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Argentina and Brazil Experience Reviews?
I am going on the Argentina and Brazil Experience tour later this year and would love to hear feedback from someone who has been on the tour. Any general tips? Impressions? Advise? Optionals suggestions? Would be great.
- 8 responses so far
I did this tour back in February this year and it was amazing. Good group of people, mostly well organised, great guide and you got to see everything that’s high on most people’s list.
Advice – If you’re flying direct into Buenos Aires from international I suggest an extra day or two booked prior just so you can get a bit of rest before it all begins.
The Contiki hotel they use in BA is brilliant, probably the best you’ll have on tour. It’s in an average neighbourhood but close to restaurants, main roads and is right near the Plaza de Congresso. The hotel in Buzios is also pretty good, rest are average but you hardly use them anyway. Rio one is right in Ipanema with perfect location right near the beach.
Optionals – BA ones weren’t that great, Tango night is good. Opted out of the bike ride after seeing how the locals drive. Ferry trip to Uruguay I wish I’d done although other people on my tour said it was a big let down. Good food though, heaps of steak, great hotel breakfast. Organised our own football trip which was insane – look online for organised tours where they pick you up from the hotel,
Iguassu – Speedboat ride was AWESOME! Loved it. Also did the helicopter tour which was amazing and well worth the extra money. Samba night was surprisingly interesting and as an unofficial optional you have Crystal’s Palace…ask your tour guide about that one lol. Seafood restaurant across the road from the hotel is really good, try the seafood stews! drools
Rio optionals – hang-gliding was pretty damn good, Brazillian BBQ buffet was mouthwatering – best lamb ever! City tour was good but we were pretty burnt out by then and went off by ourselves (this was carnaval time so there was a lot of drinking). Tour guide organised an extra optional with a football game, but turned out to be pretty crap as the season hadn’t really started, if you go when the proper season starts it will probably be a lot more fun. Try and keep a day for just spending at the beach, it’s so relaxing and you’ll get drinks, food, sarongs, bikini’s, everything, brought to you. Ipanema has more hut service (Crocodile Hut is Contiki friendly, your account name will probably be Contiki Gringo lol) whereas Copacabana has more different people walking around selling stuff, and none will bother or harass you to buy.
Buzios – this place was beautiful, could have spent a lot longer and seen a lot more if I had the time. great hotel, great booze cruise but BYO if you don’t want to drink beer or caipirinhas. Really enjoyed Buzios.
Other advice, learn a bit of Spanish, especially if you’ll be travelling around south america before/after. If just doing this tour only you’ll probably get by with just knowing a few words in Spanish & Portuguese but if not, definitely look into a language school for a week at the beginning, if you’re doing a long trip. You’ll need it!
I’ve put up a few videos from my trip if you’re interested
If you have any other questions, just ask!
Great info (and videos)! Thanks!!
I am planning on doing an adventurer or explorer tour next year connecting with carnival and was just wondering if last year you tour connected immediately? I.e one tour finished and the other one started the next day? Also would you really recommend being in rio for carnival? I am choosing between the adventurer with extra time in Peru or the explorer plus carnival so would love to hear what you thought?
I did the Argentina & Brazil Experience this year and this ended the day before Carnaval.
I would say future ones will also do the same as it’s in Contiki’s best interests to have them coincide so that customers will book the tour plus the Carnaval add-on. Although I think they are dropping the Argentina & Brazil tour and just keeping the Brazil & Argentina Experience, so Carnaval might end as the tour starts next year.
It looks like, between the two tours you’re looking at, it depends if you want to do Lima & Arequipa or not. I never got to Lima, didn’t hear too many good things about it, but Arequipa is nice, but like a smaller Cusco.
If you really like hiking and stuff then spend the extra time in Peru (actually if you have spare time I’d highly recommend going to Bolivia, especially La Paz (and the Death Road) and the Salt Flats, it’s a very cheap and interesting place. I just wrote an article on the Death Road if you’re interested – so…much…fun!
Carnaval really was an amazing experience. But if you don’t like crowds this is not the place for you. The crowds are big and jam-packed. One party I went to had 2.2 million people there! But you probably won’t experience anything like it anywhere else. It’s great to see how the locals celebrate…and oh do they celebrate! If you don’t book the Contiki add-on, book your accommodation early (like now) and also look at flights out. Flights in Brazil are crazy expensive, but I got a flight from Rio to Buenos Aires for around $300au with Brazil’s GOL airline. Otherwise you’re looking at a 40hr bus ride.
Try and get accommodation in Ipanema or Copacabana, these areas are quite nice. But it’s cheaper to stay in the Lapa/St Teresa area, usually dodgy but during Carnaval heaps of backpackers stay there.
Hope this helps, if you have any other questions, ask away!
Hi shelly i was just wondering how much money on average did you spend on the entire trip with contiki?:)
To be honest, I didn’t really take much notice of how much I spent. In saying that though, I know that Brazil & Argentina are the most expensive countries in South America, Brazil being the most. Although I found both to be cheaper than Australian prices.
Things that are a lot cheaper: beer, wine, taxis, supermarkets, most general souvenirs and the majority of restaurants, especially the lil beach hut places in Brazil that have THE best food and coconuts to drink. (Also Bob’s Burgers – a takeaway joint, do pretty good fast food.)
As with most Contiki tours, the amount you need to budget for ultimately depends on how much you drink and/or shop. Getting around is quite cheap with taxis, especially if you split it between a few people, but it’s a lot cheaper with the local metro systems.
Souvenirs I preferred the most in Buenos Aires, nice art prints around the La Boca area. Both BA & Rio are great for getting soccer related stuff. Also got some nice art on the Favela tour (must do!) There’s a craft market in Ipanema and one on Copacabana beach on certain weekends. Most people will end up buying a pair of Havaiana thongs/flip-flops as the range is huge in Rio, but here you can also get lil press-on ‘things’ kinda like choosing a Pandora bracelet, that they will put on the top of the thongs. I got a lil skull and a Brazilian flag on the other….something different.
Pacifica Galleria Mall in Buenos Aires and the pedestrian mall next to it are good for general shopping, interior of PG is amazing with massive domed ceilings with painted murals. Buzios has some good shopping too along its cobblestone streets.
Booze tip: if in a restaurant or bar you can often buy the whole bottle of spirits and it works out a lot cheaper.
Great advice thanks shelly!! i was thinking of doing the mexico grande, ending in cancun and doing spring break then head down to costa rica and finally brazil/argentina if i can afford it haha
So generally south america is cheap? in terms of food, alcohol etc.? well cheaper then australia anyway? im hoping to not send a lot as i went to europe this year and spent over AUD$6000 haha
Where was your favourite place in south america? did u do central america aswell?
Is feb the best month to go? i heard jan/feb is the high season, and are the locals fairly nice?
hopefully i can pick up some spanish skills before i go over there haha
Thanks again :)
South America is VERY cheap, but some countries are cheaper than others. You can get cheap food and booze everywhere and I’d say that the entire continent would be on average, cheaper than US/AUS prices.
I did a 2 month trip that included Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Peru and Chile. Out of those countries I found Brazil to be the most expensive and Bolivia to be the cheapest. Brazil was on par with US/AUS prices, but in Bolivia I actually got a meal for 2 that included 1 filet mignon main, 1 chicken main, salad, garlic bread, a cocktail, 2 beers and a bottle of water for $17AU. Which I thought was pretty damn cheap! Hostel dorm prices in Bolivia range from $4-12 a night!
But you won’t see anything like Europe prices in South America, if you do, you’re being ripped off because you’re a tourist.
The only thing I found to be incredibly expensive, even surpassing US/AUS prices, was flight travel. It can be ridiculously expensive and if you choose to travel that way instead of 20-30-40hr bus rides (I chose flying) then that will be the biggest expenditure on your trip. They do have a few budget airlines popping up over there, so sometimes you can get a cheap trip, especially if you’re flying within the same country, if you fly to another country the prices jump up dramatically. Some budget airlines are GOL, TACA, Star Peru, Peruvian Airlines, Sky, BoA, TAM, AeroSur and CopaAir. If you have any problems finding a cheap route let me know, sometimes even the airline websites are hard to find or tricky to navigate and book. And some you can only book at an airline office.
Favourite place? I think Bolivia was a highlight for me, there was so much culture (about 60% are of indigenous background) and there aren’t hoards of tourists there, it feels more like a place you can explore. It’s not tourist friendly in the sense of infrastructure (compared to Europe) but I personally got a lot more out of my visit there than the other countries, and then there’s the Death Road (oh that was sooo much fun!)
Other highlights included:
Rio – Lazing at the beach and having food and drink brought to you whenever you needed it.
Buzios – really nice, pretty town with great beaches and relaxing vibe.
Buenos Aires – La Boca Jnr soccer game, crowd was insane!
El Calafate – Perito Moreno Glacier is amazing!! (Bariloche I’d skip unless you like hiking)
Iguassu Falls – Speedboat ride, beautiful place and lots of Coati’s!
Bolivia – Death Road, Cholita Wrestling, Salt Flats, Potosi, Cheap food.
Peru – Can’t beat Machu Picchu but stay a night in the town at the bottom, Aguas Callientes, really pretty. (Nazca Lines weren’t that great, only go if it’s of big interest to you), Arequipa was cute. Take a trip to the Peruvian Amazon at Puerto Maldonado, there’s lots of options but book prior to going, try and stay just one night at the Anaconda Lodge, they do monkey rehab and you get to play with them! Also if you’re interested in trying Ayahuasca (Google it) let the lodge know prior and they can organise it for you, but research it first so you know what you’re getting into.
Chile – I only went to Santiago but I found it to be reaaally similar to Australia, just a really nice city, can get hot though.
Jan/Feb is the high season for the coastal areas because everyone wants to holiday at the beach. Especially people from the northern hemisphere coming down to escape their cold winter. Feb/March is high season in Rio because of Carnaval, depending on when it is, accom prices will hike x4 for that period.
Be aware that Machu Picchu is not open in February as they do maintenance that month, it’s also their rainy season Dec-Feb. June/July is probably the sellout season for Machu Picchu so if you want to trek the trail book in advance…. actually book in advance anyway, it nearly always sells out pretty quick although March is probably their quietest month.
I found the locals to be pretty friendly throughout South America. The Peruvians who hawk to tourists around the Plaza de Armas in Cusco and Arequipa were reaaally pushy though, that was probably the only let down.
But yeah, definitely look into learning Spanish, especially if you’re doing the extended trip from Mexico down to South America, you find it comes in very handy!
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