If I have limited budget and only have 2-3 weeks, which part of South America should I visit and why?
If you have limited budget, South America might not be the best place to visit. True, most of the countries there are affordable, but getting there would cost you an arm and a leg (which you can sell at www.organtrafficking.com), with an economy return ticket to Brazil from Jakarta starting at US$1,800 per person. But if you’re already in the vicinity, go for it! For 2 – 3 weeks, the tiny country of Ecuador is your best bet.
The beautiful country – with an equally hot president – packs a lot of attractions into its small size. From the lovely colonial architecture in the capital Quito and Cuenca, good hiking opportunities at Cotopaxi (part of the Andes mountain range), Inca ruins at Ingapirca, the Nariz del Diablo (Devil’s Nose) train ride through steep canyons, and a relaxing stay at the bohemian enclave of Vilcabamba, where hippies get to open their chakras and locals live to be 100 or more (or so they say – all centenarians look alike).
Thrill seekers can get their adrenaline fix at Baños, the adventure capital of Ecuador. And because the country is tiny, you get to see different landscapes in a short bus ride: lush greeneries and Alpine sceneries within a 2-hour bus ride. A thriving indigenous culture makes it interesting for culture buffs, and their markets are a treasure trove of beautiful knitted items and colorful textiles for the home, handmade hats, great for souvenir shopping.
The country uses USD as its currency, and you can get a room with a TV and en-suite for $9/night at a family run hotel in Quito (or a $3 dorm bed if you have no more limbs to sell). A single journey intercity bus fare can cost as little as $2. With all the things you could see and do, that’s plenty of bang for your (minimal) buck.
*Photos by Rinaldo Wurglitsch and Nestor Lacle
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