South America By The Numbers

Four and a half months in South America flew by, and we can’t believe we’re already back in the United States. Here is our summary of Phase 1:

Our actual route through South America
  • # of Days: 138
  • Total Cost: $12,941
    • Transportation: $3,196 – 25%
    • Entertainment: $2,856 – 22%
    • Food: $2,560 – 20%
    • Accommodation: $2,213- 17%
    • Miscellaneous: $1,380 – 11%
    • Bribes: $736 – 6% (we didn’t actually pay any bribes, but we classified fees to use the bathroom or bus terminal, visa fees, exchange rate fees etc. as bribes)
  • Average Cost per day: $93.78 (we came home $859 dollars below budget, which means we have some extra money for the Asia portion of our trip!)
  • # of Countries: 8
    • Chile – 7 days – $966
    • Argentina – 34 days – $3,266
    • Uruguay – 8 days – $600
    • Paraguay – 13 days – $1,326
    • Bolivia – 31 days – $1,965
    • Peru – 27 days – $1,975
    • Ecuador – 6 days – $422
    • Colombia – 12 days – $1,603

Remaining cost is not country specific, i.e. Eric’s cell phone plan which gave us worldwide phone coverage and travel medical insurance.

  • # of Border Crossings: 12
  • # of Passport Stamps: 24
  • # of Night Buses: 13
  • # of Flights: 6
  • # of Unique Night Locations: 67
  • Average # of Nights Per Location: 2.05 (we had to double check this number since it definitely didn’t feel this low to us given we spent 15 days at a single winery, six days in Montevideo, six days in Asunción, etc., but turns out night buses and other random one-day stints drag the average down a lot).
  • # of Days WWOOFING: 21
  • Country that surprised us the most: Bolivia – it’s one of the poorest countries in South America and hardly any tourists visit, but we loved every part of our month there. The people were so helpful and nice, the cities were beautiful, and taking crazy photos on the Salar de Uyuni was so fun!
  • Top 3 Destinations:
    • Kuelap, Peru
    • Atacama Desert, Chile
    • Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia
  • Places we wouldn’t recommend: None! Except, if you only have two weeks to go on vacation, maybe don’t spend it in Paraguay. We’re so glad we went there, but there wasn’t much to see.
  • Things we learned to appreciate:
    • Good coffee
    • Strong, warm showers
    • People who use headphones
    • Well-stocked kitchens
    • Bathrooms with toilet paper
    • Cars with seat belts
    • Bus maps!
  • Things we will miss:
    • Fresh fruit juices
    • $3 lunch menus
    • Awesome night buses
    • Pretty cities in mountain valleys
    • Being forced to practice our Spanish
  • Things we won’t miss:
    • Buses spewing black exhaust
    • Narrow, curvy mountain roads

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