South America – Getting around …

South America is not a cheap place to travel around. Following are some tips/suggestions based on my experiences …

Buenos Aires, Argentina (Airport Code: EZE)

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The Ministro Pistarini International Airport (EZE). Not very large, but pretty crowded … Despite my prior preparations, took me a while to nail down the commute to the city.

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The bus to the city … Very comfy and cheaper than the taxi. The pre-paid taxi were a RIP-OFF! Note the capitals 
 The bus ride took around 45min.

I would highly recommend avoiding the pre-paid taxis. It is an utter rip-off. If your baggage is not that heavy or extensive, it is best to use the convenient Tienda Leon buses. It is likely that you will need a walk to your hotel from the main depot near Retiro (near Puerto Madero). Please note that these buses do not stop anywhere you like. Check out the predefined stops on the route.

Within the city, the Buenos Aires Metro is very convenient to use.

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Sardine can feeling in the Subte Underground Subway … During peak time. Once I got the Sube card, I have been zooming to various stations, one after the other. The network is pretty good and the trains are frequent enough.

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The Subway Train … Subte. As you can see, pretty clean. The trains look a bit old …

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Each Buenos Aires Subway Station has unique tile murals … Like this one.

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Yes! Sube card … With this card, Subway rides are cheaper than paying in cash. Very convenient to use. Travelled through the subway like a possessed man 
 Point A to B to C to D to ….

 

Asuncion, Paraguay (Airport Code: ASU)

Unfortunately, Asuncion is not an easy city to navigate in terms of public transit. Luckily, you can explore all the major points of the city on foot, which is what I did.

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Since Asuncion is not too difficult to explore on foot, I did not waste time and energy trying to decode the local bus system …
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The flight from Buenos Aires landed in Asuncion at around 23:40. By the time I finished with Visa-On-Arrival, Immigration, Baggage-Claim, Currency-Exchange Etc. and got a taxi (Bus services stop at around 22:00), it was 00:45. The taxi driver was a lady! The airport was very small and only a handful of staff and passengers were there. By the time I came out of the airport, I was pretty much the lone passenger around, I think. Though my safety-radar was up (Midnight, secluded streets, new and unfamiliar country, poor in Spanish Etc.), the ride was smooth and safe …

The taxi rate from the airport is pretty much fixed. You should be able to negotiate a rate of 120000 PYG (Paraguayan Guarani) for the ride from airport to a centrally-located hotel and vice-versa.

 

Montevideo, Uruguay

Because I wanted to experience the ferry from Buenos Aires to Uruguay, I used the Buquebus ferry service. The Buquebus Terminal in Buenos Aires is at Puerto Madero and easy to get to using Metro (get down at Retiro station). The terminal is quite nicely maintained and has very affordable luggage lockers. I actually left my bigger bag at the terminal and took only my backpack to Uruguay. Though the ferry is not exactly cheap, it is quite reasonable considering the convenience and overall facilities. It is best to purchase the tickets in advance. I bought the to and fro Buquebus ferry tickets on my very 1st day in Buenos Aires. My ferry rides were between Buenos Aires and Colonia del Sacramento. I took bus from Colonia del Sacramento to Montevideo and back. Though there is a snack bar within the ferry, I would recommend against it (overpriced and not that great grub).

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The Buquebus terminal is quite fancy and looks like an airport …
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Pardon the shaky picture inside the ferry … I was down with a slight fever and was quite tired 🙂 I slept right through the 1hr15min ferry ride to Colonia del Sacramento …
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It was good I took a nap, as there is nothing much to see …
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People use the ferry to transport their vehicles as well … 

 

Montevideo is quite compact and many of its attractions are located  in the city center.  For this reason, walking is best way of getting around.  The days I were in Montevideo were real rainy days and to be frank, I did not enjoy the downtown area as much as I could have if the damn rains had stayed away.

Montevideo has an extensive bus service. I did not use it as I was staying in the city center itself.

Taxis: Montevideo’s black-and-yellow taxis are all metered. Cabbies carry two official price tables, one effective on weekdays, the other (around 20% higher) used at night between 10pm and 6am, and on Sundays and holidays. I used the taxis a couple of times and they are cheap and convenient.

 

Lima, Peru (Airport Code: LIM)

Jorge Chávez International Airport is pretty big and quite crowded.

I would highly recommend the Airport Express bus service. Reasonably priced and with a very convenient route. I stayed in the Mira Flores area of Lima and Airport Express is most convenient to this area.

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The swanky Airport Express bus … There is free WiFi available and the ride is very comfortable.
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Inside the Airport Express bus …

For commute within Lime, especially between Miraflores  and Plaza de Armas de Lima (the main square of Lima), I would recommend the Metropolitano Bus Service.

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The Metropolitano Bus … These buses have dedicated tracks and rarely get “stuck in traffic” … Only problem is that it can get quite crowded during rush hours.
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Metropolitano bus stops are like this … The are designated areas for boarding …
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The stops and routes are clearly marked …
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Rush hour 🙂 
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The Metropolitano Card … You can note the cost. One can keep adding funds to the card.

 

Cusco, Peru (Airport Code: CUZ)

Taxis are the way to go. Please note that you will be swarmed by taxi drivers when you come out of the Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport. Please remember to negotiate the rate down as much as you can, and enter the taxi only after reaching an agreement on the price with the driver.

 

Manaus, Brazil (Airport Code: MAO)

Taxis are the way to go. From the Port of Manaus to my hotel, I paid around 30 Reals (for a 5Km ride). The bus service is also quite easy to use. Google Maps are handy for figuring out the bus routes.

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Port of Manaus … Early in the morning. Not the safest time to roam around a port  🙂 

 

Tefe, Brazil (Airport Code: TFF)

Tefe is quite small and walking is the best option. I did see lot of Bike Taxis around, even though I did not use one. The Tefe Port is right in the center-edge of the town.

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The Tefe Port … There are boat ticket counters at the port. It is best to purchase the boat tickets as early as possible as they get filled up fast.

 

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (Airport Code: GIG)

The Galeão Airport is huge! I used BRT No:30 bus, which departs every 30 minutes or so, to get to the nearest Rio Metro stop, Vicente de Carvalho.

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The Rio Metro train …
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Peak hours can get challenging … In fact, on the way from Airport to my hotel (in Botafogo area), because I had my heavy backpack as well as my souvenir suitcase, I had to travel in the opposite direction to the last stop and then come all the way back … It was just impossible to get into the train with the luggage 🙂 But if luggage is not there, using the Rio Metro is a breeze.
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The trains are pretty decent …
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I purchased the Rio Travel Card, which you can purchase at any of the Rio Metro kiosks and recharge it as necessary …
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BRT Bus … (It was quite shaky in the bus :-))

Within the city, Metro and BRT are the best way to get around.

 

Sao Paulo, Brazil (Airport Code: GRU)

São Paulo–Guarulhos International Airport is another massive airport. Provided one does not have too much luggage, one can take a bus from the airport to the nearest Metro station. Tatuape metro station is the one of the nearest Metro stations. Bus lines 257 (Guarulhos Aeroporto Internacional (via Ayrton Senna) and 299 (Guarulhos Aeroporto Internacional (via Assis Ribeiro) can be used to transfer between the Metro station and the airport. The ticket can be bought from the driver and will cost around 4 Reals for one trip.

If you have heavy luggage or if you are arriving at night, the best way to get to a hotel or into the city is a taxi. The best option is the blue-and-white Guarucoop radio taxis from the airport. These taxis provide a flat rate from the Airport (130-150 BRL). They are reliable and generally safe. Guarucoop has a counter at the Arrivals exit.

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The massive and extensive Sao Paulo Metro …
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Sao Paulo Metro … I purchased single tickets for each ride. I tried purchasing a Travel Card, but was not successful.

 

Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil (Airport Code: IGU)

The yellow bus No: 120 starts from Foz do Iguaçu International Airport and take you to the center of town (roughly 15 kilometers). Each ride costs around 3.20 Reals (BRL). Buses are the easiest way to get around the town.

 

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Inside Bus No:120 … Please note that this is the same bus one needs to take, to get to the Brazilian Iguazu Falls Park (From the town, the bus 1st goes to Iguazu Park and then to the Airport).
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Local buses are quite convenient … Decoding the routes will not be very easy. I inquired at the Tourist Counter at the main bus station (near the town center) to understand which bus to take.
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The bus I took to get into Argentina … We have to cross Brazil border check (Get out of the bus, get your passport stamped, and then get back on to the bus) and Argentina border check (similar sequence),
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The Rio Uruguay bus which takes you to the Argentina Iguazu Falls Park.

 

Getting to Itaipu Dam is easy from the main bus terminal. Inquire at the Tourist Counter (within the bus terminal) and they will point you to the correct bus. Please note that the tickets have to be purchased 1st, before they allow you to enter the bus terminal. You then enter the bus through the door meant for folks who have already purchased their tickets. Once the bus is outside the terminal, one door is used for entry and the other doors are used for exit.

Getting to Argentina and visiting the Argentina Iguazu Falls is quite complicated. One needs to take the colorful buses marked “Argentina” to get into Argentina. Once you complete the Brazil and Argentina border crossings, Rio Uruguay bus needs to be used to get to the Iguazu Park. Ticket can be purchased from the driver. It is best to keep Brazilian Reals and Argentine Pesos handy, as all bus tickets have to purchased with cash. I got lost at several points and wasted 2-3 hours going back and forth and I actually did Brazil-to-Argentina-to-Brazil-to-Argentina crossings within 1 hour! 🙂 Once inside Argentina, I took the wrong bus and got back to Brazil side, instead of going to the Argentina Iguazu Falls Park.

 

 

Adios!

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