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Table top
Table top

Trees in the Pantanal
Blossom - Pantanal

Salvador da bahia
Salvador da Bahia

Ilha Boipeba
Ilha Boipeba

yellow flowers

red plant
Chapada Diamantina

Church front

Two Houses
Parliment, Brazilia

Sunset, Brazilia

Street in Mariana

Latin America is to many a vast and unexplored continent full of dreams, adventures and future discoveries. Living and travelling on this continent can be a thrilling and rewarding experience, especially to those who are willing to look beyond the main tourist points and delve deeper into the country they are visiting, its culture, its language and its people. There are many places to visit and travellers need to make choices about where they want to go. Choosing your route can be a difficult process and will inevitably mean that you have to miss some things you would have liked to see along the way.

On this site, you will find accounts of travels in Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay, including, where relevant, hints and tips on where to go, what to see and where to stay. The site includes write-ups of all major areas visited.

Travel Guides

As a rule, books like Lonely Planet and the Rough guides are a useful resource to take with you. You don't need to rely on them, but they do provide useful backup information. Good accommodation can often be found in places not listed in guidebooks and as a result, slightly cheaper, as can local sites of interest and tour operators.


Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay are all linked by a vast road network. For those backpacking on a budget, long distance coaches are a good way to get around, although physical distances between places are huge and many journeys can often take over 18 hours to complete. Some routes have overnight buses which, if you are able to sleep in them, can save you a few pennies on hotels and gives you more time during the daylight hours to explore the places you are visiting.

In Brazil and in most other countries, there are different classes of buses: some are like first class luxury jets, offering blankets, pillows food etc (Leixo) and others are just really grotty and bumpy. So long as you do not display wealth it is quite easy to travel and you should be safe. The best thing is to try and blend in with what the locals wear.

On most routes you can just turn up and buy tickets a few hours in advance. On some of the more busy routes you may want to think about getting tickets 24 hours in advance. One easy way to ensure you have a seat on an outbound bus is to purchase your ticket when you arrive at your destination. As with many things in this part of the world, make sure that the ticket vendors don't try and overcharge you and that you know exactly where the bus is going. Some buses are fast and direct and others stop at all the villages along the way so travel time on routes can vary quite considerably. If there are several companies covering the same route, check out all prices and timetables because there can sometimes be some big differences in service and price offered. In Brazil there are buses from everywhere to everywhere, usually several a day.

Other means of travel include flights and car hire. Flights between cities in Brazil can allow you to cover the vast distances in a short time, but these are more expensive than buses. It is possible to purchase "hopping" tickets when you buy your flights to Brazil. These tickets allow you to make 5 stop-overs during your time in the country. They can't be purchased in Brazil.

The Mercosur Airpass: Valid within Argentina, Brazil, Chile (except Easter Island), Paraguay and Uruguay. The pass can only be bought by passengers who live outside South America, and who have already bought a return ticket. Only eight flight coupons are allowed with a maximum of four coupons for each country, and is valid for seven to a maximum of 30 days. You must visit at least two countries and your flight route cannot be changed once it has been bought.

The Visit South America Pass: This must be bought outside South America in your country of residence. It allows unlimited travel within the following countries: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Chile (except Easter Island), Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela. A minimum of three flights must be booked and prices will depend on how many flight zones you pass through.


Finding somewhere to stay each night can be a worry for the inexperienced, but every town or village will have its share of 'pousadas' 'hostales' and hotels for you to chose from. There are many low budget options for backpackers, especially if you don't mind communal dormitory type accommodation. This is often a fun experience and allows you to meet up with fellow travellers and share pick up good hints and tips from others by listening to their travel stories. For those travelling on their own, these backpacking hubs are often a place to find some travel companions. It is very common to team up with other people or groups for a few days and then moving on. Prices can vary a lot depending on where you are. Big cities like Rio are invariably more expensive than little towns such as Ouro Preto in the Minas region of Brasil.


For most European countries, it is possible to get a 3 month Visa for Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay on entry to the country. The customs will stamp your passport and record your entry date. These visas can be extended by a further 3 months for the purpose of tourism. In Brazil, it is not possible to get a tourist visa for more than 6 months in any 12 month period.

Please check with your embassies for current up to date information.


The key to being a 'good tourist' in Brazil and avoiding becoming a crime target, especially in cities like Rio do Janeiro and Salvador da Bahia is quite simple: Never wear jewellery apart from locally manufactured Indian necklaces and bracelets (these have absolutely no local value and can be picked up all over the place). The slightest silvery or gold looking decoration is often seen as an 'I am a rich tourist, please come and rob me' sign. Never carry large amounts of cash on you, or if you do, hide it somewhere (I sew in a pocket inside the bottom of my trouser leg and used this as a safe pouch during my travels - you can also pick up canvas belts with money pockets in them etc...)

In places like Rio: Never carry flashy cameras or handbags to the beach. Use disposable cameras in high-risk areas. You can use flashy cameras when visiting with tour buses as these are relatively safe (they will take you to all the important tourist sites for a reasonable fee). Finally, dress locally... ie, flip flops and a cheap sarong purchased from a local stand, no expensive brand t-shirts etc... Finally, always keep a few Reals hidden in your shoes if you're wearing closed shoes (that way if ever something does happen u can still afford to get back to where your staying)

In general, if you do not look rich, you won't be a target. Crime gets blown out of proportion in many instances but, as the saying goes, there is no smoke without fire, so be careful and attentive.

For those ladies thinking about travelling through parts of Latin America on their own, there are a few basic rules to follow which will keep unwanted attention at bay. Always tell people you a) have a boyfriend (or girlfriend), b) are engaged and will be getting married soon and c) that your boyfriend (girlfriend) is joining you in two-three days time to continue travelling with you. All three points are particularly important as for some particular reason, men in Brazil seem to view engagements with a kind of respect, believing that you are too in love at this point. On the other hand, they generally have little or no respect for married women. In many parts of Brazil it is viewed as perfectly normal to be married and have affairs.

Learning the Language

Learning the language is definitely recommended. Being able to communicate with the local people seriously enhances the experience and adds to the enjoyment of travelling. The more you can talk the more you will learn about the places you visit. For those people with basic communication skills, travelling can be the ideal occasion to improve your speaking ablilities. Don't forget that in Brazil the language spoken is Portuguese, and not Spanish as in the large majority of other Latin American countries. Whatever your language skills, it is always good to keep a basic phrase book or dictionary on you, just in case!

Yerba Maté

Mate is a tea-like beverage consumed mainly in Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and southern Brazil. It is brewed from the dried leaves and stemlets of the perennial tree Ilex paraguarensis ("Yerba Mate"). The name "Mate" derives from the quichua word "matí" that names the gourd (Lagenaria vulgaris) that is traditionally used to drink the infusion. The scientific name Ilex paraguarensis was given by the French naturalist and botanist Auguste de Saint Hilaire in 1822, the tree belongs to the family Aquifoliaceae and grows between the parallels 10° and 30° (South) in the Paraná and Paraguay rivers basins. It is a plant typical of the Alto Paraná region, Alto Uruguay region and the Argentine NE. It is a tropical or subtropical plant, needing high temperatures, high humidity and up to 1500 mm of annual rain. On average, 300,000 tons of Mate are produced each year.

In the wild, the plant needs about 25 years to develop completely, reaching in that case a height of up to 15 meters. The leaves are alternated, cuneiform, elliptical or oval, with the border slightly serrated. It flowers between the months of October and December. The flowers are small, polygamous, dioicous, with calix and corolla in a tetrameric disposition. The fruit resembles a pepper berry. Among several varieties, there are three that are the most important: "angustifolia", "longifolia" and "latifolia".

Mate has a characteristic mature flavour which is somewhat sweet, bitter, withered leaf like, and alfalfa-like, similar to that obtained from tea (Camellia sinensis). Of the 196 volatile chemical compounds found in Yerba Mate, 144 are also found in tea. It is used in popular medicine and employed in commercial herbal preparations as a stimulant to the central nervous system, a diuretic, and an antirheumatic .

Téréré is a popular form of iced Maté that can be found in the more tropical Maté regions. In Paraguay, people tend to drink Maté during the colder winter months and Téréré during the warm summer months. It can also be found in the Rio de la Plata area of Argentina, in Uruguay and in Southern Brazil.

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