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Quito to Rio, Andes & Pampas - Pre-Departure Information

When booking flights, ask for an open jaw returns to where your starting and where your finishing your trip. Airlines such as Iberia, British Airlines, Qantas, American airlines or KLM have open jaws into these cities.  It may be cheaper to book your airline tickets through a travel agent than direct with the airlines.  It is easy to find prices for flights online, through various search engines (expedia skyscanner etc) and direct with airline websites. Note that flights with all airlines cost more, and are liable to be booked up earlier for the busy months of February/March, July/August and November/December.

You need to fly into your city of departure at least the day before your tour leaves.

Trips Departing Quito, Ecuador

Change some money at one of the airport banks before you exit. After clearing customs and entering the arrivals hall there is an official airport taxi desk right in front of you. Show them the name of the hotel (have the full address written down) and they will issue you with a ticket. Outside the building the official taxi rank is in front of you, hand the ticket to the driver and they will take you straight to the hotel. Pay the taxi driver directly when you reach the hotel; the amount is on the ticket. A taxi to Hotel Majestic in Marsical Sucre district, costs US$25/30. Official taxis are yellow with a green stripe.

HOTEL MAJESTIC - 366 y Versailles in Mercadillo, Quito.
Tel: 593 2 543 182
It's close to the new city. Rooms US$22 single, $26 double, $30 triple. All rooms with bathroom.
A simple hotel with good service, good location for exploring Quito.

Trips Departing La Paz, Bolivia

A taxi from the airport should cost you about US$15. Most cabs are private without meters so you should settle on a fare before you enter the cab. Ask at the airport information desk for a taxi.

Sol Andino Hostal - Calle Aroma, 6 Zona Rosario, Between Iiiampu & Isacc Tamayo Street, La Paz 
Tel: +591 2 245737359 - Email:
Rooms; Single £17.00, Double £22.00, Twin £22.00
In the centre of La Paz, a basic hostel, good value for exploring, 40 mins from the airport.
The sights of La Paz are right outside your door. Rooms have shared bathrooms.

Trips Departing Lima, Peru

Airport Transfer Costs: $20 You will be met at Lima Airport and transferred by a Hostal Bonbini representative. The driver will be holding a sign that says HS. Bonbini, or your name; look out for both. Many flights into Lima arrive around midnight. If your flight arrives more than 2 hours late, or you are delayed by more than 2 hours before getting through to the arrivals hall, you may need to call the Hotel to rearrange the transfer.

Hostal Bonbini - 
Jr. Cailloma No 209, Lima 1.
Tel: (0051) (1) 4276477
Price Single $34 per room, Double $29 per room, Twin $18 per person,  Triple $16 per person 

Trips Departing Rio, Brazil

Change some money at one of the banks in the airport before you exit It is best to take a taxi direct to your hotel so you can drop your baggage and put your money into a safe.  Do not take the bus into town as they are targeted by pickpockets.  Galeao Airport is about 30 minutes from the city centre.  A taxi to the hotel cost $20/30.  Ask at the airport information desk for a taxi.

Hotel Riazor  Rua do Catete, 160 - Catete - Rio de Janeiro.
Tel: 00 (21) 2225-01 
Each room has: bathroom, AC, TV, frige and safety deposit box. Breakfast & WI FI incl.
Carnival & New Year trips have different prices for New Year & Carnival accom packages.

Trips Departing Santiago, Chili

A reliable company is Transvip, its counter is right next to the baggage claim. You don’t need to make a reservation, just get to the counter and ask for your transfer. Open 24 hours.
Price approx per person: CLP$6,000 or US$12

Andes Hostel - Monjitas 506, Barrio Bellas Artes, Santiago.
Tel: (562) 2632 9990 

Trips Departing Manaus, Brazil

TAXI (From; the airport, bus station, or river port. Most taxi drivers know where Hostel Manaus is located. Specify the street name 'Rua Lauro Cavalcante' to avoid going to the wrong hotel
The Hostel Pick up service is cheaper than a regular taxi.

Hostel Manaus - Rua Lauro Cavalcante 231, Manaus.
Tel: +55 (92) 3233 4545


The tour leader will meet you the night before departure in the Hotel.  There will be a notice in the reception advising you of this as well as the time and place of the pre-departure meeting and what to bring to the meeting.

PASSPORTS & VISAS: You will need at least 1 page per country in your passport, plus 5 more and valid for 9 months from the end of your trip.  If you have dual nationality you can only use one passport.

You need to get the relevant visas that you require.   Most visas must be used within 3 months from their date of issue. For visa information go to the visa page tab

Local Payment: Local Payment [LP] is part of your overall trip payment and is the most cost effective and practical way to get hard currency to South America to pay for a variety of your day to day local costs (i.e. all meals prepared by the group, campsite fees, gas, and certain activities listed on the trip page) which cannot be pre-paid from the UK. It is a guaranteed amount, set before your trip departs, and unlike ’group kitty’ systems we will not ask you to contribute more once the trip is underway.

Please note: Your LP is payable to your Tour Leader on the morning of departure in US$ Dollars cash only. Make sure  that all your notes are in good condition. Old, torn or marked notes are often refused by the banks and we will therefore be unable to accept them either. Please do not bring all of your Local Payment in US$100 notes and also make sure that they are post 2006 and do not have a serial number starting with CB.

INSURANCE: It is compulsory that you are insured against personal accident, medical expenses and repatriation expenses.  We only carry passengers on the understanding that, in most countries we travel, through no passenger or vehicle liability is available what so ever.  We can organise personal insurance for you.  Bring your insurance policy with you and leave a copy at home. 

HEALTH & INOCULATIONS: You have to be vaccinated against Yellow Fever and will need an International Vaccination Certificate to prove it when we cross some borders.
It is also advisable to be vaccinated against Typhoid; Rabies; Hepatitis A; Tetanus; Polio and Meningitis.
If possible start your vaccinations two months (but as late as two weeks is ok) before departure.
Your G.P. can also inoculate but may take a while to get to get the vaccine in.

MALARIA: In the Amazon jungle, there is a medium risk of catching malaria.  Your doctor or one of the clinics listed below will advise you on the risk of catching malaria and which tablets to take. Malaria tablets offer partial protection against malaria; you should couple taking the tablets with mosquito bite avoidance.  The malarial mosquitoes come out at night, so from this time you should cover up in long sleeves, jeans or track-suit pants plus socks - as mosquitoes tend to bite around the feet and ankles.  The use of repellents and covering up can be as effective as the use of tablets.  By coupling both methods of protection together, you should be malaria free 

MEDICAL KITS: We carry professionally compiled medical kits with emergency First Aid material and antibiotics.  However, the crew is not entitled to recommend or prescribe any medicine and we advise a health check with your GP and Dentist before you start your journey.

Spending Money: On past trips US$150 to US$200 per week should cover costs such as some meals out (on average 50% of meals on the trip are supplied), drinks, email & communications, souvenirs and other general spending.

Spending budgets differ greatly from person to person. Budget on visa costs and optional activities separately (see visa section above & optional excursions page) & allow extra for your Local Payment contribution. There is often a departure tax payable in the airport, so allow up to US$50 for this. 

For trips starting/ending before Carnival: During the Carnival week both tourists and locals flock to Rio and resources are stretched. This includes access to cash via banks and cash machines, as the banks frequently close for the whole ten day carnival period. Many of the machines run out of cash early on in the celebrations (often by day 2), and once the machines are empty they are not restocked until after the carnival celebrations have finished. Money exchanges can also be difficult to access during this time, or will only provide a very poor rate. The exchange rate weakens in the run up to Carnival, so it’s best for you to get some Brazilian Real’s in advance. When working out how many you need, bear in mind any time you will be spending in Brazil.

Changing money: Change your money only at banks, hotels, airports or forex bureaus, not on the street, as these people will normally be opportunistic thieves or undercover police. Your crew will advise you where & when you can change money & with what means.

How to bring your currency: Past travellers have fed back that they have felt, as a general rule it is best to bring your money in US$ cash, either all cash or 50% cash and 50% on pre-paid travel currency cards. Euros are also becoming more widely accepted. US dollars dated pre 2006, old or damaged notes and serial numbers starting CB are not accepted in South America, so please ensure your notes are dated 2006 onward. Scottish pounds are also not accepted. Ensure when buying US Dollars before you travel, ask for clean notes with no tears or markings. It can be difficult using US$100 bills in Ecuador, Peru & Bolivia so if possible, bring US$50 bills for these countries. Some travellers worry about carrying so much cash with them, however all our trucks are equipped with an onboard safe for the security of your money and passport. Please also remember that visa’s need to be paid for in US$ cash only.

Argentina: Following its recent economic crises, in Argentina ATMs generally giving a very poor rate when withdrawing local currency compared to unofficial bureaux de change. To get the best rates, it is you budget for your time in Argentina entirely in US dollars cash and take the necessary amount with you before travelling. If your trip is travelling southbound from Bolivia you can get US dollars from a number of ATMs in La Paz before arriving into Argentina. 

Travellers Cheques (TCs): Can attract 2 to 10% commission and are hard to change.

Credit & Debit Cards: A combination of several types are suggested as not all types are accepted in all places. Visa & Maestro are best, MasterCard has limited access through parts of South America. Over the counter cash advances can be expensive, time consuming and should not be relied upon - you will be given local currency and not US$ or £GB. We recommend that you inform your bank that you will be using your card abroad to avoid it being blocked. Please see the optional excursions page for activities that can be paid for using a Credit or Debit Card. Commission rates vary between 2 to 5%.

ATMs: In some destinations we probably won’t even see a bank or ATM for days on end. or www.mastercard.comcan give a general idea of locations of ATMs around the world - but don't rely on this means alone to obtain local cash, please only use as a guide, as ATMs don’t always work

MAPS: A Traveller’s Reference Map, Bartholomew’s, National Geographic and Collins have good detailed maps of the areas we travel.  You can buy good road maps in South America.

LANGUAGE: Learning any basic Spanish would be to your advantage as most South American countries speak Spanish with the exception of Brazil, where they speak Portuguese.

SECURITY: There is a lockable safe bolted on the truck for passengers’ smaller items of value.  When you are off the truck wear a money belt, which fits under your shirt.  Do not wear a “bum bag” around your waist, or a money belt that hangs from your neck.  In certain areas a passenger roster will be drawn up to guard the vehicle throughout the day.  Don’t take items of value not essential for your journey.

As with most major cities worldwide the majority of South American cities have their share of pickpockets plus teams of youths who target tourists.  Don't walk around town wearing a wristwatch or carrying a camera.  Leave your valuables in your hotel safe.  At night always use a taxi; don't walk around the streets alone at night.  Single women in particular need to be careful.  Use your common sense when approached by individuals on the street.  This is not the way normal South Americans would meet you, so be wary of the many scams that are used to entice you to part with your money.  Once out of the main cities, small towns are quite safe and people are a lot more relaxed.

MOBILE PHONES: Your own mobile phone will work abroad if you have roam facility enabled on a dual band phone. For charging you will need your 240-volt charger and an adapter, we can charge of the truck but not all at once.  Although convenient for outgoing calls at rates of around £1 per minute, incoming calls can cost up to £7 per minute to receive. 

E-MAIL: The best way to keep in contact is by email. You can pick up emails anywhere in the world just by logging on at any Internet café or anywhere that has access to the worldwide web.  You can usually check your e mails every few days.

Contact Home: The most reliable way to receive messages from friends and family is via email. This is quite common place in many areas that we visit, but the efficiency or speed of connection is never a guarantee! You will usually be able to email once a week or so on average, depending on which countries you visit. Telephone calls can be expensive, and the cheapest option is to buy a sim card for each country you visit. Internet access costs around US$1 to US$2 per half hour. There is also the opportunity to use Skype etc in some areas.

FLYING BACK: You should buy your fare home before you leave to South America. 

TIPPING: Tipping is usually expected.  It is often more than a reward for services well done, but, as wages are low, it is seen an accepted means of supplementing an income.  Best to keep some small change on you for this. 

PHOTOGRAPHY: South American authorities require you do not take pictures of airports, railway stations or military installations.  We are often in areas where locals are not used to being photographed and we ask you to show them every respect and courtesy.  For SLR cameras we recommend a telephoto of 120mm (or similar) or an 80-200 zoom.  Even when using a digital camera you will need loads of floppies and a good lens, these are great fun to e-mail home photos from, while on the trip. 

Videoing: Our vehicles have facilities to charge camera batteries, so bring an in-car charger (either 12 or 24V).  The trucks use 24 volts so you may need an adapter.  In most hotels and campsites you can charge from the mains so bring a travel adaptor plug, as you'll come across virtually every type of socket ever invented plus a few others.  Most countries run on 220/240 V current. Bring a spare battery if you want to extend battery time.

Electrical charging & power supply: It may be difficult to find a power source for charging at times, so a spare battery is a must. Consider a 12V in-car charger (our vehicles are equipped with a couple of 12 volt cigarette lighter charger sockets - truck trips only) or bring along your 230V mains charger and travel adaptor plug for use at some of the hotels, hostels and campsites.
NOTE: 12V - 230V inverters cannot be used on our vehicles because of the power drain they cause.
Go to for information on different electrical plugs and voltage used in each country. 

LIFE ON THE ROAD: There are times when we will have some long drives, but on most days that we travel we only move for half the day, but sometimes we cover big distances.  Most evenings we will stop and find a bush camp and you and your tent partner will put up your tent, and then give a hand with the job you will be rostered for: getting out the tables and stools or maybe the cook tent and water containers.  Some help collect firewood. The fire grates or gas stove need to be taken out and the fire started, and someone can fill the kettle and put it on for some hot drinks while the cooks prepare the evening meal.  We usually cook in groups of two in a rota system.  You can expect to cook about once every 20 days.  At breakfast everyone helps themselves.  Usually cereal, toast and coffee and the occasional cooked breakfast.  If we stay in a hotel breakfast is sometimes provided.  Lunch if we eat on the truck is cold and the cooking crew will put out the food and make a salad.  In the evening the cooks with the help of all do their best to feed a hopefully ravenous mob. 

- We provides tents for those nights you will be camping. We spend some nights bush or desert camping, sometimes we camp at overnight services, which are basic with showers; the rest of the time in campsites. Campsites vary, some are well equipped and managed and some are very basic. At bush camps you will be living off the truck, so there will be no showers etc.  At certain campsites there is the opportunity to upgrade to a private room at your own expense; if you really miss a bed. 

Hotels and Hostels - At some locations we will stay at small locally owned hostels/hotels. These are usually basic places, and often the accommodation will be mixed sex dormitory style. Upgrades may be available on arrival, but cannot be reliably pre- booked. Please be aware that the quality of accommodation can vary quite a lot from area to area and sometimes in a small hotel the standard of rooms can vary even from one room to the next - so there needs to be a level of understanding within the group that your crew does not often have power over room allocation or services provided by various hotels and it is unavoidable that they have to rely on the local staff. Please note if you choose to participate on an overnight optional activity, then you will not receive reimbursement for any accommodation or meals that you are missing out on with the rest of the group. 

During the day: As a guide, driving days normally start at about 8am and finish at about 5pm, with stops for lunch and buying food, seeing local sights etc. We won’t be driving every day, although there are times when we will drive for two, but we will then stop for a few days and you will have free time to explore, meet local people, do some optional activities or just relax and do your own thing. Expect to sometimes get dirty during the day and although you will be able to shower most nights (except at bush camps), but not all camps will have hot showers. 

The Inca Trail: We include the cost of trekking to Machu Picchu in ALL our trips that visit Peru.
We offer 3 routes - Classic, Lares, and Salkantay - (subject to season and availability), all accompanied by knowledgeable guides and porters.

Our first choice trek is the Classic trail. As availability is limited we will move quickly after booking to obtain you a permit where possible. It is VERY important to note that as soon as we purchase your permit it is non-transferable, and non-refundable. Your permit will be linked to your passport details, so please make sure you enter these correctly at the time of booking. If you are intending renewing your passport then please let us know at the point of booking. In order to trek you will need to be in possession of both your passport and your permit – and the passport details have to match. 

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