Whether you are working your way up from Brazil or funnelling down from Central America, backpackers in South America are sure to encounter pristine rainforests, icy glaciers, awe-inspiring ancient remains, mountain treks, indigenous cultures and crystal-clear waters lapping idyllic beaches. Here are some tips on things to think about before your trip, such as backpacker travel insurance, as well as a list of must-see places in this vast continent.
What you will need
A smattering of Spanish will certainly go a long way and help you to feel at home and mix with the locals. Another way to really get to know the place is to consider booking a volunteering placement. Working in an orphanage in Brazil, on an environmental project in Ecuador or on an archaeological dig in Peru are just some of the options for volunteering in South America.
Another thing to consider before setting off is travel insurance. It’s not that South America is particularly dangerous, but for peace of mind it is essential to know you are covered for things like medical expenses and trip cancellations. With policies aimed squarely at the needs of backpackers from companies like Insureandaway.co.uk, Travel Insurance, travel insurance need not cost the earth but could prove priceless.
Where to go
With so much to see and do it is almost impossible to cover South America in just one trip but here are some highlights not to miss.
Get down in Buenos Aires (Argentina)
The Paris of South America is filled with romance, adventure and – despite economic difficulties in recent years – an air of possibility. Dance the night away, feast on succulent steaks, enjoy fine wines, drink in the history, take in the architecture, feel the passion for football and then decide to stay another night.
Get lost in Patagonia (Argentina)
Patagonia sprawls across Argentina and draws backpackers with a taste of adventure like a mythical land. Glaciers, treks across Narnia landscapes and a sense of another world entirely are what sets this vast swathe of land apart.
Get high in Potosi (Bolivia)
The world’s highest capital may be La Paz but the colonial town of Potosi will charm you as well as leave you short of breath. Backpackers’ thrills can be found on the mountain passes that lead up to it and in the dark, cramped mines that surround it.
Get inspired at Iguazu (Brazil)
The wondrous natural sight of the falls at Iguazu is hard to beat and you can take it all in from Brazil or literally dip your toes in the waters from the Argentinian side just a day away.
Tracey Chandler is a freelance writer. She contributes to a wide variety of travel blogs and female-interest online publications.