Tag Archives: Budgeting

Peru: Budget & Other Numbers

I spent nearly six weeks in Peru, and right up to the day I arrived in Cusco, nearly five weeks in, it was on course to be my cheapest country yet. So what went wrong? Well, firstly, Cusco is quite expensive compared to other Peruvian cities, thanks to its popularity. Secondly, I was travelli ng with a friend on holiday from home, which always pushes costs up, as we had quite a different idea of what constitutes ‘cheap’. Finally, was the fact that I’d completely forgotten I hadn’t paid yet for a big chunk of the cost of the Inca Trail (turns out before I left I’d just paid a deposit. Whoops).

So in the end, I finished up over budget yet again. Not by loads, but still enough to be slightly annoying. Oh well, it was such good fun I can hardly complain.

So where did the overspend come from? Well, on the plus side, my spend on miscellaneous stuff (internet, laundry, stamps, purchases and so on) was the lowest yet. Transport and Food & drink were the second lowest (after Guatemala), and accommodation costs were significantly lower than in Mexico & Colombia. However those figures are slightly misleading, as 17 of my 40 days in Peru were spent on multiday hikes, where there we no food or accommodation costs. Take that into account, and my real daily accomodation cost would nearly double (although would still be cheaper than Mexico), and my food and drink costs would shoot up to being easily the most expensive I’ve had in Latin America. Need to watch those nice restaurants going forward.

Biggest single item by far was the cost of activities – because in Peru I did way more organised trips than before – 4 big hikes, a boat trip to the Islas Ballestas, sandboarding, flying over the Nazca lines, and visiting the floating islands. At over $24 a day, that’s nearly half my daily budget on its own. But I’m not going to compain – it was all worth it, and I suspect that I’ll be unlikley to do anywhere near as much of that sort of thing in any other country.

So on to the numbers themselves:
Transport: $4.49
Accommodation: $4.98
Activities: $24.12
Miscellaneous: $0.82
Food & Drink: $19.92
Total: $54.32

And of course, here’s how the rest of Peru shaped up in numbers terms:
Days: 40
Days hiking: 20
Days over 4000m: 12
Days over 5000m: 2
Nights in tents: 14
Nights on buses: 4
Nights in beds: 22
Buses: 16
Taxis: 18
Flights: 1
Boats: 3
Dune buggies: 1
Sandboards: 1
Sand dunes boarded down: 7
Churches: 6
Canyons: 1
Condors seen: Dozens
Hot Springs: 2
Laundry: 5
Postcards: 2
Phone calls: 5
Cash withdrawals: 16
Islands: 5
Museums: 2
Alpacas eaten: several
Guinea pigs eaten: none

and finally, the usual round up of people I hiked and had Pisco Sours with. Only new entry this time is for the Ukraine. Other than that, it’s the usual suspects at the top.
UK: 20
USA: 16
Germany: 13
Israel: 11
Peru: 8
Australia: 7
Ireland: 5
Switzerland: 4
Canada: 3
France: 3
Spain: 2
Ukraine: 1
Netherlands: 1
Brazil: 1
New Zealand: 1
Italy: 1
In terms of how that affects the overall ranking, the Brits are getting ever closer to overhauling the Americans at the top of the list, and since I’ve been in South America, the Germans, Israelis & Australians have gone up a fair bit, at the expense of Swiss & Canadians.

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Honduras Round-up & Budget

I’m not going to write a long post about my impressions of Honduras like I did for Mexico & Guatemala, as in my brief time in the country I didn’t get to see all that much and it’s hard to get a real feeling for a country based on just a couple of stops.

Sunset over Utila harbour

Sunset over Utila harbour

What I did see though I really liked. I was expecting it to be pretty similar to my previous stops, but it felt like the country had a very different vibe, a much more laid-back, tropical pace of life where no one ever seems to be in a hurry.

My first stop was Copan Ruinas, a little town near the border with Guatemala, most famous for its Mayan ruins, and in particular the intricately carved stelae that are dotted around between the pyramids. I’d love to show you photos, but after walking all the way from time I realised I’d forgotten to put the battery back in my camera after charging it. I won’t be making that mistake again.

Next stop was Utila, and after completing my dive course it was lovely to just spend a few days chilling out on the island. It’s a wonderfully relaxing place, which basically has just two real road on the whole island, and what little traffic there is consists of golf carts and quad bikes. No cruise ships visit the island, which helps preserve the tranquil air, and pretty much everyone on the island is there for one thing, which is pretty cool, as you immediately know you have something in common with everyone you meet, and everyone is always happy to chat about all the cool things they saw on the day’s dives. The island isn’t exactly famous for its beaches (especially compared to most Caribbean islands), but there are a couple of lovely little ones if you want to get away from the diving.

Utila beach

Utila beach

One of my other favourite things about Utila was the Jade Seahorse restaurant. With no guidebook I’d never heard about it before I got to the island, so when one night an English girl told me we had to go there because it’s one of the best bars in the entire world I was sceptical to say the least. Turns out I should learn to drop my natural cynicism from time to time. The whole place is a work of an American who spent eight years creating this little fantasy land out of broken bottles, sea shells, pieces of mirrors and any other junk he can find. The garden is laid out over several different levels, linked together by colourful staircases, little passageways, bridges and tunnels, all covered in a colourful mosaic of rubbish. Around the garden sit a few small similarly decorated cabins you can stay in, and at the top, suspended in the trees, is its bar, Treetanic. The whole place is captivatingly beautiful. It’s a really unique place, and I think the girl may have been right. Definitely one of the best in the world.

Jade Seahorse, Utila

Jade Seahorse, Utila

I definitely want to return to Honduras. I never got to explore the beautiful highlands to the south, which has some wonderful colonial towns and is the heartland of the country’s indigenous culture. The mosquitia (Mosquito Coast) area to the east of the country is supposed to be another highlight, one of the largest wildernesses of Central America.

There was one down side to Honduras though: it was my first budget fail. Diving may be cheaper in Honduras than most other places, but $269 for just four days is still way above budget. Add in the fact that Utila is an island where nothing grows and all the food has to be imported, and it means my food and drink budget ended up the highest yet.

In fact, I didn’t just go a little over, I went quite a bit over – $65.47 per day. Here’s how it broke down:
Transport:
Accommodation: $7.54
Diving & Copan ruins: $3.96
Internet & laundry:$5.47
Food & drink:$24.67

Luckily I was only there for 13 days, so my overall average stayed a fraction under $50 – but with the USA to come next I knew I was destined to end the first leg of my trip over budget.

And now the other numbers:
Taxis 5
Flight 1
Boats 7
Cars 1
Beaches 1
Bed 5
Laundry 1
Postcards 2
Phonecalls 2
Cash withdrawals 3
Islands 1
Museums 1
Pyramids 1
Tuktuks 1
Dives 6

People I dived & drunk with:
British 13 (for some reason Utila had easily the highest concentration of Brits I’ve seen so far)
Canadians 11
Americans 9
Germans 5
Australians 2
Irish 1
Israeli 1
Swiss 1
Dutch 1
Norwegian 1
Ecuadorian 1
Brazilian 1

Guatemala: Budget & Other Numbers

After narrowly scraping in under budget in Mexico, I was expecting Guatemala to be a hell of a lot cheaper.

In many ways it was – thanks to cheap chicken buses and short distances, I spent less than a fifth of what I had in Mexico on transport; similarly I was pleased to find that accommodation was much cheaper too.

Quetzales

Quetzales

Despite that, I still ended up far closer to my limit than I’d hoped, which is something I should have foreseen, for one main reason: my Spanish lessons. Coming in at $400 for two weeks, it accounted for 41% of my total spend and bumped my daily average up by nearly $20 per day. It was all worth it though, as it was the most fun I had in the country, and already it’s really helped me with my communication ever since.

The other surprise factor which is bound to affect any true Brit’s spending is the fact that beer is twice the price of that in Mexico. Now Gallo (the standard lager) and Moza (the delicious dark one) are good enough, but not really worth twice the price. Apparently the reason it’s so expensive is that the rich who dominate Guatemalan politics have ensured that income tax rates are among the lowest in the Americas, meaning the shortfall has to be made up with consumption taxes, which certainly hit the tourist harder.

Still, more expensive than I’d expected it may have been, but at least I still came in cheaper than Mexico. Total daily spend was $44.53, broken down as follows:
Transport – $2.38
Accommodation – $2.74
Activities (including the Spanish lessons and volcano hikes) – $19.46
Internet, laundry & postage – $1.64
Food & drink – $18.31

Other Numbers
Weird local gods paid homage to – 1
Hours of Spanish lessons – 40
Earthquakes felt – 1
Earthquakes slept through – 2
Active volcanoes climbed – 1
Buses – 13
Boat – 3
Cars – 2
Churches – 2
Beaches – 1
Beds – 6
Hot Springs – 1
Laundry – 3
Postcards – 2
Phone calls – 1
Cash withdrawals – 7
Museums – 1
Pyramids – 2
Tuktuks – 4
Kayaks – 1

People I studied & Salsa-ed with
Americans – 23
Canadians – 6
Guatemalans – 6
Brits – 3
Swiss – 3
Australians – 3 (at last)
French – 2
Belgians – 2
Mexicans – 1
Irish – 1
Germans -1
Kiwis – 1
Swedes – 1
South Africans – 1

Next stop: Honduras. And diving. Which is expensive.