Short gaps via South America
South America is a wonderful, vibrant continent, packed full of experiences that you won't find anywhere else in the world.
There is so much to see and do in South America that you can split up each region into separate stop gaps. You could easily spend three months travelling around and still not see all that South America has to offer. There’s 12 countries after all; Argentina, Boliva, Brazil, Chile, Columbia, Ecuador, Falkland Islands, French Guiana, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela.
South America has the world's biggest rainforest and the largest river in the Amazon; the highest mountain range outside Asia in the Andes, and the tallest waterfall in Angel Falls, as well as several other breathtaking natural attractions.
Go the end of the Earth (you'll find that in Chile), trek the famous Inca Trail in Peru, check out big stone heads on Easter Island and find out just how Carnival is really done in Rio...
Key stops in South America
The most common stops are as follows:
Buenos Aires in Argentina, Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, Santiago in Chile and Lima in Peru.
The cheapest airport to fly into is Rio de Janeiro as it’s the most popular. After Rio de Janeiro is Buenos Aires, which is handy as you can fly directly into the south of the continent.
Popular routes that include South America
London >> Buenos Aires >> Rio de Janeiro >> Mexico City >> London
London >> Rio de Janeiro >> Santiago >> Lima >> London
What we recommend...
We recommend this cheeky little circuit:
Brazil - Bolivia - Peru - Chile
There is a well-trodden backpacker’s route in South America known as the 'Gringo Trail'.
Starting in Rio, Lima or Santiago, you can travel in a loop that takes in Brazil, Bolivia, Peru and Chile and allows you to sample a good cross section of what South America has to offer, making this a perfect South American stop gap experience.
There’s good transport links in South America if you do wish to go to the other South American countries, and border crossing aren’t a problem. The ‘Gringo Trail’ is more for first-timers, whereas the ‘dirt track’ is for more season travellers.
Why South America?
South America can seem a daunting prospect at first. There's not an English speaking country in sight and even the Spanish that is spoken can confuse those of us relying on a GCSE and a prayer.
Just to make thing even trickier, the biggest nation in this amazing continent chooses to speak Portuguese (that's Brazil by the way...). However, if you let this put you off forever then you're going to seriously miss out. With a phrase book (a few weeks in a Spanish School for the keen), an amiable demeanour and of course help from the other thousands of backpackers out there then you can make the most of what South America has to offer.
From the dense humidity of the Amazon Rainforest, through the Atacama Desert (the driest place on Earth) up to the lofty peaks of the Andes and the plains of Patagonia, each country is not just unique, it’s starkly different to even its nearest neighbours. Sandboard, snowboard, working with street children or tracking jaguars in the jungle, it's all here…
What others say...
"I absolutely adore Bolivia with its amazing scenery culture and people and there are lots of things to do and all very cheaply! I would also recommend that everybody visit the salt flats..."
"Cusco, the old capital of the Inca Empire is a beautiful, beautiful city. The place is swarming with gingos of the backpacker and also tour group variety, but nobody can deny it is a breathtaking place."
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