The Life, Love, Travel & the Pursuit of Planes, Trains and Automobiles ~ South America 2015 Edition

Seven counties, nineteen weeks, 17,610.0 miles (28,331.04 km or .71 times around the earth): $2,080.07 for transportation expenses.   Of course I could have spent less (a lot less) than I did but it was important for me to balance cost, comfort, experience (“obligatory South American border crossing by bus”) and especially time efficiency.  And I must add that a significant amount of costs were also subsidized by the amazing generosity of friends that took me around town and my uncle who covered costs while we traveled together!!

So how exactly did I spend $2,080.07?  This is not completely accurate as I had to plug in numbers using Google maps and I didn’t record every expense but it is a pretty good approximation.

So let’s start with the PLANES part:  I input my flights into the nifty website ( and these are the grand totals: 17 flights and 15,054 miles (24,227 km) which is apparently 0.6x around the earth.  The craziest thing is that I spent 39 hours 45 mins or 1.7 days 0r 0.2 weeks on an airplane!  That’s actually flight time…doesn’t include all the time I was at the airport either waiting for a flight or on a layover!!!

T: Leaving Florida and the US B: Coming into Cartagena and South America

Flights 1 & 2: DEN – FLL / FLL- CTG  (Denver, CO, USA – Fort Lauderdale, FL, USA – Cartagena, Colombia ) Spirit Airlines $221.29USD

I didn’t have a window seat because I get to my seat and a gentleman asks if I am willing to switch seats with him so he can sit with his family.  Of course, I agree but it worked out well for me since I ended up in first class…too bad it was only a 55 minute flight!

Flight 3: CTG – MDE (Cartagena – Medellin, Colombia) Avianca  298,090 Colombian Peso $101.92USD

TL: Landing in Bogota TR: Somewhere between Bogota and Pasto B: Touching down in Pasto

Flights 4 & 5: MDE – BOG / BOG- PAS (Medellin – Bogota – Pasto, Colombia) Avianca 298,090 Colombian Peso $98.43USD

T: Coming into the Galápagos BL: Lovely way to separate the VIP lounge w/these gorgeous flowers BR: Have to love foreign airlines: economy with leg room and hot breakfast?

Flight 6: UIO – GPS (Quito – Galápagos, Ecuador) Avianca $140.90USD

Leaving the Galápagos

Flights 7 & 8 : GPS – GYE – UIO (Galápagos – Guayaquil – Quito, Ecuador) LAN (BA Award) 2,500 Avios + $127.05USD

A good summary of my flights: Taking pictures from / finally got a Kindle / my journal + Immigration & custom forms

Flight 9: UIO – LIM (Quito, Ecuador – Lima, Peru) LAN (BA Award) 11,250 Avios + $207.69USD  ~ Best flight of the 17? – another first class flight but this one has me all alone in the section as shown in the video

TL: Oceanviews in Lima TR: Lakes in the Andes BL: Amazing colorful Andes BR: The pilot did a U-turn maneuver coming into Cusco

Flight 10 & 11: R/T LIM – CUZ – LIM (Lima – Cusco – Lima, Peru) LCPeru  $128.17USD

Over Lake Titicaca

Flight 12: LIM – LPB (Lima, Peru – La Paz, Bolivia) LAN (BA Award) 2,500 Avios + $95.74

Beautiful flight over the desert and mountains

Flight 13: CJC – SCL (Calama – Santiago, Chile) Sky Airlines $105.00USD

TL & BL: Leaving Santiago TR & MR: Over the Andes BR: Coming into BA

Flight 14: SCL – EZE (Santiago, Chile – Buenos Aires, Argentina) LAN (BA Award) 2,500 Avios + $70.00USD

TL & TR: Lounge service & goodies ML & MR: Night lights of Buenos Aires BL: Sunset in BA BR: Sunrise in Shreveport

Flights 15, 16 & 17: EZE – IAH – SHV – DEN (Buenos Aires, Argentina – Houston, Texas, USA – Shreveport, Louisiana, USA – Denver, Colorado, USA) United (United Award) 30,000 miles + $87.03 USD + 189.00 to upgrade

PLANES Total: $1,572.22USD + 30,000 United Miles + 18,750 British Airways (BA) Avios

Notes: I could saved even more money here in a few ways if 1. I had booked flights way in advance but I wanted the flexibility and fun of a go with the flow type trip 2. I had not upgraded my flight home 3. Used more BA Avios  and paid less cash – i.e. For my SCL-EZE flight I could have used 10,000 Avios and the only paid $30USD.  However with my upcoming Asia-Middle East-Europe trip, I figured best to keep as many Avios as possible.  Possible savings ~ $189-$450. What I did end up saving was INSANE: intercontinental SA flights are expensive and if we compare apples to apples would have been between $400-$600 for each of the flights I took using BA miles (based on when I would have bought them) plus the flight back home was $1,800 so I conservatively saved almost $3,200 with using miles but probably saved closer to $4,000!

TRAINS img_3620My one and only train ride in South America and I only have my exact cost for one trip so unfortunately $104USD is an estimate.   FYI it was part of a Sacred Valley + Machu Pichu (MP) two day tour including a bus and bi-lingual guided tour through the Sacred Valley – (Pisac and Ollantaytambo sites), lunch – Day one, lodging overnight in Aguas Calientes, transportation (train and bus tickets-MP), entrance tickets to MP and the Sacred Valley sites, and a bi-lingual guided tour at MP that cost $170.00USD

AUTOMOBILES (All other transportation broken down by city/trip and pertinent notes about city/transportation/specifics/etc) For more information, click on link for blog posts about specific city/trip

Cartagena de Indias, Colombia: 33.06 miles (53.2 km) / 1 hr 33 mins 56,000 Colombian Pesos (COP) / $19.52USD Extremely safe around historic old town area where I stayed and partied so I walked everywhere {16,000 COP TO/FROM Airport – negotiate rate prior + 40,000COP bus ride to Playa Blanca}

Medellin, Colombia: 151.62 miles (244 km) / 3 hrs 30 mins / 70,700 Colombian Pesos (COP) / $24.18USD I stayed in the very safe area of Poblado so I walked a lot and used the safe Metro system to get around to other parts of the city {9,000COP Bus from Airport to city center + 10,000COP Taxi to Hostel + 10,000COP 5 Metro rides + 9,200COP Cable Arví Metrocable (only part of metro system with additional charge) to Parque Arví + 12 ,500COP bus ride to Guatape + 20,000COP Shared taxi to Airport)

Border Crossing Pasto, Colombia – Quito, Ecuador: 211.88 miles (341 km) / 8 hours / 49,400 Colombian Pesos (COP) / $33.89USD I may not have saved as much money as I thought I would after finding out about Viva Colombia, a low cost carrier {25,000COP Bus from Airport to Ipiales (stayed overnight) + 16,000COP Taxis to/from Sanctuary  + 8,000COP to border + $3USD Taxi from Border to Tulcan Bus station + $6USD Bus to Quito Bus Terminal + $8USD Taxi from Bus Termibal)

Quito, Ecuador: 186.41 miles (300 km) / 6 hrs 38 mins $77.50USD  We could have taken a (much cheaper) bus to Mitad del Mundo but friend had an afternoon flight and the airport is very far away  {$17USD Taxi Mitad del Mundo + $7USD Taxi to/from Teleférico + $8.50USD Teleférico Ride + $20USD Split Private Car/Tour to Mindo (random encounter with private car driver leading to very cool day trip) + $25USD Taxi to Airport}

Galápagos, Ecuador50.33 miles (81 km) / 2 hrs 4 mins / $15.00USD  The airport is located on one island and the only way to get to Santa Cruz is by ferry/then you can take a taxi or bus to the other side of Santa Cruz (Puerto Ayora – PA) where all the lodging is {$2USD Ferry to/from Balta-Santa Cruz + $3USD Bus from ferry to PA main junction + $10USD Taxi ride from PA to ferry – this was really confusing/frustrating for me in finding out that there is a bus terminal and it is not where you are dropped off when arriving/located on the edge of town and buses are supposed to be going from 8-8:30AM but that morning the last bus left at 8:10AM!}

Cusco, Peru: 11 miles (6.84 km) / 36 mins / 45 Peruvian Nuevo Sol (PEN) / $13.57USD  I do prefer to walk and explore and only wish I would have been given more information for how much the taxi ride was supposed to be {30PEN Taxi from Airport + 15PEN Taxi to Airport}

Machu Picchu and Sacred Valley, Peru: $25USD for the bus ride from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu.  FYI see notes above in train section about tour and inclusions 

Lima, Peru: 26.10 miles (42 km) / 2 hrs 5 mins / 140 PEN / $41.58USD In the Miraflores area, I walked around everywhere but needed to use the Metropolitano to get into the downtown area +**also had friends in Lima who drove me while sightseeing/going to eat/around town  {110 PEN Taxi to/from Airport (pre-arranged) + 25 PEN Metropolitano rides (6 rides) + 5PEN Cab within DT Lima area}

La Paz & Copacabana, Bolivia:526.93 miles (848 km) / 19 hrs 55 mins / 384 Bolivian Bolivianos (BOB) / $55.53USD I could have went and bought the bus tickets instead of using the travel agency but I was completely over La Paz by then and didn’t want to venture out by myself in the city – sometimes it is worth it to pay that ‘convenience fee’ I think.  {4 BOB Minibus from Airport + 6 BOB 2X Teleférico trips + 90 BOB 2X Bus Rides To/From Copacabana-La Paz + 4 BS 2X ‘Ferry’ (not included in your bus ticket but there is one part where everyone has to get out of the bus and passengers and bus are separately ferried across the lake) + 280 BOB Overnight bus from La Paz – Uyuni – pretty comfortable/semi-bed with wifi for first two hours and small dinner service}

Uyuni, Bolivia: 482.81 miles (777 km) / 16 hrs 5 mins (This is totally an estimate using Google and probably dramatically underestimates all the numbers!!)  Red Planet Three Day tour including transportation, food, lodging, guides, and transfer to San Pedro de Atacama, Chile that cost 1300 BOB / $188USD

San Pedro de Atacama, Chile: 64 miles (103 km) / 1 hr 50 mins / 10,000 Chilean Pesos (CLP) / $14.21USD  We stayed outside of the main town and had complimentary car service to/from and walked around a lot. There is no airport in San Pedro so I booked a flight from the closest airport in Calama about 2 hours away +** had a friend of a friend that was willing to drive me to see a number of the sights around the area so I saved a bit on transportation/tour costs {10,000 CLP – transfer service to Calama airport}

Santiago, Chile: 770.50 miles (1,240 km) / 9 hrs 20 mins/ 25,200 CLP / $35.81USD Santiago has a great Metro/bus system.  The bus company (TurBus) happened to be running specials when I went to Valparaíso +**also had friends in Santiago who drove me while sightseeing/going to eat/around Santiago and surrounding areas – seems like an understatement for this city!! {10,000 CLP (Metro/bus card +8,500 CLP for fares (still have some money on it)  + 6,300 CLP Bus to/from Valparaíso + 5,700 CLP Bus to/from Valparaíso +2,400 CLP Metro Valparaíso + 800 CLP To/from Valparaíso-Playa Concon}

Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay: **Lucked out being with my uncle – I didn’t directly pay for this: 762 Argentinian Peso (ARS) / $54.43USD for Round Trip Ferry from Buenos Aires and not sure what he paid for the rental car

Buenos Aires, Argentina: 42.26 miles (68 km) / 1 hr 4 mins / 590 ARS / $48.06USD I had the nicest taxi drivers in BA! *The exchange rate dramatically changed in the middle of my trip for both official and grey market **Lucked out being with my uncle for the majority of this trip and having a friend willing to drive me {170 ARS/$17.41USD Bus service from Airport + 50 ARS/ $3.84USD Taxi ride +370 ARS/$26.81 Taxi to Airport}

Automobile totals: 2,556.9 miles (4,104.04 km) / 3 days 0hrs 4mins / $403.85

GRAND TOTAL FOR TRIP: 17,610.9 miles (28,331.04 km) / 4 days 16 hours 25 mins /$2,080.07 – Colombia ~ Ecuador ~ Peru  ~ Bolivia ~ Chile ~ Argentina ~ Uruguay


3 Comments Add yours

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s