Ulitimate South America Trip

Hi Guys,

Thinking of taking break from the mundane routine of life and looking at travelling to South America for atleast 6 months.

Any insights / suggestion / travel itenary would be helpful.

Would be flying from Melbourne and looking at travelling from Jan 2021

Could someone please let me know what would be an ideal budget for a couple - we are more of sightseeing and bare minimum when it comes to shopping.




    When researching online gets too overwhelming and distracting, grab a good old guide book and scribble notes of interest.


    I did Peru recently and what people would consider the main attractions are pretty overrated.

    Macchu Picchu and the inca trek - trek was fun but walking around Macchu Picchu itself was pretty meh. There's simply too many people for you to be able to enjoy yourself.
    Lake Puno and the floating villages - also meh. Puno is a weird spot where a lot of the economy is driven by tourism but the people don't really understand what tourists want.

    Definitely recommend heading up to Iquitos and spending some time in the Amazon.
    Head down to Paracas/Nazca and spend a day or two around there. I highly rate Huacachina/Pisco as well. Huacachina for the dunes and Pisco for the well, Pisco.
    The cities of Arequipa and Cusco are beautiful. My time in Cusco was probably my favourite.
    Spend the rest of your time trekking. You'll be sore but the mountains there are absolutely beautiful. If you're in Cusco and Arequipa, there's plenty of treks to go on with varying difficulty but it is worth it.

    When you're in Lima, I'd recommend staying in Barranco over Miraflores. Just a more interesting place.

    You can eat well for cheap if you want to, I was eating like an absolute king for 50-60 sol (25$ or so), on the road I was having meals that were more 15-20 sol.

    Chatting to plenty of other backpackers who were doing an entire south america trip, they all reckon Cali in Colombia was the place to be. Sounded like it had everything.


    Fly into ba or san Tiago and go with the flow and who ever u meet

  • +1 vote

    I did around 9 months of Central and South America, here's a few tips on itinerary planning:

    1. I found it easier to first plan your entry point (for us it was American Airlines from Miami, FL to La Paz, Bolivia) and your exit point (we did British Airways from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to London). Decide what works best for you and then the rest of the itinerary in-between becomes easier to manage.

    2. Buses are the main mode of travel for locals throughout the continent but check their travel times from city to city. Central America is small (everything is close like Europe) but South America is more like Australia - expect 8+ hours as a minimum bus travel time from one major town to another. I regret some of the 18-20+ hour bus trips (like Buenos Aires to Santiago and also Buenos Aires to Puerto IguazĂș) so you may want to fly some segments.

    3. Plan around any advance bookings or events (eg. Carnival in Brazil, the SuperclĂĄsico football match, booking your Machu Picchu/Inca Trail trek a few months in advance, ski/snowboarding in Chile/Argentina)

    4. Altitude sickness can be a thing for some of the northern cities (eg. Quito and Bogota are 2,600m+, Cuzco and La Paz are 3,400m+) so allow extra time in your first high-altitude location to acclimatise if you know you're prone to it (or if you've never been to high altitude before).

    Given your extended amount of travel time, you'll also want to learn Spanish for a more immersive experience (if you don't speak it already). I met some Aussies in Santiago who planned to surf up and down the coast for the whole year but were surprised at how little English anyone spoke over there so they quickly decided to do a language course.

    I did a 10 week short course here and it didn't help at all when I first arrived. Learning over there is much quicker as you get to practice on the streets what you learn in class that day. In general, one week of lessons over there (say 4 hours a day for 5 days a week) will teach you the fundamentals, two weeks will cover most verbs and general conversations, four weeks (the max you'd want to study) will teach you subjunctive and be able to write essays.

    Doesn't really matter where you learn (note you'll likely pick up a slight accent of the country you learn in) but pick a town or city somewhere early on in your trip and a place where you don't mind spending an extended amount of time.


    Thanks a TON - really helpful :-)

  • +1 vote

    I can suggest about Argentina only.
    Buenos Aires is a big and beautiful city. If you like nightlife you will be in the right place. You should stay around Puerto Madero, Recoleta or almost anywhere in the CBD. It's safer for tourists. Don't take a bus to explore the suburban places (out of Buenos Aires city) if you don't know the area.
    There are many amazing places to visit in Argentina, all different and all fabulous.
    Salta and Jujuy provinces (near the border with Bolivia, north of Argentina) are picturesque and worth it a visit.
    Iguazu Falls (near the border with Brazil, north-east of Argentina) are a must.
    Going to the south, Patagonia is awesome. Many cities/towns are fantastic. I particularly loved El Chalten, a small town with plenty of bushwalks: Laguna de los Tres is magical.
    Bariloche, San Martin de los Andes, Calafate (famous for the Glaciers), Esquel… Even Ushuaia - the southernmost city in the world. You can ski there or you will find plenty of options available.
    Have a look and feel free to message me if you have any questions about Argentina.
    You will love South America and I hope you enjoy Argentina particularly.

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