Useful Information & Tips For Your Trip To South America
On this page you will find important information for your trip: security, currency exchange, recommended places, government institutions, etc. Please take into consideration our recommendations. Thank you. Feel free to Contact us if this doesn’t answer all your questions (firstname.lastname@example.org)!
Step 1: Contact us
E-Mail us, call us or fill out one of our Online Forms and we will pair you with your personal Travel Advisor within 24 hours!
Step 2: Perfecting your trip
Whatever you want your Travel Advisor will customize for you, just let him know your desires. Trip, hostel, bus/train ticket or other services you need, will be attended personally. You get an offer and you decide!
Step 3: Booking:
Once you have the tour/service of your preference, we book it completely as you want. We need some of your documents (passport, student card, etc.), to ensure all the services you have chosen.
Step 4: Confirmation
You confirm your trip with a 35% of the cost of the tour/service, as a down payment. After this stage any changes or cancellations will result in an extra fee. Additions however are welcomed and do not have a penalty charge. You will receive full confirmations for your trip approximately 1-2 weeks after booking. We will be coordinating everything from planes, trains, buses, hotels, and tours for you in South America.
About Your flights
Our tours do not include the flights to / from South America from / to your country of origin.
Also we do not include the domestic flights in South America, but if you prefer we can book it for you at the current cost of the Airline of your choice.
It is your responsibility to book the flights in time according to your travel dates and inform us about your flight dates and hours, so that we can organize and adjust your itinerary accordingly.
Please be aware, that there can be flight changes due to unforeseen events. By using your flight number we’ll keep track of your flight hours and our team keeps notes of airline changes for you so you can count on our representatives to be waiting for you.
Step 5: We are always in touch
Your Travel Advisor in South America will be at your service before and during your trip. You can contact and stay in touch with him or her via e-mail, Facebook, Skype, telephone or if you are near to one of our offices, personally.
Step 6: Full Payment
Your Travel Advisor will remind you about your trip balance at least 1 month before your trip. Then you have to complete your payment for the tour/service.
We accept all major credit and debit cards, Pay Pal, money transfer (western union, money gram) or cash.
NOTE: If you book your tour/service less than 1 month in advance we need 100% of the payment.
Step 7: Arrival in South America
If you book a Private Tour, or choose to be picked up from the Airport in any destination of South America, there will be a COCA TOURS representative waiting for you at the airport and transfer you to the chosen Hostel/Hotel.
For detailed information about the international airports (e.g. regarding customs, luggage, connecting flights, lockers, ATMs, opening hours etc.) please check the webpage of the respective airport.
Lima, Peru: www.lap.com.pe
Quito, Ecuador: http://www.aeropuertoquito.aero
Sucre, Bolivia: http://www.sabsa.aero
Buenos Aires, Argentina: http://www.airportbuenosaires.com
Santiago de Chile, Chile: http://www.aeropuertosantiago.cl
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: http://www.aeroportogaleao.net
Currencies and exchange rates in South America
Currency: Nuevo Sol (PEN, S/.)
1 USD = ca. 2.50 PEN
1 € = ca. 3 PEN
Currency: Boliviano (BOB, Bs.)
1 USD = ca. 6.80 BOB
1 EUR = ca. 9.00 BOB
Currency: US-Dollar (USD, $)
1EUR = ca. 1.30 USD
Currency: Chilean Peso (CLP, $)
1 USD = ca. 475.00 CLP
1 EUR = ca. 600.00 CLP
Currency: Argentinean Peso (ARS, $)
1 USD = ca. 4.50 ARS
1 EUR= ca. 6.00 ARS
Currency: Brazilian Real (BRL, R$)
1 USD = ca. 2.00 BRL
1 EUR = ca. 1.60 BRL
Where to change currency
We suggest you to change your cash in South America, as in most places they will accept US$, but for more remote areas and small shops it is better to always have local currency with you. The exchange rate should be better in South America than in the US or Europe. You could change some money at the airport you are arriving at (Lima, Santiago, Buenos Aires, Quito, etc.), for the rest please just ask your Travel Advisor.
You can easily change dollars in all cities. We advise you to change as much as you need until you get to your next destination where there are money changing facilities. The best places to exchange your US$ or Euros are at your hostel/hotel or at an exchange office. At the beginning of your trip you can pay with US$ as in most of the places they are easily accepted, until you manage to change your money. You can also use ATMs to withdraw money in most of the cities but not in very remote areas but we recommend having some money available on your arrival, to make sure you are secured with cash until you find an ATM.
Are American Dollars readily accepted?
Yes, US$ and € are widely accepted in South America (in Ecuador US$ is the official currency). You can pay with US$ at most of the hotels, supermarkets and restaurants, but please carry the local currency with you for remote areas or for shopping in small shops.
Can I change Canadian Dollars or Euros easily in South America, or do I need to change to US dollars before the trip?
It would be easier for you to have US Dollars, as you can directly buy products with them. Also, it is possible that in some places they won’t be able to change your Canadian Dollars or Euros and you would have to make an extra effort to find a place where you can change them!
Budget: Roughly how much do you think we are likely to need for our trip?
It depends to which country you are travelling: in Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador are more “economic” than Argentina, Chile or Brazil. But in general, the price level in South America is lower than in the US or Europe and you can purchase things like food, clothes, etc. to remarkably lower prices. A lunch menu in Peru for example will be about 8US$, a nice dinner in Chile about 18US$.
How much should one tip and who?
This is a difficult issue and it is handled differently in different countries. Please talk to your Travel Advisor or Travel Guide about that. In general, you should tip according to how well you were served.
What voltage do the sockets have – 110 or 220 V? And what kind of plugs is standard?
Voltage in Peru, Bolivia, Chile and Argentina is 220 V, in Ecuador it’s 110 V. Depending on the country there are different plugs used and you might need to get an adaptor. Usually, your hotels / hostels should be able to lend you adaptors or you can buy an adaptor in the respective country markets.
Would you suggest a walking pole?
Unless you’re trekking in the Andes or going to the Amazon, this won’t be necessary.
If I pack light, can I buy clothes in South America?
Definitely, this is the smartest way to go: you get essential clothing & souvenirs in one. There will be for example t-shirts with typical prints on them and you can also bargain for these.
What do I need to bring with me?
This will depend very much upon which area you are visiting and what kind of travel option you chose. The secret is layering. Peel off during the warm day and layer on for cold nights. Here is a rough guide to help you decide:
- Sandals (you’ll be given rubber boots at the lodge)
- Comfortable walking shoes / hiking boots (nothing that you wouldn’t want to get muddy!)
- Loose long sleeved tops and long pants
- Hat with netting
- Rain Poncho
- Insect repellant
- Walking pole, with plastic or rubber bottoms only
- Hiking boots
- Rain Poncho (Dec – Feb)
- Warm jacket
- Warm clothes, cap and gloves for the evening
- Loose long sleeves / shirts for the day
- Sleeping bag
Recommended Travel Accessories
- Camera & binoculars
- Writing journal
- Sun block
- Mosquito Repellant
- Personal Medicines
A duffel bag with wheels is a good combination as you will go through some cobblestone roads. Make sure you are able to put a little lock on them for extra security. In this luggage, pack a small backpack which you will use for the things you just need e.g. for the Inca Trail or when you go off to your Jungle Lodge.
Are we likely to encounter a dress code anywhere we visit on our tour?
No dress codes, nobody will get offended. South Americans are very open minded and used to people coming from all parts of the world having different types of fashion. You can by all means wear what you’re used to.
In terms of safety, especially for the children, is there anything we should be concerned about, be prepared for etc.?
Something to be careful about is what you allow your children to eat and drink, because they are more susceptible to diarrhea. You can be assured that the food in good hotels and reputable restaurants are ok.
For children with asthma, it would be best to consult your doctor before traveling, especially if you are visiting a city at high altitude such as Cusco or Puno.
What are the conditions for personal safety?
Regarding traveling safely, you simply have to avoid wearing flashy jewelry and always keep your belongings close to you. Since you will always be traveling with us, you can feel safe with our tour guides who will take good care of you. Traveling in a group or with our guide, you can always feel secure.
Any shots we need?
Any vaccination is mandatory unless you are coming from an infected area. If you are going to the rain forest we recommend getting a Yellow Fever vaccination and a certificate for this. For the jungle we strongly recommend taking anti-malarial. We suggest also vaccination against Hepatitis A, Tetanus and Typhoid before departure. The best thing to do would be to consult your doctor or vaccination centre for any doubt you can have.
Should we take some precautions while in South America, such as drinking
only bottled water and buying food such as fruit?
You should only drink bottled water. You’ll find many brands in supermarkets or in little stores and they are all good. There are 2 types of water you can buy: “Sin gas”, meaning un-carbonated “normal” water, and “con gas” which is carbonated. We are working with good hotels & restaurants where food is of good quality. Make sure to eat in good restaurants & buy fruits from supermarkets that you clean or wash before eating.
Altitude sickness: Recommendations
When travelling to high regions such as Cusco, Peru (3,326m / 10,975ft), Puno, Peru (3,809m / 12,496ft), La Paz, Bolivia (4,058m / 13,313 ft) or Quito, Ecuador (2,850m / 9,350ft) some travelers suffer from the altitude sickness that commonly occurs above 2,400m. Symptoms include headache, fatigue, stomach illness, dizziness, and sleep disturbance. It is hard to determine who will be affected by altitude sickness, as there are no specific factors that correlate with a susceptibility to altitude sickness.
Prevention is the best treatment: Before travelling to high located destinations, don’t eat too much. Avoid fatty food opting for anything easy to digest instead & keep on drinking a lot of water. Once you’re there, take “baby steps” as your body gets used to the altitude.
Please don’t forget to ask your doctor’s advice before taking any medications for altitude sickness. Once arriving in South America, a lot of people will be offering or recommending you Muna & Coca Tea, all natural helpers to open up your lungs that will make you feel better.