South America is a vast continent, incredibly diversified, with a wealth of natural wonders and fascinating cultures. Countless travelers spend their days dreaming of visiting the land of pristine beaches, magnificent mountains, and rainforests abundant with exotic wildlife. Some go there to explore the nature, while others are allured by passionate dances, exciting music, and wisdom of indigenous peoples. Depending on what is the main reason for going to South America, trips can be organized differently. So here is all you need to know about your South America trips:
Destinations for your South America trips
There’s so much to see and do in South America, choosing a destination might be quite a challenge. Think of how much time you have and decide whether it’s better to focus on one country or visit a few. Traveling in South America is usually associated with long-term backpacking, but going there with one very particular goal is a beautiful idea as well. Is there something you’ve always dreamt of? Perhaps the famous Machu Picchu? Or the exotic Amazon rainforest? Some of the greatest parties in the whole world, like the traditional Carnival in Rio De Janeiro? If you have such a particular goal, then it’s easy, you can skip the dilemmas, check what’s in the neighborhood of your highlight and concentrate the plans around it. If you don’t have an idea yet, what about the South America’s most known attractions?
Peru, besides of the Machu Picchu, also has the amazing, mystical town of Cuzco located high in the Andes and the Lake Titicaca with its floating islands. In Bolivia, you can find Salar de Uyuni, the world’s largest salt pan and one of most unusual places in South America. Trips to Ecuador are particularly suitable to those who don’t have much time but want to see a lot. This relatively small country is full of charming colonial towns and gorgeous beaches. Add the highest volcano in the world (Cotopaxi), and you have a plan for a quick, but a magical journey.
Cosmopolitan, the bustling capital of Colombia, Bogotá, offers some museums and cafés, lovely restaurants and vibrant nightlife. After enjoying the city life, you can have a quiet rest on Parque Nacional Tayrona’s beautiful, natural beaches. Search for picturesque villages in Chile and from there move on to Buenos Aires. During your stay in Argentine’s addictive capital, don’t miss a chance to visit milongas and dance tango.
Make an adventurous trip to Venezuela and try out such outdoor activities like snorkeling, windsurfing or paragliding. Travel to Brazil and visit its fascinating, colorful cities, like Rio de Janeiro, Salvador or São Paulo. You can also explore smaller countries and territories, like Suriname, Guyana, Paraguay, Uruguay, Falkland Islands (UK) or French Guiana (France).
There are many things you can try out on your journey to South America. South America Trips can be concentrated not only around destinations, but also activities. What about learning Spanish in Ecuador? Or taking a salsa course in Columbia? Volunteering, working, teaching and learning languages, developing artistic skills, studying history, carrying out scientific research, all of these are beautiful things to combine with traveling.
Passport is usually enough, yet it all depends on the country you’re coming. On the website of Project visa, you can check all of the South American countries and their requirements. Make sure you don’t need a visa and check the validity of your passport. Keep in mind that the passport processing takes several weeks, so if you don’t have a passport at all or, it’s about to expire, you’ll have to start the process early enough. In case you have some specific questions, write or call an embassy of the country you’re going to, it’s the most reliable source of information.
Spanish is the official language in most of the South American countries. There are exceptions, though, especially when it comes to the smaller countries, like Suriname where Dutch is the primary language or Guyana with English. Spanish is the most common language and, in Brazil, Portuguese. Just as everywhere in the world, also in South America more and more people speak English, but are aware that in some places it might be hard to find English-speakers. Learn basic phrases in the language of the country you’re heading. It’ll make moving around easier. Besides, locals will surely appreciate your efforts. It’s so charming when a visitor can say at least a couple of words in the local language.
Of course, prices vary all across the continent, yet there are some general rules. Large cities are more expensive than small cities, especially the very famous ones, like Rio de Janeiro or Buenos Aires. If your budget is tight, avoid staying there for a longer time. You can find cheaper accommodation in smaller towns or villages nearby. Luckily, some of the bigger cities are affordable, like Salta (Argentina), Cusco (Peru), La Paz (Bolivia), Bogota (Colombia), Quito (Ecuador) or Lima (Peru). Prices in South America are lower than in Europe or the United States; it’s only those large, very touristy, bustling cities that are so costly. The website of Numbeo can be handy, especially if you’re planning a longer stay in South America. Using it, you can compare costs of living in various places.
Like anywhere else, use your common sense in South America. Trips around this continent can be safe and comfortable, but you must be reasonable. What matters more than the country is the particular area you’re going to visit. Find as much information as possible on the specific destinations you’re planning to visit. Check opinions of other travelers and avoid spots that are considered as dangerous. Follow the ground rules. Don’t take expensive stuff with you, don’t show off with clothes, jewelry, and gadgets, don’t drink too much (especially if you’re alone), look around and hire guides if you’re going to some hardcore places and don’t feel confident enough to manage on your own.
Be realistic in judging your abilities and knowledge. Make friends with locals and ask them for advice. Some of the South American roads are extremely busy and known for the vast number of accidents happening there, so try to avoid them. Just take care of yourself and your travel-mates, be cautious and rational. Traveling around South America isn’t much different than going in other places, you just need to do a bit of a research and be careful.
South America is incredibly huge, but it’s possible to travel through it by land. Buses connect many of the main South American cities. Argentina and Chile are known for excellent, safe buses. It gets more complicated in some countries, like Colombia or Bolivia, but is still possible. It might disappoint Train-lovers to know that railways are a rare phenomenon in South America. If you’re stubborn, though, you can catch one of the few a trains and even enjoy some scenic views on your way. You can also fly; it’s the fastest, but usually the most expensive way. Traveling by bus takes lots of time but is relatively cheap. Using boats is an option too, for instance on the Amazon River.
Have you already been to South America? Let us know which South America trips you have already done and shared your tips and experiences!