Backpacking in South America

Countries  »  South America

Why go?

Discover South America

Do you like your journeys hot, hot, hot and packed with jaw-dropping scenery, exultant nightlife, a rich blend of cultures, delicious dining, spectacular beaches, and exotic wildlife? You don't? We don't believe you! South America is the continent you need in your life.

Relatively few countries make up South America, but there's still a frankly ludicrous amount of places to visit. The most popular destination is Brazil, from the party city of Rio de Janeiro overseen by the iconic Christ the Redeemer, to bustling Brasilia and the superlative Sao Paulo, down south to the rugged landscapes of the Amazon basin.

From there you can travel to Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador and more, tailoring your gap year adventure to suit you.

Why Visit South America?

If you're after wonders of the world, there's Machu Picchu in Peru, a 15th-century Inca fortress at the top of a mountain. If you want to lie on the beach by day and party by night head to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where there's no place for inhibitions.

If you want somewhere relatively untouched by tourists there's Guyana to the north. If you want a ridiculous range of postcard scenery you might never leave Argentina, with its mountains and glaciers and forests. If you want to fill your backpacking quest with wildlife you can visit megadiverse Venezuela.

We could go on, but you probably get the idea. South America should be part of any gap year itinerary, and we're here to help you make that happen.


Top Countries

Brazil

Brazil

Argentina

Argentina

Peru

Peru

Colombia

Colombia

Chile

Chile

Bolivia

Bolivia

 
Best Experiences

Top Experiences in South America

It can be difficult to pack in everything South America has to offer while you're on your gap year. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't try! Below are what we believe are some of the very best experiences South America has to offer. Scroll and be inspired!

Climb Corcovado in Rio de Janeiro

It's good to be a tourist sometimes, and there are few more iconic sights on the planet than the Christ the Redeemer statue. Enjoy the breathtaking view.

Get Chilly on a Patagonian Glacier

You probably think of Argentina as a scorching country, but go further south and you'll find frozen landscapes like something from another planet.

Hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

You can't go to Peru without seeing this wonder of the world, a 15th-century Inca fort at the end of an amazing trek across amazing scenery.

Swim the Coral Reef at Rosario Island

Beaches are hardly in short supply in South America, but this gem in Colombia is one of the best, with a huge coral reef to dive and explore.

Trek Through the Amazon Jungle

You can do this in many South American countries, and experience a habitat more diverse than anywhere else you're likely to visit.

Get Lost on Bolivia's Salt Plains

Don't actually get lost. The world's largest salt flats are more than 10,300 square kilometres in size, and offer a barren and mesmerising spectacle.

Marvel at Chile's Mountains

The Andes peak in the Torres del Paine National Park, with looming snow-capped summits reflecting in crystalline lakes.

Watch Sea Turtles Greet the World

Guyana hosts Shell Beach, where at certain times of year thousands of baby sea turtles hatch in the sand and make their perilous way to the ocean.

Eat More Meat Than You Can Handle

South Americans love their meat, whether you're in Uruguay or Brazil or Ecuador. Dig your teeth into a massive steak, a rack of ribs, or a meaty sausage. Heaven.

Discover Venezuela's Lost World

The flat-topped plateau of Mount Roraima looks like it shouldn't exist in the real world. There's sinkholes, waterfalls, and a valley full of quartz crystals.

See a Football Game

There are few more passionate football fans than South Americans, and seeing a local Brazilian team is likely to be an experience you won't forget.

Stargaze in the Atacama Desert

This barren landscape makes for perfect stargazing, the beauty of the solar system dancing overhead untroubled by pesky light pollution.

Venture to the Galpagos Islands

A volcanic archipelago in Ecuador, the wildlife here feels like it comes from a prehistoric past, with wilderness and lizards anywhere you look.

Go Carnival Crazy in Salvador

Rio hosts the most famous carnival, but many Brazilians insist that Salvador is home to the real deal. Party like a local.

Itineraries

Let Us Do the Work

If you're feeling daunted about planning a jaunt to South America, we've put together some top itineraries so you can explore this amazing continent without having to worry about finding your way. Remember, we're experts in creating tailor made gap year experiences, so if you have a particular adventure in mind we want to make it happen. Just call the number on the big blue button below.

Best of South America

Best of South America

Fall for South America

Fall for South America

South America Encompassed

South America Encompassed

South America Explore

South America Explore

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Advice

Our Best Articles on South America

Looking for advice on backpacking in South America? You've come to the right place. We have articles covering a range of South American destinations, so have a read and get inspired.

Hannah Simmons's Guide to Brazil

Hannah Simmons's Guide to Brazil

Skiing in Argentina

Skiing in Argentina

Beyond Peru's Beaten Track

Beyond Peru's Beaten Track

17 Things You Have to Do in Vietnam

Volunteering in Ecuador

Cycling Chile

Cycling the Length of Chile

Sandboarding in Peru

Sandboarding in Peru

Guide to Colombia

Guide to Colombia

Guide to Bolivia

Guide to Bolivia