South America on a Shoestring

South America is a huge continent with lots of exciting destinations. Take the chance!

Travel hacks in South America

Wherever you go: you can save huge if you know the local travel ecosystem. Do people take buses or trains? Which budget airlines are local? Where do they go? Do they show up on travel platforms like Google Flights or is there a local OTA? Is there a local bus comparison site?

Our secret weapons for South America are the following:

  • flights are more expensive than in other parts of the world (distances are huge)
  • the cheapest budget airline is Viva Colombia, Colombia based; they fly into the US, Panama and Peru
  • flights in Chile, Argentina and Brasil are comparatively expensive – buses are the way to go
  • long distance bus travel is comfortable and cheap (the standard is often better than the usual buses you know from the US)
  • for bus comparison Busbud has the most extensive database
  • information online is sometimes limited and you might get better prices by going to the local bus terminals directly

So let’s get started!

The itinerary

Fly into Cartagena

  1. Cartagena de Indias
  2. Cartagena de Indias – Santa Marta; $11; Bus; Found on Busbud
  3. Santa Marta – Tayrona National Park; take local bus for around $2
  4. Santa Marta – Bogota; $27.76; Flight; Found on VivaColombia
  5. Bogota – Lima; $167; Flight; Found on VivaColombia
  6. Lima – Ica; $14; Bus; Found on Busbud
  7. Ica – Paracas; take a local bus or taxi for about $5
  8. Paracas- Huacachina; take a local bus or taxi for about $9
  9. Ica – Cusco (17h); $28; Bus; Found on Busbud
  10. Cusco – Puno – Copacabana (11h); $35 ; booked at local bus terminal
  11. Copacabana – Isla del Sol; take local boat $9 return trip
  12. Copacabana – La Paz; $7; ask at local bus terminal
  13. La Paz – Uyuni; $35; Bus; ask at local bus terminal
  14. Uyuni – San Pedro de Atacama; $20; Bus; ask at local bus terminal
  15. San Pedro de Atacama – Santiago de Chile (17h); $40; Bus; book with local company like Pullman
  16. Santiago – Buenos Aires; $100; Flight; Found on Google Flights via Sky Airline
  17. Buenos Aires – Foz de Iguazu; about $80; book with local bus company like Andesmar
  18. Foz de Iguazu – Sao Paulo; Flight; $66; local airline like Gol or Azul; Found on Google Flights
  19. Sao Paulo – Rio de Janeiro; $30; Bus; Found on Busbud
  20. Rio de Janeiro

Fly out from Rio de Janeiro

TIME: 2-3 months
TOTAL: $656 (585€)