South America 101
Be Prepared for eye opening experiences
South America is home to some awesome places. Things like the Inca Trail, Machu Picchu, Bolivian salt flats, the Nazca Lines all of these amazing and mind boggling sites are spread out through South America. For me South America was one of the most beautiful places I have been to it has so much to offer but the people who live there are still trying to figure out how to show off their amazing attractions to the rest of the world. On the other hand I did not realize just how far behind some countries are compared to home. Ranging from no hot water, not flushing toilets but being able to have electricity and wifi in every hostel confused the hell out of me. Places we stayed at were really nice and accommodated for you extremely well, but places that the locals lived looked like a disaster zone. In every capital city you have areas know as the “slums” and you know exactly the point where you cross over into the slum from the main city. The homes these people live in basically consist of half built homes, brick walls with rio still sticking out still needing the job to be finished and with 2 story homes with half a 2nd story built. Tin for a roof held down with rocks and if they were lucky they would have glass in their windows. This made me feel so lucky for what I have back home and how much I appreciate what I have now. Now this isnt throughout all of South America but I would say majority of it was.
Before doing Anything I would go to your local Travel Doctor and talk to them about what you need vaccines wise for South America. I know for one person I traveled with they needed every shot under the sun and cost them a lot of money. For me I didn’t get any vaccinations before I went to south America due to that I already had some that was needed and I was advised by a travel doctor that I did not need certain ones because of the areas I was traveling through. I did travel at the time of when the Zika virus was a huge issue but I didn’t have any issues at all. I was told by a travel doctor that Apparently the type of mosquito that carries the Zika virus cannot survive certain altitudes but do not take my word for it. Best way to read up on information about health risks is to check out the Travel Doctor website.
Tipping is expected throughout South America. And usually works out to be around 10% of the bill if you are eating out. You are expected to tip drivers and tour guides, even on tours like the Inca Trail and the Bolivian Salt Flat 4×4 tour. Tipping tour guides are all different. We based it off the services they gave us and if we believed they deserved a really good tip or a average tip. For example on the inca trail we were told by the tour guides that they should get a larger tip than the porters and the chiefs, but we as a group decided to tip everyone evenly because we couldn’t agree that a tour guide was doing more work or better work than someone who was carry 25Kgs on their back all day set up your break area for lunch and your campsite for that night and then packed everything up and beat you to the next destination to do it all again while the tour guides would just walk and talk to us throughout the day.
Do not drink the tap water..
People do say it’s fine to brush your teeth just don’t swallow it. Well both my girlfriend and I did tried that idea and we both struggled with our stomachs for a couple of days. So for me I would just use bottled water for everything, and thats what we ended up doing for the rest of the trip.
There are some awesome restaurants throughout South America and some of the food you get to eat and try on the streets in small dodgy looking shops are some of the best meals you will ever have, be cautious with what you choose to eat, but don’t be afraid to try something new. One thing I struggled with was find snacks for bus trips. I know for a fact I complained a hell of a lot when it came to eating. Trying to find something to snack on was the hardest thing to do. You don’t have much choice other than chips, lollies chocolate or other sugary treats, If thats all you’re after then no worries at all but for me I dont eat a whole lot of lollies. You can buy fruit but you do need to wash them before you eat it, and to wash food you can’t use tap water, so it does become a little inconvenient at times, and the fruit isnt always in the best shape….
If you’re a salad person be careful as well. The reason being is because of the water they use to wash the food, it can cause you to become sick just like brushing your teeth with the tap water, so always be cautious when ordering salads because you don’t want to ruin your holiday by getting sick, but don’t let it stop you from ordering them, I had plenty of salads and I was okay for most of them.