Getting Around South America

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Most Viewed Transportation in South America

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    Busses and Taxis

    by chancay Written May 12, 2003

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    The most common public transportation in southamerica is the bus to connect cities and countries. Inside the towns smaller busses (called micro or combi in Peru or micro and trufis in Bolivia) are common next to taxis. Big cities are surely crowded with private cars as well. In Chile, Peru and Bolivia the train is almost 100% replaced by the big bus enterprices.
    Away from the big cities it´s also very common to use a truck for public transport as there are also smaller busses (micros) as in the picture for farer transports.
    But in general the long distance busses in all of these three mentioned countries are quite modern, furnished with television and sometimes toilet as well.

    near La Paz, a micro
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    "The train at the end of the world"

    by globetrott Updated Aug 28, 2011

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    Argentina > Ushuaia:
    Take a ride in the former prison-train !

    This train is also the southern-most train in the whole world. It was constructed between 1902 and 1909 as a train used by the prisoners to transport the wood of the felled trees to the town of Ushuaia. The bigest part of the rail-track of the prisoner-train does not exist any more, just a small museum-train uses a part of the original track of the former prisoner-train, and it uses locomotives and also wagons that were never used by the prisoners. The locomotive on my main picture was built in 1938 in Germany.
    You will find this museum-train in a distance of about 10 km from Ushuaia and you will go through a part of the National Park, you will pass by the "cemetery of the trees" and go to Macarena Waterfalls, where a short stop of 10-15 minutes will give you enough time to step up to the waterfalls.
    In case that you are interested to see the original train that was used by the prisoners, see my last picture here or take a look at the original train in the museum-prison in Ushuaia. That train used to go to the woods, where the prisoners had to fell the trees for the heating of Ushuaia's population. This narrow-gauge train with a track of just 60 cm width was at that time going from the prison to the port and finally through the village to that part of the track, that is used still for the museum-train nowadays.
    You will be able to see this train close to the maritime-museum in a part, where you dont have to pay an entrance-fee and dont have to obey the opening-times of the museum.

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    Flying to Ushuaia

    by globetrott Written Aug 28, 2011

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    There is a small airport in Ushuaia and you will find it at the opposite side of the bay, when you arrive by cruiseship. In principal the airport is in walking-distance from the town, maybe 25 minutes to walk or 3 minutes by taxi. When you enlarge my main picture, that I took from the place where our cruiseship was docked you will see the halls of the airport and even a small airplane across the bay.
    Something you should know about this airport:
    most shops, rental-offices etc. will open their counters only at a time around the arrival or departure of a large airplane, so be prepared to find the airport almost empty between such flights!
    Ushuaia is also a great place for a local flight on a sunny day, use the link below for reservations and infos about flying-excursions in the area of Beagle-Channel, Cape Horn etc.
    This web-page seems to have an english-version as well, but at the moment it is not in function !


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    By BUS or by TAXI from Santiago to Valparaiso ?

    by globetrott Written Aug 29, 2011

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    By public bus from Santiago de Chile to Valparaiso ?
    This is a standart-question in the Chile-forum and this is the answer:
    According to my guidebook there is an efficient and fast public bus-service from Valparaiso to Santiago de Chile and vice versa. the ride takes just about 90 minutes and the buses are quite comfortable as well. 6 $ / 5 euros is the fare for one way. The buses are leaving in Santiago next to the subway-station Universidad and in Valparaiso they are ending next to the Parliament-building and it would be the best to take a taxi for the remaining 800 meters or so to the cruiseship.
    Yes, you can walk as well, but have to get across several roads with heavy trafic and (hopefully) a taxidriver will know where to take you, while for ordinary tourists the place to enter the ships in Valparaiso is not always really clear, because the place to enter the ships is about 3km from the ships-port !!!
    Compared with the transportation by private taxi (126 euros one way), the buses are really cheap !
    I had such a taxi booked in advance by my travel-agent and there was a driver only speaking spanish and a seperate tourguide, speaking excellent german, explaining a bit of the landscape, BUT somehow I would have prefered to have an ordinary taxi.
    That was the only offer that was made by the tour-agency in Germany that had organized my cruise from Valparaiso and I accepted it in order to be on the safe side and spare some time to get to the cruise without a lot of hassle and stress.
    Driving-time is 1,5 hours, almost all of the way you will drive on the highway and the best is that they will take you directely from your hotel to the cruise-port, make sure your luggage is taken over by the right people etc---
    I asked about other possibilities of such a transfer and also at the hotel-reception of Hotel Majestic in Santiago the price of 126 euros would have been the same for a taxi ordered the night before my departure.

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    Your feet - Vos pieds - Sus pies

    by Maillekeul Updated Mar 21, 2004

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    It's the best way to know a country, to discover the hidden best places and to meet people, it's not new, of course !!

    C'est le meilleur moyen de connaitre un pays, de decouvrir les meilleurs coins caches et de rencontrer des gens, je ne vous apprendrai rien !!

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    Getting around by bus in South America

    by hmoitta Updated Apr 29, 2008

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    Buses in South America are a cheap way of getting around and know well the continent , but be aware of the big distances; so the best is to plan some interesting stops on your way.

    Some distances with direct bus from Rio de Janeiro:
    Assuncao ( Paraguay ) - 1519 kms
    Belem ( Brazilian Amazonia ) - 3251 kms ( I've made this trip several times)
    Bolivia/Brasil border - 27 hours in bus
    Brasilia ( Brasil capital ) - 1180 kms
    Buenos Aires ( Argentina) - 2870 kms
    Florianopolis ( Brasil ) - 1142 kms
    Fortaleza ( Brasil ) - 2704 kms
    Foz do Iguacu ( Brasil,Argentina and Paraguay frontier) - 1345 kms
    Ouro Preto ( Brasil ) - 460 kms
    Salvador ( Brasil ) - 1700 kms
    Santiago ( Chile ) - 5280 kms
    Sao Paulo ( Brasil ) - 412 kms

    In the web site below you'll find links to many bus companies inside Brasil and from Brasil ( Rio or Sao Paulo ) to Argentina, Uruguai, Chile or Paraguay; to Bolivia you have to go to Corumba and cross the border.

    This site is from a company which manages bus terminals in Rio, São Paulo and other brazilian cities ( you'll see which in cidade de origem )

    Portuguese bus glossary :

    Consulta de horarios = Schedule search
    Consulta de viagens = Trip search
    Cidade origem = Origin city
    Cidade destino = Destin city
    UF = brazilian state or south america country
    ( MG for Minas Gerais
    RA for Argentina for example )
    enviar = send
    empresa = name of the bus company

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    Bus is fine!

    by LuisGuimaraes Updated Jan 16, 2006

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    Ok, I admit the photo is rather far-fetched: there are better ways to move around Southern Chile than a cargo ship! I know, I know..but @ least once in our life, you oughta experience the Pacific's waves denying your sleep! What a dark cold southern night..

    Anyway, here's the tip: from Bolivia to Brazil, from Argentina to Chile, there are buses everywhere; major national lines, small regional lines, buses with beds, buses with comfortable seats, buses with wooden name it.

    Every major (ca.50.000 people) town has daily connections to other major towns, 10,20,30 even 40-hour rides. They are safe, mostly - if they're covering large distances - quite comfortable and - surprise!! - usually on time.

    Did I say on time?

    Well..they LEAVE on time!

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    The Cross of the Lakes - Argentina and Chile

    by hmoitta Updated Jun 16, 2005

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    The most scenic way to go from Argentina to Chile and cross the Andes is to make the cross of the lakes; you can make the cross from Bariloche ( Argentina ) to Puerto Montt ( Chile ) or from Puerto Montt to Bariloche; I did the cross from Bariloche to Puerto Montt; you can sleep on the way in 3 places : Puerto Frias , Peulla or Petrohue ( I stayed in Petrohue near the Osorno volcan ). you cross 3 lakes ( Nahuel Huapi ( photo ), Frias and Todos os Santos ) in ships and make other parts of the trip by bus . The trip is inside national parks in the Andes and the natural beauty is hard to believe.

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  • Be aware of Caracas. I would...

    by Joanportia Written Sep 8, 2002

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    Be aware of Caracas. I would not recommend overniting there. We overnited in Miami. the biggest mystery about MI is leaving the country and what departure tax one will be charged. It is still a mystery to me!!! I have since learned that one can catch a plane to Aruba or other neighboring islands, thus avoiding Caracas all together.
    Rent a car!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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    Trem da Morte

    by hmoitta Updated Dec 10, 2002

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    Many brazilian backpackers in 70's took this train from Brasil to go to Peru via Bolivia and it was the radical experience at the time.
    Things have changed a lot and now you take only 18hs to go from Quijarro ( bolivian city next to Corumbá in Brasil ) to Santa Cruz de la Sierra in Bolivia and the trip have become more comfortable and safe.
    It runs daily:
    19hs on Mon, Wed, Fri, Sun
    15hs on Tue, Thu, Sat
    It costs US$25 on Super Pullman, US$20 on Pulmann and US$3 on second class.

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    to get there

    by pepples46 Updated Feb 15, 2005

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    the easy way, definitly by Plane and its the most populare choice and saves time too. around, you could chooose from coaches, train and why not......hiking. the Inca trail comes to mind. for the adventurous, getting around..horseback riding in Argentina, Paraguay, Brasil would enhance your travels.

    on ya horse
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  • It is easy to get to...

    by Normb74 Written Aug 25, 2002

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    It is easy to get to Paraguay,if you fly. Most major airlines fly into Asuncion.
    Driving in Paraguay can be somewhat dangerous, at night especially. In the rurual districts livestock is often on the road along with oxcarts etc. The average Paraguarian driver has little training to get license, Best to hire a car with driver guide, which is not to expensive. Passenger boats from Asuncion go up the Rio Paraguay river to ports up river
    There are Taxis in Asuncion and a good bus service. Try the old wood-burning train, cheap slow and fun .Take a ride.

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  • I find any recognised airline...

    by Doris_1 Updated Aug 24, 2002

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    I find any recognised airline should do the trick. I wouldn't recommend a carrier pigeon unless you are only taking hand luggage.
    I travelled across the Andes in my motorised buggy, not disimilar to the pope mobile it must be said, and I was accompanied by my guinea pig Degsy.

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  • Cross Mexico and South America by Bus?

    by Mapache Written May 18, 2010

    Darien is more a gap than an isthmus. It may be an ecological (and malarial) marvel, or an excellent hideout for renegades, but not made for travel. Better to fly to Cartagena and spend some days there.

    You propose an ambitious itinerary. Few ever traverse the entire Mexico to Antarctica route by land. Any linear route requires omitting something, and some (such as Darien) are devoid of any direct land connection. For instance, were to go by land from California to, say, Boston, what you see would vary greatly, depending on whether the route were by north, middle, or south. Is it better to skip Minneapolis or Dallas? Do you prefer mountains or Nashville? Monticello or McDonalds? Casinos or churches? Etc.

    Three months seems like generous time, and is more than most would have to spare, but too little time if a great share gets spent on buses or transient road stops. The bus stations are not always in safe or attractive areas of towns. Rest facilities have improved in some places, but many remain appalling. The passengers on some "express deluxe" buses may prefer to draw the curtains so they can see soaps "a todo volumen" on the on-board big TV. Night travel might spare superfluous stays in grungy hostals, provided the drivers' road antics don't keep you dizzy or terrified you'll careen off a cliff or hit some animal, wagon, or pedestrian in the dark. Fatal bus accidents are tragically frequent. Fear of pre-trial detention and lawsuits prompt drivers to abandon the scene of even minor accidents.

    How you chose to cover the continents is your busines, but you may eventually chose to hop over some stretches by air to have more time at particular cities. Some destinations have attractions or charms, but the fatigue and carbon footprint the travel entails is no mere abstraction. For instance, a small church in Tonanzintla, Puebla, Mexico has an astounding interior, but the town is not on any main route and would take a whole day to reach by local buses. There is an extraordinary festival in Paucartambo, Peru in mid July, but the town is at the far end of an unpaved road, its few bad hostals will be crammed with visitors, and the surplus will be sleeping and "answering nature" in the streets. Some archaeological ruins are precious in situ, but do you really want to spend many days to reach each (already scavenged or looted) or see the best pickings on central display in the national museum? Another problem is that scheduled flights seldom allow you to hop to adjacent cities, since few local travelers want that service. Usually, the capital is the hub, the other cities are the spokes, and the connections between countries are hub to hub, or Miami may be the cheapest hub, or maybe you won't be granted a visa without proof of return ticket and a fee. Confirm this last point with the respective consulates before you go.

    ATM cards can do miraculous things, provided you've enough money in an account, but don't expect to find ATM machines in every pueblo, and have an extra or two in case you lose one or the magnetic strip goes bad. DO NOT expect small merchants to "break" or provide change for big currency notes. Some can provide no change for any purchase, so you have to use small notes and coins. Most small operators carry very little small cash, either due to fear of theft, poverty, or low turnover.

    I know of no single "gold ticket" or "gringo pass" that would allow you to hop on a bus or plane any or every place along the way. All bus lines are local. Some have websites, but you'd not want to reserve far in advance, and delays or changes can occur wtihout notice (huaycos, huelgas, motines). The Andean area is famous for use of road barricades to bring national attention to every local frakus. Bus fares tend to be economical. But make sure you have plenty of surplus funds to cover full (or even premium) air fare in case events upset your plans. In January, floods washed out train tracks near Cuzco, forcing some people to charter helicopters to return from Machu Picchu, which had become a tourist trap quite literally, as well as an iconic must-see.

    As stated, I suggest you skip Darien. Also avoid the Colombia-Ecuador border. Make sure to visit the three largest or most historic cities in any country you visit. You'll see enough of the Atacama by air, or side trips, without having to traverse from Arica to southern Chile. Land travel from Bolivia to Chile is not easy. Santa Cruz is not on good terms with La Paz, either. Pick whatever loop or zig-zag works to get from north to south, but don't miss southern Chile or the Buenos Aires area of Argentina. Patagonis is not easy to insert in the route, unless you venture there on a side trip. Reserve at least two weeks for Brazil. You'll maybe wish you'd spent the entire three months covering that country alone. Save Central America for another occasion.

    Most people in most countries are honest, pleasant, and law-abiding. But thieves, hucksters, con-men, and scam artists also ply the streets in search of naive visitors to deploy their assaults or come-ons.

    Chofer: Igual que la semana pasada.
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    how to book cheap flights

    by rkearns Written Jul 24, 2011

    i'm not sure if it makes a difference where you are when you book the flight. the important part is timing. it seems that if you book a flight a few months in advance, you could get a good deal, then they start to get more expensive as the time approaches, then two weeks from the flight date, prices drop because they want to fill the flight.

    a couple of good tips:
    have flexible dates
    fly on tues. and thurs. (i have had better bargains this way)
    use priceline to name your own price if your dates are flexible
    orbibtz, expedia, hotwire and kayak are my favorite travel engines for deals.

    good luck!

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