Expenses in South America

Here a summary of our expenses whilst touring, might come handy if you’re trying to figure out a budget. On top of food and accommodation (although we try to camp whenever possible) we had various other expenses (repairs, illness, shipping down gear, etc) – so don’t be fooled and be prepared to spend (a lot) more than you expected.

As a general rule, things get more expensive as you go south, but I think for us food averages also increased because we ate better (more, and in Chile, for example, more variety was available…).
Exchange rates from August 2016.

All averages are given for TWO people (per day).

Accommodation means a double room. Dorms can normally only be found in touristier places.

Food: On a usual day we’d eat oats for breakfast, have bread with jam/avocado/… for lunch, pasta with vegis for dinner, and snacks (cookies, fruit…) in-between. In towns, we’d often have a set-menu meal for dinner. Food might have cost a bit more for us than for the average traveler as we are constantly hungry (cyclists!) 😉 As mentioned before, we ate more as we got south and also treated ourselves to better food. Until Peru we we would only have street food in towns and didn’t even check out local restaurants, which turned out to be a great way to eat well and cheaply in Peru…

For information on our expenses in CENTRAL America, visit this post.


We spent on average 6 USD (17400 COP) on food per day. A meal at a restaurant would normally be less than 2 USD (5 000 COP).

Accommodation cost about 8 USD (22 000 COP) for two people. Campsites between 1.7 and 3.5 USD (5 000-10 000 COP).

So all in all, around 14 USD for two people per day.


Ecuador was quite a bit pricier. Food averaged to 11 USD per day. In restaurants, a filling meal could be found for around 2-4 USD.

Accommodation would cost almost 30 USD in the south of the country, but only around 10 USD closer to Peru.

Summed up, around 35 USD for two people per day.


Food averaged to a bit more than 7 USD per day (23 soles). Street food is cheap, snacks are normally 1 sol each, a meal is usually around 3-5 soles and in restaurants set meals range from 5-10 soles. Even though we apparently spent more/equal on food as in Colombia, I believe that food in Peru is still cheaper, we just ate in restaurants more often or generally ate more 😉

A cheap hotel that you can’t expect much from is about 3 USD (10 soles), an average room is 6 USD (20 soles), and a “pricier” one anything from 9 USD (30 soles) upwards. On average, we spent around 7 USD (21 soles) on a double room. The further south, the cheaper for higher quality.

Added up, we spent about 14 USD per day.


In small towns it was very hard to find variety in the food on offer. La Paz, Oruro and Uyuni were the only cities where we could do proper big restocks.


Passing through bigger places more frequently also meant bigger supermarket and more choice – from couscous to peanut butter, it was a pleasure to spend more money on food. A meal in a proper restaurant will start at around 6 USD (4000 CLP). See this blog post for more details.

We didn’t stay in hotels, but we spent more nights at camp sites. Camping was normally between 3 and 6 USD (2000 and 5000 CLP) per person. I had one night in a hotel (single room) in Copiapo for 10.5 USD (7000 CLP) but you would probably be lucky to pay that kind of money for a bed in a dorm further south. Cabanas are a very popular option – and can be great value if you’re in a group of people. You can find cabanas everywhere, the cheapest would probably be around 30 USD (20 000 CLP) for a wee house.


Prices for food varied from town to town and shop to shop sometimes – big supermarkets were usually more affordable. See this blog post for more details.

We usually managed to haggle prices for a room down to 7ish USD (100 ARS) per person. The cheapest camping we could find was in Malargue for 50 for both of us in one tent in the municipal campground – our most expensive camping was in Villa La Angostura for 20 USD (310 ARS).



national currency hotel food total
colombia 23400 17380 40780
ecuador 24 11.2 35.2
peru 21.3 25 46.3
bolivia 64.3 82.6 146.9
argentina 214.3 212 426.3
chile 20000 16300 36300


USD hotel food total
colombia 8.2 6 14.2
ecuador 24 11.2 35.2
peru 6.4 7.5 13.9
bolivia 9.3 11.9 21.2
argentina 14.3 14.2 28.5
chile 30.2 24.6 54.8



5 thoughts on “Expenses in South America

  1. I don’t understand that last part. Does it mean, that you spent 36000 pesos in total for a day in Chile?

    • Yes and no – The overall averages (first table national currency, second table USD) are for a day spent sleeping in a hotel (at the average hotel price) (which we usually didn’t) and spending the average amount of money of our total for food (sometimes we spent less, sometimes more – hence the average). Obviously, without paying for a hotel and instead (wild) camping, the daily average is reduced by about half or more. Chile wasn’t just more expensive though, we also ate more and treated us to more (they had more diverse products, like peanut butter, which we couldn’t resist) 😉 – and don’t forget that all prices listed are for TWO people 🙂 Hope this makes sense!
      – Gina

      • Haha, now I get it :)! I didn’t see, that it was for two. Got a little scared there..
        My flight to Arica goes on the 30th this month and I am also taking a Fatbike. I’ve got until the end of September. Let’s see, if I make it to Patagonia and if I will be tough enough for the Patagonian winter. Thanks a lot for doing this. It’s very helpful :)! Greetings from Berlin, Germany


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