May 2020

South America or BUST!

Things to know when traveling to South America

We traveled to four countries on our recent trip to South America. We were with a tour, and I can say that the tour group was wonderful and the staff took good care of us. First, we visited the Amazon, as we set off out of Manaus.

We were in the rain forest for a few days and absolutely loved it. I fished for piranha, and saw some of the most amazing sunsets. Then we went to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and saw the Copacabana beach, Christ Redeemer statue and Sugar loaf Mountain.

Next, we were off to see the Iguazu Falls on both the Brazilian and Argentinian sides.

This is when we had the issue below about getting to Argentina, and had our passports stamped more than we saw the country after making two day trips over the border and not being able to leave due to the airline problems. It was incredible!

We were all supposed to fly out to the next country, Chile. When we got to the airport we discovered that the local airlines went on strike and shut down all their computers so no-one had access. Most people trying to go home or visit family were stuck sleeping at the airport.

Amazon Sunset, Brazil

Amazon Sunset, Brazil

Iguazu Falls, Brazil

Iguazu Falls, Brazil

Lucky for us we were in a tour group and were put back on the bus, taken back to the resort, received rooms and given free breakfast the next morning. We were kept posted on the flights and we went out the next day, so nothing was lost as we had a free day anyways.

That is the nice thing about being in a group as they speak the language and will not leave you stranded.

We made it finally to Buenos Aires, Argentina. We had only one day instead of two because of the airline problem, but we made the most of it and our tour group still had us go to the Argentinian dinner and tango dance.

When we finally got to Chile we were tired. It was a long trip so far, and having a day on our own to rest was nice.

We got to see the city and tour some. After that we said good bye to our tour group and our new friends we met as we headed off to Easter Island. It is five hours off the coast of Chile.

Chile owns it and it is like Hawaii where things are more expensive, but it was wonderful to see the statues and explore the island. This time with a guide who was with us the whole time and drove us around.

She picked us up at the airport and was with us the four days we were there. There was something different to see each day, and there was some hiking involved so this tour is not recommended for those who have a mobility concern.

Christ the Redeemer, Brazil

Christ the Redeemer, Brazil

Easter Island, Chile

Easter Island, Chile

ATM Concerns

We ran into one thing early on in our adventures when we went to the Amazon. We had our own private guide, and it was nice having him to ourselves.

On the last day, he took us to an ATM for cash. A lot of the hotels do not have ATMs and after we walked over a mile each way down to the mall (where the hotel said they had an ATM, but it did not work), only to get back to the hotel as cashless as when we left, we had had it. We tried several ATMs, but they were only working for locals not us, who were from out of the country.

Fortunately, when we went to the airport to drop off some others in our group we were able to use the ATM there. Our guide walked us downstairs to it and waited for us.

The ATM machines there are still not safe. It asked us “Do you want to convert or not convert.” The convert button is green and nice and really wants you to push it. It says your bank might charge you more and so you should really do the convert, since it will save you money.

They want you to convert so they can charge you an ATM fee and a convert fee like from a cash converting center.

I withdrew $200, and was charged a 30% conversion fee, which is $60! It’s highway robbery. It would have been less to wire money or go to a cash converting office.

So, your bank will fix the charges when they come in, so do not CONVERT ever. Hit the red side of the screen that says DON’T CONVERT and you will be set.

Just make sure you have called your bank before you leave the country to tell them where you are going and list all the countries so your card will work.

We use our credit card as much as we can. I would say that if you’re going to South America you’re better off getting cash from your bank before you leave. Just remember to set some of it aside to pay tour guides, for tips etc.

I always get cash out once we get to the country. We were going to, but this time it was not easy and with more and more of these illegal machines popping up, all over Europe as well, it’s hard to count on things being predictable. So be safe, always find an ATM that is in a well-lighted place or even one that you go inside the bank to use.

Colored Building, Argentina

Colorful Buildings, Argentina

Food and Medications

We enjoyed lots of food overseas and with each country we went to there was something different to try. However, my husband has a sensitive stomach and so do I sometimes with travel. So, we always bring two essentials when we travel.

One is anti-diarrhea medication and the other is Pepcid chewable. If you take the Pepcid before a meal it will help with whatever spice or such might be in the food that you’re not used too. We also bring any of our other meds needed as well, like Excedrin and Benadryl for allergies that might come up.

Whether you are traveling around the US or overseas you should always have a travel agent there to help you book it and for any help you might need. I am always here for my clients and if it's from free advice or how to plan your next vacation remember Lamfers Journeys.

I wish you safe travels, wherever you go!