Welcome to Travel Money Diaries - where we're uplifting the broader travel community by talking openly about money and travel! Each month travelers around the world will track and share how they spend (and save) their money during a 7-day period.
This week: Austrian web developer Clemens Paumgarten shares his week exploring south Peru and what happened when his laptop got stolen.
Name: Clemens Paumgarten
Industry: Web Development
Occupation: Web Developer / Unoccupied at the moment
Based In: Vienna, Austria
Currently: Traveling in South America (Chile and Peru)
Monthly Expenses in Austria
Housing Costs: $616. I share my apartment with a friend I met in college. We split the rent in half
Health Insurance: Uhmm, Europe :)
Subscriptions: Netflix $3.36, Spotify $11.20
Currency: Dollars calculated from Euros
Savings for my trip: $550 - $650 monthly
Day 1 Arica, Chile
8:00AM - I woke up pretty early today. I usually do not get up early easily especially not when traveling, even if I should because as I am coming more to the north of South America the days start early (at around 6ish) and end quite early (again 6ish PM). My plan for today is to cross the border to Peru and go to the second biggest Peruvian city, Arequipa, and meet some friends there. I packed my backpack, my second bag and my surf-bag to get ready. Luckily, I am staying with a family here so they cover the breakfast for me. Unluckily, however, Chileans do not really eat breakfast so it is just a small bowl of cereal and a banana for me - good enough. The father of the family gives me a ride to the bus terminal so I can also save on a taxi. Sounds ridiculous but Chile is a very expensive country (probably the most expensive in South America) so you can be happy for any saving. From the terminal in Arica my trip to Arequipa was supposed to be around 10 hours.
11:00AM - In the terminal I was looking for a collectivo (four man taxis) to Tacna - the first town right after the border to Peru. Even though this should be an easy task it is more difficult than expected. I go to the first agency that offered tickets to Tacna. As we talk the lady at the counter tells me that she also has tickets all the way to Arequipa. She assures me that she will deal with all the things on the way to Arequipa. I, knowing it is always a hustle traveling with your surfboard, think this is a good deal so I don’t have to worry about getting my board on the bus or taxi. So I buy the ticket for 15 0000 Chilean Pesos (about 22 Dollars). Bus-rides in Chile are generally quite cheap. Soon I realize this is not such a good deal as there is no taxi that wants to take me to the border with my surfboard. Also the woman at the desk abandoned me because she does not know what to do and instead cares for other guests - great deal I got there.
12:00PM - Still at the terminal as nobody wants to give me a ride. However, after a little more than an hour waiting and asking around another tourist tells me that there are also bigger buses going to Tacan (not only taxis) - why didn’t the woman from the agency tell me that? Ok, so I get on the next bus with the same ticket and finally head to Tacna.
1:00PM - After a short border control and an hour bus ride I arrive in Peru. At the terminal in Tacna a guy welcomes me and leads me to the next bus that goes straight to Peru. He gives me a little time to change my leftover Chilean Pesos to Peruvian Soles and then tells me to get on the bus since it is already waiting for me (last bus to Arequipa for this day!!!) - maybe not too bad of a service of the agency after all. On the bus I can buy a small lunch (two Empanadas and a bottle of water) for 5 soles (1.53$) - yaay Peru is way cheaper than Chile.
9:00PM - Finally arrived in Arequipa. From the bus terminal I take a taxi to the hostel where my friend is staying (thinking they had a bed left for me). The taxi costs me 15 Soles (4.59$) which is clearly a rip off as I found out later. Anyway, at the hostel they don’t have any beds left but another one close to it has some beds available for 16 Soles a night (4.89$) - which is a really good price compared to Chile.
9:30PM - I meet up with my friends, we have a great dinner for 6 Soles (1.83$) and plan a hike that we want to start the next day. Finally, we buy food for the hike (estimated for three days) for about 20 Soles each (6.12$) and then we all go to bed and get ready for the next day.
Daily Expenses $40.96
Day 2 - Arequipa to Cabanaconde, Peru
8:00AM - Again - early for me! We have to get up early because of our planned hike today to the Colca Canyon. We first have to take a bus ride that should take about 7 hours. So we decided to meet at the market of Arequipa and get some breakfast.
8:30AM - At the market we get a freshly pressed fruit-juice and two big chicken sandwiches for 16 Soles (4.89$) and then take a taxi to the Bus terminal again - this time only 4 Soles (1.22$).
9:00AM - At the bus terminal. By now we are a bigger group. A friend of mine from Austria, Fabian, three friends of his from Canada and another Australian friend I met in Chile, Hayden. We get the bus ticket to the town where the hike starts - 17 Soles (5.20$). Shortly later the bus leaves.
6:00PM - Wow. The bus ride was way longer than expected. We are tired and exhausted and there is no way we can start the hike today anymore. Luckily, there are some cheap hostels for 20 Soles (6.11$) with a extra dinner for 7 Soles (2.14$) so we start the hike the next day.
8:00PM - We are still not ready to go to bed so we buy some bottles of wine and play cards. The wine is 18 Soles (5.50$) a bottle and tastes like gummy bears. Don’t buy wine in Peru!
9:00PM - We are still not ready for bed but there is no point in staying up - long hike tomorrow, literally nothing in this town, and the wine is so sweet I think you get actually diabetes if you drink more than two glasses of it. If you have problems with getting too drunk come to Peru - I think you'd rather get drunk off pure grapes than off this wine. Oh well, good night!
Daily Expense: 82 Soles ($24.98)
Day 3 - Colca Canyon, Peru
6:30AM - Wtf, why do these day start earlier and earlier every time. We get up early to have a good breakfast and start our hike. Even though this part of Peru is really high up it still gets extremely hot during the day so better start early.
7:30AM - We buy some eggs, Quinoa Apple Juice and bread for all 8 Soles (2.44$) - for 6 people!!! - and cook it with our hiking cook gear on the main square.
9:00AM - We finally start our hike. It is a long hike over 1000 m altitude down to the canyon. Beautiful views over the endless mountains of Peru. Insane! Not so insane is the 70 Soles (21.43$) entry.
1:00 PM - We arrive at the bottom of the canyon. From here are some more hikes but we do not feel like hiking any more for today so we just pitch up our tents and relax at the river, do some fishing and prepare for the fire tonight.
7:00 PM - It’s dark already but we have our fire and are cooking dinner on it. We did not catch any fish but we have some ramen noodles so no complaints. And oh wait - still have some wine left from yesterday - so the sugar intake is definitely no problem for today.
10:00 PM - After some relaxing at the fire we decide to go to bed early. Next day will be all the way up so better be well rested.
Daily Expense: 78 Soles ($23.87)
Day 4 - Back to Cabanaconde and Arequipa, Peru
5:30AM - Ok, this is getting ridiculous. I said I am not a morning person! Anyway we need to start early to not have the burning heat over us when we hike up. Also we already know that it will take awhile to get to Arequipa by bus.
6:00AM - We get our stuff together and prepare some breakfast. Oatmeal with chocolate powder with apples and mangos - I've had worse on hikes!
8:00AM - Until everyone has finally eaten it takes a while. And off we go.
10:30AM - Weirdly we are a lot faster going up. We made it up in two and half hours compared to four going down. We go back to the town and try to get the next bus to Arequipa which is at 12 - another 17 Soles (5.20$) - and for lunch we buy some avocado sandwiches for 3 Soles (0.91$) for three.
8:00 PM - Back in Arequipa. Except for me and my friend Fabian, everyone else has different directions for tonight so we split up. Fabian and I decide to travel a little while together. But before moving on we want to stay another night in Arequipa. We are currently working on a music platform project called Audiocracy (you can look it up on audiocracy.io ;)) so everyday where we can program together is a win!
8:30 PM - We take a taxi back to the hostel 4 Soles (1.22$) and get dinner.
9:00 PM - We decide to go for some Asian - it is the cheapest that is still open. After one course for 8 Soles we are still not full so we order another plate for another 6 Soles (1.83$). For some reason this is still not enough so we start to get the leftover plates from the other tables which sounds odd, but hey free food!
10:00 PM - After dinner we are done with the day and go to bed in our hostel - again 16 Soles (4.89$) a night.
Daily Expense: 54 Soles ($16.53)
Day 5 Arequipa - Mejia, Peru
9:30AM - So this is a time I can get used to. Fabian and I meet at the market again to get some breakfast again and then go to the Terminal - our next stop is Mejia, a small fishing village on the coast of Peru. Breakfast as the first time - freshly pressed fruit juice and two chicken sandwiches for 16 Soles (4.89$).
12:00PM - The bus to Mejia is two hours and costs 10 Soles (3.06$). Before the ride we get some more Empanadas for 6 Soles (1.83$) and some water, 2 Soles (0.61$)
2:30 PM - We arrive in Mejia. We knew it is small but this was another kind of small. There is absolutely nothing. I mean it looks like a place where there could be a lot of people - maybe not in offseason though. We start looking for a hostel and then go to the beach.
5:30 PM - Still no hostel. Everything closed, all the hostel owners are gone. Even if someone tells us about a hostel that is open, it is closed. Eventually we find a small hotel with a very nice lady as the owner. The hotel is usually 140 Soles but luckily we can get it down to 80 Soles (24.37$) each - still very expensive for us but oh well, better than nothing! Therefore we have a private room, internet, a pool and breakfast!!! We quickly go for a sunset surf before the night starts.
7:00 PM - We are the only gringos in this town which is kind of funny. We get a nice dinner for 8 Soles (2.44$), buy some cheap Pisco for 20 Soles (6.12$) and go back to the hotel for some programming.
Daily Expense: 144 Soles ($44.07)
Day 6 Mejia - Ica, Peru
7:00AM - Oh yea I hate getting up early but for a surf it is always good. So after an hour of surfing at the most terrible spot I have seen so far in South America we get some wonderfully prepared breakfast by our second mom at the hotel.
10:00 AM - After a long breakfast we enjoy the last couple of hours at the pool. Then we go toEl fiscal - an intersection on the Panamericana where we can take an overnight bus to Ica - a Peruvian city in the middle of the desert with impressive sand dunes. To get there we take a collectivo for 8 Soles (2.43$).
15:00 PM - Arrived in El fiscal they tell us that no bus actually stops here. We have to go to the intersection 48. Another collectivo there, another 20 Soles (6.09$) and here we are.
7:00 PM - We buy a bus ticket 40 Soles (12.18$), get dinner (surprise soup with whatever animal in there) for 10 Soles (3.04$) and ready for the bus.
Daily Expense: 78 Soles ($23.87)
Day 6 - Ica, Peru
8:00 AM - We arrive in Ica. Always a little exhausting these overnight buses but at least you save the hostels. First we get some breakfast - two small avocado sandwiches, a fruit juice and coffee with soy milk (??) for 9 Soles (2.75$).
9:00 AM - Not really full but not willing to spend more money we take a taxi to Huacachina a small, wonderful oasis close to Ica. Another 5 Soles (3.06$)
11:00 AM - We can check in the hostel - 20 Soles (6.09$) a night, we get some lunch again for 10 Soles (3.06$) and then do some programming and check out the dunes with my surfboard.
7:00 PM - We find some avocado and bread in our bags so the dinner is done!!! After our dinner we go to a bar and get a couple of beers. There we met some more people and we join and go out....
Daily Expenses 44 Soles ($13.47)
Day 7 - Ica to Punta Hermosa, Peru
11:30 AM - We wake up. Fabian cannot find his cell phone or any of his money. So for him this night was a little expensive. For my part 100 Soles (30.47$) are gone so I guess those are the expenses of the previous night. With heavy heads and not really sure what happened we check out and take a taxi back to Ica - 5 Soles (3.06$).
12:30 PM - We are still not very sorted out. We get a nice ceviche from a street food place for 5 Soles (1.53$) (yea cities that are not touristy can be really, really cheap here in Peru). I need two more fruit smoothies to get somehow alright - 18 Soles (5.48$).
2:00 PM - While trying to remember what really happened to Fabian and his phone we organize a bus to Punta Hermosa - a small surf town south of Lima - 27 Soles (8.26$).
5:30 PM - Feeling better after a long sleep on the bus. Three more hours to go but since we are not that hungover anymore it’s not too bad. I’m ready to watch some episodes of Narcos I think. Uugghhh - laptop is gone. Yay, while we were sleeping and getting sober on the bus again someone stole my laptop!!! What a night - no phone, no money for my friend and a stolen laptop on my side - I guess that had to be worth it. I don’t know how to put that on the expenses but I guess I'll buy a new laptop for around 500$ so …
8:30 PM - We arrive in Punta Hermosa. We have a hostel for 35 Soles (10.66$), dinner for 10 Soles (3.04$) - what a week!
Daily Expense: 100 Soles ($30.61) - excluding my laptop because I don’t know how much this is going to be.
Total Weekly Expenses: 713.19 Soles ($218.36)