Chile and Argentina are two of richest nations in South America. They are also two of the safest in terms of solo travel. Both are large countries too and travel planning can take quite a bit if effort.
Chile in particular is not the cheapest country to travel around and you are more likely to end up in shared accommodation than your own room. Argentina is a little cheaper but can still be quite expensive, certainly compared to countries in the north such as Bolivia and Peru.
Chile Travel Guide
Chile is a skinny country, sandwiched between the Andes and the Pacific, but because of this slim location it has so much to do right on it’s doorstep. Mountains, volcanoes, thermal pools, the great ocean. The southern end of the country is a maze of glaciers and fjords whereas the top is part of the driest desert on earth giving an amazing contrast to this land.
Budget Solo Accommodation in Chile
The cheapest option is a youth hostel, there are some run by the YHA and other independents including, in the summer holidays, in the schools in the main towns. Campsites tend to overcharge slightly unless there is a group of you, or you can free camp at service stations and youth hostels. There is a group called Rutacentros, running free campsites with shower and toilet facilities. If you can afford a little more there are some good bed and breakfast type accommodation available, it’s still not deadly and you get a free meal.
A Traveler’s Budget for Chile
Bus is the public transport of choice and is on the whole very good. Some companies let you book online in advance and some will carry bikes although there is usually an extra charge for this. There are some train routes in the south of the country, these are moderately priced but reasonably quick moving.
The general consensus is that hitching is pretty safe in Chile, but be aware, there are nutters in every corner of the world.
Eating cheaply is simple, most things are based on filling stews. There is home grown Chilean fast food as well, which is outdoing some of the big multinationals due to the vastly superior quality. Definitely worth investing a dollar or two. Restaurants offer cheaper meals at lunch time so you might want to do the majority of your refuelling then, and cheap snacks and supplies can be had from markets in the cities.
Activities for the Budget Traveller
Wine drinking in the central areas
Visit the many museums in Santiago
Climbing in the Andes
Trekking up volcanoes (check whether you have to cross a border)
Horseriding in the Elqui and Hurtado valleys
Mountain biking in the Lake District
Argentina Travel Guide
Home to revolutionaries, questionable footballers, the mountains of the Andes and stunning Patagonia, there’s also an amazing wine industry to wash down all the history and culture at the end of a hard days tourism. The wildlife includes storks, whales, penguins and dolphins, and there’s no shortage of places to see them, although there is a shortage of some mammals, which might be more difficult to spot.
Budget Accommodation in Argentina
There are two youth hostel providers, Hostelling International Argentina or Red Argentina de Alojamiento para Jóvenes, and the Argentina Hostels Club. The network of hostels is growing all the time, you can contact either organisation for a list.
Camping is allowed pretty much anywhere, if you do want the facilities on a site expect to pay around US$3 for you and your tent. If you want to wild camp it’s totally acceptable but if you go somewhere like Patagonia make sure you take a decent tent, it gets a bit windy.
A Traveller’s Budget for Argentina
The train service in Argentina is pretty much non existent so you’ll have to use the bus network if you want to get around on cheap public transport, the express buses are worth the little extra they cost for the faster journey times.
Food is relatively cheap in Argentin anyway, but bear in mind that ordering any extra side dishes pushes the price up considerably.
Activties for the Budget Traveller
Watch the flamingos take off in a big pink cloud
Do some serious mountaineering on Aconcagua
Go fishing in the Lake District
Drink Wine in Mendoza
Go off roading in Patagonia
Trek in the Andes or in the National Parks