Though im in the same boat as you, any tips on daily costs and accommodation would be greatly appreciated!
much of south america has little family run restaurants that serve a set lunch menu, if you eat in those your looking at an adequate meal for 2 dollars approx, particularly in colombia ecuador, peru. but entering these places requires a small amount of courage as they dont speak english and the decor often consists of little more than a few plastic chairs. i loved it!
it will cost a little more in chile but you can still eat for cheap if you look!, argentina is cheap, for example in buenos aires you can find all you can eat buffets for 18 pesos= 4 euro
if you stick to the more european or american looking restaurants and those made to appeal to tourists your paying around twice or even 4 times as much. but thats not to say it isnt worth it also.
by the way note that hostel food can somtimes be dearer than the restaurants on the same streets (ie. cusco & la paz)
Sanitary conditions and creepy crawlies we have to be aware of would be very very useful!
it wont take you long to notice that toilet paper is seldom to be found in restaurants and public places. so carry some when moving from A to B. on the plus side , napkins are almost always on your table.. see where im going?
you will come across some cockroaches in the hotter areas, personally i didnt find them to be a problem, only had to kill 3 in 9 months.
by far my worst experience was a hostel that had bedbugs , its a rarity but when you discover them my advice is make sure the staff know and get out of there to another hostel, dont wait around to be eaten alive. one way to know is if your getting apparent "mosquito bites" appearing in the evening time, quite itchy and often grouped in a line of 2 or 3. then you know its not a mozzie.. its a bite from the night before. ugghhh... the thaught.. but as i said, its fairly rare!!
anything we simply CANT miss out on
that depends what you want i suppose. there are always going to be sacrifices somewhere along the line so just enjoy whatever you do!
my only regrets are not going to the salt plains in bolivia, i had to meet a friend in chile so i skipped it
and also i ran out of money and time just before i got to cali colombia, which is described by the colombians as the "salsa capital of the world"
Im quite cautious about going to Colombia so i think we will be missing that out
i skipped colombia on the beginning of my trip and started in ecuador. after 8 months around south america i learned that colombia is a very important country. and has quite an influence on the rest of the continent particularly for latin music. and i changed my plans at the last month, skipped brazil and headed for colombia. it was a hard desicion but i was not dissapointed. its the one country i have no doubts i will return to.
if course we all know the bad reputation colombia has in the world but i believe that is down to the fact that the kind of crime like cocaine smuggling etc.. makes for a very dramatic news reports. we dont hear much in the news back home every time a tourists gets mugged in buenos aires or has a gun pointed at him in rio de janeiro but speak to a few travellers and you would surely meet one or two who have had that happen.
in contrast, most travel reports form colombia are positive and my own experience was that colombia was relativly safe in terms of street crime and i noticed a high police presence.
of course nobody can guarantee your safety...but thats the same anywhere.
stay away from 'Medellin' and a lot of Equador
no way! medellin is a great city, good nightlife, very beautiful people and a very prosperous place indeed.
ecuador is also lovley and its people too.
baños, riobamba, montañita... you have to go there!
though its true that its a bit dangerous, as is peru. just be savy and mind your things.