Hard travel destinations made easy

With 50 years in the industry, you can rely on the knowledge and expertise that our team of travel specialists deliver every time.  Here is a list of some frequently asked questions and great travel tips that we receive from clients. If you have  a question that does not appear below, we’d love to hear from you so please be sure to contact us via info@thetravelspecialists.net.au

Travelling to Africa

Travel tips for Africa

Best time to travel

The dry season is generally considered the most comfortable time to travel in Africa. However, because the dry season occurs at different times in each country, Africa is a wonderful destination year-round.

Contact us for more details on the best time to travel to your desired destination.

Kenya/Tanzania: Jan-Mar/Mid Jun-Oct
Zimbabwe: Apr-Nov
Botswana: Apr-Nov
Zambia: May-Nov
Namibia: Mar-Dec
South Africa: Jan-May/Aug-Dec
Madagascar: Apr-Oct
Mauritius: Apr-Oct
Egypt: Nov-Feb
Morocco: Mar-May/Sep-Nov
Ethiopia: Sep-May

This is a guide only. Variation in weather patterns can occur

Passport and Visa Requirements for Africa

You should be in possession of a passport valid for at least 6 months beyond your intended stay in Africa. Australian passport holders currently require visas for Zimbabwe (issued on arrival at a fee), Tanzania, Kenya, and many West Africa, Central Africa and North Africa countries. Other nationalities require a re-entry permit to Australia and may require additional visas to the above. Please contact us for further details.

Personal safety

Africa is a friendly continent. However, as with any city/town, please be VERY careful when shopping, do not wander around at night in towns (use taxis), and do not leave valuables in hotel rooms etc. Place your valuables in a safe when available. Most importantly do not wear any jewellery when walking around the towns or cities and wear a plain inexpensive watch. Engagement ring or any precious stones should be left at home.

Photography considerations

The choice of the correct camera equipment and film will determine the quality of your photographs on the trip. For good photography of birds and animals, a good SLR camera and telephoto lens is necessary. A zoom lens can be extremely useful on safari and the minimum recommended size is 200mm. Consideration should be given before traveling with any lens bigger than 400 mm as most interesting shots are taken using hand held equipment. The new high-resolution digital cameras are outstanding and give great quality images, especially if you are using a digital camera body, which takes normal camera lenses. Camera bodies like the Canon D60 and 1D are superb. The advantage of digital photography is that one can get instant feedback and adjustments can be made in the field to your techniques to ensure that your photographs are the quality that you would like.

Colour reversal film (slides) will give far better quality than prints. The guides have found that they are getting the best results using Fuji film. Fuji has brought out a good high-speed film that gives good colour with very little grain (less so than any of their competitors). This is especially useful when using a big lens in low light situations. The guides’ personal preference is the slower film (either 50 or 100 ASA) as this gives almost perfect quality for normal light. However, you may consider going to 200 ASA for a larger lens in low lighting conditions. The new Fuji 400, we believe is giving great results too. The only disadvantage with the low ASA film is that you need a tripod for the early morning and evening shots.

IMPORTANT: BRING SPARE FILM (ALTHOUGH IT IS AVAILABLE IN MOST CAMPS/LODGES) AND A SPARE CAMERA BATTERY.

Suggested luggage list

When on safari, a lightweight, versatile wardrobe is most suitable. The weather fluctuates between extremes of heat and cold, meaning layers of clothing are the best option. We have developed a range of safari wear that is comfortable, functional, and affordable.  Click here to contact our African Travel Specialist for our latest safari wear collection.

  • Sunglasses.
  • Golf-shirts, T-shirts and long-sleeved cotton shirts
  • Shorts/skirts
  • Long trousers/slacks
  • More formal attire for your stay at prestigious city hotels or on one of the luxury trains.
  • Underwear and socks (sports bra recommended on game drives as the roads can be bumpy and uneven)
  • Good walking shoes or boots
  • Swimming costume
  • Polar Fleece or Warm Parka
  • Scarf / gloves for the cold winter months (May to September)
  • Light rain gear for summer months (late November to April)
  • Camera equipment and plenty of film
  • If you wear contact lenses, we recommend that you bring along a pair of glasses in case you get irritation from the dust
  • Binoculars
  • Newman’s bird book if you are a keen birder.
  • Personal toiletries (basic amenities supplied by most establishments)
  • Malaria tablets (if applicable)
  • Moisturizing cream & suntan lotion
  • Insect repellent e.g. Tabard, Rid, Jungle Juice, etc
  • Basic medical kit (aspirins, plasters, Immodium, antiseptic & anti-histamine cream etc)
  • Tissues/”Wet Ones”
  • Visas, tickets, passports, money etc
  • Waterproof/dustproof bags/cover for your cameras.

Please note that bright colours and white are NOT advised whilst on safari

Tipping / Gratuities

Tipping is not compulsory. If, however, you want to tip because you have received good service, we have enclosed a brief guideline to assist you:

Camp, Game Lodge and Specialist Guides

If the guide has done a good job, we recommend US$5 per guest per day for travel to Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe and R50 per guest per day for visitors to Namibia and South Africa.

The General Safari Camp / Lodge Staff

Here we recommend about US$3 per guest per day for safari camps in Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe and R30 per guest per day for safari camps in Namibia and South Africa. This should be placed in the communal tipping box to be distributed equally amongst all the staff at a later stage

Hotel Staff

Please allow between R5 and R10 per guest per day for hotel staff, ie. housekeeping etc

Porterage

Here we recommend about US$1 per person per movement.

Mokoro Paddlers and Trackers

We recommend that each paddler and/or tracker in Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe receive US$3 per guest per day and that camp / lodge trackers in Namibia or South Africa receive R35.00 per guest per day.

Transfer and Touring Driver/Guides

Transfer: R10 per person
Half day tour: R25 per person
Full day tour: R50 per person

Blue Train and Rovos Rail

Cabin attendant R100 per person per journey
Waiter, Dining Car R75 per person per journey

Restaurants / Hotels

10% is customary on meal accounts but only if you are satisfied with the service.

Wildlife and safety when staying in Safari Camps/Lodges
  • The wild animals are not like those found in theme parks – they aren’t tame.
  • Most of the safari camps are unfenced and dangerous animals can (and do!) wander through the camps. Many of the animals and reptiles you will see are potentially dangerous. Attacks by wild animals are rare. However, there are no guarantees that such incidents will not occur. African Travel Specialists, their staff members, associates, agents or suppliers cannot be held liable for any injuries caused during an incident involving the behaviour of wild animals.
  • Please listen to the camp staff and guides. The safety precautions need to be taken seriously, and strictly adhered to.
  • Don’t go wandering off on your own without a guide – even to your rooms. After retiring to your rooms at night, don’t leave them.
  • Observe animals silently and with a minimum of disturbance to their natural activities. Loud talking on game drives can frighten the animals away.
  • Never attempt to attract an animal’s attention. Don’t imitate animal sounds, clap your hands, pound the vehicle or throw objects.
  • Please respect your driver-guide’s judgment about proximity to lions, cheetahs and leopards. Don’t insist that he take the vehicle closer so you can get a better photograph. A vehicle driven too close can hinder a hunt or cause animals to abandon a hard-earned meal.
  • Litter tossed on the ground can choke or poison animals and birds and is unsightly.
  • Never attempt to feed or approach any wild animal on foot. This is especially important near lodges or in campsite areas where animals may have become more accustomed to human visitors.
  • Refrain from smoking on game drives. The dry Africa bush ignites very easily, and a flash fire can kill animals.
Currency recommendations

You should take most of your money in travelers cheques in US Dollars, Pounds or Euro. It is strongly recommended that you carry some US dollars cash in small denominations, as well as credit cards such as Visa or Mastercard.

Health and Vaccinations

For most trips to Africa, the following vaccinations are recommended: Yellow Fever, Typhoid, Meningitis, Hepatitis A, (Maybe Hepatitis B for longer visits), Polio, Diphtheria, Cholera, Tetanus and Malaria. Whilst these vary depending on the countries visited, length of time away and the type of accommodation and transport used, we do recommend that these and your other health needs be discussed with your doctor or specialist travel medical centre. We can advise you on the most suitable health precautions to take in relation to your itinerary, but it is your responsibility to ensure that you have the appropriate vaccinations and documentation.

Travelling to India

Travel tips for India

Conduct

Spirituality is at the core of life in India, so be respectful of the different customs, especially when visiting religious sites such as mosques, temples and churches. Do not wear shorts / revealing clothes, women may be asked to cover their heads, and leather goods (including camera cases, belts & handbags) may be prohibited.

Currency recommendations for India

The currency of India is Rupee (Rs). One rupee is equal to 100 paise. Notes come in the denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1000 rupees. Rupees in large numbers may not be brought out of India. UK Pounds / US dollars are easy to exchange at the cashiers desk in the hotels for which you will require the passport.

Major credit cards are gaining acceptance in India, the most common are American Express, Visa and Master. These cards can be used at most hotels, restaurants and shopping centres. Local markets and roadside vendors generally do not accept the cards. It is recommended not to rely on any one form of exchange when visiting India. You should carry with you a combination of cash, traveller’s cheques and credit card/s.

Drinking water

Avoid tap water and roadside fruit juice centres. Drink only bottled water, and check the bottle is sealed.

Electricity

The electric current is 220 volts. To use any electrical appliances, you will need to bring both an electricity converter and a plug adaptor.

Health and vaccinations

Immunization for Cholera, Typhoid, Malaria and Hepatitis is recommended for travel to India. However, we strongly check with your personal physician regarding your particular needs.

Passport and Visa Requirements for India

Australian citizens must have a passport valid for at least six months following their return home. Tourist visas are required for Australian citizens. If you are not an Australian citizen, please contact the embassy of your country or Indian embassy to be sure you obtain the proper documentation.

Shopping

India is a shopper’s paradise, but there are certain goods that are particular cities’ specialties:

  • Delhi: Textiles, paintings, sculptures, carpets
  • Agra: Intricately carved marble
  • Jaipur: Jewellery, textiles, carpets
  • Other popular souvenirs include silver, brass and copper for decorative / functional use.
Special events 2017

India’s colourful culture is celebrated with many festivals throughout the year. Below is just a selection – please contact us for more details, or to build an itinerary around any of these festivals.

January

14th  – International Kite Flying Festival, Jaipur

15th  – Pongol, Tamil Nadu

14th – 15th – Camel Festival, Bikaner

26th  – Republic Day, All of India

February

1st – 4th – Nagaur Cattle Festival, Nagaur, Rajasthan

6th – 9th – Goa Carnival

8th – 10th – Desert Festival, Jaisalmer

13th – 15th – Sufi Festival, Nagaur, Rajasthan

22nd – 26th – Khajuraho Dance Festival, Khajuraho

March

1st – 7th – International Yoga Festival, Rishikesh

13th – Elephant Festival, Jaipur

17th – Holi Festival, All over India

April

5th – Peruvanam Pooram Festival, Kerala

13th – 16th – Baisakhi, Punjab

May

5th – Thrissur Pooram, Kerala

10th – Buddha Purnima, All of India

July

3rd – 4th – Hemis Festival, Ladakh

26th – 27th – Teej Fair, Jaipur

August

12th – Nehur Trophy Boat Race, Kerala

15th – Independence Day, All over India

September

4th – Onam, Kerala

21st – 29th – Navaratri, Sangeetholsavam, Kerala

30th – Dussehra, Rajasthan

October

4th – 5th – Marwar Festival, Jodhpur

19th –  Diwali, All over India

28th – 4th November – Pushkar Fair, Pushkar, Rajasthan

December

1st – 10th – Hornbill Festival, Nagaland

25th – Christmas, All over India

Suggested travel times for specific activities

Himalayas: April to September is the optimum time to travel.

Tiger Spotting: April – June is considered the best time for witnessing tigers in action.

Visiting Ladakh: June – August is the best time for trips to Ladakh (Little Tibet), famous for its mountain beauty, Buddhist culture and excellent trekking.

Ayurveda: During the Monsoon season of extreme heat and torrential rain, the body is cool and much more responsive to Ayurvedic treatments.

Travelling to Croatia

Travel tips for Croatia

Best time to travel

The best time to travel to Croatia is from April to October. Please bear in mind that in July and August the temperature is likely to be over 30 degrees.

Currency recommendations

There are ATMs on every street corner and unless you are travelling to other European points either before or after, there is no requirement to take Euros. The Australian dollar enjoys the highest rate of exchange and is changeable at any bank or money changer anywhere in the country at good rates. The local currency is the Kuna and it is important to note that it is only changeable within Croatia. All Kuna should be changed at either airports or borders before exiting the country.

Electricity

The electric current is 220 volts. To use any electrical appliances, you will need to bring a standard European round two-pin adaptor.

Health and vaccinations

No specific requirements.

Tipping / Gratuities

Tipping is not compulsory. If, however, you want to tip because you have received good service, in general 10% will suffice as a general rule for all types of service.

Passport and Visa requirements for Croatia

You should be in possession of a passport valid for at least 6 months beyond your intended stay in Croatia. There is no Visa requirement for Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia, Herzogovina, and Montenegro for stays up to three months. Any further information please contact our office.

Travelling to Antarctica

Travel tips for Antarctica

Argentina for Australians

Reciprocity Fee for Australians travelling to Argentina. Australian Nationals will be required to obtain and pre-pay Argentina’s Reciprocity Fee online and is mandatory. You will need to show proof upon entering Argentina, or you will be turned away. You can pay your reciprocity fee online by visiting either of these website: www.migraciones.gov.ar or www.provinciapagos.com.ar/dnm/.

Chile for Australians

Australian Nationals require a Tourist Card to enter Chile. This is obtained on arrival, for a fee of US$95 payable locally.

Currency recommendations

There is no Antarctic currency. However, if you visit Port Lockroy in the Antarctic Peninsula, US dollars, Pound Sterling and Euro are accepted, as are Visa and MasterCard. Your transaction will be charged in US dollars.  Onboard purchases made during your voyage (shop, laundry, communications charges, drinks, etc.), will require your signature. This will be charged automatically to your cabin and at the end of your voyage you will receive an invoice. Most ships will accept all Mastercard and Visa major credit cards, US dollars or Euro cash. Please contact Antarctic Travel Specialists for currency accepted on the cruise and ship that you have booked on.

Insurance

Travel insurance is mandatory. You must be covered in case of a medical evacuation

Onboard medical care and facilities

Your ship will have a doctor onboard. There is also a medical clinic that is stocked with a supply of common prescription medicines and basic first aid equipment. If you take regular medication please bring a sufficient supply of the medicine for the duration of the cruise.

Photography considerations

If you are using a digital camera bring plenty of memory cards. Don’t forget to take spare batteries, since cold temperatures reduce their life span considerably. If you can bring two cameras & lenses from 28 mm to 200 mm telephoto, or, if you have one, a 500 mm lens for close ups. Don’t forget a wide-angle lens to capture the real expanse of this unique continent.
When photographing, do not approach wildlife. Always respect the minimum distance of 5 meters, and get close via a zoom lens. Be aware that Antarctic conditions can be very harsh on camera equipment. Carry plenty of protection for your camera against salt spray, snow, and rain. Please bring sealable cases, waterproof day packs or ‘dry bags.’ DO NOT bring lightweight plastic or rubbish bags as these can be easily blown away and are contrary to our environmental obligation under the Antarctic Treaty.

Seasickness (Antarctic)

Everyone reacts differently to sea conditions whether during the crossing of the infamous Drake Passage to Antarctica, or even during calmer seas. We advise that you come prepared. Ask your doctor to prescribe an appropriate seasickness medicine for you. Before you leave home please read your dosage instructions as most preventative seasickness medicine must be ingested ahead of time, while you are still feeling well. Be sure to bring enough medication for the duration of your voyage.

Suggested clothing List

While cruising in Antarctica excursions are by Zodiac (both cruising and as a means to shore landings) and on foot so it’s important to have a waterproof outer layer, that includes waterproof pants, gloves and hat. Some cruise companies provide a waterproof parka and waterproof expedition boots for the duration of your voyage. Please check with Antarctic Travel Specialists.

Thermal socks
Thermal underwear including sweatshirts and turtlenecks
Fleece jacket and trousers
Waterproof hooded parka
Insulated waterproof trousers
Thermal gloves or mittens
Polar cap, hat, or balaclava hood
Swimsuit (for possible hot spring dips)
Comfortable clothes to wear on board (temperature 20°-22°C or 68-72F)
Comfortable rubber-soled shoes to wear onboard
Small backpack to carry your belongings on shore excursions
Good quality UV filtering sunglasses are essential
Sun block – (protection factor 30 and above) and lip balm

Tipping / Gratuities

Tipping is not compulsory. If however you want to tip because you have received good service, we recommend US$10-12 per passenger, per day that you are on the ship. Tipping is best in US Dollar cash.

Weather conditions

The Antarctic weather is always an unknown factor and is usually very changeable. Temperatures can be cold, though not perhaps as cold as you might expect. On calm sunny days it can feel quite warm. But wet, windy weather must also be expected. During the summer months (October to March) the temperature can range from -2° to 8°. Big storms are rare, but if one comes through the temperature could drop to -8°.

Wildlife and safety when in Antarctica

An overriding concern is the protection of the wildlife, environment and cultures in all areas visited. We will address conservation issues in the on board briefings and the expedition staff will assist you ashore. Most important rules are: Do not leave anything but footprints and do not take anything but memories.

Passport and Visa requirements for Antarctica

Although there is no visa requirements for Antarctica, to arrive in Antarctica you will need to travel through Argentina or Chile in South America. All passengers are responsible for obtaining all necessary passport and visas prior to the departure of your voyage.  You must have a valid passport to participate on all expeditions. Your passport must be valid for at least six (6) months beyond the return date of your expedition.

Travelling to Argentina - South America

Travel tips for Argentina

Argentine Souveneirs

Argentine quality items include leather goods, woven and knitted garments, silverware and wine. Excellent quality and original designs can be found: shoes, purses, jackets, handbags, and wallets. Craft industry (pottery, masks and cloth, wall hangings), mostly bought in the North are also good options. Mate is a traditional drink in Argentina, made by an infusion of dried leaves of yerba mate. It is drunk in a hollow gourd with a “Bombilla”, a special metallic drinking straw, as well as great Malbec wine from Mendoza area or a Torrontes wine from the Northwest.

Climate in Argentina

Argentina is a country that you can travel in all year round. The best time to visit Buenos Aires is in spring (September through November), when the jacarandas are in bloom and temperatures are blissfully cool, and in autumn (March through May). Summer (December through February) in the capital can be hot and humid. Mendoza, Córdoba and the Lake District are all spectacular in autumn: the leaves put on an epic display, temperatures are comfortable and the crowds are thin. The best time to go to Patagonia is when the weather’s milder (September through April). Northern Argentina can be brutally hot in summer and is best visited in spring, winter (June through August) and autumn.

Clothing to pack for Argentina

The perfect outfit depends on the destination: visitors of Patagonia or Tierra del Fuego should use regular outdoor wear, protecting against the wind and rain; visitors at the coast and of the tropical regions should use summer clothes, in the Northwest one should be prepared for the changes of temperature from day to night.

Electricity Voltage in Argentina

The Electricity voltage in Argentina is 220V alternating current, it is recommendable to bring a multi-adapter.

Food and Drink in Argentina

The specialty as such is Argentinean beef, which is prepared on an open fire, the “asado”, usually accompanied with sausages and different pieces of meat. Further specialties are the famous Empanadas, stuffed pastry, and diverse regional specialties in the North. All over the country you will be served excellent Italian food, inclusive of the Italian ice cream. Lovers of candies will like the typical Argentinean “alfajores”, biscuits stuffed with dulce de leche, a caramel cream, and a flan, a thick custard-based dessert flavoured with caramel. As is known, Argentinean wine is excellent and the mate tea is the national drink – Argentineans drink their mate everywhere and always, it is made of yerba herbs and drunk with the bombilla, a pipette, out of the mate receptacle.

Health and Vaccinations

Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador (Galapagos), Uruguay, Paraguay, Peru & Venezuela.

Yellow Fever: Compulsory for Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru or Venezuela, Argentina.

Typhoid: Strongly recommended.

Malaria Tablets: Strongly recommended.

Diphtheria, Tetanus & Polio: If you have not had these vaccinations within the last 10 years they should be updated.

Hepatitis A: Strongly recommended.

Rabies: Strongly considered.

Please contact your doctor for up to date requirements.

Shopping Hours in Argentina

The opening hours are not regulated by law. Banks are open from Monday till Friday, 1000 – 1400 hours, shops between 0900 – 1930 hours and on Saturdays from 0900 – 1400 hours. During the siesta, around 1300 – 1700 hours many shops are closed. Big supermarkets and shopping malls are often as well open on Saturdays and Sundays, during the whole day.

Spanish Language Basics
English Spanish Pronunciation
Hello Hola Ola
Goodbye Adios Addy-os
Please Por favor Por fah vohr
Thank you Gracias Grah see us
Yes Si See
No No No
My name is Mi nombre es Mee nombre es
How much is Cuento cuesta Kwanto kwesta
Where is Donde esta Donday esta
Do you speak English? Usted habla ingles? Oo ste hub la in glays
I don’t understand No entiendo No in tee endo
I need a Doctor Neecsit a un doctor Nece-site a un doctor
One, two, three, four, five Uno, dos, tres, cuatro, cinco Oono, does, tres, kwatro, sinko
Passport and Visa requirements for Argentina

For Australian passengers also travelling to Argentina, you are required to pay a Reciprocity Fee. The reciprocity fee payment must be done in advance of your arrival into Argentina. The Reciprocity rates are USD$100 for Australians.
How to pay the reciprocity fee on-line:

1) Enter the web site www.migraciones.gov.ar or www.provinciapagos.com.ar then click on
“Aboná la Tasa de Reciprocidad”, followed by “Pay Immigration Rates”. Register your passport
digit details to start the process.

2) Complete the form with the corresponding personal and credit card information.

3) Print the payment receipt.

4) On arrival in Argentina, this printed receipt must be presented at Immigration Control. The
receipt will be scanned by the Immigration officials, the information will be checked, and the
traveller’s entry to the country registered.

Travelling to Bolivia - South America

Travel tips for Bolivia

Bolivian Souveniers

Authentic artefacts can be bought in local markets and shops such as weavings, woodwork and ceramics Leather, and hammocks.

Climate in Bolivia

The best time to travel in the highlands is during the dry season, (April to October), this is the cooler winter period. In the southern altiplano the sky will be blue but it will be very cold, dropping to many degrees below freezing at night. For most trips the dry season is best because the weather is stable and the roads are in good condition. The summer rainy season from November to March can cause transport problems in the highlands, while the eastern lowlands are warm and steamy year-round. Depending on your activity and region you are traveling to, weather, road or river conditions may warrant travel only during certain seasons.

Clothing to pack for Bolivia

Light informal clothing is worn all year round and for most activities. Exceptions are the winter season in the Southern areas, where warmer clothes are necessary, and dinner in the more sophisticated restaurants where formal clothing is expected. Those intending to stay in Amazon-Jungle or Pantanal- Marshlands lodges should pack light comfortable clothes, hat, swimsuit, long sleeve shirts, rain coat, sunglasses, suntan lotion, binoculars and a torch.

Currency recommendations for Bolivia

The Bolivian currency is the Boliviano. Bills come in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200 bolivianos; in coins of 1, 2 and 5 bolivianos, and in 10, 20, and 50 Bolivian cents. There are banks and exchange booths within the airport where you can exchange your currency for bolivianos. Automatic Teller Machines (ATM) are found in Bolivia’s main cities. The most widely accepted credit cards in Bolivia are American Express, Visa, and Master Card. Foreign currencies, in cash and travellers cheques, can be exchanged in banks, “casas de cambio” (exchange booths or stores) and hotels. The majority of transactions that take place are with American dollars and Euros, although in some places transactions are also done with less common foreign currency.

Electricity Voltage in Bolivia

Voltage in some parts of the country is 110 volts, and 220 volts in some others. Major hotels have double
voltage. Please pack a converter and an adaptor.

Food and Drink in Bolivia

Bolivian cuisine stems mainly from the combination of Spanish cuisine with traditional Indigenous Aymara ingredients, with later influences from the Europeans. The three traditional staples of Bolivian cuisine are corn, potatoes, and beans. These ingredients have been combined with a number of staples brought by the Spanish, such as rice, wheat, and meat, such as beef, pork, and chicken. Almuerzo is the most important meal of the Bolivian day, so much so that daily life tends to revolve around it. Long lunches are traditional throughout the country, so businesses and shops often close for lunch. A typical Bolivian lunch would consist of several courses, including a soup, a main course of meat, rice, and potatoes, then a dessert and coffee and traditionally followed by a siesta.

Language in Bolivia

The official language in Bolivia is Spanish, but Aymara, Quechua and Guarani are also spoken. In addition to this, there are different linguistic groups throughout the various regions of Bolivia. The aborigines that inhabit Bolivian territory have different physical characteristics and other defining traits such as language structure that have traditionally classified them into three groups: Andino, Tupi Guarani, and Araguaco or Arawacan.

Passport and Visa requirements for Bolivia

A passport valid for at least six months beyond the intended length of stay in Bolovia is required by all Nationals.

Ensure you have at least one blank page for stamps before travelling.

Visas are not required by Australian, British, Canadian, and most EU nationals when travelling for touristic purposes. You will be granted an initial 30 day stay which you can extend for a further 60 days.

Shopping Hours in Bolivia

In general shopping hours are from 0900am to 1200pm, then siesta for two hours and resume from 1400pm to 1900pm. Many businesses open earlier and stay open later. Banks in general open from 0900am to 1200pm and from 1430pm to 1700pm and some open on Saturdays from 0930am to 1200pm.

Travelling to Brazil - South America

Travel tips for Brazil

Brazilian Souveniers

Brazil offers a wide range of shopping options, from handicrafts to sophisticated clothing as well as beautifully designed jewellery, with coloured precious stones.

Climate in Brazil

Brazil’s high season runs from December to March. Brazil’s low season runs from May to September. During the summer, which runs from December to February, Rio and the Northeast have temperatures in the high 30s. The rest of the year temperatures are generally in the mid-20s to low 30s. The south has wider temperature variations, ranging from 15°C in the winter (June through August) to 35°C in the summer. The Amazon region rarely gets hotter than 27°C, but it is humid there, with considerable rainfall over tropical Amazonia. In some parts of the North, December to March is considered winter, since that’s the rainiest season. The Amazon and the Pantanal are best from June to August, when it’s drier.

Clothing to pack for Brazil

Light informal clothing is worn all year round and for most activities. Exceptions are the winter season in the Southern areas, where warmer clothes are necessary, and dinner in the more sophisticated restaurants where formal clothing is expected. Those intending to stay in Amazon-Jungle or Pantanal Marshlands lodges should pack light comfortable clothes, hat, swimsuit, long sleeve shirts, rain coat, sunglasses, suntan lotion, binoculars and a torch.

Currency recommendations for Brazil

Brazilian currency is Real (R$). It is pegged to the American Dollar and fluctuates at regular intervals. Dollar cash is broadly accepted. Internationally known credit-cards are accepted at most large establishments. Banks, hotel cashiers and “cambio” shops exchange dollars and other major currencies.

Electricity Voltage in Brazil

Voltage in some parts of the country is 110 volts, and 220 volts in some others. Major hotels have double voltage. Please pack a converter and an adaptor.

Food and Drink in Brazil

Brazil is a gourmet’s paradise. Each region in Brazil features many savoury typical dishes, always made with very fresh raw materials. International cuisine is found all over the country, simple or sophisticated, but always very tasty and fresh. Fruits are a must in the country, of most various kinds, due to the climatic diversity of the continent-sized territory, from the ones typical of cold regions to the most colourful, tasty and sweet tropical fruits used in juices, ice-cream and desserts, or enjoyed in their natural form. Brazilian beverages are fruit juices, guarana (a soft drink made out of an Amazonian fruit). Caipirinhas is made with sugar, lime, and cachaça (a spirit fermented from sugarcane juice), and lots of crushed ice.

Language in Brazil

Brazilians speak Portuguese with a softer accent and some differences in vocabulary from the language spoken in Portugal. There are no dialects in Brazil, just some differences in intonation and vocabulary from region to region. Spanish and English is well understood throughout Brazil.

Passport and Visa requirements for Brazil

Australian Nationals do require a visa to enter Brazil. This visa must be prearranged prior to departure and can take up to 20 working days plus delivery to process.

Clients living in Australian Capital Territory (ACT), Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and Western Australia need to apply for their visa directly with the Embassy of the Federative Republic of Brazil in Canberra. Please visit www.brazil.org.au for all the relevant information and fees.

Clients living in New South Wales, Queensland and Northern Territory need to apply for their visa directly with the Consulate General of Brazil in Sydney. Please visit http://sydney.itamaraty.gov.br/en- s/ for all the relevant information and fees.

Shopping Hours in Brazil

Shops are open six days a week: stores are usually open on weekdays from 9 to 6:30 and Saturdays from 9 to 1; many are closed on Sundays. Mall hours are generally weekdays and Saturdays from 10 am to 10pm; some malls only open on Sundays around 2 pm.

Travelling to Chile - South America

Travel Tips for Chile

Chilean Souveneirs

The south of Chile is sheep country, and the rustic look of the knitted items from the island of Chiloé are popular gifts. Terracotta, earthenware crockery for cooking. Lapis Lazuli, the distinctive blue stone found in Chile often made into jewellery with silver. Copper is very important to the Chilean economy, and while most of it is exported, this art form often takes the shape of plates designed as hangings.

Climate in Chile

In general, the spring and summer seasons in the Southern Hemisphere (October-March) are characterized by long days when weather is warmer and drier. The climate in Patagonia is similar Tasmania; in the summer you can expect some warm sunny weather, as well as cold, rainy and windy days. Geographical diversity throughout the rest of Chile gives rise to several distinct climatic regions with wide extremes of temperature, sunlight and rainfall. Although the season for adventure travel in Patagonia is limited, you can travel in many areas of northern Chile throughout the year. The prime season in Patagonia is October-March when average daytime highs range from 18°C in the sun to low 4°C. Night temperatures are typically in the mid to upper -1°C but occasionally -7°C.  The weather is extremely erratic in Patagonia. It varies from warm sunshine to drizzle, rain and/or sleet in a matter of minutes and returning to sunshine just as quickly. Wind is a constant factor ranging from strong breezes of 24-32km/h to gale forces up to 96km/h. Clothing should be adaptable outdoor gear. The climate in Santiago is temperate and moderated by maritime air. Expect warm sunny days during summer (21-27°C in Dec-Mar) and cool cloudy weather in winter (10°C in June-August). The Andes region including the Lakes District from Puerto Montt to Bariloche (Argentina) has a cool mountain climate from October to April (10-13°C). The high Andes region of northern Chile is typically dry and clear especially in May-September. The Atacama Desert of northern Chile is always dry and suitable all year round.

Clothing to pack for Chile

The perfect outfit depends on the destination: visitors to Atacama, Chile Patagonia or the Lakes District should use regular outdoor wear, protecting against the wind and rain; visitors to Santiago and the coast should use summer clothes but be prepared for the changes of temperature from day to night.

Electricity Voltage in Chile

220V alternating current, it is recommendable to bring a multi-adapter.

Food and Drink in Chile

Chile has a distinctive cuisine, one in which the influences of Europe and indigenous traditions are both prominent. Chile is known for its fantastic seafood along the coastal regions, grilled meats, stews and soups in the Patagonian region, and the staple snack is empanadas, corn, beans, and potatoes.  Chile produces excellent wines such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Carmenere.

Passports and Visas for Chile

Australian Nationals require a Tourist Card to enter Chile. This is obtained on arrival, for a fee of US $118 payable locally.

Shopping Hours in Chile

The opening hours are not regulated by law. Banks are open from Monday till Friday, 1000 – 1400 hours, shops between 0900 – 1930 hours and on Saturdays from 0900 – 1400 hours. During the siesta, around 1300 – 1700 hours many shops are closed. Big supermarkets and shopping malls are often as well open on Saturdays and Sundays, during the whole day.

Travelling to Colombia - South America

Travel tips for Colombia

Climate in Colombia

Colombia has a variety of climates according to the altitudes:

The Pacific Region, the Caribbean Islands San Andres & Providencia, Cartagena, Santa

Marta, Mompox, Cali, Neiva and Leticia are the hot areas and are below 1000 metres above sea level. The average temperatures is 28-35°C.

Villa de Leyva, Barichara, Medellin, Pereira, Armenia, Manizales, Popayan, San Agustin are in the temperate areas and are between 1000 -2300 metres. The average temperature is 23-26°C.

Bogota, Zipaquirá, Tunja, Pasto are in the cool areas and are between 2300 – 3500 metres. The average temperature is 8-18°C.

October till March is a great time to travel. In the subtropical regions from May till September.

Clothing to pack for Colombia

The perfect outfit depends on the destination: visitors should use regular outdoor clothing, protecting against the wind and rain; visitors at the coast and of the tropical regions should take summer clothes, in the temperate areas one should be prepared for the changes of climate from day to night. In the bigger cities it is recommendable to wear more formal clothes, especially when visiting fine restaurants or events.

Colombian Souveneirs

Leather goods, craft industry (pottery, masks and cloth, wall hangings and bags).

Electricity Voltage in Colombia

110V alternating current, it is recommendable to bring a multi-adapter.

Food and Drink in Colombia

The most popular dishes of Colombia’s cuisine, influenced heavily by the Spanish and Indigenous populations are Ajiaco, Bandeja Paisa and Arecos.

Passports and Visas for Colombia

Australian Nationals don’t require a visa to enter Colombia for stays of less than 90 days for tourism purposes.

  • Hold a passport valid at least six months on entry with two blank visa pages
  • Hold proof of onward/return flights
Shopping Hours in Colombia

Shops are generally open from 9:00 am – 19:00 pm. Supermarkets and shopping malls to 20:00 pm except on Mondays shops are closed or open as of 10am. Banks open from Monday to Friday from 10:00 am to 16:00 pm.

Travelling to Cuba - South America

Travel tips for Cuba

Cameras and Batteries in Cuba

Films for cameras are expensive so make sure you take plenty of film with you.  Batteries are expensive and hard to get, so make sure you have plenty of spares for the likes of your cameras, MP3, Ipod etc.  An underwater disposable camera is one of my ‘musts’, you can get some fabulous pictures of the coral and fish.  If you have a digital or video camera – remember to pack your chargers

Climate in Cuba

Most of Cuba is tropical and warm, permanently humid, with sea breezes. Due to Cuba’s location close to the Tropic of Cancer, Cuba is sunny throughout the whole year. Temperatures are generally high. The annual average temperature ranges from 24 ºC to 26 ºC in the plains, and higher on the east coast with the west coast a fraction cooler. In the mountains, the average temperature is under 20 ºC. The highest temperature ever reached was in 38.6 ºC in Guantanamo (1969), and 0.6 ºC in Bainoa (1996). November to April is the dry season, which is Cuba’s winter. May to October is summer and this is when Cuba experiences hurricanes and large waves along the coastline. The temperature is high and 80% of the country’s annual rainfall happens during these months. During summer, most of the rains and inclement weather occur in the afternoon and usually for short periods of time. When there is a hurricane, cold front, or tropical waves predicted, everyone, including tourists, will be advised well in advance and preparations are made for everyone’s safety. The relative humidity is close to 80% on average, with 90% at sunrise, and 50-60% at midday. The most humid areas are the western and central regions, and the mountain territories. No matter what time of year you travel to Cuba, it is suggested you have a raincoat handy and wear cotton clothes for comfort like the locals do.

Clothing to pack for Cuba

You should only ever need usual summer attire, but in the months of Nov/Dec through to March/April you may find that a thin/lightweight long-sleeved top, cardigan or sweat top may be useful for a chillier evening – you will most certainly want a sweater on the flight home, the planes can be quite chilly after the hot Cuban climate. Take plenty of sunscreen, various factors and after-sun.

Currency recommendations for Cuba

Cuba has two official currencies: the Cuban convertible peso (CUC) and the national peso (moneda nacional or MN). Transactions involving foreigners almost always take place in Cuban convertible peso. When receiving change after a transaction, be aware that the national peso is worth substantially less than the Cuban convertible peso. Australian dollars cannot be exchanged in Cuba. The US dollar is not accepted as legal tender in Cuba, and attracts a large commission fee at exchange. Australian travellers often experience problems accessing funds in Cuba. To avoid being caught without money in Cuba, you should ensure you have a variety of ways of accessing your money. Do not rely on one source of funds. Credit cards, debit cards and travellers’ cheques are not accepted in Cuba if issued by US banks or Australian banks affiliated with US banks. This includes all American Express cards, and Visa and Mastercard cards depending on the issuing bank. Westpac Bank cards are not accepted in Cuba

Electricity Voltage in Cuba

You will find a mix of electrical currents and plug types used in Cuba. Around 90% of the hotels use a 110-volt current with standard U.S.-style two- or three-prong outlets. However, some outlets are rated 220 volts, particularly in hotels that cater to European clientele.

Food and Drink in Cuba

With a shortage of fresh ingredients and limited access to imported goods, Cuban food is bland, heavy on meat and carbs. Fortunately, dining is cheap. You’ll eat heartily, if not well, for about $10 a meal, though vegetarians or those with special dietary requirements may struggle. The most innovative cuisine is served in private dining rooms, called paladars, or in the kitchens of the casa particulares, which will whip up anything from the Cuban staple of pork, beans and rice, to lobster thermidor for between $7 and $12. Do not drink tap water and only drink bottled water.

Shopping in Cuba

Cuba makes the world’s finest cigars. Buy the real thing at factories such as Real Fábrica de Tabacos Partagás in Havana, which also sells fabulously ornate cigar boxes. Other official outlets called Casas del Habano sell authentic wares as well. Cigars from street vendors will probably be fakes or factory rejects.

Tipping in Cuba

Although Cuba has tried to distance itself from American culture, tipping is not uncommon. It’s a good idea to carry coins to tip bathroom attendants. Viazul employees may also ask for a tip for looking after your luggage. Tipping in restaurants is at your discretion and there is no minimum amount expected.

Visas and Passports for Cuba

For Australian passengers also travelling to Cuba. You will need a visa to enter Cuba. A tourist card, which is considered a visa for entry for tourism purposes, can be obtained through your nearest Embassy or Consulate of Cuba.

Leaving the country
Remember to keep 25 CUCs spare for the airport when you fly home as you will have to pay an ‘exit tax’. At Havana airport you can pay the leaving fee at the bureau de change once you have checked in and before you clear customs. A stamp to confirm you have paid will be marked on your boarding card.

Travelling to Ecuador - South America

Travel tips for Ecuador

Climate in Ecuador

Ecuador has four areas for climatic conditions. Subtropical or even tropical climate is significant for the western slopes of the Andeans. The rainy season is between January and May and the dry season lasts from June to December. The average temperature amounts to 25-30°C. The climate of the mountain valleys of the Sierra is temperate and it mostly rains heavily in the afternoon and it is cold in the nights – e.g. Quito has an average temperature of 8-21°C. The eastern slopes and the jungle are humid and warm. The average temperature of the Galapagos Islands is between 25 and 30° with high humidity and sometimes heavy rain falls. The most favourable weather conditions for swimming is from November until April. For those who love hiking in the highlands should travel during the time from June to November. The best time to travel to regions nearby the Amazon is between August and May.

Clothing to pack for Ecuador

Due to different climate regions in Ecuador you should pack summer clothing as well as winter clothing. Be aware that the nights can get really cold. Those intending to stay in the Amazon Jungle or on the Galapagos islands should pack light comfortable clothes, hat, swimsuit, long sleeve shirts, knickers, raincoat, sunglasses and suntan lotion, binoculars and a torch. Additionally you should know that the Ecuadorians like to dress nicely when going out for dinner.

Currency recommendations for Ecuador

The currency of Ecuador is the US-dollar (US$) since 2000. Internationally known credit cards are accepted at most large establishments. Banks, hotel cashiers and money exchange shops exchange Euros and other major currencies. It is not recommended to exchange money in streets or non-authorized money exchange shops as there is a high risk of fraud. In the bigger cities you can find cash machines which accept international debit and credit cards.

Ecuadorian Souveniers

Ecuador is a real shopping paradise for the majority. It offers a wide range of handicraft especially in textiles and leather ware. Arts and crafts of Ecuador are promoted by the Government. Popular souvenirs are carpets or other textiles, blankets, hand-knitted clothes, ceramics, panama hats and jewellery. In Otavalo, located in the north of Quito, you should visit the famous Indigenous Market. It is popular for its local handicraft, jewellery, Alpaca etc. Furthermore you find not far away from Otavalo another small village called Cotacachi with many high qualitative and reasonable-priced leather wares. In addition, handmade carpets, panama hats, wood carved products, ceramic, gold, silver, and baskets are popular products made in Ecuador.

Electricity Voltage in Ecuador

Usually Ecuador has a voltage of 110V alternating current. Some major hotels may also have double voltage, bring your own multi adapter and or converter.

Food and Drink in Ecuador

Due to the country´s rich geographic diversity, the Ecuadorian cuisine is multi-faceted. A wide range of exotic fruits, fresh seafood and traditional dishes can be found. Basic food ingredients, especially in the highlands are corn and potatoes. Fish, seafood and rice are favourites on the coast. Meat comes from cattle, pigs, goats, mutton or chicken. A typical dessert is the “Torta de maqueño”, a banana cake. If you love spicy food you can always find some “ají” (chilly) on the table of nearly every restaurant to spice up your food. Also experimental gourmets will benefit from travelling in Ecuador: cuy (guinea pig) is just one example of Ecuador´s specialties. Homemade fruit juices and beer are cheap alternatives to quench your thirst.

Language in Ecuador

Ecuadorians speak Spanish with differences in vocabulary from the Spanish spoken in Spain. However accents and differences in notation exist throughout the country. Quechua language can still be heard in the countryside. It is a colloquial language and is a collection for people belonging to indigenous ethic groups. English is spoken in the tourism areas.

Shopping Hours in Ecuador

Opening hours for shops are Mon-Fri 9:00am – 1:00pm and 3:00pm -7:00pm; Sat 9:00am – 1:00pm. Most supermarkets do not close before 8:00pm and are also open on Sundays. Banks open from Mon-Fri 9:00am – 3:00pm.

Visas and Passports for Ecuador

Australian Nationals don’t require a visa to enter Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands for stays of less than 90 days for tourism purposes.  USD$100 per person (Paid locally) National Park fee applies for people going to the Galapagos Island and a USD$20 per person (paid locally) Transit Card fee applies at the Airport for passengers going to the Galapagos Island

Travelling to Mexico - South America

Travel tips for Mexico

Climate in Mexico

The climate of Mexico varies according to altitude. From desert-like regions on the northwest part of the country, the low-lying coastal areas are typically tropical, hot and humid. The weather in Mexico City, which is sited at an altitude of 2,300 metres above sea level, is far more moderate. Mexico City has pleasant summers and mild winters, with an annual average temperature of 18 degrees Celsius. Also, northern Mexico gets very hot during the summer with sudden violent storms in the afternoon, with heavy rain and hail, also an isolated tornado can occur with these storm.

Seasonal variations in temperature are small, but May is the warmest month of the year, and January the coldest, when night frosts are possible. Mexico City has a high average annual monthly rainfall, most falling in summer, the wettest month being July, and the driest month February. During hurricane season, hurricanes are common in the coastal cities specially those near the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico.

Best Travel Time

December to April are the driest months over most of Mexico and the hot sunny days are the most popular time of year for tourism. During these months Christmas and Easter are Mexican holiday times, with transportation and coastal accommodations very busy.

July and August are holiday times for many Mexicans and foreigners. Temperatures are hot almost everywhere and very wet on the Pacific coast.

May, June, September and October are the least popular months to travel. September is the heart of the hurricane season, which doesn’t always bring hurricanes but does bring heavy rains on the Gulf and Pacific coasts.

Clothing to pack for Mexico

In Mexico the perfect outfit depends on the destination: During city touring you can find yourself doing a lot of walking so bring a comfortable pair of walking shoes. There are plenty of bars and restaurants so pack for evenings out too. For safety keep your belongings close to you, a messenger bag is a good idea. Visitors at the coast and of the tropical regions should pack summer clothes and of course swimmers. It’s always useful to carry a small first aid kit which includes insect repellent and sunscreen.

Electricity Voltage in Mexico

220V alternating current, it is recommendable to bring a multi-adapter.

Health and Vaccinations for Mexico

Typhoid: Strongly recommended.

Malaria Tablets: Strongly recommended.

Diphtheria, Tetanus & Polio: If you have not had these vaccinations within the last 10 years they should be updated.

Hepatitis A: Strongly recommended.

Rabies: Strongly considered.

Please contact your doctor for up to date requirements.

Shopping Hours in Mexico

Shopping hours in big towns and cities start at around 10 or 11 am, and continues through to between 8 and 10 pm. Shops in cities and big towns are open 7 days a week; smaller places may close on Sundays, except tourist spots at high season. Christmas & Easter public holidays are observed; on other public holidays you’ll find most things open in cities and bigger towns and tourist spots. Smaller towns will have more limited opening hours, and in hotter, non-tourist regions may close between 2 and 4pm; check locally.

Visas and Passports for Mexico

Australian passport holders are not required to purchase a visa for entry into Mexico for a stay of up to 180 days. The traveller must:

– Hold a passport valid at least six months on entry with two blank visa pages

– Hold proof of sufficient funds

– Hold proof of onward/return flights

– Hold all documents required for the next destination

– Confirm with their airline that boarding will be permitted without a visa

Travelling to Peru - South America

Travel tips for Peru

Climate in Peru

There are two main seasons in Peru – the wet season and the dry season – and three main climatic zones: the tropical Amazon jungle in the east; the arid coastal desert to the west; and the Andean mountains and highlands in the middle of the country. Essentially, while the weather varies from region to region the temperature is mostly influenced by elevation: the higher you go the cooler the weather.

Rain is common year-round in the Amazon rainforest, however the wettest months are mid- November to March and even in the wet season it only rains for a few hours at a time. The rainforest also enjoys quite hot weather ranging from 26°C to 40°C, with the cooler months from April to November.

The coastal region is where the locals head during the hottest months from mid-November through to the end of March. Rain is most likely to fall along the coast between June and October, however is infrequent. The cold weather along the coast generally lasts from the middle of April until November. Temperatures along the coast are pleasant (14°C to 28°C).

The highlands are cool, averaging between 9°C and 18°C because of the altitude, but can be visited year round even during the wet season which falls between December and March.

Clothing to pack for Peru

For Lima and the coast area bring summer clothes for the warmer months and a thin sweater or coat for fresh evenings. For the Amazon region (Puerto Maldonado/Iquitos), long-sleeved light clothing preferably cotton, raincoats, tight shoes, hat and sunglasses as well as sun protection are appropriate during the whole year. During the stay in the highlands (Cusco/Puno/Andes), you should bring warm clothes including a fleece jacket, hat and sunglasses as well as sun protection and also medicaments against altitude sickness.

Currency recommendations for Peru

Peru’s official currency is the Nuevo Sol. Currency can be exchanged at all banks and casas de cambio (foreign exchange houses), and at most hotels, restaurants and shops. US dollars are the easiest currency to exchange and many restaurants, hotels and shops in the main cities will accept US dollars for payment. It is recommended you avoid accepting torn money as it may not be accepted again when you go to spend it.

Major credit cards (Visa, Master Card, Diners and American Express) are accepted, however, Visa is the most widely recognised.

Cajeros automáticos (ATMs) are also available throughout Peru, so long as you have a four- digit PIN to access your account.

Travellers Cheques (cheques de viajero) can be exchanged in major cities but it may be more difficult in small towns and villages.

Electricity Voltage in Peru

The electrical current is 220 volts, 60Hz with a two-pin, flat blade and round plugs are standard. Most 4 and 5-star hotels have outlets equipped for 110 volts. It is recommendable to bring an adapter.

Food and Drink in Peru

The authentic local dishes of Peru are the national dish, “ceviche”, raw fish with lemon juice and onions.

“Anticuchos” (beef skewers), “Rocoto Relleno” (stuffed, tasty peppers) and “La Ocopa”, cooked potatoes accompanied by a sauce made of cheese and nuts. Another local speciality is “cuy” (guinea pig). Lovers of sweets should try the “Mazamorra morada” (thick custard-based dessert made of maize) or “Picarones” (Peruvian doughnuts).

Pisco Sour

Pisco is a clear spirit made from grapes, dating back to the 16 century when the Spaniards brought the grape to the Peruvian region from Europe. The King of Spain banned wine in the 17th century and the locals, not wanting to go thirsty, created a different kind of alcohol from the grape. Pisco is mixed with lemon or lime juice, egg whites, sugar syrup and bitters to make a refreshing drink called Pisco Sour.

Peruvian Local Customs

Do not take photographs of anything to do with the military. Visitors should avoid wearing any native Indian clothing as this will be seen as insulting, regardless of intention.

Peruvian Souveneirs

Peru is famous for its ceramic products. Crafts, as well as textiles such as scarves, ponchos, cushions or belts, bags and tapestry are characterized by the topical regional patterns. Furthermore, silver jewellery is cheap. Best places to go shopping are the traditional Indian markets as well as specialized shops.

Shopping Hours in Peru

Business hours can vary but are usually from 9am to 6pm Monday to Friday. Banks and selected businesses open until 12noon on Saturdays. Some businesses can close for siesta from 1pm to 3pm. Most shopping centres and markets are open seven days a week (including holidays) from 9am to 8pm. While prices in major stores are fixed it is acceptable to bargain with street, market and beach vendors on the price articles.

Visas and Passports for Peru

Australian Nationals don’t require a visa to enter Peru for stays of less than 90 days for tourism purposes.

Travelling to Uruguay - South America

Travel tips for Uruguay

Climate in Uruguay

The climate of Uruguay is humid subtropical. It is fairly uniform nationwide, since the country is located entirely within the temperate zone. Seasonal variations are pronounced, but extremes in temperature are rare.

Currency recommendations in Uruguay

Uruguay official currency is the Uruguayan Peso. Currency can be exchanged at all banks and casas de cambio (foreign exchange houses), and at most hotels, restaurants and shops. US dollars are the easiest currency to exchange and many restaurants, hotels and shops in the main cities may accept US dollars for payment. It is recommended you avoid accepting torn money as it may not be accepted again when you go to spend it.

Major credit cards (Visa, Master Card, Diners and American Express) are accepted, however, Visa is the most widely recognised.

Electricity Voltage in Uruguay

220V alternating current, it is recommendable to bring a multi-adapter.

Food and Drink in Uruguay

The specialty as such is beef, which is prepared on an open fire, the “asado”, usually accompanied with sausages and different pieces of meat. Further specialties are the famous Empanadas, stuffed pastry, and diverse regional specialties in the North. All over the country you will be served excellent Italian food, inclusive of the Italian ice cream. Uruguay wine is also excellent and the mate tea is the national drink – Uruguayan drink their mate everywhere and always, it is made of yerba herbs and drunk with the bombilla, a pipette, out of the mate receptacle.

Health in Uruguay

Visit your health professional at least 4 to 6 weeks before your trip to check whether you need any vaccinations or other preventive measures. Medical and dental treatment is expensive in Uruguay. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation. If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 911 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.

Shopping Hours in Uruguay

Banks: 13:00 to 17:00, Monday to Friday (some open from 11:00)
Post Offices: 08:00 to 18:00, Monday to Friday
Government Offices: 07:00 to 14:30 (summer), 14:30 to 19:00 (winter), Monday to Friday
Business Centres: 09:00 to 19:00, Monday to Friday
Shops: 09:00 to 19:00, Monday to Friday; 09:30 to 13:00, Saturday (larger stores open later)