South America is dearer than Asia but cheaper than Western countries with Bolivia being the cheapest place I went to with Brazil being the same price as home. Expect to pay a substantial amount for your travel to different parts of the country or across the border as this place is massive! All in all for my two months here I probably spent around £2400 which is £300 a week. Bare in mind I spent 2 and a half weeks in Rio for the football world cup which cost wise would be more than usual for the backpacker staying in these places.
Accommodation – Hostels will range from £5-£7 a night in most places but expect to pay around £10 in places like Rio de Janeiro and San Pedro de Atacama. We always found the hostels to be in good condition and mostly staying in 4 and 6 bed dorms. Hostelworld was the choice of website for South America as they have the biggest range of hostels available.
Travel – Buses/coaches will set you back around £20 to get you from one big place to another and across the borders to different countries. Even longer trips can cost more and with these comes the choice of paying more for more comfort. Coach rides in Bolivia are cheaper at £5/£6 for journeys with in the country itself. Rio has a metro system and is very cheap to get around along with the local buses.
Flights – Flights around South America can be cheap but not as cheap as buses so we didn’t use them. We had one flight in to Rio from Miami which was part of my round the world ticket and one flight out of Lima to Trinidad which I booked separately.
Food – Street food is cheap but its mainly snacks and not full meals but an empanada can be around 20p. Restaurants will set you back different amounts in different countries, a lovely steak meal in Argentina will be £7.50, an all you can eat buffet paid by the kilo could be £10 in Brazil, a local soup in Bolivia can be £3 and a modest meal in Peru can be around £5.
Activities – We did a few big activities such as the Slat Flats in Chile/Bolivia (£150), Inca Trail in Peru (£250), Death Road in Bolivia (£100) and the world cup in Brazil (£1000). These alone will smash the daily budget but you are there to do these things. Organised tours will always costs money but you want the best tour available at the best price. Renting bikes out would cost around £8 per day. The local prices for local sights will be cheap but this needed as these big trips mentioned before will cost a fair whack and there is no way round it.
Misc – Warm clothes from the market are required in San Pedro de Atacama for your tours to high altitude and will come in handy for the Inca Trail. Hats, gloves and scarves are around the £5 each. I didn’t use a phone out there only used it for wifi and photo taking but you may want to include a sim card.
Summary – Cost per week
Accommodation – £50
Travel – £50
Food – £50
Activities – £125 (average)
Misc – £25
Total weekly budget – £300
This summary is based on a budget with all the activities we did divided across the whole time we were there to give you an idea of a weekly budget.