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South America Travel Tips

4.0 stars

Insider advice for your South America vacation

Tasty South American street snacks 4 stars
I seem to find myself writing tips about food quite a lot, and I suppose that is because when you are on a tight budget, and vegetarian in a very carniverous country, the subject of food tends to prey on your mind. Indeed, a debate my boyfriend and I often return to is �which is the best South American street snack?�.

In Rio, there is the tasty grilled cheese known as Queijo Coalho, and the ubiquitous coconut water; in Bolivia there are the amazing, freshly squeezed juices that cost just a few pence; in Peru there are the fantastic little bags of peeled, salted quails�eggs, served with chilli sauce if desired. But although the eggs are stiff competition, we usually agree that the best snack of all is the arepa served on the Caribbean coast of Colombia (the nasty, sweet version served elsewhere in the country does not count) - a hot, filling maize based pancake stuffed with butter and cheese, these are a meal in themselves and cost next to nothing. That debate solved, we then start debating which of the many vendors sold the finest arepas...


Hare Krishna restaurants 5 stars
Vegetarians in South America can have a hard time of it, especially if they´re travelling on a budget. However, budget veggie restaurants offering bargain lunchtime buffets or set meals spring up in the unlikeliest places, and more often than not are run by Hare Krishnas.

Due to the nature of the religion, the food in these restaurants is in fact vegan, and is tasty, filling and very cheap. I found these restaurants in small towns in Bolivia, Peru and Colombia, and I´m sure there are many more of them across the continent. Typically you will pay a set price - never more than the equivalent of a couple of US dollars, for a juice, a soup, and a very filling main course. In other places, you pay a similarly cheap price and help yourself from the buffet. Note that these places are only open for lunch, and are usually packed - a good indication of what good value they are!


Long-distance buses - bring a blanket! 2 stars
No matter what the temperature outside, when you´re taking an overnight bus in South America, the temperature inside the vehicle will plummet to bone-chilling levels.

In hotter climates, especially in Brazil, this is because the air conditioning has been cranked up to quite an unnecessarily high degree. In other countries, if you are at high altitude at any point in the journey, you´ll really feel it. (Especially if the bus breaks down 3,000 metres up in the Andes, at 2am, as happened to me...). The best advice is to bring warm clothes and, if possible, a blanket or sleeping bag. This might seem foolish when the temperature outside is nudging 40 degrees, but trust me, it will be worth it. Also, make sure you bring socks/trainers - those flipflops that are so comfy on the beach won´t be much good at night time, and you are likely to find yourself trying to wrap your feet up in the cover for the headrest. (Yep, me again - and my boyfriend has also been known to put the cover on his head as a makshift ´hat´ to keep his ears from freezing!)


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