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Backpacking South America Travel Guide • 2022

So you are getting ready to travel South America, eh? Great call!

Backpacking through South America is like learning to ride a bike without the training wheels. There is just the right amount of danger and curve balls to keep you alert, focused, and totally stoked on life.

With the exception of a handful of backpacker hotspots, South America is the wild west frontier of backpacking. This is the land of crazy parties, epic surfing, sprawling cities, and wild landscapes including the Andes and the Amazon jungle.

Above all else, South America is stunningly beautiful. Though challenging to navigate at times, it’s budget backpacker friendly, diverse, relatively safe, and one hell of a travel experience…

But South America is MASSIVE. Deciding where to go and how to plan a backpacking trip is a mind-boggling task. That’s where I come in, amigos. This South America travel guide will provide you with EVERYTHING you need to know to prepare for your trip through South America.

Here’s the full low-down on backpacking South America itinerary and routes, country profiles, tips and tricks for South America budget travel, and much more.

Lace up your bootstraps and prepare to have your travel inspiration skyrocket. We’re going on an adventure!

Group photo.

Why Go Backpacking in South America?

The South American continent is one of my favourite places on earth. As a younger man, my trip backpacking South America was my first major solo journey. I learned the art of budget travel, fell in love, and had a multitude of life-changing experiences along the way.

South America attracts an older, more experienced, backpacker crowd than the Southeast Asia circuit. If you want to get off the beaten track whilst still having the option to meet plenty of other travellers, South America is the place to level up your backpacking game and head on a real adventure…

Backpacking South America’s finest: Iguazu Falls.

South America is arguably one of the most diverse continents on earth. It is home to the world’s second-highest mountain range in the Andes, world-class surf beaches, the Amazon Basin, the world’s driest desert, huge plains of lush grassland, glaciers, and unique wildlife not found anywhere else on Earth.

Each country you visit whilst backpacking South America offers up the opportunity to experience the incredible natural and cultural forces unique to that region.

Backpacking South America is generally a cheap endeavour – although it’s not as cheap as Southeast Asia or India. There are some fairly expensive corners of South America that you should avoid if you’re travelling on a budget.

You will fall in love with South America (and maybe a person or two along the way). So let’s dive into some South America travel itineraries and backpacking routes to get you pumped for your trip.

Best Travel Itineraries for Backpacking South America

When making a South America backpacking itinerary, remember that travel distances can be HUGE, internal flights expensive, and sometimes you end up getting stuck in a place for longer than anticipated.

Vamos!

So you want to choose your South America backpacking route very carefully. Unlike other continents, how much time you have really matters; you simply can’t do all of it.

If you only have 2 or 3 weeks for travelling South America, forget about seeing the whole continent. Maybe you could visit Bolivia and Lake Titicaca in Peru for example. But I recommend just sticking to one country and devoting your energy to exploring it properly.

In one month, you could explore some countries closer to each other.

It’s easy to fall in love with a place and want to stay longer too. So it’s good to have room for spontaneity in your South America travel itinerary.

2 Week South America Travel Itinerary – A Taste of South America

1.Cartagena, 2.Santa Marta, 3.Tayrona National Park, 4.Cartagena, 5.Islas de San Bernardo

You’ll have to keep moving to make this itinerary happen in 2 weeks, but I believe in you!

Start your backpacking South America itinerary in Colombia by visiting Cartagena. After a few days, head to Santa Marta, the jump-off point for Minca – a charming mountain town – and Tayrona National Park.

Get a bit off the beaten path, and head east to Cabo de la Vela (where the desert meets the sea) and Punta Galinas, where you can feast on fresh seafood along the Caribbean coast. Doubling back to Cartagena, head to nearby Playa Blanca and Tolú (mangrove) before heading to Islas de San Bernardo (white-sanded islands).

Or you could start in Lima, Peru. Explore the city for a day or two before heading to the Nazca Lines, Arequipa, and Colca Canyon.

Then head to Cusco in the Andes. Take a few days getting used to the altitude before setting off on a multi-day trek to Macchu Picchu.

Alternatively, you could start in Buenos Aires. Then you can head south to trek in Patagonia. In southern Argentina and Chile, you can do the world-famous Torres del Paine circuit. 2 weeks would be cutting it fine but – if you hustle – you could pull it off.

In 2 weeks, you can get a good taste of Colombia, Ecuador, or Bolivia. Don’t miss out on the Salt Flats.

1 Month South America Travel Itinerary – A Proper Backpacking Trip

1.Rio de Janiero, 2.Ilha Grande, 3.Paraty, 4.São Paolo, 5.Curitiba, 6.Balneario Camboriu, 7.Florianópolis

With 1 month, you can make an epic backpacking South America itinerary. If you want to explore more than one country in South America, you’re gonna need more than 3 weeks.

For surf bums, you could easily spend a month heading beach to beach from Southern Peru all the way to Colombia, in 1 month. Or you could do 2 weeks in Argentina followed by 2 weeks of hiking in Chilean Patagonia.

If it were me, larger countries like Argentina, Chile, and Brazil are better to explore with more than 1 month. You can do it but you will spend a long time on bus journeys, so I would just stick to one area.

Southeast Brazil is a good choice for 1 month on a South America itinerary: travel from Rio de Janeiro all the way south to Florianópolis and hit up everything in between. Bear in mind that you’ll probably want to stay in Rio AND Floripa longer than you expect.

Highlights of this route include exploring the megapolis of São Paulo, idyllic getaways of Ilha Grande and Paraty, eco-friendly and laidback Curitiba, and the crazy nightclubs of Balneário Camboriú.

Or, you could fly into Ecuador and spend 3 weeks exploring here: stay at a great hostel in Guayaquil before heading to Montañita. In Montañita you can party and surf to your heart’s content. Head North towards Bahia de Caraquez and Canoa for surf towns that are more off the beaten path.

Next head to the mountains, stopping first in Quito. There are some excellent treks in the Ecuadorian Andes. If you have time, definitely hit up the Volcano Loop trail on the outskirts of Cotopaxi National Park. A trip to the jungle around Puyo is recommended as well. Then head for a week of trekking in Colombia.

3 Month South America Travel Itinerary – The Great South America Circuit

1.Quito, 2.Bahia de Caraquez, 3.Mancora, 4.Trujillo, 5.Lima, 6.Machu Picchu

3 months backpacking South America, eh? Hell yes!

I recommend flying into Lima, Peru unless you know you want to start in the north (Brazil or Colombia) or further south (Argentina or Chile). Explore Lima and the coast before heading to the Andes. There Machu Picchu awaits in all of its glory.

Definitely do a trek to the famous Inca city! (More on hiking in South America later). From here, you can either drop down on the other side of the Andes and explore the Amazon basin or you can head south to Bolivia and eventually Argentina and Patagonia.

Alternatively, you can slowly start making your way north via the Coast. You could spend a month (or more) in Ecuador, Colombia, or Brazil respectively.

Personally, I started off in Buenos Aires, went all the way to the southern tip of Patagonia, and made my way north en route to Ecuador and Colombia from there. The distances were truly massive. I’m talking 30-hour bus rides (on comfortable buses I must say).

Travelling in South America is never a quick affair, so plan your itinerary accordingly.

6 Month South America Travel Itinerary – The Whole Damn Thing! (Almost)

1.Rio de Janeiro, 2.Sao Paolol, 3.Iguacu Falls, 4.Buenos Aires, 5.Bariloche, 6.Torres del Paine, 7.Santiago, 8.La Paz, 9.Machu Piccu, 10.Lima, 11.Quito, 12.Bogota, 13.Caracas

Life has brought you to the fortunate crossroads of having 6 months to travel South America? Good on you!

With a 6-month backpacking South America itinerary, you have the luxury of really being able to take your damn time. To see multiple countries, it’s a practical choice to begin your journey either in the north or the south to avoid backtracking.

With a 6 month itinerary, you can explore many South American countries in depth. I’ll be honest with you, the itinerary shown on the map is really fucking ambitious. But hopefully, it gives you an idea of what crossing the whole continent would look like.

Starting your journey in Rio de Janerio or São Paulo might be a bit of a rough landing, though you will be a primed bad-ass by the time it comes to move on to another country. Other options are starting with some days in Buenos Aires, in Argentina, and Chile, in the south.

You could be surfing it up on the coast of Ecuador one day, and be in the mountains of Peru several days (and many bus rides) later. I advise taking a chunk of your time to really explore and get off the beaten path in destinations like Brazil, Colombia and Bolivia.

Having 6 months or more to go backpacking truly means you have a total blank slate to work with. So get ready to write your own beautiful backpacking destiny!

Best Places to Visit in South America – Country Breakdowns

Each country in South America has something unique and profoundly exciting for backpackers. But they also have some common themes: they are Spanish speaking (minus Portuguese in Brazil), they have stunning natural beauty, and some of the nicest people you will meet whilst travelling. So finding the best places to backpack in South America has a lot to do with your own interests.

The music guides everyone in South America.

Maybe you’ll explore the epic snow-capped peaks of Patagonia in Argentina and Chile. Soak in the surf on the stunning beaches in Ecuador.

Party with the beautiful people at the Carnival in Brazil. Trek to the Lost City in Colombia. Experience the sun-drenched deserts of Bolivia and the colourful Rainbow Mountains of Peru.

Come change your life.

Backpacking through South America truly is a life-changing journey through one of the planet’s most fascinating landmasses. When you visit South America, you can be sure that it will be some of the most fun you will have in your life.

South America is a continent on the move. The number of people travelling to South America is increasing every year. Whilst the cost of living in South America remains quite low, each country requires a different budget for travellers.

Once you begin to discover a few of the South American countries for yourself, you can be sure that you will be entranced by the jaw-dropping landscapes, fascinating history, vibrant culture, and awesome food.

Let’s take a look at the countries that make backpacking in South America so damn special.

Backpacking Brazil

Brazil is, hands down, one of South America’s most dynamic countries. It’s all about the extremes. Whether it’s the parties, the people, or nature, the vibrations run through everything – and connect everyone.

Backpacking in Brazil offers up killer surf beaches, fun-loving locals, insane parties, and landscapes that would make even the most seasoned traveller say “damn, for real?

Of course, the Brazilian festival Carnival is legendary – and for good reason. Get your mind blown on the Brazilian side of Iguaçu Falls, visit the Amazon, drink a Caipirinha on the beach! Plus Brazil’s home to big up-and-coming cities like Belo Horizonte, Curitiba, and Natale.

Backpacking South America

Rio de Janerio looking good at the golden hour…

And when I say ‘extreme’, I mean extreme: Brazil is absolutely MASSIVE and covers nearly half (47%) of South America’s landmass! That should give you an idea of how big it is.

But, more importantly, it gives you a better idea of how much diversity Brazil has on offer. In fact, there’s a lot going for Brazil that you may not be aware of.

For example, trekking probably isn’t the first thing that pops into your mind when you think about backpacking through Brazil. It’s a shame because Brazil has truly gorgeous trails spread throughout the country.

The best hiking opportunities are usually found in the parques nacionais (national parks). Brazil has over 70 national parks and – in terms of beauty – these can contend with any other on Earth.

What to Know Before Visiting Brazil

Art that gives you the feels.

  • Don’t miss out on… Florianopolis. The Brazilians favourite place to visit for a reason. It’s chilled, safe, and gorgeous. You plan to stay in Floripa for a week, it grabs you by the balls, and you get stuck for months.
  • Keep an eye out for… Travel distances. Don’t be fooled: they’re way longer than they seem on the map. Give yourself plenty of time to get from A to B.
  • The coolest hostel is…O de Casa Hostel Bar (São Paulo) – consistently voted as one of the best hostels in Brazil. Vila Madalena is easily the coolest part of the city too.
  • The best food is found in… Belo Horizonte. There is an amazing energy to this place; everyone hangs out on the streets, eating and drinking at plastic tables, all night long.

Backpacking Colombia

Whilst South America has many countries that I consider to have the full package, Colombia is the most complete. It’s a relatively small country. So considering the scale of epic surf, neverending parties, untouched jungle, happening cities, and towering mountains, Colombia is a reason for backpackers to keep travelling!

Cali, Cartagena, Bogotá, and Medellín are a few cities in Colombia where you can really let loose. Don’t fight the salsa; let your body move with the music. Go and have some extraordinary conversations with the locals about life in Latin America.

lost city in colombia

A sweaty trek to Colombia’s legendary lost city.

Is Colombia safe? Perhaps your mum would love to know. Hell yes, it is!

As much as Colombianos are ready for the disassociation with Pablo Escobar, it’s hard not to mention the impact that he made on the country and the South American continent as a whole. But his reign of terror is over.

Modern-day Colombia couldn’t be more different from the days when narco-traffickers ruled the country. Visiting Medellín now vs 20 years ago is a COMPLETELY different experience. The Medellín of today is much more safe and secure.

Colombia is for adventure junkies and nature lovers too. The northern terminus of the Andes Mountains ends here and you can take your treks into the deep jungle.

What to Know Before Visiting Colombia

aerial view of bogota capital of colombia

Bogota.

  • Don’t miss out on… Carnival in Barranquilla. Most of the time, this industrial town is overlooked by travellers. But for one week of the year, this place goes NUTS.
  • Keep an eye out for… how difficult the trek to Cuidad Perdida is. It’s long, treacherous, and hot as shit, but absolutely worth the effort in the end. The Lost City is one of the best places to visit in South America.
  • The coolest hostel is…The Secret Garden (Cotopaxi) – The most serene garden hostel with hobbit style houses.
  • The best food is found in… the local urban lunch stalls, which offer the best bang-for-your-buck. Head to ones that serve glorious arepas.

Backpacking Ecuador

Ecuador might be small but it certainly packs a punch. I spent 3 months backpacking in Ecuador and could easily spend many more.

The diversity is incredible and it’s a great place or experience Andean Highland culture. The people who live in the Andes have a distinct and ancient culture rooted in mountain life. They even speak another language called Quechua.

In addition to staying in colonial cities like Quito, Ecuador’s natural landscape is the biggest draw. You can spend weeks or months exploring the coast before heading to the mountains and vice versa. Towering over the shore, volcanoes, waterfalls, and massive snow-capped mountains all make incredible trekking routes.

Surfing reigns supreme on the Ecuadorian coast. It attracts surfers from all over the globe. Even if you’re a beginner, it’s a great place to catch your first waves. Towns like Montañita and Canoa are famous surf beaches and party hotspots.

Surfs up in Ecuador

If you have some extra cash in your budget, you can visit The Galápagos Islands. But be warned – this is not a cheap endeavour, especially for excursions like diving (though it is AWESOME). So prepare yourself to shell out some cash!

Then there is the Amazon Basin of Ecuador. The Amazon region is what helps make Ecuador one of the most biologically diverse places on earth. The Amazon is best explored by boat with a local guide and is bound to be the adventure of a lifetime!

What to Know Before Visiting Ecuador

guy swinging in the jungle in ecuador

Flying through Ecuador.

  • Don’t miss out on… exploring the highlands and Cotopaxi National Park. Easily accessed from Quito and totally epic.
  • You know what’s overrated Montañita. It’s not all it use to be and is mostly catered to foreigners who want to get wasted and high. If you want real Ecuadorian culture, there are better places nearby.
  • The coolest hostel is…Rio Muchado – this is pretty far off the beaten path but worth the journey. Relaxed, peaceful, and it has an amazing organic cafe. A restful spot away from the party!
  • The best food is found in… the small almuerzo (lunch) cafes found across the country.

Backpacking Peru

Ah Peru. Backpacking Peru is the essence of travelling in South America. Though tourism has spiked in Peru in recent years, there is still plenty of magic to be found here.

The cost of backpacking Peru is a little higher than you might expect. Expect to pay between $30-40 USD a day whilst travelling here. (But more about the cost of backpacking South America later.)

Peru has a super long coastline dotted with prime surf beaches and scuba diving sites. In the Andes lies a whole other form of beauty.

I mean, who isn’t aware of Machu Picchu and hiking the Inca Trail? Besides the obvious, there is much, much more to the Peruvian Andes than Machu Picchu. Although, you still have to go there!

hiking Cordillera Huayhuash

Colca Canyon is one of the most epic places in Peru!

Peru has some truly fascinating colonial cities as well, including Cuenca and Cuzco, which is the gateway city to Machu Picchu. The off the beaten path potential in Peru is enormous.

Check out the Rainbow Mountains to see nature at its most colourful. Hike the majestic Cordillera Huayhuash. Explore Colca Canyon and sleep out under a billion stars.

If you want a truly magical experience, there are many eco-lodges in Peru that are nestled in the best nature spots, from the Amazon jungle to the Andes mountain range.

Wherever you decide to travel in Peru, be sure that it will be a highlight of your South America backpacking adventure.

What to Know Before Visiting Peru

visiting macchu pichu in peru

Macchu Pichu.

  • Don’t miss out on… a motorcycle journey through the Sacred Valley outside Cuzco. It’s definitely worth staying in Cuzco a little longer for this.
  • You know what’s overrated… the Inca Trail. Go for the less-trod Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu instead.
  • The coolest hostel is…Banana’s Adventure (Huacachina). Full disclosure: Peruvian hostels tend to be party hostels. If that’s what you’re looking for, this one may be the best of them all.
  • The best food is found in… Lima. This city is full of cafes, local lunch spots, and street food vendors. The best are in Barranco and Miraflores. Pig out on ceviche!

Backpacking Bolivia

Backpacking in Bolivia offers up a glimpse of what South America was like 30 years ago. It’s a country looking to the future in many ways whilst still having one foot firmly rooted in the tradition of the past.

Expect super friendly locals, dramatic desert and mountain landscapes, and the kind of low prices which make the dirtbag within us very happy. You could easily get by on $20-25 a day here, and even less by roughing it a bit.

Bolivia is home to plenty of adrenaline-pumping activities including the Road of Death, which, in essence, is a road down through the mountains in which people ride bicycles to the bottom at top speed. The ride goes on for at least 30 kilometres and it is straight down. Can you guess why it’s called the Road of Death yet?

Aside from the high-risk adventure activities, Bolivia is safe for the most part as well.

backpacking Bolivia

The impressive Sol de Manana Geysers in Bolivia.

World-class trekking is abundant in the Bolivian Andes. If you love to hike, all the more reason to visit Bolivia. Bring along a good sleeping bag as temperatures can plummet at night.

La Paz has the best hostels (particularly for partiers) and is a cool city to base yourself in. Lake Titicaca is breathtaking, however, it has become far too touristy – I personally can’t deal with that many people taking selfies. I don’t blame the locals as they need to make a living. Just the way it has been done is unfortunate.

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The Salt Flats are also cool AF. Okay, admittedly it’s pretty touristy too, but it’s still worth a visit.

What to Know Before Visiting Bolivia

flamingos in the deserts of bolivia

Fla-mingle with flamingos.

  • Don’t miss out on… the Salar de Uyuni. Yes, everyone who comes to Bolivia does this and, yes, it’s touristy. Regardless, it’s still in-fuckin-credible.
  • Keep an eye out for… the altitude. Some people fly directly to La Paz from sea level and get sick almost immediately. At 3640 meters, La Paz is the highest major city in the world.
  • The coolest hostel is…Greenhouse Bolivia (La Paz). This is a more laidback lodge, away from all the comotion. Even if you’re a party person, you need some downtime now and again.
  • The best food is found in… La Paz. This is the epicenter of Bolivia’s newly emerging food culture.

Backpacking Chile

There are no half measures while Backpacking Chile. From trekking through gorgeous glacial national parks to exploring the martian bone-dry Atacama desert , you’re all in for one hell of an experience.

There are 36 National Parks in Chile; all of them are beautiful and unique in their own way. Chile is also home to Easter Island, one of the most mysterious places on the planet.

Backpacking South America

Easter Island guardians.

Like Argentina, Chilean Patagonia is a paradise for trekkers and adventure types – though it does take some effort to reach the places you want to go trekking in. That said, the journey is well worth it; experiencing some of the planets last truly wild places is an indescribable feeling that you can only understand by doing it!

Most backpackers will start their backpacking journey in Santiago. But you can come to Chile from one of its borders in the South (as I did).

Oh yeah, one more thing: Chilean wine is cheap and it is damn good! Do you need more reasons?

What to Know Before Visiting Chile

torres del paine best places to visit in chile

Torres del Paine.

  • Don’t miss out on… Patagonia, and not just the usual spots. Chilean Patagonia is vastly unexplored, especially the fjords. Look out for whales, dolphins, penguins, and elephant seals.
  • Keep an eye out for… fire bans in Torres del Paine. A lot of nature has been threatened because of dickhead backpackers using gas burners, despite warnings.
  • The coolest hostel is…Last Hope Puerto Natales – a super nice hostel that helps organise trips to Torres del Paine. Pets welcome!
  • The best food is found in… Santiago. Staying in Santiago will unlock the most culinary options, including the cheap street food stalls.

Backpacking Argentina

Backpacking Argentina will be one for the ages. Welcome to the land of wine, excessive meat, football, tango, incredibly passionate people, and South America’s final frontier – Patagonia.

Argentina is an immense country with very distinct regions. Eat to your heart’s content, party harder than you ever have before, and fall deeply in love.

You’ll probably land in Buenos Aires, arguably the cultural capital of all of South America. Unquestionably, you’re going to find incredible hostels in Buenos Aires and reasons to stay. But don’t stay too long!

Rosario and Cordoba are cities like Buenos Aires but, in my opinion, better. They’re a perfect place to head to if you want to steer clear of the heavily populated capital. Mendoza is the wine region home to the “best wine in the world” (according to Argentinos).

glacier in southern Patagonia

Ice glacier(s) in southern Patagonia.

Further south lies Patagonia: one of my favourite places on Earth. Patagonia is a truly expansive, desolate wilderness area where the weather is harsh and civilization is few and far between.

Trek mountains and glaciers, or sea kayak around them,. There, you could go days without seeing many (if any) backpackers! Now THAT’S the dream.

Staying at an Argentine mountain hut (refugio) is a wonderful experience not to be missed. Few who travel to Argentina manage to make it as far as Tierra del Fuego (the Land of Fire). Visit one of the most dramatic places in Argentina with its long summer days and epic arctic landscapes.

Speaking of the arctic, you can arrange trips to Antarctica from Ushuaia! This would be the adventure of a lifetime but it’s by no means cheap.

What to Know Before Visiting Argentina

tango dancers in buenos aires

The sexiest dance you’ve ever seen.

  • Don’t miss out on… El Chaltén, which is the base for seeing some of the most dramatic peaks on Earth: Cerro Torre and Fitz Roy.
  • You know what’s overrated… La Boca in Buenos Aires. These much-hyped multi-coloured houses are pretty rundown and actually quite dangerous, I strongly suggest you avoid it. The whole area feels like a tourist trap. There’s much better things to do in Buenos Aires.
  • The coolest hostel is…America del Sur Hostel (El Calafate) – Super chic hostel with great views and amazingly rustic architecture.
  • The best food is found in… your neighbour’s personal asado. Nothing beats grilling grade-A Argentinian beef with some locals.
  • The official exchange rate is NOT THE EXCHANGE RATE. Because of the fluctating exchange rate, many of the locals withdraw their cash by using what is referred to as a “blue dollar rate” from Western Union. This way gives you 50% more pesos than withdrawing pesos from an ATM or exchanging currency. You can read more about this in our Agentina guide.

Backpacking Uruguay

Not many travellers end up backpacking in Uruguay. There are a few reasons why:

  1. It’s small
  2. It’s out of the way
  3. There’s not a ton to do

All of the above are true to some extent: Uruguay is not overflowing with adventurous activities or jaw-dropping sights. But let me tell you, they have some of the best quality of living in South America.

One of the perks about Uruguay is you don’t HAVE to do anything here. People are friendly and, compared to some chaos you find in other areas of the continent, it’s pretty chill. The beautiful coast is the perfect place to get away from the usual backpacking South America route and to avoid traveller’s burnout.

Casa Blanca near Punta del Este uruguay

Casa Blanca near Punta del Este.

Outside of Montevideo, there are nice beach towns worth crashing at; Punta del Diablo is the quintessential lazy surfer town. Punta del Este is fun in the summer if you like partying. Colonia del Sacramento is an old colonial outpost and UNESCO heritage – although it is admittedly more of a day trip rather than a base.

Oh but here’s the kicker: weed is legalised. Yes, Uruguay is famous for allowing the smoking of the devil’s lettuce. And the quality of it is surprisingly good.

Lots of locals keep a weed garden on their balconies. Perhaps your hostel in Montevideo will have one?

Head to Uruguay if you want to chill out and do your own thing. It’s easy to travel to Brazil and Argentina from there too.

What to Know Before Visiting Uruguay

uruguay Colonia del Sacramento

Colonia del Sacramento.

  • Don’t miss out on… Punta del Diablo. This is laid-back surfer town evades most backpackers. It is arguably one of the best beach towns in South America.
  • You know what’s overrated… Punta del Este. This place literally exists for the sake of Argentinians on holiday. In the off-season, it’s empty.
  • The coolest hostel is…Hostel Charruas (Montevideo) – Amazing vibes, good people, great facilities, perfect location – it’s really the coolest place to stay!
  • The best food is found in… Montevideo. Can’t beat a giant chivito after you’ve got the munchies!

Backpacking Venezuela

Venezuela is a truly incredible country. With towering mountains, steaming forests, endless beaches, and just enough danger to keep you on your toes, this country is every budding adventurer’s dream destination.

A Disclaimer on Visiting Venezuela

Unfortunately, due to the political situation in Venezuela, The Broke Backpacker absolutely does not condone visiting the country right now. It is simply not safe and it would be irresponsible to even attempt to Venezuela at present.

Unless you somehow have absolutely solid and trustworthy contacts on the ground, Venezuela is not the place to travel for the foreseeable future. We do not have any contacts to give out.

That being said, there are many team members at The Broke Backpacker that hold a special place for Venezuela in their hearts. For this reason, we are leaving this information available to you, our readers, as an homage to a country we love. We can’t wait for the day that it will be safe to visit again.

Backpacking Venezuela has a truly terrible reputation. Don’t get me wrong, travelling Venezuela has been dangerous in recent years: this is a country where you need to keep both eyes on your gear, watch who you’re with, and be on the lookout for iffy situations before they get the chance to rear their ugly head.

Backpacking in Venezuela is, in my opinion, one of the last great adventures out there. Plus it’s one of the cheapest countries in the world to backpack in.

backpacking venezuela

Adrenaline on the ground AND in the air.

Venezuela is a mysterious country. It attracts adventurers looking for a raw adventure.

It’s a country yet to be polluted by heavy tourism with incredible landscapes of mountains, forests, lakes, and caves. It is a kind of Shangri-La for adventurers and extreme sports lovers.

A South American backpacking trip to Venezuela is getting into the wild. To feel like the old explorers, Venezuela will not disappoint you. But backpacking Venezuela is not for the faint-hearted: this is a veteran explorer country.

What to Know Before Visiting Venezuela

angels falls and roraima

Angel Falls.

  • Don’t miss out on… Mt. Roraima – the highest tabletop mountain in the world; an incredible place to explore. Sometimes you feel like you’re walking on an island in the sky.
  • Keep an eye out for… the seasons when visiting Angel Falls. When it’s dry, the falls are actually quite weak (it’s more like a trickle).
  • The coolest hostel is…Posada Villa Del Sol (Margarita Island). When you can stay in Venezuela again, this has the most incredible view of the ocean!
  • The best food is found in… the buffet places where you pay by the weight of your plate. A little goes a long way here and you won’t be disappointed!

Getting Off the Beaten Path in South America

South America is totally full of wild places, tiny villages, far-flung settlements, lonesome valleys, sparsely inhabited jungle… Point being, there are plenty of great places to get off the beaten path. With a little motivation, you may well find yourself cutting your own path and writing your own backpacking destiny, one adventure at a time.

Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.

Explore South America’s national park systems as much as you can. Investigate the little interesting-looking food stalls where all the locals are queuing up.

Don’t rely on a guidebook of popular places. In South America, those tiny towns in the middle of nowhere are where the real culture is, and the real adventures. All you need is a bus ticket…

Osprey Aether

We’ve tested countless backpacks over the years, but there’s one that still stands the test of time: the backpacker-approved Osprey Aether.

Want more deetz on why it’s so damn perfect? Then read our comprehensive review for the inside scoop!

9 Top Things To Do in South America

1. Explore Patagonia

Patagonia is still one of the last untouched wildernesses on the planet. Not everyone gets to experience this in their lifetime! In addition to the usual superlative locations, like Cerro Torre and Torres del Paine, there are heaps to discover off-trail.

laguna fitz roy patagonia argentina

One of the most photographed places on Earth.

2. Party hard at Carnival

It’s the biggest party on the planet! Grab yo’ body paint, yo’ finest feathers, whatever else you can get your hands on, and join the festivities!

You won’t ever forget the time you spent Carnival in South America. The carnivals in Bahia, Rio, and Barranquilla are particularly good.

3. Explore the salts flats of Uyuni

It’s one of the most unique places on the planet and a highlight of any South America backpacking trip. Get ready to be wowed by this alien landscape.

Best Hostels in Uyuni

Totally worth the trip.

I know broke backpackers usually cringe hard at the idea of an organised tour (because I’m one of them) but this one is really worth shelling out for.

4. Find your own secret beaches

It wouldn’t be a proper backpacking South America itinerary without some beach time! Every kind of beach imaginable is found on the continent.

From tropical slices in Brazil to surfer’s paradises in Ecuador to even fjords in Chile, you won’t be lacking in choices. There are plenty of them secret spots that make those magical days.

5. Check out Medellín

Medellín is one of the most popular cities to visit in South America right now. It’s fun, safe, comfortable, and (most impressively) completely different than it was before. Medellín has shed its violent past and is ready to host the next wave of backpackers.

view over medellin backpacking colombia

Views from above Medellin.

6. Visit Machu Picchu

I mean, you’re reading a backpacking South America guide. I know you already know about this one. It is the place that attracts most people to visit South America… but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t worth visiting.

You can hike the Inca Trail like everyone else. But if you want to visit Machu Picchu in an alternative way, do the Salkantay Trek instead.

7. Hike in the Andes

The Andes are one of the greatest mountain chains in the world, known mostly for hosting the aforementioned Machu Picchu and the gargantuan Aconcagua. But there is more to these mountains than just these popular destinations: the highlands of Ecuador, Cordillera Huayhush in Peru, the Cordillera Real in Bolivia are all stunning. Even Colombia gets a slice of the pie at Cocuy National Park.

Best Hostels in Huaraz

8. A South American

Hey, most backpackers will vouch for love and sex on the road being a fucking awesome thing to take part in. But if you’ve not experienced the full passion of South Americans… don’t live the rest of your life just being curious.

They love, and they love hard. And the sex… well… I’ll leave that for you to find out.

9. Get “stuck” somewhere

South America is full of sticky places: places where you get stuck in for months on end. Florianópolis, La Paz, Medellín, Mancora… All of these locations start off as a stop on an itinerary, but eventually turn into resting places.

Don’t fight it! Find your sticky place and stay awhile.

My missus travels with all her clothes in ziplock bags: don’t be like my missus. UP YOUR PACKING GAME!

Packing cubes for the globetrotters and compression sacks for the real adventurers – these babies are a traveller’s best kept secret. They organise yo’ packing and minimise its volume too so you can pack MORE.

Or, y’know… you can stick to ziplock bags.

Backpacker Accommodation in South America

South America has a wide range of budget accommodation options for backpackers. When you are not passing the night from the comfort of your tent in the Andes or with a Couchsurfing host, you’ll need to book a hostel.

Whether you just need a place to lay your head or a spot to meet fellow backpackers like yourself, hostel life is clearly where it’s at…

In fact, I love South American hostels. I’ve had some of the best nights of my life in them and met some of the best people in my life. The continent is home to some of the best hostels in the world.

Insider tip: If you want to see all – and I mean ALL hostel options in South America, Hostelworld is the perfect one-stop-shop to book hostels. You can even filter your personal travel needs to find the perfect place for you.

South America Backpacking Costs

It is the common belief that backpacking in South America is dirt cheap. In some places this is true, but it doesn’t go for the whole continent.

But fear not! Travelling South America on a budget can definitely be done.

Due to the nature of Patagonia being one of the most remote areas on earth, expect higher travel costs than the rest of South America. Peru also takes some navigating in order to travel on a tight budget.

Brazil is one of the most expensive countries in South America. The cost of living in Brazil is higher and it is notorious for jacking up accommodation prices during the high season.

Best Hostels in Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro ain’t cheap folks.

With a few travel tips up your sleeve, you will save a ton of money and have the time of your life. Bring your haggle game whilst backpacking through Latin America to ensure you get the best possible price for things, including accommodation.

Taking long-distance buses, buying beer and drugs, paying entrance fees to national parks… these things add up fast. But sometimes you have to shell out the dough in order to do the things you want.

Remember to always leave a little extra wiggle room in your budget so you can go scuba diving or go on a trek that you have been dreaming about!

Daily Budgets for South America

Here is a breakdown of what you can expect to pay on a daily basis whilst backpacking South America…

Travel Tips for Broke Backpackers in South America

Hey, all those dollaridoodles add up to more fun times. So saving whatever you can on your journey means you can be on the journey… for longer. So here are a few budget travel tips for South America:

Camping is for badass budgeters!

  • Camp: With plenty of untouched beaches, forests, stunning countryside, and far-flung jungle, South America is a great place to carry a good backpacking tent. Camping saves you money and can help you get off of the beaten path.
  • Cook your own food: Travel with a portable backpacking stove and cook your own food to save some serious cash whilst backpacking across South America. If you plan to do some overnight hiking trips or camping on the beach, having a backpacking stove will be a great asset.
  • Haggle: Haggle as much as you can. You can always get a better price for things, especially while in local markets. Learning Spanish will go a long way!
  • Couchsurf: South Americans are awesome. Get to know some! Check out Couchsurfing to make some real friendships and see the real continent. When using Couchsurfing, be sure to send personalized messages to your potential host. A generic copy and paste message is much more likely to get turned down. Make yourself stand out.
  • Hitchhike: Although some countries are friendlier than others, hitchhiking across South America is common practice, so you won’t struggle too much to find a ride. Speaking at least a little Spanish will go a long way though. You want to explain exactly what you’re doing and where you want to go.

Why Should You Travel to South America with a Water Bottle?

Plastic washes up on even the most pristine places… So do your part and keep the Big Blue beautiful!

You aren’t going to save the world overnight, but together we CAN make a difference. I hope you become more inspired to continue being a responsible traveller.

Plus, now you won’t be buying overpriced bottles of water either! Travel with a filtered water bottle instead and never waste a cent nor a turtle’s life again.

Grayl Geopress Water Purifier Bottle

Drink water from ANYWHERE. The Grayl Geopress is the market’s leading filtered water bottle protecting your tum from all the waterborne nasties. PLUS, you save money and the environment!

Single-use plastic bottles are a MASSIVE threat to marine life. Be a part of the solution and travel with a filter water bottle.

We’ve tested the Geopress rigorously from the icy heights of Pakistan to the tropical jungles of Cuba, and the results are in: it WORKS. Buy a Geopress: it’s the last water bottle you’ll ever buy.

Best Time to Travel to South America

You know by now that we are talking about an enormous amount of land with regards to the South American continent. Countries in South America near the Equator do not experience distinct seasons. As you start to head south you will find the seasons to be the opposite of what they are in the Northern Hemisphere i.e. winter in June.

Patagonia experiences bitterly cold and windy winters. I do not advise travelling there during the winter unless you are a serious mountaineer and have all the right gear.

Machu Piccu is best with clear skies.

Dry season depends on the country. Generally, the cooler months from June to September are the driest in the coastal areas. In the Amazon – given that it is the world’s biggest rainforest – is wet pretty much all year. The Andes are the driest from April – November.

High season for all countries is, without a doubt, from December – February. This is due to holidays occurring over that time and it is also the time when many gringos and locals alike take their holidays. Backpacking in the low or shoulder seasons will definitely make for a cheaper trip, especially with regards to accommodation.

Best Time to Visit – Country Breakdown

Here are the best times to visit South America broken down by country!

Best Months to Travel: September – April

What’s the climate in Brazil like?

In the south, the hot, wet summer season runs from November – March. In the north, the rainy season is from April – August. In the Amazon, it rains pretty much all year.

If you want to visit during the festival season though, September-March is best.

Best Months to Travel: November – March

What’s the climate in Colombia like?

Generally speaking, travellers should visit Cartagena and the Caribbean coast between November and March when the weather is dry. The rest of the country is good year-round. Bogota, Cali, and Medellin are always pleasant weather-wise.

Best Months to Travel: March – May, September – November

What’s the climate in Ecuador and Peru like?

Lots and lots of micro-climates in the Ecuador Peru region. But there are some general trends:

  • The highlands/Andes are dry from May – September. These are the best months for hiking and visiting Machu Picchu.
  • The coast is warm and dry from December – May. This is the best time for the Galápagos.
  • The Amazon is always wet and humid as shit.
  • The south of Peru is much drier than the north, and Ecuador for that matter.

You’ll need to plan your trip carefully around what you want to see and do.

Best Months to Travel: May – October

What’s the climate in Bolivia like?

The winter season (May – October) is also its dry season, and the best time to visit Bolivia. This means that nights can be very cold, especially when you’re at higher altitudes. Although Bolivia is generally drier than its neighbours, it stills gets dumped on in the wet, summer season.

Best Months to Travel: March – April, October – November

What’s the climate in Chile like?

Summers in Chile are generally the high season. That being said, this may not be the best time to visit. Prices are at their highest, the Atacama Desert is a furnace, and the winds are VERY strong in Patagonia.

Like almost anywhere, the shoulder months (October – November & March – April) are better.

Best Months to Travel: October – April.

What’s the climate in Argentina and Uruguay like?

Summer for most of the country is from December – February. In the north, the summers can see rain and temperatures that soar to almost unbearable. In the south and Patagonia, summers are dry(ish) and pleasant.

The winters, obviously, are extremely cold in the south. Whereas the north generally has pretty mild winters.

Festivals in South America

South America is famous worldwide for being party central. In addition to some great music festivals, South America is home to many important cultural and religious events as well. Catching a festival is a great way to immerse yourself in South American culture!

carnival in rip backpacking south america

Carnaval might just be the craziest party in the world.

  • Cosquín Folk Festival, Argentina (January) – Argentina’s largest celebration of traditional and folk music. It takes place in the village of Cosquín near Córdoba.
  • Carnaval, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador (February/March) – The best party on the planet! Everyone is having as much fun as possible before abstaining for Lent. Rio, Salvador, and Recife host the most famous parties.The Carnival celebration in Brazil is without a doubt the wildest.
  • Inti Raymi, Peru (June) – Inti Raymi, the ancient Inca Festival of the Sun, is one of the most traditional Peruvian festivals.
  • Festival de las Flores, Colombia (August) – The festival takes places in Medellin, Antioquía. This festival happens every year during the first two weeks of August and lasts around 10 days. If you love having your mind blown by botanical wonders, this fest is for you.
  • Rock al Parque, Colombia (August) – A firm fixture on the Bogota live music calendar, Rock al Parque is an annual festival dedicated to – you guessed it – rock music, which has taken place in Simon Bolivar Park every year since 1995.
  • Mistura Culinary Festival, Peru (September) – If you like good, Peruvian street meats and food carts, this is a must-visit.
  • Rock in Rio, Brazil (September) – The biggest music festival in South America. Every single genre is represented.
  • Oktoberfest, Argentina (October) – Argentina’s own version of the great German beer festival. Takes place in Villa General Belgrano, in the state of Córdoba.
Read Post  The Best Time to Travel to South America

What to Pack for South America

Travelling through South America is a lot easier if you have the right gear. A thorough backpacking South America packing list goes a long way – literally.

Backpacking South America Travel Guide • 2022

So you are getting ready to travel South America, eh? Great call!

Backpacking through South America is like learning to ride a bike without the training wheels. There is just the right amount of danger and curve balls to keep you alert, focused, and totally stoked on life.

With the exception of a handful of backpacker hotspots, South America is the wild west frontier of backpacking. This is the land of crazy parties, epic surfing, sprawling cities, and wild landscapes including the Andes and the Amazon jungle.

Above all else, South America is stunningly beautiful. Though challenging to navigate at times, it’s budget backpacker friendly, diverse, relatively safe, and one hell of a travel experience…

But South America is MASSIVE. Deciding where to go and how to plan a backpacking trip is a mind-boggling task. That’s where I come in, amigos. This South America travel guide will provide you with EVERYTHING you need to know to prepare for your trip through South America.

Here’s the full low-down on backpacking South America itinerary and routes, country profiles, tips and tricks for South America budget travel, and much more.

Lace up your bootstraps and prepare to have your travel inspiration skyrocket. We’re going on an adventure!

Group photo.

Why Go Backpacking in South America?

The South American continent is one of my favourite places on earth. As a younger man, my trip backpacking South America was my first major solo journey. I learned the art of budget travel, fell in love, and had a multitude of life-changing experiences along the way.

South America attracts an older, more experienced, backpacker crowd than the Southeast Asia circuit. If you want to get off the beaten track whilst still having the option to meet plenty of other travellers, South America is the place to level up your backpacking game and head on a real adventure…

Backpacking South America’s finest: Iguazu Falls.

South America is arguably one of the most diverse continents on earth. It is home to the world’s second-highest mountain range in the Andes, world-class surf beaches, the Amazon Basin, the world’s driest desert, huge plains of lush grassland, glaciers, and unique wildlife not found anywhere else on Earth.

Each country you visit whilst backpacking South America offers up the opportunity to experience the incredible natural and cultural forces unique to that region.

Backpacking South America is generally a cheap endeavour – although it’s not as cheap as Southeast Asia or India. There are some fairly expensive corners of South America that you should avoid if you’re travelling on a budget.

You will fall in love with South America (and maybe a person or two along the way). So let’s dive into some South America travel itineraries and backpacking routes to get you pumped for your trip.

Best Travel Itineraries for Backpacking South America

When making a South America backpacking itinerary, remember that travel distances can be HUGE, internal flights expensive, and sometimes you end up getting stuck in a place for longer than anticipated.

Vamos!

So you want to choose your South America backpacking route very carefully. Unlike other continents, how much time you have really matters; you simply can’t do all of it.

If you only have 2 or 3 weeks for travelling South America, forget about seeing the whole continent. Maybe you could visit Bolivia and Lake Titicaca in Peru for example. But I recommend just sticking to one country and devoting your energy to exploring it properly.

In one month, you could explore some countries closer to each other.

It’s easy to fall in love with a place and want to stay longer too. So it’s good to have room for spontaneity in your South America travel itinerary.

2 Week South America Travel Itinerary – A Taste of South America

1.Cartagena, 2.Santa Marta, 3.Tayrona National Park, 4.Cartagena, 5.Islas de San Bernardo

You’ll have to keep moving to make this itinerary happen in 2 weeks, but I believe in you!

Start your backpacking South America itinerary in Colombia by visiting Cartagena. After a few days, head to Santa Marta, the jump-off point for Minca – a charming mountain town – and Tayrona National Park.

Get a bit off the beaten path, and head east to Cabo de la Vela (where the desert meets the sea) and Punta Galinas, where you can feast on fresh seafood along the Caribbean coast. Doubling back to Cartagena, head to nearby Playa Blanca and Tolú (mangrove) before heading to Islas de San Bernardo (white-sanded islands).

Or you could start in Lima, Peru. Explore the city for a day or two before heading to the Nazca Lines, Arequipa, and Colca Canyon.

Then head to Cusco in the Andes. Take a few days getting used to the altitude before setting off on a multi-day trek to Macchu Picchu.

Alternatively, you could start in Buenos Aires. Then you can head south to trek in Patagonia. In southern Argentina and Chile, you can do the world-famous Torres del Paine circuit. 2 weeks would be cutting it fine but – if you hustle – you could pull it off.

In 2 weeks, you can get a good taste of Colombia, Ecuador, or Bolivia. Don’t miss out on the Salt Flats.

1 Month South America Travel Itinerary – A Proper Backpacking Trip

1.Rio de Janiero, 2.Ilha Grande, 3.Paraty, 4.São Paolo, 5.Curitiba, 6.Balneario Camboriu, 7.Florianópolis

With 1 month, you can make an epic backpacking South America itinerary. If you want to explore more than one country in South America, you’re gonna need more than 3 weeks.

For surf bums, you could easily spend a month heading beach to beach from Southern Peru all the way to Colombia, in 1 month. Or you could do 2 weeks in Argentina followed by 2 weeks of hiking in Chilean Patagonia.

If it were me, larger countries like Argentina, Chile, and Brazil are better to explore with more than 1 month. You can do it but you will spend a long time on bus journeys, so I would just stick to one area.

Southeast Brazil is a good choice for 1 month on a South America itinerary: travel from Rio de Janeiro all the way south to Florianópolis and hit up everything in between. Bear in mind that you’ll probably want to stay in Rio AND Floripa longer than you expect.

Highlights of this route include exploring the megapolis of São Paulo, idyllic getaways of Ilha Grande and Paraty, eco-friendly and laidback Curitiba, and the crazy nightclubs of Balneário Camboriú.

Or, you could fly into Ecuador and spend 3 weeks exploring here: stay at a great hostel in Guayaquil before heading to Montañita. In Montañita you can party and surf to your heart’s content. Head North towards Bahia de Caraquez and Canoa for surf towns that are more off the beaten path.

Next head to the mountains, stopping first in Quito. There are some excellent treks in the Ecuadorian Andes. If you have time, definitely hit up the Volcano Loop trail on the outskirts of Cotopaxi National Park. A trip to the jungle around Puyo is recommended as well. Then head for a week of trekking in Colombia.

3 Month South America Travel Itinerary – The Great South America Circuit

1.Quito, 2.Bahia de Caraquez, 3.Mancora, 4.Trujillo, 5.Lima, 6.Machu Picchu

3 months backpacking South America, eh? Hell yes!

I recommend flying into Lima, Peru unless you know you want to start in the north (Brazil or Colombia) or further south (Argentina or Chile). Explore Lima and the coast before heading to the Andes. There Machu Picchu awaits in all of its glory.

Definitely do a trek to the famous Inca city! (More on hiking in South America later). From here, you can either drop down on the other side of the Andes and explore the Amazon basin or you can head south to Bolivia and eventually Argentina and Patagonia.

Alternatively, you can slowly start making your way north via the Coast. You could spend a month (or more) in Ecuador, Colombia, or Brazil respectively.

Personally, I started off in Buenos Aires, went all the way to the southern tip of Patagonia, and made my way north en route to Ecuador and Colombia from there. The distances were truly massive. I’m talking 30-hour bus rides (on comfortable buses I must say).

Travelling in South America is never a quick affair, so plan your itinerary accordingly.

6 Month South America Travel Itinerary – The Whole Damn Thing! (Almost)

1.Rio de Janeiro, 2.Sao Paolol, 3.Iguacu Falls, 4.Buenos Aires, 5.Bariloche, 6.Torres del Paine, 7.Santiago, 8.La Paz, 9.Machu Piccu, 10.Lima, 11.Quito, 12.Bogota, 13.Caracas

Life has brought you to the fortunate crossroads of having 6 months to travel South America? Good on you!

With a 6-month backpacking South America itinerary, you have the luxury of really being able to take your damn time. To see multiple countries, it’s a practical choice to begin your journey either in the north or the south to avoid backtracking.

With a 6 month itinerary, you can explore many South American countries in depth. I’ll be honest with you, the itinerary shown on the map is really fucking ambitious. But hopefully, it gives you an idea of what crossing the whole continent would look like.

Starting your journey in Rio de Janerio or São Paulo might be a bit of a rough landing, though you will be a primed bad-ass by the time it comes to move on to another country. Other options are starting with some days in Buenos Aires, in Argentina, and Chile, in the south.

You could be surfing it up on the coast of Ecuador one day, and be in the mountains of Peru several days (and many bus rides) later. I advise taking a chunk of your time to really explore and get off the beaten path in destinations like Brazil, Colombia and Bolivia.

Having 6 months or more to go backpacking truly means you have a total blank slate to work with. So get ready to write your own beautiful backpacking destiny!

Best Places to Visit in South America – Country Breakdowns

Each country in South America has something unique and profoundly exciting for backpackers. But they also have some common themes: they are Spanish speaking (minus Portuguese in Brazil), they have stunning natural beauty, and some of the nicest people you will meet whilst travelling. So finding the best places to backpack in South America has a lot to do with your own interests.

The music guides everyone in South America.

Maybe you’ll explore the epic snow-capped peaks of Patagonia in Argentina and Chile. Soak in the surf on the stunning beaches in Ecuador.

Party with the beautiful people at the Carnival in Brazil. Trek to the Lost City in Colombia. Experience the sun-drenched deserts of Bolivia and the colourful Rainbow Mountains of Peru.

Come change your life.

Backpacking through South America truly is a life-changing journey through one of the planet’s most fascinating landmasses. When you visit South America, you can be sure that it will be some of the most fun you will have in your life.

South America is a continent on the move. The number of people travelling to South America is increasing every year. Whilst the cost of living in South America remains quite low, each country requires a different budget for travellers.

Once you begin to discover a few of the South American countries for yourself, you can be sure that you will be entranced by the jaw-dropping landscapes, fascinating history, vibrant culture, and awesome food.

Let’s take a look at the countries that make backpacking in South America so damn special.

Backpacking Brazil

Brazil is, hands down, one of South America’s most dynamic countries. It’s all about the extremes. Whether it’s the parties, the people, or nature, the vibrations run through everything – and connect everyone.

Backpacking in Brazil offers up killer surf beaches, fun-loving locals, insane parties, and landscapes that would make even the most seasoned traveller say “damn, for real?

Of course, the Brazilian festival Carnival is legendary – and for good reason. Get your mind blown on the Brazilian side of Iguaçu Falls, visit the Amazon, drink a Caipirinha on the beach! Plus Brazil’s home to big up-and-coming cities like Belo Horizonte, Curitiba, and Natale.

Backpacking South America

Rio de Janerio looking good at the golden hour…

And when I say ‘extreme’, I mean extreme: Brazil is absolutely MASSIVE and covers nearly half (47%) of South America’s landmass! That should give you an idea of how big it is.

But, more importantly, it gives you a better idea of how much diversity Brazil has on offer. In fact, there’s a lot going for Brazil that you may not be aware of.

For example, trekking probably isn’t the first thing that pops into your mind when you think about backpacking through Brazil. It’s a shame because Brazil has truly gorgeous trails spread throughout the country.

The best hiking opportunities are usually found in the parques nacionais (national parks). Brazil has over 70 national parks and – in terms of beauty – these can contend with any other on Earth.

What to Know Before Visiting Brazil

Art that gives you the feels.

  • Don’t miss out on… Florianopolis. The Brazilians favourite place to visit for a reason. It’s chilled, safe, and gorgeous. You plan to stay in Floripa for a week, it grabs you by the balls, and you get stuck for months.
  • Keep an eye out for… Travel distances. Don’t be fooled: they’re way longer than they seem on the map. Give yourself plenty of time to get from A to B.
  • The coolest hostel is…O de Casa Hostel Bar (São Paulo) – consistently voted as one of the best hostels in Brazil. Vila Madalena is easily the coolest part of the city too.
  • The best food is found in… Belo Horizonte. There is an amazing energy to this place; everyone hangs out on the streets, eating and drinking at plastic tables, all night long.

Backpacking Colombia

Whilst South America has many countries that I consider to have the full package, Colombia is the most complete. It’s a relatively small country. So considering the scale of epic surf, neverending parties, untouched jungle, happening cities, and towering mountains, Colombia is a reason for backpackers to keep travelling!

Cali, Cartagena, Bogotá, and Medellín are a few cities in Colombia where you can really let loose. Don’t fight the salsa; let your body move with the music. Go and have some extraordinary conversations with the locals about life in Latin America.

lost city in colombia

A sweaty trek to Colombia’s legendary lost city.

Is Colombia safe? Perhaps your mum would love to know. Hell yes, it is!

As much as Colombianos are ready for the disassociation with Pablo Escobar, it’s hard not to mention the impact that he made on the country and the South American continent as a whole. But his reign of terror is over.

Modern-day Colombia couldn’t be more different from the days when narco-traffickers ruled the country. Visiting Medellín now vs 20 years ago is a COMPLETELY different experience. The Medellín of today is much more safe and secure.

Colombia is for adventure junkies and nature lovers too. The northern terminus of the Andes Mountains ends here and you can take your treks into the deep jungle.

What to Know Before Visiting Colombia

aerial view of bogota capital of colombia

Bogota.

  • Don’t miss out on… Carnival in Barranquilla. Most of the time, this industrial town is overlooked by travellers. But for one week of the year, this place goes NUTS.
  • Keep an eye out for… how difficult the trek to Cuidad Perdida is. It’s long, treacherous, and hot as shit, but absolutely worth the effort in the end. The Lost City is one of the best places to visit in South America.
  • The coolest hostel is…The Secret Garden (Cotopaxi) – The most serene garden hostel with hobbit style houses.
  • The best food is found in… the local urban lunch stalls, which offer the best bang-for-your-buck. Head to ones that serve glorious arepas.

Backpacking Ecuador

Ecuador might be small but it certainly packs a punch. I spent 3 months backpacking in Ecuador and could easily spend many more.

The diversity is incredible and it’s a great place or experience Andean Highland culture. The people who live in the Andes have a distinct and ancient culture rooted in mountain life. They even speak another language called Quechua.

In addition to staying in colonial cities like Quito, Ecuador’s natural landscape is the biggest draw. You can spend weeks or months exploring the coast before heading to the mountains and vice versa. Towering over the shore, volcanoes, waterfalls, and massive snow-capped mountains all make incredible trekking routes.

Surfing reigns supreme on the Ecuadorian coast. It attracts surfers from all over the globe. Even if you’re a beginner, it’s a great place to catch your first waves. Towns like Montañita and Canoa are famous surf beaches and party hotspots.

Surfs up in Ecuador

If you have some extra cash in your budget, you can visit The Galápagos Islands. But be warned – this is not a cheap endeavour, especially for excursions like diving (though it is AWESOME). So prepare yourself to shell out some cash!

Then there is the Amazon Basin of Ecuador. The Amazon region is what helps make Ecuador one of the most biologically diverse places on earth. The Amazon is best explored by boat with a local guide and is bound to be the adventure of a lifetime!

What to Know Before Visiting Ecuador

guy swinging in the jungle in ecuador

Flying through Ecuador.

  • Don’t miss out on… exploring the highlands and Cotopaxi National Park. Easily accessed from Quito and totally epic.
  • You know what’s overrated Montañita. It’s not all it use to be and is mostly catered to foreigners who want to get wasted and high. If you want real Ecuadorian culture, there are better places nearby.
  • The coolest hostel is…Rio Muchado – this is pretty far off the beaten path but worth the journey. Relaxed, peaceful, and it has an amazing organic cafe. A restful spot away from the party!
  • The best food is found in… the small almuerzo (lunch) cafes found across the country.

Backpacking Peru

Ah Peru. Backpacking Peru is the essence of travelling in South America. Though tourism has spiked in Peru in recent years, there is still plenty of magic to be found here.

The cost of backpacking Peru is a little higher than you might expect. Expect to pay between $30-40 USD a day whilst travelling here. (But more about the cost of backpacking South America later.)

Peru has a super long coastline dotted with prime surf beaches and scuba diving sites. In the Andes lies a whole other form of beauty.

I mean, who isn’t aware of Machu Picchu and hiking the Inca Trail? Besides the obvious, there is much, much more to the Peruvian Andes than Machu Picchu. Although, you still have to go there!

hiking Cordillera Huayhuash

Colca Canyon is one of the most epic places in Peru!

Peru has some truly fascinating colonial cities as well, including Cuenca and Cuzco, which is the gateway city to Machu Picchu. The off the beaten path potential in Peru is enormous.

Check out the Rainbow Mountains to see nature at its most colourful. Hike the majestic Cordillera Huayhuash. Explore Colca Canyon and sleep out under a billion stars.

If you want a truly magical experience, there are many eco-lodges in Peru that are nestled in the best nature spots, from the Amazon jungle to the Andes mountain range.

Wherever you decide to travel in Peru, be sure that it will be a highlight of your South America backpacking adventure.

What to Know Before Visiting Peru

visiting macchu pichu in peru

Macchu Pichu.

  • Don’t miss out on… a motorcycle journey through the Sacred Valley outside Cuzco. It’s definitely worth staying in Cuzco a little longer for this.
  • You know what’s overrated… the Inca Trail. Go for the less-trod Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu instead.
  • The coolest hostel is…Banana’s Adventure (Huacachina). Full disclosure: Peruvian hostels tend to be party hostels. If that’s what you’re looking for, this one may be the best of them all.
  • The best food is found in… Lima. This city is full of cafes, local lunch spots, and street food vendors. The best are in Barranco and Miraflores. Pig out on ceviche!

Backpacking Bolivia

Backpacking in Bolivia offers up a glimpse of what South America was like 30 years ago. It’s a country looking to the future in many ways whilst still having one foot firmly rooted in the tradition of the past.

Expect super friendly locals, dramatic desert and mountain landscapes, and the kind of low prices which make the dirtbag within us very happy. You could easily get by on $20-25 a day here, and even less by roughing it a bit.

Bolivia is home to plenty of adrenaline-pumping activities including the Road of Death, which, in essence, is a road down through the mountains in which people ride bicycles to the bottom at top speed. The ride goes on for at least 30 kilometres and it is straight down. Can you guess why it’s called the Road of Death yet?

Aside from the high-risk adventure activities, Bolivia is safe for the most part as well.

backpacking Bolivia

The impressive Sol de Manana Geysers in Bolivia.

World-class trekking is abundant in the Bolivian Andes. If you love to hike, all the more reason to visit Bolivia. Bring along a good sleeping bag as temperatures can plummet at night.

La Paz has the best hostels (particularly for partiers) and is a cool city to base yourself in. Lake Titicaca is breathtaking, however, it has become far too touristy – I personally can’t deal with that many people taking selfies. I don’t blame the locals as they need to make a living. Just the way it has been done is unfortunate.

The Salt Flats are also cool AF. Okay, admittedly it’s pretty touristy too, but it’s still worth a visit.

What to Know Before Visiting Bolivia

flamingos in the deserts of bolivia

Fla-mingle with flamingos.

  • Don’t miss out on… the Salar de Uyuni. Yes, everyone who comes to Bolivia does this and, yes, it’s touristy. Regardless, it’s still in-fuckin-credible.
  • Keep an eye out for… the altitude. Some people fly directly to La Paz from sea level and get sick almost immediately. At 3640 meters, La Paz is the highest major city in the world.
  • The coolest hostel is…Greenhouse Bolivia (La Paz). This is a more laidback lodge, away from all the comotion. Even if you’re a party person, you need some downtime now and again.
  • The best food is found in… La Paz. This is the epicenter of Bolivia’s newly emerging food culture.

Backpacking Chile

There are no half measures while Backpacking Chile. From trekking through gorgeous glacial national parks to exploring the martian bone-dry Atacama desert , you’re all in for one hell of an experience.

There are 36 National Parks in Chile; all of them are beautiful and unique in their own way. Chile is also home to Easter Island, one of the most mysterious places on the planet.

Backpacking South America

Easter Island guardians.

Like Argentina, Chilean Patagonia is a paradise for trekkers and adventure types – though it does take some effort to reach the places you want to go trekking in. That said, the journey is well worth it; experiencing some of the planets last truly wild places is an indescribable feeling that you can only understand by doing it!

Read Post  Beginner s guide to South America

Most backpackers will start their backpacking journey in Santiago. But you can come to Chile from one of its borders in the South (as I did).

Oh yeah, one more thing: Chilean wine is cheap and it is damn good! Do you need more reasons?

What to Know Before Visiting Chile

torres del paine best places to visit in chile

Torres del Paine.

  • Don’t miss out on… Patagonia, and not just the usual spots. Chilean Patagonia is vastly unexplored, especially the fjords. Look out for whales, dolphins, penguins, and elephant seals.
  • Keep an eye out for… fire bans in Torres del Paine. A lot of nature has been threatened because of dickhead backpackers using gas burners, despite warnings.
  • The coolest hostel is…Last Hope Puerto Natales – a super nice hostel that helps organise trips to Torres del Paine. Pets welcome!
  • The best food is found in… Santiago. Staying in Santiago will unlock the most culinary options, including the cheap street food stalls.

Backpacking Argentina

Backpacking Argentina will be one for the ages. Welcome to the land of wine, excessive meat, football, tango, incredibly passionate people, and South America’s final frontier – Patagonia.

Argentina is an immense country with very distinct regions. Eat to your heart’s content, party harder than you ever have before, and fall deeply in love.

You’ll probably land in Buenos Aires, arguably the cultural capital of all of South America. Unquestionably, you’re going to find incredible hostels in Buenos Aires and reasons to stay. But don’t stay too long!

Rosario and Cordoba are cities like Buenos Aires but, in my opinion, better. They’re a perfect place to head to if you want to steer clear of the heavily populated capital. Mendoza is the wine region home to the “best wine in the world” (according to Argentinos).

glacier in southern Patagonia

Ice glacier(s) in southern Patagonia.

Further south lies Patagonia: one of my favourite places on Earth. Patagonia is a truly expansive, desolate wilderness area where the weather is harsh and civilization is few and far between.

Trek mountains and glaciers, or sea kayak around them,. There, you could go days without seeing many (if any) backpackers! Now THAT’S the dream.

Staying at an Argentine mountain hut (refugio) is a wonderful experience not to be missed. Few who travel to Argentina manage to make it as far as Tierra del Fuego (the Land of Fire). Visit one of the most dramatic places in Argentina with its long summer days and epic arctic landscapes.

Speaking of the arctic, you can arrange trips to Antarctica from Ushuaia! This would be the adventure of a lifetime but it’s by no means cheap.

What to Know Before Visiting Argentina

tango dancers in buenos aires

The sexiest dance you’ve ever seen.

  • Don’t miss out on… El Chaltén, which is the base for seeing some of the most dramatic peaks on Earth: Cerro Torre and Fitz Roy.
  • You know what’s overrated… La Boca in Buenos Aires. These much-hyped multi-coloured houses are pretty rundown and actually quite dangerous, I strongly suggest you avoid it. The whole area feels like a tourist trap. There’s much better things to do in Buenos Aires.
  • The coolest hostel is…America del Sur Hostel (El Calafate) – Super chic hostel with great views and amazingly rustic architecture.
  • The best food is found in… your neighbour’s personal asado. Nothing beats grilling grade-A Argentinian beef with some locals.
  • The official exchange rate is NOT THE EXCHANGE RATE. Because of the fluctating exchange rate, many of the locals withdraw their cash by using what is referred to as a “blue dollar rate” from Western Union. This way gives you 50% more pesos than withdrawing pesos from an ATM or exchanging currency. You can read more about this in our Agentina guide.

Backpacking Uruguay

Not many travellers end up backpacking in Uruguay. There are a few reasons why:

  1. It’s small
  2. It’s out of the way
  3. There’s not a ton to do

All of the above are true to some extent: Uruguay is not overflowing with adventurous activities or jaw-dropping sights. But let me tell you, they have some of the best quality of living in South America.

One of the perks about Uruguay is you don’t HAVE to do anything here. People are friendly and, compared to some chaos you find in other areas of the continent, it’s pretty chill. The beautiful coast is the perfect place to get away from the usual backpacking South America route and to avoid traveller’s burnout.

Casa Blanca near Punta del Este uruguay

Casa Blanca near Punta del Este.

Outside of Montevideo, there are nice beach towns worth crashing at; Punta del Diablo is the quintessential lazy surfer town. Punta del Este is fun in the summer if you like partying. Colonia del Sacramento is an old colonial outpost and UNESCO heritage – although it is admittedly more of a day trip rather than a base.

Oh but here’s the kicker: weed is legalised. Yes, Uruguay is famous for allowing the smoking of the devil’s lettuce. And the quality of it is surprisingly good.

Lots of locals keep a weed garden on their balconies. Perhaps your hostel in Montevideo will have one?

Head to Uruguay if you want to chill out and do your own thing. It’s easy to travel to Brazil and Argentina from there too.

What to Know Before Visiting Uruguay

uruguay Colonia del Sacramento

Colonia del Sacramento.

  • Don’t miss out on… Punta del Diablo. This is laid-back surfer town evades most backpackers. It is arguably one of the best beach towns in South America.
  • You know what’s overrated… Punta del Este. This place literally exists for the sake of Argentinians on holiday. In the off-season, it’s empty.
  • The coolest hostel is…Hostel Charruas (Montevideo) – Amazing vibes, good people, great facilities, perfect location – it’s really the coolest place to stay!
  • The best food is found in… Montevideo. Can’t beat a giant chivito after you’ve got the munchies!

Backpacking Venezuela

Venezuela is a truly incredible country. With towering mountains, steaming forests, endless beaches, and just enough danger to keep you on your toes, this country is every budding adventurer’s dream destination.

A Disclaimer on Visiting Venezuela

Unfortunately, due to the political situation in Venezuela, The Broke Backpacker absolutely does not condone visiting the country right now. It is simply not safe and it would be irresponsible to even attempt to Venezuela at present.

Unless you somehow have absolutely solid and trustworthy contacts on the ground, Venezuela is not the place to travel for the foreseeable future. We do not have any contacts to give out.

That being said, there are many team members at The Broke Backpacker that hold a special place for Venezuela in their hearts. For this reason, we are leaving this information available to you, our readers, as an homage to a country we love. We can’t wait for the day that it will be safe to visit again.

Backpacking Venezuela has a truly terrible reputation. Don’t get me wrong, travelling Venezuela has been dangerous in recent years: this is a country where you need to keep both eyes on your gear, watch who you’re with, and be on the lookout for iffy situations before they get the chance to rear their ugly head.

Backpacking in Venezuela is, in my opinion, one of the last great adventures out there. Plus it’s one of the cheapest countries in the world to backpack in.

backpacking venezuela

Adrenaline on the ground AND in the air.

Venezuela is a mysterious country. It attracts adventurers looking for a raw adventure.

It’s a country yet to be polluted by heavy tourism with incredible landscapes of mountains, forests, lakes, and caves. It is a kind of Shangri-La for adventurers and extreme sports lovers.

A South American backpacking trip to Venezuela is getting into the wild. To feel like the old explorers, Venezuela will not disappoint you. But backpacking Venezuela is not for the faint-hearted: this is a veteran explorer country.

What to Know Before Visiting Venezuela

angels falls and roraima

Angel Falls.

  • Don’t miss out on… Mt. Roraima – the highest tabletop mountain in the world; an incredible place to explore. Sometimes you feel like you’re walking on an island in the sky.
  • Keep an eye out for… the seasons when visiting Angel Falls. When it’s dry, the falls are actually quite weak (it’s more like a trickle).
  • The coolest hostel is…Posada Villa Del Sol (Margarita Island). When you can stay in Venezuela again, this has the most incredible view of the ocean!
  • The best food is found in… the buffet places where you pay by the weight of your plate. A little goes a long way here and you won’t be disappointed!

Getting Off the Beaten Path in South America

South America is totally full of wild places, tiny villages, far-flung settlements, lonesome valleys, sparsely inhabited jungle… Point being, there are plenty of great places to get off the beaten path. With a little motivation, you may well find yourself cutting your own path and writing your own backpacking destiny, one adventure at a time.

Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.

Explore South America’s national park systems as much as you can. Investigate the little interesting-looking food stalls where all the locals are queuing up.

Don’t rely on a guidebook of popular places. In South America, those tiny towns in the middle of nowhere are where the real culture is, and the real adventures. All you need is a bus ticket…

Osprey Aether

We’ve tested countless backpacks over the years, but there’s one that still stands the test of time: the backpacker-approved Osprey Aether.

Want more deetz on why it’s so damn perfect? Then read our comprehensive review for the inside scoop!

9 Top Things To Do in South America

1. Explore Patagonia

Patagonia is still one of the last untouched wildernesses on the planet. Not everyone gets to experience this in their lifetime! In addition to the usual superlative locations, like Cerro Torre and Torres del Paine, there are heaps to discover off-trail.

laguna fitz roy patagonia argentina

One of the most photographed places on Earth.

2. Party hard at Carnival

It’s the biggest party on the planet! Grab yo’ body paint, yo’ finest feathers, whatever else you can get your hands on, and join the festivities!

You won’t ever forget the time you spent Carnival in South America. The carnivals in Bahia, Rio, and Barranquilla are particularly good.

3. Explore the salts flats of Uyuni

It’s one of the most unique places on the planet and a highlight of any South America backpacking trip. Get ready to be wowed by this alien landscape.

Best Hostels in Uyuni

Totally worth the trip.

I know broke backpackers usually cringe hard at the idea of an organised tour (because I’m one of them) but this one is really worth shelling out for.

4. Find your own secret beaches

It wouldn’t be a proper backpacking South America itinerary without some beach time! Every kind of beach imaginable is found on the continent.

From tropical slices in Brazil to surfer’s paradises in Ecuador to even fjords in Chile, you won’t be lacking in choices. There are plenty of them secret spots that make those magical days.

5. Check out Medellín

Medellín is one of the most popular cities to visit in South America right now. It’s fun, safe, comfortable, and (most impressively) completely different than it was before. Medellín has shed its violent past and is ready to host the next wave of backpackers.

view over medellin backpacking colombia

Views from above Medellin.

6. Visit Machu Picchu

I mean, you’re reading a backpacking South America guide. I know you already know about this one. It is the place that attracts most people to visit South America… but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t worth visiting.

You can hike the Inca Trail like everyone else. But if you want to visit Machu Picchu in an alternative way, do the Salkantay Trek instead.

7. Hike in the Andes

The Andes are one of the greatest mountain chains in the world, known mostly for hosting the aforementioned Machu Picchu and the gargantuan Aconcagua. But there is more to these mountains than just these popular destinations: the highlands of Ecuador, Cordillera Huayhush in Peru, the Cordillera Real in Bolivia are all stunning. Even Colombia gets a slice of the pie at Cocuy National Park.

Best Hostels in Huaraz

8. A South American

Hey, most backpackers will vouch for love and sex on the road being a fucking awesome thing to take part in. But if you’ve not experienced the full passion of South Americans… don’t live the rest of your life just being curious.

They love, and they love hard. And the sex… well… I’ll leave that for you to find out.

9. Get “stuck” somewhere

South America is full of sticky places: places where you get stuck in for months on end. Florianópolis, La Paz, Medellín, Mancora… All of these locations start off as a stop on an itinerary, but eventually turn into resting places.

Don’t fight it! Find your sticky place and stay awhile.

My missus travels with all her clothes in ziplock bags: don’t be like my missus. UP YOUR PACKING GAME!

Packing cubes for the globetrotters and compression sacks for the real adventurers – these babies are a traveller’s best kept secret. They organise yo’ packing and minimise its volume too so you can pack MORE.

Or, y’know… you can stick to ziplock bags.

Backpacker Accommodation in South America

South America has a wide range of budget accommodation options for backpackers. When you are not passing the night from the comfort of your tent in the Andes or with a Couchsurfing host, you’ll need to book a hostel.

Whether you just need a place to lay your head or a spot to meet fellow backpackers like yourself, hostel life is clearly where it’s at…

In fact, I love South American hostels. I’ve had some of the best nights of my life in them and met some of the best people in my life. The continent is home to some of the best hostels in the world.

Insider tip: If you want to see all – and I mean ALL hostel options in South America, Hostelworld is the perfect one-stop-shop to book hostels. You can even filter your personal travel needs to find the perfect place for you.

South America Backpacking Costs

It is the common belief that backpacking in South America is dirt cheap. In some places this is true, but it doesn’t go for the whole continent.

But fear not! Travelling South America on a budget can definitely be done.

Due to the nature of Patagonia being one of the most remote areas on earth, expect higher travel costs than the rest of South America. Peru also takes some navigating in order to travel on a tight budget.

Brazil is one of the most expensive countries in South America. The cost of living in Brazil is higher and it is notorious for jacking up accommodation prices during the high season.

Best Hostels in Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro ain’t cheap folks.

With a few travel tips up your sleeve, you will save a ton of money and have the time of your life. Bring your haggle game whilst backpacking through Latin America to ensure you get the best possible price for things, including accommodation.

Taking long-distance buses, buying beer and drugs, paying entrance fees to national parks… these things add up fast. But sometimes you have to shell out the dough in order to do the things you want.

Remember to always leave a little extra wiggle room in your budget so you can go scuba diving or go on a trek that you have been dreaming about!

Daily Budgets for South America

Here is a breakdown of what you can expect to pay on a daily basis whilst backpacking South America…

Travel Tips for Broke Backpackers in South America

Hey, all those dollaridoodles add up to more fun times. So saving whatever you can on your journey means you can be on the journey… for longer. So here are a few budget travel tips for South America:

Camping is for badass budgeters!

  • Camp: With plenty of untouched beaches, forests, stunning countryside, and far-flung jungle, South America is a great place to carry a good backpacking tent. Camping saves you money and can help you get off of the beaten path.
  • Cook your own food: Travel with a portable backpacking stove and cook your own food to save some serious cash whilst backpacking across South America. If you plan to do some overnight hiking trips or camping on the beach, having a backpacking stove will be a great asset.
  • Haggle: Haggle as much as you can. You can always get a better price for things, especially while in local markets. Learning Spanish will go a long way!
  • Couchsurf: South Americans are awesome. Get to know some! Check out Couchsurfing to make some real friendships and see the real continent. When using Couchsurfing, be sure to send personalized messages to your potential host. A generic copy and paste message is much more likely to get turned down. Make yourself stand out.
  • Hitchhike: Although some countries are friendlier than others, hitchhiking across South America is common practice, so you won’t struggle too much to find a ride. Speaking at least a little Spanish will go a long way though. You want to explain exactly what you’re doing and where you want to go.

Why Should You Travel to South America with a Water Bottle?

Plastic washes up on even the most pristine places… So do your part and keep the Big Blue beautiful!

You aren’t going to save the world overnight, but together we CAN make a difference. I hope you become more inspired to continue being a responsible traveller.

Plus, now you won’t be buying overpriced bottles of water either! Travel with a filtered water bottle instead and never waste a cent nor a turtle’s life again.

Grayl Geopress Water Purifier Bottle

Drink water from ANYWHERE. The Grayl Geopress is the market’s leading filtered water bottle protecting your tum from all the waterborne nasties. PLUS, you save money and the environment!

Single-use plastic bottles are a MASSIVE threat to marine life. Be a part of the solution and travel with a filter water bottle.

We’ve tested the Geopress rigorously from the icy heights of Pakistan to the tropical jungles of Cuba, and the results are in: it WORKS. Buy a Geopress: it’s the last water bottle you’ll ever buy.

Best Time to Travel to South America

You know by now that we are talking about an enormous amount of land with regards to the South American continent. Countries in South America near the Equator do not experience distinct seasons. As you start to head south you will find the seasons to be the opposite of what they are in the Northern Hemisphere i.e. winter in June.

Patagonia experiences bitterly cold and windy winters. I do not advise travelling there during the winter unless you are a serious mountaineer and have all the right gear.

Machu Piccu is best with clear skies.

Dry season depends on the country. Generally, the cooler months from June to September are the driest in the coastal areas. In the Amazon – given that it is the world’s biggest rainforest – is wet pretty much all year. The Andes are the driest from April – November.

High season for all countries is, without a doubt, from December – February. This is due to holidays occurring over that time and it is also the time when many gringos and locals alike take their holidays. Backpacking in the low or shoulder seasons will definitely make for a cheaper trip, especially with regards to accommodation.

Best Time to Visit – Country Breakdown

Here are the best times to visit South America broken down by country!

Best Months to Travel: September – April

What’s the climate in Brazil like?

In the south, the hot, wet summer season runs from November – March. In the north, the rainy season is from April – August. In the Amazon, it rains pretty much all year.

If you want to visit during the festival season though, September-March is best.

Best Months to Travel: November – March

What’s the climate in Colombia like?

Generally speaking, travellers should visit Cartagena and the Caribbean coast between November and March when the weather is dry. The rest of the country is good year-round. Bogota, Cali, and Medellin are always pleasant weather-wise.

Best Months to Travel: March – May, September – November

What’s the climate in Ecuador and Peru like?

Lots and lots of micro-climates in the Ecuador Peru region. But there are some general trends:

  • The highlands/Andes are dry from May – September. These are the best months for hiking and visiting Machu Picchu.
  • The coast is warm and dry from December – May. This is the best time for the Galápagos.
  • The Amazon is always wet and humid as shit.
  • The south of Peru is much drier than the north, and Ecuador for that matter.

You’ll need to plan your trip carefully around what you want to see and do.

Best Months to Travel: May – October

What’s the climate in Bolivia like?

The winter season (May – October) is also its dry season, and the best time to visit Bolivia. This means that nights can be very cold, especially when you’re at higher altitudes. Although Bolivia is generally drier than its neighbours, it stills gets dumped on in the wet, summer season.

Best Months to Travel: March – April, October – November

What’s the climate in Chile like?

Summers in Chile are generally the high season. That being said, this may not be the best time to visit. Prices are at their highest, the Atacama Desert is a furnace, and the winds are VERY strong in Patagonia.

Like almost anywhere, the shoulder months (October – November & March – April) are better.

Best Months to Travel: October – April.

What’s the climate in Argentina and Uruguay like?

Summer for most of the country is from December – February. In the north, the summers can see rain and temperatures that soar to almost unbearable. In the south and Patagonia, summers are dry(ish) and pleasant.

The winters, obviously, are extremely cold in the south. Whereas the north generally has pretty mild winters.

Festivals in South America

South America is famous worldwide for being party central. In addition to some great music festivals, South America is home to many important cultural and religious events as well. Catching a festival is a great way to immerse yourself in South American culture!

carnival in rip backpacking south america

Carnaval might just be the craziest party in the world.

  • Cosquín Folk Festival, Argentina (January) – Argentina’s largest celebration of traditional and folk music. It takes place in the village of Cosquín near Córdoba.
  • Carnaval, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador (February/March) – The best party on the planet! Everyone is having as much fun as possible before abstaining for Lent. Rio, Salvador, and Recife host the most famous parties.The Carnival celebration in Brazil is without a doubt the wildest.
  • Inti Raymi, Peru (June) – Inti Raymi, the ancient Inca Festival of the Sun, is one of the most traditional Peruvian festivals.
  • Festival de las Flores, Colombia (August) – The festival takes places in Medellin, Antioquía. This festival happens every year during the first two weeks of August and lasts around 10 days. If you love having your mind blown by botanical wonders, this fest is for you.
  • Rock al Parque, Colombia (August) – A firm fixture on the Bogota live music calendar, Rock al Parque is an annual festival dedicated to – you guessed it – rock music, which has taken place in Simon Bolivar Park every year since 1995.
  • Mistura Culinary Festival, Peru (September) – If you like good, Peruvian street meats and food carts, this is a must-visit.
  • Rock in Rio, Brazil (September) – The biggest music festival in South America. Every single genre is represented.
  • Oktoberfest, Argentina (October) – Argentina’s own version of the great German beer festival. Takes place in Villa General Belgrano, in the state of Córdoba.

What to Pack for South America

Travelling through South America is a lot easier if you have the right gear. A thorough backpacking South America packing list goes a long way – literally.

Source https://www.thebrokebackpacker.com/backpacking-south-america-travel-guide/

Source https://www.thebrokebackpacker.com/backpacking-south-america-travel-guide/#:~:text=With%201%20month,%20you%20can%20make%20an%20epic,the%20way%20to%20Colombia,%20i%20n%201%20month.

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