South America


IN NUMBERS…

1.4 BILLION size of Amazon Rainforest in Acres | 387 MILLION people | 7000 length of Andes mountain range in km | 6992 length of Amazon River in km | 12 countries | dependencies


TOP FIVE

1. South America Backpacking Route

2. Budgeting in South America

3. Colombia Guide

4. Top 10 Latin America Travel Experiences

5. Brazil Route


REGION MAP

south america map

(Map of South America from wikitravel, can be re-used under CC BY-SA 3.0)


SUGGESTED ROUTES

south america | brazil | patagonia

Use our Visa Tool to find out which countries you will need a visa for.


SHOESTRING TRAVEL BUDGET

$20/day or less : Bolivia

$25/day : Ecuador, Peru, Paraguay

$30/dayColombia

$40/day : Uruguay

$45/day : Chile, Argentina

$50/day : Brazil

read full article on backpacking costs in South America


FEATURED DESTINATIONS

ARGENTINA – Salta

BOLIVIA – La Paz | Potosi

BRAZIL – Rio de Janeiro | São Paulo

COLOMBIA – Bogota


FUNKY GUIDE

Backpackers Guide to South America

available on amazon


RESOURCES

World Nomads – Offers excellent travel insurance for backpacking trips in this part of the world.

Travel Independent – Detailed info on independent travel in each country in Latin America.

South America Backpacker – Magazine-style site for travellers in South America.

Along Dusty Roads – Useful Latin America travel blog with lots of info on budgeting.


WORTH A READ

Che Guevara’s Motorcycle Diaries

Young Argentine doctor goes on an epic road trip with his best mate.

The Gringo Trail

3 people follow the backpacker trail in South America (and spend most of their time falling out or tripping out).

Marching Powder

Brit drug trafficker gets banged up in Bolivia’s craziest prison.


SOUTH AMERICA IN A NUTSHELL!

A glance at a map doesn’t do justice to the sheer size of the place. From the sunny Caribbean coastlines of Colombia and Venezuela it is a VERY long way to the icy shores of Argentine and Chilean Patagonia, on the very fringe of Antarctica. Although it is hard to summarise such a giant place, common values and beliefs are shared from country to country and there is a sense of brotherhood here, which you don’t really get in other parts of the world and that has helped keep relations predominantly good between neighbouring states, unless there is a football match on of course.

South America has a bit of a bad rep and is not without its problems or dangers but the dark days of Pinochet in Chile, the Dirty War in Argentina and brutal drug wars of Colombia are a thing of the past and travel is generally safe if  you apply common sense. This is also the land of Bolivar and Guevara, two revolutionary figures who still inspire locals and travellers alike and the dreams which those two men harboured are perhaps coming closer to reality in the 21st Century than they ever really did in the last one.


THE TRAVEL EXPERIENCE

Many travellers arrive in South America from Central America after crossing the Darien Gap between Panama and Colombia by air, land or sea. You will find South America is marginally more organised than Central America but although transport is quicker, the distances are much, much longer meaning you will need several months if you want to visit even half of the countries here. If you can put up with the long bus journeys then what awaits you is a land that boasts some of the grandest mountain ranges, largest jungles, most beautiful beaches, liveliest cities and best fiestas on the face of the Earth.

The experience of budget travel in South America does vary greatly depending on your grasp of the local lingo though as English is not spoken widely. Although you can get by with only a few basic phrases, it helps enormously if you can speak Spanish (or Portuguese in Brazil) to at least an intermediate level and that will certainly help you have a much more rewarding trip.

South America as a travel destination is a bit of a slow burner and you will certainly need patience to find whatever it is you are looking for. Although a backpacking trail does exist, it is nowhere near to the levels of Southeast Asia and the South American experience is a more challenging but more authentic one as a result.