime rate in Galapagos Islands is almost zero, so you do not have to worry about your safety.
Is common to tip in Galapagos, but tipping expectations are higher than on mainland Ecuador. Remember that the islands are located around 1000km off of the Ecuadorian coast in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. All goods have to be shipped or flown out, creating a higher cost of living for Galapagos residents. So, as a visitor you’ll notice that shop prices and services are in general more expensive. In turn, Galapagos tip expectations are also higher. For each day of a Galapagos Land Tour, a tip of $5-10 per person per day to the guide is the norm. On navigable day tours an extra $5-10 per person per day to be shared by the crew is expected too. Perhaps $5-10 total to a driver too, depending on the amount of time he/she is with you, and whether it is a private or shared transport service.
Ecuadorian currency is the US Dollar. Sometimes ATM will not let you take out big amounts, and you will have to pay fees on top of each money withdrawal. You need to consider that in some smaller towns/villages might not always have ATMs/banks, especially on the coast and forest villages.
Altitude sickness is a common thing when you land in Quito or if you go hiking in the Andes’ mountains. You should take a few days to acclimate when you arrive before climbing the highest summits of Ecuador!
Tap water is generally not safe to drink in Ecuador. Bottled water is readily available at local markets, tourist sites, hotels and restaurants. It is even better to use bottled water for brushing your teeth. And if you have the chance, you can almost boil the tap water.
Ecuador has four main regions and all of them are worthy of a visit, depending on your personal interests and preferences. The highlands spread from the north to the south of the country, and here there is plenty of culture and history, as well as outdoors activities to take part in. The jungle region is to the east of the country, and plenty of visitors travel here to get a taste of the Amazon. The Pacific Coast region is to the west of the country, and here you can chill out in the sun, or maybe take surf lessons. Finally, a big draw to this small Andean nation is the region of the Galapagos Islands, where Charles Darwin developed his theory of evolution.
It is quite widespread throughout the country, with the exception of remote and rural locations which is to be expected. In main cities (Quito-Guayaquil-Cuenca) you will have WiFi access in many public areas such as restaurants, bars & even in parks.
It is a general practice to tip in Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands. The local currency in Ecuador is the US dollar. So, if coming from the States, bring some smaller $1 and $5 bills along with you for tipping in Ecuador. Tipping is a common way to show an extra thank you for the fantastic service you’ve received during your travels. While tips shouldn’t be expected, a dollar can mean a lot more to your tour guide or driver than it does to you. If travel to you means forming relationships, supporting locals, and learning about cultures, then we recommend tipping.
Ecuador is located in the middle of the world, so you can enjoy a good temperate and climate during the year in most of the places. The high tourist season in Ecuador runs from mid-May to early October and starts again in late December. These peak seasons, are directly related with vacations in the United States, Canada and Europe. We have to say one more time that in Ecuador you can visit at any time, but keep in mind these following tour recommendations.
To travel from the United States to any South American country, you WILL need a passport. You may reference the following website for passport information; http://www.travel.state.gov/passport/passport_1738.html Ecuadorian visa policies and regulations change frequently. The information on this page was obtained from the Ecuadorian Ministry of Foreign Relations in Quito, and it represents the Ministry’s requirements for each visa as of September 2012. However, each embassy and consulate around the world has its own set of requirements and procedures for procuring a visa. Check with the embassy or consulate closest to you for accurate information applicable to your situation. Note: If you enter Ecuador with a tourist visa (12-X), you cannot subsequently apply for any other kind of visa in the country. You must return to your country of origin to apply for a non-tourist visa. Applications for non-tourist visas are no longer accepted within the country if you entered the country with a tourist visa.
The currency used throughout the country is the Colombian peso (COL). US dollars are not accepted in Colombia so it is recommended to have pesos on hand for any cash purchases. ATMs are the best and easiest way to get cash. They are readily available everywhere except in small towns and more remote areas. Credit and Debit cards are accepted in most major shops, hotels and restaurants in larger cities but it is recommended to have cash on hand when visiting smaller towns and remote areas.
A visa is not required when travelling as a tourist from Canada or the United States for up to 90 days. Passports must be valid for 6 months from the date of entry.
Tipping is not customary in Colombia but it is welcome. For restaurants, the standard is 10% of the total bill, and in most cases, they will add a 10% tip to their bills automatically. If you wish to leave extra tips, cash is appreciated. For regular excursions, US$ 7-10 per person is expected for the guide and US $3-5 per person for the driver (depending on whether it’s a half-day excursion or a full-day excursion) An average of US $1-2 is given to concierges as tips.
Colombia is located on the equator, which causes its weather to be the same all year round, and you can visit at any time of the year! Generally, most of the country has a hot, tropical weather. However, the temperature varies based on the altitude and season. Dry season typically runs from December through March, and this can be the busiest time for tourism as well. The rainy season typically runs from May through July or August. The dry and rainy seasons can vary from region to region, so please note that there may be rain outside of these months, depending on the location. The lowlands can be quite warm and higher elevations can get pretty cold, especially at night.
Colombia is a year-round destination. As it is located right at the Equator, it doesn’t really have seasons. However, there are dry and rainy periods affecting most of the country. The dry season is usually from December to March, but even outside of this period, weather variations are determined more by region than clearly defined seasons. The main differences are in the highlands, where nights become chilly in areas of higher altitude. The lowlands enjoy a tropical climate year-round with little temperature variation, though more frequent rain showers will be evident in the wetter months of April to June and again in October and November.
Visiting Colombia is far from being dangerous, on the contrary, it is one of the most fun and dazzling experiences you can live, because this country has kept for years great natural, historical and cultural treasures that make this destination the favorite of all adventurers who want an experience to another level. However, as in any other place, there are areas where you should move around with caution and avoid visiting at night. It is important to keep your belongings safe at all times and try to be guided by people who know the areas and places you want to visit.
The type of clothing can vary depending on the cities you want to visit, as there are very hot climates where the ideal is cool, loose and light-colored clothing. But if your destination is colder our recommendation is to bring closed shoes, coat and hat, the ruana is already available here.
Many of the most visited areas by tourists in Colombia are tropical, for this reason you may need vaccination against yellow fever. It is important that you consult with a health professional, whether or not you require this vaccination, either because of the destination city you are going to or because of the cities or countries you visited before.
If you only want to remember one emergency number in Colombia, it is 123. This will get you to all the emergency services. The police-specific number is 112. For the fire department, call 119, and dial 132 for the ambulance service.
While potable, it’s recommended that visitors refrain from drinking tap water in Colombia. Often, it isn’t as filtered as other parts of the world, which may lead to an upset stomach. Instead, it’s best to stick to bottled, mineral, or filtered water that you can readily find throughout the major cities.
Two kinds of electrical outlets are used in Colombia: Type A and Type B. Type A plugs are those that are typically seen in the US and Canada, which consist of two flat prongs that are parallel. Type B is the same as Type A, except that these have an extra, rounded prong for grounding. Type A plugs work with either Type A or B outlets, while Type B plugs only work with Type B outlets. If you’re planning on visiting Colombia and residing in a country that doesn’t use either, it’s recommended that you bring an electrical outlet adaptor.
Colombia has five major urban areas, Barranquilla, Bogotá, Cali, Cartagena, and Medellin, each with more than one million inhabitants. Moreover, there are several mid-sized cities around the country.
Except for Bogota, Taxis in all other cities are safe and you can take them in the streets. However, it is always better to tell your hotel to order a taxi and to organize additional tours and day trips. Uber and other Apps work very well in Bogota and other main cities, but it is always better to use registered, official taxis that we can book for you, or that any hotel or restaurant can request for you. Taxis have a taximeter and they have a table that says how much you should pay depending on the time and distance covered, and the number of units marked by the taximeter. When you order transportation through an app, it will tell you how much you should pay.
Colombia boasts a great variety of food but they are not completely used to eat vegetarian or vegan. The big cities offer various restaurant specialized in vegetarian and vegan food but the further away from these cities the harder it will become to get these options. They do eat a lot fish and can present you with an incredible variety of vegetables and exotic fruits year-round. Eating traditional foods is one of the best parts of Colombia. Try staples like arepas (crispy, fluffy maize dumplings often filled with meat or cheese) or feasts like bandeja paisa (a platter of rice, beans, three kinds of meat, fried eggs, ripe plantain, and avocado). Get local advice for where to go.
The official currency of Peru is the Sol (S/). Banknotes have denominations of 10, 20, 50, 100 or 200 soles. Coins come in values of 1, 2 and 5 soles, as well as 10, 20 and 50 cents. US dollars are accepted in many stores, restaurants, hotels and service stations. Foreign currency can be exchanged at banks or exchange offices. There are also street “cambistas” who change money, but the transaction cannot be guaranteed. The normal opening hours for bureaux de change are Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm, and 9am to midday on Saturdays. You can find ATMs in almost all cities in the country, and most are connected to the Plus (Visa), Cirrus (MasterCard/Maestro), American Express and other networks. You can take cash out in US dollars or soles, but the exchange rate is often higher.
Peru has been rated as having the best food in the world. There is a variety of food from many different influences. The food is different in different regions of the country. There is indigenous influence in the food, in addition to influence from the various immigrant groups that arrived in Peru over the centuries. Ceviche, Pollo a la Brasa, Lomo Saltado, and Cuy are just a few of the many foods that are popular in Peru. Many international foods are also popular. The food is different in different regions of the country. There is indigenous influence in the food, in addition to influence from the various immigrant groups that arrived in Peru over the centuries. Ceviche, Pollo a la Brasa, Lomo Saltado, and Cuy are just a few of the many foods that are popular in Peru. Many international foods are also popular.
Peru recommends (but does not require proof of) vaccinations for Hepatitis A, B, and Yellow Fever. Yellow fever is particularly recommended for those traveling to jungle areas below 7,500 feet in altitude.
Peru uses 220 volts, but typically plugs are shaped the same as in North America—two flat prongs. So, you won’t need an adapter, but if your appliances run at 110 volts (likely, but always doublecheck), you’ll need to bring a converter to avoid frying the device.
As everywhere it is a matter of attitude and behavior. Thieves might target you only because you look like a tourist and they think that you are rich. However, if you prevent showing your valuables, and use taxis (preferably ones your hotel called for you) instead of walking a lot especially at night or in shady districts, Peru will show you its wonders in a quite secure way.
In Peru there are three different areas, the coast, the mountains, and the jungle. So your travel time always depends on what your interests are and what you want to see and do. If you would like to visit the coast, January-March would be the best, for the mountains it’s May-August and for the jungle it would be September-November.
If you are a citizen of the U.S., Canada, the European Union, Australia or New Zealand, you will automatically receive a tourist visa which is valid for maximum 183 days a year, upon your arrival in Peru. Please keep in mind that your passport needs to be valid when you enter the country.
It is different in different parts of the country. In Lima it is often hot and there is little or no rain. In Cusco it can get cold, especially at night. Cusco also receives a lot of rain. Machu Picchu is usually warmer than Cusco, but it still rains there.
In Lima (IATA code – LIM): Jorge Chávez International Airport – Direct flights from the vast majority of countries and local flights within Peru enter. In Cusco (IATA code – CUZ): Alejandro Velazco Astete International Airport – Local direct flights in and out of: Lima, Arequipa and Puno. Direct international flights from: La Paz – Bolivia, Bogotá – Colombia, Santiago de Chile. In Puno – Juliaca (IATA code – JUL): Inca Manco Cápac Airport – Receive and depart direct flights from Lima and Cusco. In Arequipa (IATA code – AQP): Rodriguez Ballón Airport – Direct flights in and out of Cusco and Lima.
You can visit Machu Picchu by bus, train, or walking the Inca Trail. The popular option of trekking the Inca Trail connects other Incan ruins along the route before reaching the famous plateau of Machu Picchu on two-, four-, or five-day hikes. The train ride can take nearly five hours, but also offers a luxury seat under the Vistadome, a car with panoramic windows to enjoy the view of the surrounding Sacred Valley. Each method of travel offers a different experience and price point, but results in an unforgettable visit to the ruins high above the Sacred Valley.
Peru has plenty of options for a family trip. You and your children can enjoy uncovering ancient ruins at Machu Picchu or explore the myths of the Nazca Lines. Visit the Amazon Rainforest in search of vibrant and colorful macaws or learn the art of making chocolate.
Peru is safe, comfortable, and a unique destination for senior travelers of all fitness and energy levels. With an incredible history that spans millennia, as well as impressive geographical diversity, senior travelers can enjoy cultural immersion and captivating wilderness in comfort. Colonial architecture, Incan ruins, impressive wildlife, and excellent cuisine represent the fascinating variety Peru has to offer. Whether visiting the Amazon or the Andes, seniors can enjoy the best of Peru in safe environments according to their needs and styles.
We wouldn’t recommend it. Peru’s tap water doesn’t meet the WHO standards for clean drinking water, and most locals don’t drink it. You should boil the water from your tap to sterilize it, or just stick to bottled water to be safe. Bottled water is cheap and sold nearly everywhere. Drink as much as you can, it’ll help you beat altitude sickness.
It depends. If you have health issues, you should check with your doctor before heading to high altitudes. You can also consider getting a prescription for altitude sickness medication from your doctor. Don’t worry too much because nearly everyone experiences a little altitude sickness. The lucky ones may have a headache for the first 24 hours, while others may endure several days of fatigue, nausea, and headaches. When up high, lay off the booze, limit physical activity, hydrate, drink lots of coca tea, suck coca hard candy, or chew coca leaves. If the headache persists, take an ibuprofen, hydrate some more, and sleep it off. Some hotels have oxygen, so don’t hesitate to ask for it. Many Hotels offer oxygen enrichment in the rooms to assist with the altitude.
Tipping isn’t super common in Peruvian culture, but there are some times when it’s appropriate. If you’re satisfied with your meal in a restaurant, it’s standard to leave a 10% tip. You don’t need to tip a bartender or a taxi driver (if your driver was especially awesome, just round up the bill to a nice even number). For tour guides and porters on a hike, it’s recommended to tip $5–$10 (15 to 30 Sol) per day.
Although, there is a high crime rate in the country, however, if you take precautionary measures, you can have a safe journey through Guatemala. Let me share my experience. Major parts of the country are quite safe in the daytime, but during the nighttime, there are fewer people on the streets, some sectors can get dangerous. So, it’s not recommended to go alone at night.
Yes, a valid passport is required to enter Guatemala. A visa is not required for US Citizens. Please check your country requirements. The arrival airport is Guatemala City (GUA).
Guatemala’s local currency is the “Guatemalan Quetzal” (GTQ). Dollars can be changed at the exchange houses in the airport. Many businesses accept dollars at the current exchange rate. ATM machines are available in various regions throughout Guatemala, especially Guatemala City and the airport where the option of US dollars or the Quetzal is often available. Do not arrive in Guatemala without any cash as ATM machines can be down or fail to accept your card. It is wise to check with your bank ahead of time to confirm that your card will work overseas. Debit cards and credit cards are becoming more acceptable at major stores; however, they are still not accepted as widely as in your home country.
Guatemala has a lovely climate year-round. The rainy season generally occurs from May to November. Fluctuations in weather are usually due to escalating altitudes, but warm temperatures are normally found throughout the country. Northern Guatemala features a hot, tropical climate with the majority of the rainfall occurring between May and September. Both the coastal and northeast regions are hot and the drier period occurs from November to April, with average temperatures of 68°F (20°C). Guatemala City and La Antigua (designated as the “highlands”) both have a pleasant climate with less rainfall (as compared to the coastal regions), but experience colder temperatures in the evenings.
Most people speak Spanish since it is the official language. In addition to the 22 Mayan dialects, two more Indigenous languages, Garífuna and Xinca, are spoken here.
It is not safe to drink water from the faucet in Guatemala. Any water consumed, used for tooth brushing, or made into ice should be boiled or otherwise sterilized beforehand. It is advised that you drink bottled water.
While tipping is not widely practiced in Guatemala, it is always appreciated. If service is not included in the price of a meal, a 10 percent tip is customary at a restaurant.
November through April is considered high season, making those months the best time to visit Guatemala. During this time of year, known as the dry season, there will be a lot of sunlight, the temperature will be high, and there will be a lesser possibility of rain. However, regardless of the time you choose to visit, you’ll be greeted by friendly locals, amazing food, and more activities than you’ll be able to pack into one trip.