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South America Travel Information


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When to visit South America?
Flights to South America
Visas, Entrance Fees & Insurance
Health & Diet considerations when travelling to South America
Money Matters
Technology
Packing Lists – Inca Trail, Amazon, Patagonia & General


When to visit South America?

South America is a huge continent and weather conditions differ greatly depending on which destinations you plan to visit.  We all want different things from our holiday and the best time to go to South America for one person may be poles apart from another. For some dry weather is important, whereas for others travelling out of peak season is vital, so this summary is only intended as a brief guide covering the most popular destinations. Please contact us to discuss in more details.

Country When to Go
Argentina
  • Buenos Aires – year round. High season/summer is December to February.
  • Iguazu Falls – year round. High season/summer is December to February.
  • Patagonia & Lakes District – year round although May to September can be very cold and many places can be closed (it’s still a nice time to visit though).  December to March is peak season and can be crowded.
  • Peninsula Valdes – February to April for Killer whale sightings. June to December is the overall best season for whale, penguins, seal and sea lions sightings.
  • Salta – year round, although December to March is hot and humid and tend to have more rainfall.
Bolivia
  • Highlands (La Paz & Lake Titicaca) – year round, although the best time is from April to October. Although this season is cooler it is also the dry season.
  • Southern Altiplanico (Uyuni) – year round, although the summer rainy season is from November to March (in particular, late December until February) can cause transport problems in the highlands.
Brazil
  • Amazon– year round, however it tends to be driest in May to October. December, January, and February are the wettest, although the increased animal activity makes this a great time to visit.
  • Iguazu Falls – year round, although water levels can dwindle from April to July.
  • Pantanal – Year round, however it can be very hot in the rainy season, December through March. The driest time of the year is May through October.
  • Rio –The climate is tropical, with year round warm temperatures. The warmest months are typically between January and March and the coolest months June to August. High season lasts from the week before Christmas until Carnaval (which falls sometime in February or early March, depending on the year).
Chile
  • Northern Chile (including San Pedro Atacama) – year round.
  • Central Chile (including Santiago) – year round. Cold in winter months (June – August).
  • Patagonia & Lakes District – year round, although May to September can be very cold and many places can be closed (yet it is still a nice time to visit). December to March is peak season and can be crowded.
  • Easter Island – year round pleasant climate but the rainiest time of year is during April.
Colombia
  • Due to its location close to the Equator Colombia’s temperatures vary little by the season. Anytime is a good time to visit, although the dry season is December to March and July to September.
Ecuador
  • Andes highlands (including Quito) – year round.
  • Amazon – year round, however it tends to be driest in May to October. December, January, and February are the wettest, although the increased animal activity makes this a great time to visit.
Galapagos Islands
  • Year round with two main seasons: December to June is warm (becoming hot and humid January to March). July to November is windier, cooler, mainly dry, with some misty drizzle.
  • Animal sightings differ depending on the month. Check our Galapagos page for more information.
Peru
  • The coast (including Lima) – year round.
  • Andes – year round, although the summer rainy season is from November to March (in particular late December until February) can experience regular rainfall.
  • Amazon – year round, however it tends to be driest in May to October. December, January and February are the wettest although the increased animal activity makes this a great time to visit.
Venezuela
  • Caribbean coast (including Margarita Island and Los Roques) – generally dry all year round.
  • Gran Sabana (including Angel Falls) – dry season is November to May, but the best time to visit this area is the remainder of the year, when the rivers are full and the humidity is not yet too high.
  • Andes – year round.


Flights to South America

Eclipse Travel can assist with all your flight arrangements, including international flights, round- the-world flights, internal South America flights and South America air passes.

Which airlines fly to South America from Australia or NZ?

From the east coast there are 3 options for flying into South America:

  • LATAM Airlines fly from Sydney to Santiago via Auckland 7 days per week (direct services commencing late 2019), and from Melbourne to Santiago direct 1 day per week. Qantas code share connections via Auckland can be arranged.
  • Qantas Airlines fly direct from Sydney to Santiago 3 days per week.
  • Air New Zealand fly direct from Auckland to Buenos Aires 3 days per week with good connections from Perth, Adelaide, Gold Coast, Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne.

There are also alternatives via the USA, although connections are not as good and will usually require an overnight stop.

From the west coast you can either fly via Sydney on one of the above alternatives or can consider alternatives via South Africa or the Middle East.

Can South America be incorporated into round-the-world flights?

Yes, there are many options, some of which can be good value. Or if you are simply looking to combine South and North America with the one ticket then there are other good alternatives we can discuss.

What is the baggage allowance for 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 Argentinas Avianca | Skyairline


Visas, Entrance Fees & Insurance required for South America

To check the latest visa requirements and assistance with your application CLICK BELOW to use our handy Visa Machine:

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What visas are required?

Australian citizens require a visa to enter Paraguay.

Brazil – New Zealand and British citizens can travel to Brazil visa-free. The Brazilian Government has removed the visa requirement for Australians, Canadians and US citizens travelling to Brazil AFTER 17 June 2019.

Paraguay – The SILVIO PETTIROSSI airport in Asunción is the ONLY port of entry into Paraguay that offers the VISA ON ARRIVAL facility. If you are entering Paraguay from a land/water border crossing or are landing at an international airport other than the SILVIO PETTIROSSI in Asunción, you MUST obtain a visa before you travel.

Citizens from countries other than the six (6) listed above, who need a visa to enter Paraguay, must obtain their visas before travelling to Paraguay regardless of their port of entry into the country. Upon arrival in Paraguay, Australian and New Zealand citizens get granted a Multiple Entry 90-day stay. Please see the link here http://www.mre.gov.py/australia/csVisa.htm

USA – Please note that when flying via the USA you will need to apply for a visa waiver.

Canada – If travelling via Canada you must apply for a new mandatory entry requirement known as an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) that applies to all visa-exempt foreign nationals who fly to or transit through Canada effective from 15 March 2016. The authorisation is electronically linked to the passport and is valid for five (5) years or until passport expiry, whichever comes first. The cost of an eTA is CAD 7.00 per person and to view eTA-required nationalities visit here. Eligible customers can apply for an eTA online here

When transitting via New Zealand on a passport other than an Australian or British one you may require a transit visa. More information can be found on this here

What additional entrance fees or taxes can I expect?

In several countries an entrance fee is charged to Australian passport holders. A brief overview of these costs (subject to change) can be found below:

  • Argentina – From July 1st, 2017 the “Reciprocity Fee” will no longer be required for Australian Citizens to enter Argentina. Read full details here
  • Chile – Australian passport holders entering Chile before the 9th May 2020 will no longer be required to pay a reciprocity fee for a maximum stay of 90 day at Santiago International Airport. Entry into Chile after this date will require an eVisa for Australian passport holders. More details will be provided as they become available.
  • Easter Island: Easter Island has additional visa restrictions for visitors. There is a mandatory form to be completed online 72 hours prior to boarding the flight to Easter Island including hotel confirmation and travel details. All travellers must present the printed form at the airport, along with their printed itinerary, return flight details and passport. The immigration form (FUI – Formulario Unico de Ingreso) is available online at https://ingresorapanui.interior.gob.cl/
  • Galapagos – When you arrive in the Galapagos Islands, you are required to purchase a National Park Entrance Fee (US$100) and a Transit Control Card (US$20)
  • Several countries also charge international departure taxes or airport fees usually between US$20-$50 per person. Currently this charge is applied in Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela.
  • At the Chilean-Bolivian border officials charge 15 – 21 Bolivianos (around $3) for the ‘stamp’ in your passport. The amount can also be paid in Chilean Pesos.
  • Additionally many domestic airports within South America also charge small departure taxes or airport fees usually between US$5-10 per person.

If you own a passport from another country (such as Great Britain or New Zealand), then you may be able to avoid any requirement for visas or additional fees discussed above.

Travel Insurance

We highly recommend obtaining comprehensive travel insurance when travelling to South America. Please check the terms of your policy carefully, particularly with regard to limits of cover and ensure you are familiar with the procedure for making claims. Once you have paid your deposit or full payment, certain fees will apply if you have to cancel your holiday and for this reason you should take out insurance at the time of paying your deposit, which should then protect you in such a situation.

Health Insurance

Beginning February 1st, 2018, all visitors to Ecuador are obligated to provide proof of health insurance when passing through immigration in order to gain entry into the country of Ecuador.


Health & Diet considerations when travelling to South America

What vaccinations are required?

There are many factors that need to be considered by you and your health care professional when assessing the need for vaccines and/or medication. This information is only a guide and not a replacement for professional health advice.  Be sure to speak to your doctor or visit a travel clinic at least 6-8 weeks before you travel. The following is a list of our general recommendations:

  • Yellow Fever – The yellow fever vaccination is recommended for those travelling to the Peruvian Amazon or at certain times those visiting Iguassu Falls. If you are in Peru, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia or Colombia prior to travelling to Brazil it is required that you carry a yellow fever vaccination card with you. Bolivia is now requiring you to present an international vaccination certificate (“yellow booklet”) as proof.
  • Hepatitis – Both A and B vaccination recommended
  • Typhoid – Vaccination recommended
  • Diphtheria – Vaccination recommended
  • Cholera – Vaccination recommended
  • Rabies – Vaccination recommended
  • Tetanus – Vaccination recommended
  • Malaria – risk varies by the region and season and you are most at risk in remote Amazon regions. Consult your doctor for the latest information.

What Causes Altitude Sickness?

The primary cause of altitude sickness is ascending too quickly. Many areas within South America have altitudes which have been known to induce this illness. Given time, your body can adapt to the decrease in oxygen at specific altitudes. This is known as acclimatisation and generally takes one to three nights at a given altitude.  If this is a particular concern to you, all our trips can be customised to give you more time to acclimatise.

Some general recommendations for people travelling to areas of high altitude: The day before you travel

  • Get a proper nights sleep.
  • Eat easily digestible food.
  • Avoid alcohol.

After you arrive

  • Avoid strenuous physical activity particularly if this activity part of your normal routine.
  • Drink at least one litre of water.
  • Eat small quantities of food, preferably carbohydrates.
  • Wear warm clothing.
  • Avoid unnecessary medication like sleeping pills.

If you are having difficulty breathing or develop any abnormal symptoms then seek immediate medical help.  Many hotels and also most of your tour guides will have a ready supply of oxygen which will help alleviate any potential problems.

Preventive Medications(requiring prescriptions):

  • Diamox (Acetazolamide) changes acid balance which allows you to increase breathing and improve oxygen intake.
  • Dexamethasone decreases brain and other swelling, helping to reverse the effects.

Dietary Requirements

Whilst we understand your dietary requirements are important and often vital to your health, sometimes due to cultural and language differences these are not always easy to convey when you are travelling. Eclipse Travel aims to alleviate these concerns and on request will prepare translations of your requirements into either Spanish or Portuguese, depending on which destinations you are travelling to.


Money Matters

Currency

In general we recommend using the local currency for each country within South America as you will get the most value for your money. ATMs are common in all major centres and even the smaller ones. As a backup we recommend a supply of US dollar notes in small denominations as every country in South America readily accepts these and they can be very handy on border crossings.

Travel Money Cards are also an option and work as a bank card on your travels around the continent. Traveller’s cheques are very difficult to exchange in South America so we do not recommend these.

Tipping Guidelines

Unlike the United States tipping in South America is not mandatory but like anywhere is much appreciated. Expected amounts differ by the country but we have outlined some broad guidelines for you as follows:

  • 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.
  • We recommend a tip of 10-15% in restaurants.
  • If you are part of a group tour or cruise for multiple days then you should consider spending a little more. We suggest US$5 per person per day for any porters, US$10 per person per person per day to the cook and US$10 per person per day to your guide. Most cruises will provide you with their tipping guidelines when on board.
  • In Brazilian restaurants, tips (servicios) are generally included in the bill.
  • If you are on a all inclusive Amazon or Galapagos cruise for example tipping is completely up to you but there are some guidelines depending on the trip that you are on, which vary from starting at USD$30 per day. If you would like to know more please ask your consultant.


Technology

Internet Access

Internet cafes are prevalent throughout all major centres in South America and are generally inexpensive to use. Additionally, most hotels offer Wi-Fi or shared computers with internet access which is often included in the cost of your hotel.

Telephone Calls

Using your mobile phone with roaming can be very expensive. We recommend using Wi-Fi in your hotels to access programs like Viber or Skype to make free calls to your family and friends back home. Additionally, you can use calling booths or paid accounts with Skype in internet cafes as a very inexpensive way of making calls.

Electrical Outlets in Latin America

Most countries in South America use the European style outlet with 110v. Visit the below link for more information on each country.


Packing Lists

INCA TRAIL: SUGGESTED PACKING LIST

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: SUGGESTED PACKING LIST

  • 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: SUGGESTED PACKING LIST

  • 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

GENERAL: SUGGESTED PACKING LIST

  • 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