Guide to Backpacking Through South America, South America is a vast and diverse continent, filled with countless opportunities for adventure and exploration. Backpacking through South America is the perfect way to experience the best of what this incredible region offers, from its stunning natural beauty and rich cultural heritage to its vibrant cities and bustling markets. Whether a seasoned traveler or a first-time backpacker, this guide will help you plan the ultimate South American adventure.
Choosing your route
One of the first decisions you’ll need to make when backpacking through South America is which countries and destinations to include in your itinerary. While you could spend years exploring the entire continent, most backpackers focus on a smaller region, such as South America’s southern cone (Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay), the Andes Mountains, or the Amazon rainforest.
When planning your route, consider factors such as safety, budget, and personal interests. For example, if you’re interested in outdoor adventure, you may want to focus on destinations like Patagonia, the Galapagos Islands, or the Amazon Basin. If you’re more interested in city life, you may want to spend time in Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, or Lima.
Once you have a rough idea of your route, the next step is to start figuring out how you’ll get around. South America is served by a variety of transportation options, including buses, trains, planes, and even boats. Depending on where you’re going and how much time you have, you may want to use a combination of these options.
Buses are usually the cheapest way to get around South America, but they can be slow and uncomfortable. Trains are a more comfortable option, but they’re also more expensive and not as widely available as buses. Flights are a fast and convenient way to cover long distances, but they can be expensive, especially if you’re flying within South America. Boats are a great option for exploring coastal regions, such as the Caribbean, or for accessing remote destinations like the Galapagos Islands.
Accommodation options in South America range from high-end hotels to budget-friendly hostels and homestays. Hostels are the most popular option for backpackers, offering a chance to meet other travelers and save money on accommodation. Many hostels also offer additional services like free breakfast, Wi-Fi, and even laundry facilities. If you’re looking for a more authentic experience, you may want to consider staying in a homestay, where you can live with a local family and get a firsthand look at South American life.
One of the biggest challenges of backpacking through South America is sticking to a budget. While the cost of living can vary widely from country to country, it’s generally cheaper than in North America or Europe. That being said, there are still plenty of ways to overspend, so it’s important to be mindful of your spending and budget your trip carefully.
To help keep your costs down, consider eating at local markets and street vendors, instead of expensive restaurants. Also, be mindful of your transportation expenses, as long-distance buses, flights, and train trips can add up quickly. Finally, try to book your accommodation in advance to take advantage of discounts and special deals.
Safety and Security
Backpacking through South America can be a safe and enjoyable experience, but it’s important to be mindful of your safety and security. Some common safety concerns include pickpocketing, theft, and crime. To minimize your risks, always be aware of your surroundings, carry your valuables in a secure place, and don’t carry large