"Pretty amazing how much cheaper medical care is in South America."
By Gretchen Richter de Medeiros
Below are tables that detail our projected costs, actual costs, and the differences between the two. We saved a ton on transportation and lodging by opting out of renting a house in the Sacred Valley and instead staying in a travelers’ lodge in Ollantaytambo. There were two interesting ruins right in town, we could walk to the train for Machupicchu, and we spent some of our savings on a guide to drive us to Chinchero and Pisac. The five of us agree that our trip just wouldn’t have been as informative and wonderful without our guide, Isaias. We’d hire him again in a heartbeat! (Note, Isaias’s fee is included in Special Activities, which is why we went a little over in that category.)
Another savings note about lodging is that apartments in Lima and Cuzco were fully 50% cheaper than we’d guesstimated (about $500 per week instead of $1000)! Even though we had an unexpected hotel stay on our first night in Lima, our actuals still came out less than our projections.
Expenses in the Other category include laundry service, batteries, and souvenirs. The interesting thing about the souvenirs is that we ended up hauling them around the rest of South America for several weeks – we just didn’t take the time to find all the packing supplies and a post office that handled international packages until we arrived in Brazil. Since then, we have stopped buying things, instead we’re spending our money on experiences. Our visit to Machupicchu is captured under Special Activities. It worked out to be $1,050. This included round-trip train tickets from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes, round-trip bus tickets to the entrance of the ruins, a guide for 3 hours, and entrance fees.
Entertainment/Excursions/Education included things like the Boleto Turistico (a required passbook for the Inca sites throughout the Sacred Valley, does not include Machupicchu; $45 adult, $25 kids), and activities like a class at the Choco Museum ($122 for all of us), a bike tour of Lima (just the girls, $30 each), and a cooking lesson for Rodrigo and Marco ($143).
Finally, medical expenses. Marco and Bella both got sick on the plane from Seattle to Lima. To be honest, Marco started feeling unwell a few days before we left, but we thought we’d beaten his cold the day before our departure. It came back with a vengeance once on the plane. The $142 we spent included the clinic visit for each of them, plus two prescriptions per child. Pretty amazing how much cheaper medical care is in South America as compared to the USA!