Countries Visited

Svalbard Spain United States of America Antarctica South Georgia Falkland Islands Bolivia Peru Ecuador Colombia Venezuela Guyana Suriname French Guiana Brazil Paraguay Uruguay Argentina Chile Greenland Canada United States of America United States of America Israel Jordan Cyprus Qatar United Arab Emirates Oman Yemen Saudia Arabia Iraq Afghanistan Turkmenistan Iran Syria Singapore China Mongolia Papua New Guinea Brunei Indonesia Malaysia Malaysia Tiawan Philippines Vietnam Cambodia Laos Thailand Myanmar Bangladesh Sri Lanka India Bhutan Nepal Pakistan Afghanistan Turkmenistan Tajikistan Kyrgyzstan Uzbekistan Japan North Korea South Korea Russia Kazakhstan Russia Montenegro Portugal Azerbaijan Armenia Georgia Ukraine Moldova Belarus Romania Bulgaria Macedonia Serbia Bosonia & Herzegovina Turkey Greece Albania Croatia Hungary Slovakia Slovenia Malta Spain Portugal Spain France Italy Italy Austria Switzerland Belgium France Ireland United Kingdom Norway Sweden Finland Estonia Latvia Lithuania Russia Poland Czech Republic Germany Denmark The Netherlands Iceland El Salvador Guatemala Panama Costa Rica Nicaragua Honduras Belize Mexico Trinidad & Tobago Puerto Rico Dominican Republic Haiti Jamaica The Bahamas Cuba Vanuatu Australia Solomon Islands Fiji New Caledonia New Zealand Eritrea Ethiopia Djibouti Somalia Kenya Uganda Tanzania Rwanda Burundi Madagascar Namibia Botswana South Africa Lesotho Swaziland Zimbabwe Mozambique Malawi Zambia Angola Democratic Repbulic of Congo Republic of Congo Gabon Equatorial Guinea Central African Republic Cameroon Nigeria Togo Ghana Burkina Fasso Cote d'Ivoire Liberia Sierra Leone Guinea Guinea Bissau The Gambia Senegal Mali Mauritania Niger Western Sahara Sudan Chad Egypt Libya Tunisia Morocco Algeria
Map Legend: 28%, 75 of 263 Territories

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Financial Updates: Central (and some of South) America

Time to share our last batch of country expenditure averages! Mostly, Central America was very cheap, and the last few countries in South America were pretty easy on the wallet as well. We left off last time with Peru, so here goes with…

Ecuador: $78.50/day. Not bad at all, though our average was definitely lowered by Andy spending 24 hours in bed with food poisoning in Quito, which meant we had to skip a possibly expensive birding excursion…and, of course, we didn’t go to the Galapagos, which would have blown our budget sky-high. Bus quality was not the highest in Ecuador, but hotel rooms (in the $15-$25 range with private bath) were very decent, and both street food and restaurant food was cheap.

Colombia: $56/day without flight to Panama; $83/day with. Our flight from Colombia to Panama was more expensive than we anticipated—about $250 each with taxes, etc., and we weren’t sure which country to count it against, so in the end we just split it between Colombia and Panama. But even with the flight, Colombia ended up cheaper on paper than we’d anticipated. It doesn’t feel so cheap when you’re there! But Andy and I have noticed that sometimes in countries that seem expensive to us, we compensate by eating out less and doing fewer packaged tours, so it ends up being cheap.

Anyway, accommodation ranged from $10 a night in Santa Marta to $40 a night in Cartagena; and we recommend that you visit Bogota on a Tuesday (half-price movie night) and Wednesday (half-price day at the Salt Cathedral) and stay at the Hostal Platypus (where we got a whole apartment with kitchen for $25 a night) in the old city.

Panama: $98/day without flight from Colombia; $144/day with flight. Yeah, Panama, not so cheap, mainly because excursions are really expensive. And that’s because you usually end up hiring a private guide to take you around. But our trip would not have been the same without birding at Pipeline Road, the train trip along the Panama Canal, and our tour of the Gatun Locks—all worth the money. Hotel room with bath was $20 a night, and restaurants were affordable enough.

Costa Rica: $50/day. This is really skewed, because we only spent two days in CR, and did no excursions except for one trip to the beach (which cost us $13 because it was a national park—we didn’t know about the free beach up the road). We avoided restaurants and stayed in the very cheapest rooms we could find ($20 a night). So that average is really just for rooms, bus, and groceries…if you take a real trip to Costa Rica, expect to pay a lot more (as we did in 2007!).

Nicaragua: $60/day. Nicaragua is the poorest country in Latin America, and definitely one of the cheapest to be a tourist in. We never paid more than $12 a night for a room (but don’t expect high quality at those prices), and tours and Internet were very affordable. We found food to be a little expensive compared to everything else, but, clearly, we got by.

El Salvador: $60/day. El Salvador is definitely wealthier than Nicaragua, but somehow we ended up spending the same amount of money there. Probably because, once again, we did no packaged tours, but just figured out the bus system and went places on our own. Also managed to hit the capital on half-price movie night (it’s Wednesdays in ES). Food is pretty cheap (and tasty!), and our $20/night room in San Salvador was decent. El Salvador is high value.

Honduras: $64/day. We only spent one night in Honduras, so this is pretty skewed, but we hear it’s a pretty cheap country to travel in overall. We stayed in Copan, near the big Mayan ruins ($10 a night for hotel room with bath—cheap; $15 each to visit the ruins—kind of expensive, but very nice ruins). I wouldn’t mind going back sometime and exploring when it’s more stable politically.

Guatemala: $57/day. I think that this makes Guatemala officially the cheapest country we spent any real length of time in. Lodging was around $10 a night (and nicer than the rooms in Nicaragua), and some excursions were quite cheap ($3 each to climb Pacaya Volcano). We thought restaurants were overpriced in some places (like touristy Antigua), so we just ate street food or made sandwiches or cooked. Annoyingly, Guatemala practices “tourist pricing” on some boat and bus routes, meaning that foreigners officially have to pay three times the rate that the locals pay for the same transportation.

Belize: $124/day, strongly skewed by SCUBA diving. (It would have been $78/day without the dives.) Basically, diving is expensive, but the rest of Belize—even touristy Caye Caulker Island—doesn’t have to be. Our rooms ranged from $12.50 to $25 a night, bus transport wasn’t too bad, and with a little sleuthing, we managed to find cheap places to eat out in most towns. The ATM caving tour was a little expensive ($75 per person) but totally worth it. And diving off the Cayes was quite expensive, but also worth it. (There is apparently much cheaper diving off the Bay Islands in Honduras—maybe next time!)

We’ll do another financial update soon, in which we calculate our average daily expenditure for the whole South and Central American trip, working in extra costs like flights, insurance, and camera repair and replacement that we didn’t count against any one country. Until then, adios!

1 comment:

  1. Ugh, tourist pricing is the worst! It's ridiculous in India, too. We tried to be ok with it because the people there are so poor - but we were poor too!

    It was great to see you last weekend! Are you down south now?