If you are anything like me, your mind spends a lot of time in the clouds dreaming. You may tend forget about some of the more important travel logistics, such as country entry requirements and immunizations. You should be aware of reciprocity fees and visa requirements in order to avoid the colloquial wrench thrown into your travel plans. It is beneficial for you to account for these expenses into your budget.
While living in San Pedro de Atacama, on the border of Chile and Bolivia, I saw numerous travelers from the United States be surprised by an unexpected $120.00 entry fee and be forced to question if their trip to the Uyuni salt flats was feasible. I would suggest keeping up to date on your country’s travel website so you will be informed and thus be prepared. In South America, some countries require visas which are to be acquired before hand, in other countries you can acquire the required visa at the airport, some counties require you to pay a reciprocity fee, and some places are free. There are also airport fees which are country dependant. So it depends on what your home country is and to what countries you are travelling but it is your responsibility to be aware and prepared.
If you are like me, then a quick summation by some blogger makes the research just a little easier. Everything differs based on the country you are from so be sure to check yours out!
Here is an example of what a Canadian needs to be prepared for during a South American trip:
Brazil: requires a tourist visa. This visa needs to be acquired from Canada
Paraguay: requires a tourist visa also. The tourist visa can be purchased at Paraguayan embassies or consulates. You can also obtain a 90 day multiple entry visa upon arrival at the Asuncion airport for a fee of $150 USD, payable in cash.
Argentina: requires a $92 USD reciprocity fee to be paid BEFORE you board and plane and/or reach immigration offices. This fee can only be paid online at the Dirección Nacional de Migraciones website. The payment of this fee allows for multiple entrances into Argentina up until 1 month before your passport expire (an update of last year’s $75 USD to enter and 3 month expiry).
Uruguay: No tourist visa is required for a visit up to 90 days.
Chile: No tourist visa is required to enter Chile. If you enter by bus, it is free. However, if you fly into Chile and are Canadian you must pay a $132 USD landing tax.
Ecuador: No tourist visa is required to enter Ecuador for 30-90 days.
Bolivia: No tourist visa is required to enter into Bolivia for less than 30 days. If you stay any longer without visiting the consulate you must pay $1 USD per day extra.
Columbia: No tourist visa is required to enter Columbia, however the immigration officer authorises the length of your stay to be either 30, 60, or 90 days.
Venezuela: No tourist Visa is required to enter Venezuela.
French Guiana: No tourist Visa is required to enter French Guiana.
Guyana: No tourist visa is required to enter Guyana. In fact, no student or work visa is required in Guyana.
Suriname: No tourist visa is required to enter Suriname, however a $25 USD tourist card must be purchased at the border which lasts for 30 days and an extension needs to be purchased later on.
A final note: most countries in South America require you to pay a flying tax when you leave their country. This tax is usually around an extra $30 USD and exists in Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Suriname.
Making Sure you have your Travel Shots
One last thing a traveler should always be in the know about is….travel immunizations! Now I have heard from a few people, “meh, what’s the point”, “it’s too expensive”, “what are the chances of me getting yellow fever”, or “I don’t think it’s necessary”. Alright well, it’s true, maybe you won’t get yellow fever, but then also…what if you do. We are so lucky to have the ability to protect ourselves from a few more common illnesses, I don’t see why not…because the last thing anyone needs while backpacking is to have to go home because you have contracted one of these diseases….
Travel Immunizations for South America
Yellow Fever: You actually need this to enter some countries (Peru, Ecuador, Brazil, and Columbia) and they can ask you for your immunization form at immigration.
Malaria: It is all over the Amazon; grab some pills, because the Amazon is all over South America…no one wants malaria.
Typhoid: Also a risk in South America, typhoid is a bacterial infection which comes from food.
Hepatitis A and B: Because you should have those anyways, no matter whether you travel or not.
Dukoral: If you’re in the lucky 50%, this could prevent you from receiving the worst of the traveller’s diarrhoea, and if you take the time to read my experience on the Inca Trail…you’ll know why.
Travel smart, these things take an hour of your time at home, and could prevent you from losing days on the road.