A practical guidebook for Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, North Chile and Argentinia
Best travel season
The best seasons for travel differ in the individual countries of the Andes. We inform here in correspondence with the program about the best time to travel.
Ecuador: December and January are most stable; June and May can be recommended. Overall the entire year there are mountain tours possible.
Peru/Bolivia: Mountain tours are from March to October possible, as best season account July to September, but then there is strong press of people and the prices climb rapidly.
North-Chile: Best time is from November to February, otherwise very cold.
All referred to travel countries have improved meanwhile in safety. But not always and everywhere there is a complete exclusion of small pocket thefts possible. Who keeps an eye on his luggage at all times, should not have any problems. Meanwhile, the transports by bus companies run smoothly, too. Violent crimes occur extremely seldom, with a few dangerous locations as bad exceptions (e.g. old town of Lima). The most locations to avoid better are situated in Ecuador. But even there, only separate districts or small regions have such a bad reputation. In all larger Cities of Peru and Bolivia patrols a tourist police, being extra positioned for protection of the travelers. We gather valuable, and first of all most current, information about danger regions, by communication with native people (ask in the hotel).
This is for citizens from Germany, Austria and Switzerland trouble-free possible. The only necessity is a passport, valid at least yet six months, but no Visa. The permission is at maximum for ninety days valid, and there is the possibility of prolongation without difficulty in the respective capital.
For travels through the highlands you need no particular immunizations. For some of the jungle areas take care of malaria prevention, it is advisable to have immunizations against yellow fever, hepatitis and typhus.
Compared with the European price level (respectively in the US) nearly all costs are lower, an accommodation in a simple hotel costs seldom more than 2 to 3 Euro (3 to 4 $), a meal in a local restaurant can be ordered from 1 Euro (1 $) upward. Bus and taxi rides and clothing are extremely cheap. Local mountain guides and other travel guides for tours usually work at low prices.
The official language in all of the mentioned countries is Spanish, in many locations additionally Quetschua and Aymara. In Ecuador there is only little command of English and also in the other countries, English is spoken only less. There might be expectations for this situation to better, but command of Spanish is an important step to get to know the country and the people there.
In all larger cities you can withdraw money with a Visa or MasterCard (conveniently in the respective currency of the country), there is advantage in additional Travellercheques from American Express in Dollar, because they are possible to replace in case of emergency. In every case money cards are faster and more economical. In Ecuador the US-Dollar has replaced the ‘Sucre’ as currency in the whole country meanwhile, in Peru the currency is called Sol (circa 5 Soles are 1 Euro / $) and in Bolivia Bolivianos (9 Bolis are about 1 Euro / $).
Unfortunately there are yet no low-cost suppliers on the market, so that the prices for air flights are yet quite high, all inclusive you should schedule at least 900 Euro (inclusive return flight). The most inexpensive providers are Iberia, American Airlines, KLM and Lufthansa. La Paz is not any further approached from Europe by plane, therefore under 1000 Euro there are no flights at all available.
Simply start conversation with the locals, they are very interested and open towards strangers. Visit small unknown locations, they offer the most interesting meetings and show the real, natural life in South America. Display no wealth publicly and move preferably like the natives. Do not complain about absent luxury. Provide in Peru and Bolivia for your own toilet paper, in few toilets there is some. Ignore too persistent salesmen and advisers, first of all the numerous drug dealers (illegality). Learn Spanish.