Travel in South America
Is South America safe?
The short answer is yes, it is safe to visit South America. Like anywhere in the world, crime does exist and some places are safer than others. You are much safer booking your trip to South America with a local expert who knows where to travel.
At Ideal South America:
- We organize safe transfers to/from your airport and hotel
- We work with expert, experienced and qualified English-speaking guides
- We only use recommended hotels in safe parts of cities
- We won´t organize a tour if we think it is not safe
A good source of additional local information is fco.gov.uk
How long does it take to get to South America?
South America is a huge continent but here are some ideas of flight times from Miami, Florida.
- Lima, Peru: 5 hours 30 minutes
- Rio, Brazil: 8 hours, 30 minutes
- Buenos Aires, Argentina: 8 hours, 35 minutes
- Quito, Ecuador (for Galapagos) : 4 hours, 5 minutes
For less flying time, take a look at our Costa Rica Tours
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Does Ideal South America provide travel insurance?
We highly recommend you purchase a comprehensive travel insurance to cover your entire trip. We are partners with Travel Insured
as well as Squaremouth
and can assist you with the process. More about Travel Insurance.
Do I need any special travel insurance?
The type of insurance you choose will depend largely on your personal situation, health, and so on.
We recommend that you take out your travel insurance 14 days after booking your trip. You will then be covered in case you should need to cancel your trip for any reason - depending on the terms of the insurance.
Make sure your insurance covers all activities that you will carry out during your trip. You may need additional coverage for such activities as whitewater rafting, mountain biking, diving, mountaineering or travelling at high altitudes. More about Travel Insurance.
What if I cancel my trip?
Please see our Terms and Conditions.
If you cancel because of illness and have Trip Cancellation insurance you may be able to claim for any money lost. Please refer to your travel insurance information.
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Are flights included in the tours?
The prices you see on our website and in our brochures are quoted 'land only' prices without flights. We can book flights for you but we recognize that everybody has different airline preferences and affiliations and may choose to book all or some flights themselves.
Does Ideal South America book flights?
Yes, we can book flights. We offer competitive rates for all flights – international and national.
Ideal South America can book all of your flights from home, or, if you prefer, only local flights in South America. See our flights information page
Can I get air miles if I book with Ideal South America?
Of course! Just give us your air miles information and we will make sure your flights are included.
What happens if my flight is delayed or there is any other disruption to my trip?
Like anywhere, there can be unexpected delays in South America. In case of any delay or change to your program, we will re-arrange your activities to the best or our ability to ensure you still have a wonderful trip. The benefit of traveling in a private, customized tour is that it is much easier to accommodate any small changes to plans.
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Do I need a visa for South America?
Sometimes. It depends what countries you visit and your nationality.
Many nationalities do not need to apply for visas ahead of time to visit Peru, Ecuador, Chile and Argentina, for example.
The big exception is Brazil. Citizens of the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand do need a visa to enter Brazil. The visa must be obtained before travel in the Brazilian Consulate or Embassy of your home country. This is required even if you plan to visit the Brazilian side of Iguazu Falls just for one day.
To visit Bolivia, citizens of the USA will also need to pay a visa fee upon entry into the country – approx. US$ 100 and good for 5 years.
Argentina and Chile also charge some nationalities, including US citizens, a reciprocity fee of US$ 100 +, upon arrival at the international airports. This also provides the travel a visa of 5-10 years.
Always keep in mind this information is not necessarily up to date, depending on the changing relationships between countries. Check with your local travel authorities to verify.
For more information about visas relevant to your nationality, visit your embassy. For assistance with Passports and Visas see Fastport Passport
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Vaccines and Health
Do I need any vaccines to visit South America?
For up to date information, please consult your doctor or see The Center for Disease Control
. Pleae note that many vaccines are only required for travel to remote parts of South America.
In our experience, for most destinations in South America you do not need any specific vaccines.
The exception is trips to the Amazon jungle, where a Yellow Fever vaccine is necessary.
international travel, the following are often recommended:
- Make sure you are up-to-date with standard vaccines for Diptheria, tetanus and Hepatitus B, influenza (for those at greater risk)
- Hepatitus A is also recommended for travel to any country where hygiene standards are lower.
What happens if I have an accident while I´m in South America?
Our local guides and agents will do all they can to ensure you get the right medical care. Cost of medical care and any evacuations are your responsibility. This is why we strongly recommend you take out adequate travel insurance.
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Altitude Sickness in South America
Will I get altitude sickness?
You are likely to be affected by altitude if you visit any of the following places:
- Mainland Ecuador (not Galapagos)
- Machu Picchu, Colca Canyon and Lake Titicaca, Peru
- Atacama Desert, Chile
- La Paz, Lake Titicaca and Uyuni in Bolivia
- Some areas around Salta, Argentina
The vast majority of people travelling in these areas have a wonderful trip and are not seriously affected by the altitude. It is always best to be prepared, however, and to understand a bit about altitude.
What is altitude sickness?
Altitude sickness generally occurs when you increase altitude quickly.
Because the atmospheric pressure decreases, you are not able to take in as much oxygen.
Altitude sickness can affect people in different ways. Most people experience shortness of breath and a slight headache but nothing more.
If you have a heart condition or other medical condition which may be affected by travel, please consult with your physician before travel - and let us know!
How can I avoid altitude sickness?
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- Book with a travel agent who is a local expert. A good South America travel agent, like Ideal South America, will plan your trip so that you increase in altitude gradually. At Ideal South America, for example, we often arrange for our passengers to sleep the first nights in the Sacred Valley rather than Cusco. Sleeping at the lower altitude of the Sacred Valley usually gives you a better nights´ sleep, so you can enjoy Machu Picchu free of headaches.
- Drink plenty of fluids, including coca tea in Peru and Bolivia.
- Take it easy on the first of travel
- Acclimatize if you are doing any trekking such as Inca Trail. See our special Inca Trail Tour including days to acclimatize.
Ideal South America Tours
Can I travel at any time?
All our tours are customized for you. This means you can travel any day you like, for as long as you like.
Southern Patagonia and Antarctica have a set season so travel here is only recommended during the austral summer.
What´s included in Ideal South America tours?
Our tours typically include all accommodations, tours and transfers as listed in your personal tour program. Breakfasts are included in all hotels and some other meals are included, depending on your tours. Prices listed on the website are usually for tours without flights but we are happy to quote including flights if you prefer.
Will I be in a large group with other travelers?
All tour programs at Ideal South America are private and customized. This means that we put together a trip just for you and your friends / family. At times, we will join you with other people for a day tour, for example to the islands on Lake Titicaca and in The Galapagos. If you would rather have all tours private you can just let us know. The exception is Galapagos where park regulations mean that all tours are in small groups.
On a group day tour, how many people would there be?
It will of course vary across countries, but we endeavor to keep the group tours to manageable sizes of 12-16. There will be no big bus tours with 30+ people.
Does Ideal South America organize trips for single travelers?
All our tours are customized. We can plan a tour for one person, or a hundred people! Generally in South America, hotels charge per room. This means that a single person is likely to pay slightly more for accommodation. At Ideal South America, we do all we can to keep the costs down for our single travelers.
Can I travel with children?
Many of us at Ideal South America travel with our own children, so we know what works and what doesn’t on a family trip to South America. Because we customize every tour, we can make sure we plan the perfect trip for you – taking into account the needs of your whole family.
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What type of accommodations should I expect?
At Ideal South America we choose the accommodation that best suits your preferences and budget. These range from comfortable 3* hotels to the best 5 * hotels in South America. Whether you prefer cozy boutique style or the convenience of a modern city hotel, we´ll find the right hotel for you. Some of our hotels. More about Ideal hotels.
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How do I pay for my tour program?
Once you have agreed with your travel consultant on your tour, we will ask you for an initial deposit.
The deposit is typically:
- 50% of the tour program price +
- The entire price of any international flights booked with us (from North America to South America and back, for example)
Then 45-60 days before the start of the tour program, we will ask you for the remaining 50%.
How can I pay for my tour?
We accept all major credit cards, worldwide - Visa, MasterCard & AMEX.
We also accept payment by safe money transfer. We may be able to offer a discount for payments by bank transfer – please ask us for details.
How do I know my money is safe with Ideal South America?
Once we have bought your flights, you will be able to see the confirmed booking independently on www.checkmytrip.com
Ideal South America is a registered seller of travel in the State of Florida. As a US company, we have to adhere to normal US business practices.
Ideal South America is a member of ASTA, the largest association of travel agents in the world
We are happy to send you the contact information of previous passengers who can give you independent evaluations of their experience with Ideal South America.
Please feel free to contact us if you have any further questions not answered here.
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