The Cost Of Bike Touring: South America
How much will an independent bike tour cost?
In South America, it really depends on where you’re going. Brazil is relatively expensive. Bolivia is far cheaper.
Scroll down to read about bike tourists who’ve recently been there, and their experiences.
The Cyclist & The Trip: Paddy & Laura cycled 15,000 miles around South America in 2011 and 2012. They are picky when it comes to stealth camping and don’t like to set their tent up near roads, so they often sleep in hotels or hostels.
The Cost: Anywhere from $15-25 U.S. per person, per day or $1,000-1,400 U.S. a month.
What we actually spend varies drastically depending on where we are in South America. Brazil was very expensive whilst Bolivia was significantly cheaper. In terms of food, we don’t eat in restaurants that often as we have a stove where we cook can something cheap and healthy ourselves. This was essential in Argentina and Brazil, where eating out was expensive, but since Bolivia we’ve found that roadside restaurants do a really cheap lunch which is cheaper than making something ourselves.
Tips: “Staying with Couchsurfing and WarmShowers hosts in big cities has saved money on accommodation, but more than that it has been a great way to meet local people and learn more about the places we have visited.”
The Cyclist & The Trip: Harriet & Neil spent 19 months cycling around South America from September 2009 to March 2011. They love remote routes and enjoy wild camping but always reward themselves with a bed and some tasty treats when they reach a town.
The Cost: They spent $8-10 U.S. per person, per day in Bolivia and Peru. In Argentina and Chile, the cost was $17-20 U.S. per day. Brazil was the most expensive at $27 U.S. per day.
In Bolivia and Peru, accommodation was cheap. We camped only a third of the time and ate set meals in restaurants. In Argentina and Chile we camped two out of every three nights and rarely ate out. Chile is more expensive than Argentina but we treated ourselves to fewer luxuries there to keep costs down. In Brazil, it was hard to find wild campsites and we often had to resort to staying in hotels and eating out in restaurants.
Tips: They have lots of tips!
Bolivia & Peru – “Set meals are a great deal generally costing about $2 U.S. for 2 courses which is often less than you can cook a meal for just look out for ‘Almuerzo’ (lunch) or ‘Cena’ (dinner) signs.”
Argentina – “We think facturas (pastries) at Argentine bakeries are excellent value. A dozen only cost about $3 U.S. and they’ll help you from getting too skinny.”
Chile – “Internet cafes are quite expensive but there is free internet at all public libraries and even if a town looks very run down it probably has a library.”
Brazil – “You can often get a free shower at Petrobras petrol stations.”
Can You Help?
Keeping these sections up-to-date and adding new sections relies on the community. That’s you!
If you’ve recently been on tour and can tell us about your daily budget, please Get In Touch and share your answers to these 3 basic questions:
1. What did you spend per person, per day on average? This is for daily expenses like food, hotels, public transport within a country but not exceptional extras like bike repair, flights to/from the country.
2. Can you briefly describe your style of travel? Are you ultra low budget (e.g. a devoted wild camper, cook all your own food) or more medium budget (e.g. will occasionally splash out on a hotel, meal in restaurant)?
3. Any tips you want to share related to costs in this region? Was something particularly cheap or expensive? How would you recommend others save money?
We’ll add your answers to the relevant page, along with a photo of you on tour and a link to your bike touring blog (if you have one). Thanks!