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South Africans visa requirements for South America

The joys of travelling on an Afrique De Suid passport

sunny 27 °C


...You are hangingout with your travel buddies from : The land -down and under; your girlfriend/boyfriend from across the pond & some of your budies from Europe . The topic on the agenda is: 'backpacking holiday to South America', everyone starts mentioning visas for some of the countries you might pass through. Suddenly you remember your green 'AFRIQUE DE SUID PASSPORT', the thought of a visa in the same line of thought with your passport elicit an uncomfortable feeling in you... right ? Soon after that your travel buddies say:' yeap I know I need a visa for this country' and some say :'maybe we should avoid this country since we need a visa lets do the other countries instead' ... since this conversation is occuring while you are having a few drinks with your travel budies the brilliant thought everyone comes up with is : LETS backpack most countris in South America, especially the ones to be done.

Opps you then starts getting worried, the question (s) on your mind are :do you need a visa , as you might be backpacking 10 countries do you need a visa for each, suddenly apparently you might have to spend more than you anticipated. The fact that the next round of drinks is on you, sends a much more chilling thought in you, hmmmm that could pay for 1 visa you know? As the night concludes it has been decided that you will be backpacking most countries in South America and since this is a brilliant idea you thought it will be great for you to go as well.

Early the next morning after you have sorbered up , you decide to check your visa requirements as a South African passport holder.

1) You google the internet: ooops there is so little reference to South African passport holders on visa agency sites.

2) You then check each countries embassy sites , some are clear on your visas status but some get you even more confused with the small print at the bottom of the screen : please note that visa requirements might change without prior notice... oooops you are South African maybe you should be worried

3) You then decide to call the embassies you are not certain about , the phone rings and no one picks up... ohh there is a massage in Portugues or Spanish that doesn't help you does it ( that is if your Portugues/ Spanish is as good as mine.. none existance)

4) You then email the consular service, yeap that should work shouldn't it.. you send the email .. days pass and you still havent heard if you need a visa or not...

This time all your travell budies are informing you that they are sending in their visa application forms.... Before you book a day off work to accompany your travel budies to their visa application etc STOP and read:

I backpacked South America on a Afrique de Duid passport ( October 2011). My planned trip for this journey was to travel by road through the following countries

Brazil - Paraguay -Argentina - Uruguay- Chile- Bolivia- Peru- Equodor-Colombia- Venezuela

As I prepared: No visa was required for Brazil, but its when you are in a que in immigrations at the airport that you start wondering as other people are showing their visa and you don't have one. As I approach the immigrations officer, I hand in my passport ( keeping my yellow fever certificate with me). The officer looks at my passport outside - ooops my emblem is no longer visible, he then opens to the backpage, South African he says looking at me.. with a smile I nod yeap....He flips the pages I try to look relaxed while he does this and then he calls out to his collegue and the next thing my passport is stamped... yeap NO VISA required in Brazil ( I get 90 days on my tourist card) I look at the officer and smile while saying :'thanks' later I learned to say 'Obrigado'
Paraguay- NO VISA
While at the Foz Iguacu --- I decide to make a half-day trip to Paraguay. As I am queing at the immigrations I start thinking hmm this is one of those countries I didnt get a clear answer on whether I need a visa or not I hope I don't. I approach the immigrations officer, he flicks the pages of my passport, scans my passport & she then stamps it yeeyyyy : 'NO VISA' 90 days ( but I stick to the plan half a day) by the afternoon I am back in Brazil.. this time I say:' Obrigado' to the immigrations officer

Argentina - NO VISA
Its rushhour and all the tour buses are going back to Argentina from the Brazilian side of the Falls, I join the que .. as I approach the immigrations officer he looks at my passport.. flips it to the front page - he then reaches for a stamp - then takes a look at me and he: STAPMS it ,90 days granted on my tourist card : 'NO VISA REQUIRED '

Uruguay - NO VISA
When I get to Bueno Aires I decide to make a side trip to Uruguay to spend an afternoon in Montevideo... I take a 3 hrs boat trip across. I have to deal with immigrations again, pls do not be confused on this one you must make sure both Immigrations officers stamp your passport i.e. exit Argentina & then enter Uruguay etc any confussion you are in trouble with your tourist card for either.. I am granted 90 days in Uruguay yeeep 'NO VISA' required.. after spending time I cross back to Argentina

Chile- NO VISA
As I approach the Argentinian- Chilian border I am begining to wonder if I don't need a visa or not.. what if I do I have just spent almost 28hrs hours on this bus the thought ohh noooo... I approach the immigrations officer on the Chilian border post, he flicks my passport which by now is almost full. She then shouts something in Spanish, her collegue shouts something back & her response is Afrique de suid... the response is No visa.. by now I am grinning from one cheek to the next.. passport stamped , tourist visa card stamped 90 days: NO VISA required.

Bolivia - NO VISA
Is my visa free luck runnig-out ? As I que on the Chilian- Bolivian border post ( I join the que on the Bolivian side- please beware when crossing this border post, it could be confusing since both the Chilian & Bolivian immigrations are in the same place next to each other, que first to exit Chile and then que to enter Bolivia or else you might have to start afresh if you mis one). As there is only one que for eveyone (locals & foreigners) I find myself behind two American backpackers and as they sortout their visa payments I approach the immigrations officer who speaks no word of English. Not only that but I bet besides American passport holders she had no idea of a South african passports and visa exemptions. According to the Bolivian embassy I do not need a visa for Bolivia.. well she looks at my passport , I see the confussion on her face.I bet I disapointed her by not being American, frankly I just might just have messed up her day. She tries to inquire about my passport apparently no one knows. She then makes a call but no one picks up, she informs me to wait while she awaits for a call back.As she stamps other people passports I am looking at the phone anticipating it to ring and it doesn't. Finally my bus driver keeps bothyering her regarding me, she then says then :' she says US$ 30.00 in Bolivian Boliviano. I am confused, I figure I can either urgue with her regarding that. Since I cann't speak Spanish nor can she speak English I figure it urguing will not help me at this point. I ask for a cambio to change my US$ into Bolivianos, I locate it and I change my money as I go back to pay. A visa sticker is atteched on my poassport and I am granted 90 days on my Tourist card ... yeeyyyy that wasn't bad. YOU DO NOT NEED A pre-arranged VISA for BOLIVIA

Peru - NO VISA
As I cross the Bolivian- Peru border post at Lake Titicaca ( Copacabana) I approach the immigrations officer ,the officer looks at my passport. By now I have realised that most immigrations officers in South America are not familar with my South African passport. As always the immigrations officer inquires from a collegue regarding my passport and the next thing, my passport is stamped and I am granted 90days on my tourist card : NO VISA required

I soon realise how huge South America is and since I spent a few extra days in Peru due to a 4 days long weekend holiday I realise that I cannot make it all the way to Venezuela. This implies that I cann't make my way to Equidor- Colombia - Venezuela but for those countries: SOUTH AFRICANS DO NOT NEED A VISA .. From Lima (Peru) I fly back to Rio ( Brazil) ....

So while your travel budies are applying for visas ... do not fret my South African peeps YOU DO NOT NEED A VISA for :

Brazil - Paraguay -Argentina - Uruguay- Chile- Bolivia- Peru- Equodor-Colombia- Venezuela

:) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :)

Posted by Thuligal 11:45 Archived in South Africa Tagged backpacking

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Thank you SO much for all the info!! I'm travelling to S America next year, and as a South African there is little to zero info available for visa requirements! Could you tell me which was the cheapest country to fly into/out of? Thanx again!

by Dirk

Hi Dirk, I am glad that this info has helped you .Yeap I do agree with you finding visa information when travelling as a South African might be impossible online BUT what I have discovered that you get loads & loads of exemptions and gratis visas as a South African but that information is not easily available :(

As to your question on flights, few things to consider:
1) Time -how long do you have to travel
2) travel mode (budget or not).
3) how many countries do you want to see.

The cheapest country to fly in and out of is :
1) Peru ( Lima),if you decide to backpack most countries by road you can do it from Lima going North ( Ecuador) or south ( Bolivia) and then making your way back to Peru easily . This is the cheapest option and you'll experience south America more. driving on the Andes mountains etc is an amazing experience & the buses are comfy & have meaals, BUT sadly requires time +- 6 weeks.
2) Another option you might consider is an around the world ticket which can workout cheaper.. if you choose more stops in South America. This will save you time as well.
If time is not an issue I will say Peru is the cheapest to fly into & backpack the rest which workout very very very cheap & enjoyable.
Don't worry with the reports on crime, since you are South African you are naturally streetwise enough regarding your belongings and how to handle them in public :) :)

hope this helps, pls do feel free to contact me if you need further info I will be glad to assist :)

All the best with your plans FYI you will love South America its AMAZING!!!


by Thuli Khoza

Hi Thuli,

Just came across your blog and have spent the last hour reading about your travels...the little hairs on the back of my hair stood up from excitement...

I'm travelling to Brazil in a few months and the embassy is not much of help, they tell me they don't "deal" with South Africans as we don't need a visa, so they can't answer my questions.

Hope you can advice me; I want to know if I need to book my returning ticket now or I can do so in Brazil,when I'm coming back.

At the airport in Brazil did you have to show them your return ticket?

By the way, I love your style of writing.

by Wawa.s

Hi Wawa.s

Thanks for reading my blog I hope it helped you out. Its great that you found it helpful as there is not much info out there regarding South African's. Noop you do not need a return ticket to enter Brazil. The only thing you must have is your Yellow fever vacination (21days before entry), they never asked me for my yellow fever certificate but I had it. If you find yourself loving Brazil & not planning to travel back after your 90days you will need to cross the border and re-enter again as many times as you want ( this will be free but you will have to travel quite a bit for the borders).


Thanks again,

by Thuligal

Your response is much appreciated.

Happy travelling.

by Wawa.s

Just a little correction, Thuli, if you don't mind my well-meant lack of politeness: next time you come to Brazil or go to some other Portuguese-speaking country (Angola and Mozambique are close to you), the correct word for "thank you" when said by a woman is "obrigada" - "obrigado" is for males to say. However, many Brazilian women, especially in São Paulo (where somehow it seems to be a local custom) use the male form, so it's not a deadly sin. They are mostly uneducated women, though.

When being particularly thankful, you can say "muito obrigada" ("thank you very much"). The word actually means what it appears to: "obliged," implying "I am obliged to repay you for your kindness when I can."

by goytabr

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