peru and bolivia salt planes

How Many Days In South America? 6 Well-Planned Itineraries!

South America is a big continent, and it can be a daunting task trying to plan a trip that takes you through the best parts. Here are 6 expertly planned travel itineraries from two weeks to three months so you can pick which one works best for you.

Contents

How Many Days Do You Need In South America?

You need a minimum of two weeks in South America to see at least two countries. Anything less than this and you might as well just visit one country and enjoy more time there.

 

I recommend one month as the perfect amount of time in South America to see the highlights of three or four countries.

 

Three to six months is ideal if you want to see five to seven countries or more, slow down your pace of travel and get to know each country a bit better.

highway in Argentina

How To Spend Two Weeks In South America

Is Two Weeks In South America Enough?

Two weeks in South America is a short amount but still enough to see the highlights of two countries. 

 

This gives you approximately 7 days in each.

I recommend visiting countries that are easy to travel between so you can see as much as possible without too much time spent moving around.

 

This itinerary will take you through Colombia and Ecuador, countries that are neighbours, meaning you have shorter travel distances and save money on flights.

Two Week South America Itinerary: Colombia and Ecuador

Here’s the breakdown of a two-week South America itinerary that includes Colombia and Ecuador:

 

  • Day 1 – Bogota
  • Day 2-3 – Santa Marta
  • Day 4-5 – Cartagena
  • Day 6-8 – Medellin
  • Day 9 – Quito
  • Day 10-11 – Cotopaxi
  • Day 12-13 – Banos
  • Day 14 – Guayaquil / Fly Home
Week 1 - Colombia
  • Bogota – You will start this two-week journey in the capital of Colombia. With only one day in the capital, best to spend your time on a free walking tour or a paid food tour which will give is one of the best ways to experience the city.

 

  • Santa Marta – Best to move on after a day though to enjoy the Caribbean Coast. Day 2-3 are spent in Santa Marta, a small town in the north that is mainly used as a base to explore other areas of the region like cloud forest of Minca or the popular Tayrona National Park.

 

  • Palomino –  If you are a sun lover then you’ll love day 4-5 which takes you to the Caribbean coast. Palomino started as an off-the-beaten track town that has grown popular in recent years with backpackers who come here for a few days to enjoy tubing along the jungle rivers or to wander along the endless stretches of empty beach.

 

  • Medellin – Finally, no trip to Colombia would be complete without a trip to the cultural capital of Medellin. Whilst here, you can take a tour out to the beautiful Guatape region to see the colourful town, beautiful reservoirs and the huge celebrity mansions that back out onto them.
Tayrona National Park, Santa Marta (Colombia)
Week 2- Ecuador
  • Quito – For your first day in Quito, you can start the morning off with a free walking tour to see the Old Town. Then in the afternoon, head up to the top of Cerro Pichincha – the mountain overlooking Quito. The Teleferico cable car that will take you from 3000m at the edge of the city, all the way up to 3495m and the summit of Volcano Machachi which sits at top this mountain.

 

  • Cotopaxi – On day 9-10 you will be staying at one of the best backpacker hostels in the country – Secret Garden Cotopaxi. Staying here is one of the best ways of visiting Cotopaxi National Park, especially if you are a backpacker wanting experience an amazing hostel and meet other travellers. The park is a beautiful untamed landscape covered in beautiful fields of wildflowers with herds of alpacas wandering aimlessly, all in front of the incredible backdrop of Cotopaxi Volcano.

 

Pailon Del Diablo

How Much Will Two Weeks In South America Cost?

A good rule of thumb for backpacking South America is $350 a week.

 

So, for two weeks of travelling around South America, I would budget a minimum of $700.

 

However, this a two-week itinerary has you visiting two countries with several internal flights as well. These will cost extra and add to your budget so I would recommend budgeting $1000

 

Here’s a breakdown of three different budgets for two weeks in South America, not including internal flights:

Budget Realistic Flashpacker
Daily Budget
$35
$50
$75
Weekly Budget
$245
$350
$525
Total Two Week South America Budget
$490
$700
$1050

To see this two week itinerary in more detail with day-by-day breakdowns, along with 3 other suggested itineraries with other countries, check out the post below:

How To Spend Three Weeks In South America

Is Three Weeks In South America Enough?

Three weeks in South America is a good amount of time to see two or three countries.

 

You can spend one week in 3 countries. 

 

However, I think visiting two countries in three weeks is preferable as it gives you roughly 10 days in each.

 

It’s always better to slow down and get to know a country better rather than speeding through on a whirlwind tour. 

Three Week South America Itinerary: Peru And Bolivia

Here is the breakdown of a suggested three-week south America itinerary that includes Peru and Bolivia:

 

  • Day 1 – Lima
  • Day 2-3 – Paracas
  • Day 4-5 – Huacachina
  • Day 6-8 – Arequipa
  • Day 9-12 – Cusco & Machu Picchu
  • Day 13-14 – Copacabana
  • Day 15-17 – La Paz
  • Day 18-21 – Uyuni & the Salt Flats
Day 1-8 - Peru (Lima To Arequipa)
  • Lima – One day in the capital of Peru is more than enough to explore the Miraflores and bohemian district of Barranco. Whilst here make sure you try some amazing regional dishes like ceviche. 

 

  • Paracas – On day 2 and 3 you’ll spend time in the beautiful Paracas National Park. Paracas is an untouched natural desert perfect for exploration and adventure. You can navigate the park by tour, bicycle, ATV, or dune buggy; and checking out the park at sunset is a must!

 

  • Huacachina – For day 4 and 5, you’ll head deeper into the desert to the man-made oasis of Huacachina. Here you can ride buggies across the desert, sandboard down the tallest dunes and party the night away in the crazy backpacker hostels.

 

driving dune buggies in Huacachina
Day 9-12 - Peru (Cusco and Machu Picchu)

 

  • Aguas Calientes – Day 10 is for travelling to Aguas Calientes which is the closest town to Machu Picchu. You can either take the train or the bus but I will always recommend the train as it takes 3 hours compared to 8 and is a much more enjoyable experience.

 

  • Machu Picchu – Early on the morning of day 11, it’s finally time to climb the 1,600+ stairs up to Peru’s most popular tourist attraction. Machu Picchu is ultimate highlight of many people’s trips to South America. Visiting the marvellous citadel of the Incas, hidden amongst misty valleys, and set high above the clouds truly feels like you are walking back through time.

 

  • Cusco – Then on day 12 you’ll return to Cusco and spend the rest of your time recovering.
machu picchu views
Day 13-21 – Bolivia (Copacabana To Uyuni)
  • Copacabana – For the final stretch of this three week itinerary, you’ll be travelling through the high-altitude landscapes of Bolivia from picturesque Lake Titicaca in the north, to the pristine Salt Flats in the south. You’ll cross the border on day 13 and travel to Copacabana where you can find Lake Titicaca. This is the highest navigable lake in the world at 3,810 metres above sea level.

 

  • La Paz – Day 15-17 are in the capital La Paz. Here you have a wealth of activities to choose from including watching the famous female Cholita wrestlers to biking down the infamous Death Road.

 

  •  Uyuni – Then this three-week South America adventure will end with one of the best tours on the continent – the Uyuni Salt Flats Tour. This 3-day tour will take you from one unique landscape to the next, starting with the white expanse of the salt flat on day 1, to the high-altitude desert of the Andes on the next. The perfect way to end an incredible 3 weeks in South America!
CACTUS IN SALAR DE UYUNI, BOLIVIA'S SALT FLATS

How Much Will Three Weeks In South America Cost?

A sensible budget for travelling South America is $350 a week.

 

So, for three weeks of travelling around South America, I would budget a minimum of $1050.

 

However, this a three-week itinerary includes two of the most popular tours in South America which will add to your expenses.

 

  • Machu Picchu – A trip to Machu Picchu can cost anywhere between $100-250 depending on the type of transport you take.
  • Salt Flats – This can cost between $100-200 depending on the time of year you visit and how good your bartering skills are.

These will cost extra and add to your budget so I would recommend budgeting $1500 in total. 

 

Here’s a breakdown of three different budgets for three weeks travelling South America, not including internal flights:

Budget Realistic Flashpacker
Daily Budget
$35
$50
$75
Weekly Budget
$245
$350
$525
Total Three Week South America Budget
$735
$1050
$1575

To see this three week itinerary in more detail with day-by-day breakdowns, along with 3 other suggested itineraries that include different countries, check out the post below:

How To Spend One Month In South America

Is A Month In South America Enough?

One month in South America is great time frame to see three-four countries. 

 

Sticking with the theme of less is more, I would recommend sticking to three countries.

 

This will give you more time in each place, you’ll feel less rushed and save more money on travel.

 

Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia can all be travelled easily by bus and any flights you do need to get are super cheap!

One Month South America Itinerary: Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia

Here’s a breakdown of a suggest one-month South America itinerary that includes Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia:

 

  • Day 1-3– Quito
  • Day 4-6 – Cotopaxi Secret Garden
  • Day 7-9 – Banos
  • Day 10-11 – Lima
  • Day 12-13 – Paracas National Park
  • Day 14-15 – Huacachina
  • Day 16-20 – Cusco and Machu Picchu
  • Day 21-23 – La Paz
  • Day 24-26 – Amazon Tour
  • Day 27-30 – Uyuni / Salt Flats Tour
Day 1-10 - Ecuador
  • Quito – Starting with 3 days in Quito, you have lots of options for things to do, including visiting the equator or taking a day trip to one of the towns outside of Quito such as Otavalo or Mindo.

 

  • Cotopaxi – Day 4-5 are spent at Cotopaxi Secret Garden Hostel. This is one of the best hostels in the whole of South America. You can use the hostel as a base to trek into the park and summit Cotopaxi Volcano.

 

the road in the valley of the Cotopaxi park
Day 11-21 - Peru
  • Lima – You have two days in Lima to enjoy the culinary capital. Head to a local restaurant to try ceviche and one of the mansion turned bars in Barranco for a Pisco Sour.

 

  • Paracas – A few hours away by bus is the coastal town of Paracas  an incredible expanse of desert which you can explore via bikes, ATVs, or dune buggies. Even better if you head out into the park later in the day to catch the sunset over the desert.

 

  • Huacachina – After a couple of days in Paracas, it’s on to the famous desert oasis of Huacachina where you can go sandboarding on sand dunes the size of mountains and party all night long at the crazy Wild Rover hostel.

 

  • Cusco –  spend a day exploring the city. There’s an incredible amount to do here  such as Rainbow Mountain and the Salkantay Trek. Then you’ll be ending your time in Peru with a trip to Machu Picchu. 
Day 22-30 - Bolivia
  • La Paz – Once in Bolivia, you have a whirlwind tour of some incredible sights ahead of you. In La Paz, enjoy a day in the city riding the cable cars and watching the famous Cholita Wrestling before riding down the epic Death Road the next day.

 

  • Amazon – Then fly out to Rurrenabaque and hop on to an Amazon tour for 3 days where you will ride speedboats along the winding tributaries in search of pink river dolphins, anacondas and birds of paradise.

 

  • Uyuni –  end the trip with the incredible Salt Flats Tour. Over the 3 days you will see some of the most unique sights in all South America including the white expanse of the salt flat, the deep red colour of Laguna Colorada and many other natural wonders.
JOE AND ALEX IN SALAR DE UYUNI, BOLIVIA.

How Much Will One Month In South America Cost?

You should aim to budget a minimum of $350 a week when travelling South America. So, for one month travelling, I would budget taking a minimum of $1400.

 

However, this a one-month itinerary includes three of the most popular tours in South America which will add to your expenses:

 

 

  • A trip to Machu Picchu can cost anywhere between $100-250 depending on the type of transport you take.
  • A Salt Flats tour can cost between $100-200 depending on the time of year you visit and how good your bartering skills are.
  • An Amazon tour will cost between $200-300 depending on the time of the year and whether you can find a good package deal that includes flights

 

Here’s a breakdown of three different budgets for one month in South America, not including tours or flights:

Budget Realistic Flashpacker
Daily Budget
$35
$50
$75
Weekly Budget
$245
$350
$525
Total One Month South America Budget
$980
$1400
$2100

To see this one-month itinerary in more detail with day-by-day breakdowns, along with 3 other suggested itineraries that include other countries, check out the post below:

How To Spend Six Weeks In South America

Is Six Weeks In South America Enough?

Hell yeah! Six weeks is an ideal amount of time in South America, and you should be able to tick off at least 5 countries.

 

The variety of travel routes you can take is endless. 

 

For six weeks I think the best travel route would be one that goes from North to South starting in Colombia and then down to Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and then ending in Chile.

 

The benefit of a backpacking route like this is that these countries are cheaper compared to places like Brazil, close together, and the travel routes between them by bus and air are short and well established meaning you are following the most efficient route.

 

This is a huge itinerary, so I won’t try to summarise it here. Head to the full post below for a week-by-week breakdown:

Six Week South America Itinerary

Here’s the breakdown of this suggested six-week South America backpacking itinerary:

 

  • Week 1 – Colombia – Bogota, Santa Marta and Medellin
  • Week 2 – Ecuador – Quito, Cotopaxi and Banos
  • Week 3/4 – Peru – Lima, Paracas, Arequipa, Cusco and Machu Picchu
  • Week 5 – Bolivia – Copacabana, La Paz and Uyuni
  • Week 6 – Chile – Atacama, Santiago and Patagonia

How Much Will Six Weeks In South America Cost?

I would budget $500 a week and a minimum of $3000 for six weeks in South America.

 

This six-week itinerary has you visiting five countries with several internal flights as well as flights between countries.

 

It also includes some of the best tours in South America such as Machu Picchu, the Salt Flats and the W-trek in Torres Del Paine National Park.

 

I’ve not included a budget version for this one as it is an unrealistic target. There are so many flights and travelling to Chile and Patagonia really adds to the cost. 

Realistic Flashpacker
Daily Budget
$70
$100
Weekly Budget
$500
$700
Total Six Week South America Budget
$3000
$4200
Picture of a lake in South America

How To Spend Two Months In South America

Is Two Months In South America Enough?

2 months in South America is a dreamy amount of time and you are blessed if you can do this!

 

The variety of travel routes you can take through South America are endless.

 

So the best route really depends on your goals and budget.

 

You can spend 20 days in three different countries or two weeks in each country and see 6 in total!

 

This is a huge itinerary, so I won’t try to summarise it here. To see a full 2-month itinerary that covers three countries, head to the post to the right: 

Preparing for your first trip to South America? 

Here are 22 FAQ’s to help you prepare for the trip of a lifetime: 

How To Spend Three Months In South America

Is Three Months In South America Enough?

3 months is a great amount of time to travel around South America and it also gives you lots of flexibility!

 

It’s perfect for those of you who enjoy slow travel and want everything South America has to offer.

 

Here’s an example of a three-month itinerary:

 

  • 2 Weeks In Ecuador
  • 1 Week In The Galapagos Islands
  • 3 Weeks In Peru
  • 2 Weeks In Bolivia
  • 2 Weeks In Chile
  • 2 Weeks In Argentina

To see this full 3-month itinerary in more detail, head to the post below:

How To Spend TEN Weeks In South America

10 weeks in South America is more than enough time to it all!

 

You might be a bit rushed at times but you can see the highlights of the best countries including travelling south from Colombia all the way to Patagonia, before working your way back up to Brazil.

 

Here’s a breakdown of this 10-week itinerary:

 

Week Country Highlights
1
Colombia
Bogota, Medellin, Santa Marta
2
Ecuador
Quito, Cotopaxi National Park, Quilotoa, Banos
3-4
Peru
Lima, Paracas, Huacachina, Cusco, Machu Picchu
5
Bolivia
Lake Titicaca, La Paz, Uyuni Salt Flats
6-7
Chile
Atacama Desert, Santiago, Valpariso, Torres Del Paine National Park
8-9
Argentina
Perito Moreno Glacier, El Chalten, Bariloche, Buenos Aires, Iguazu Falls
10
Brazil
Florianopolis, Rio De Janeiro

Click the link below to see these ten weeks laid out in more detail:

IS THIS The Best E-SIM For South America?

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Airalo is the world’s first eSIM that solves the pain of high roaming bills by giving you access to eSIMs anywhere in South America!

 

With just a couple of clicks, you’ll have cheap data and can roam whilst on the road. 

 

Search for a country you’re travelling to next below:

Travel South America Like A pro

Budget South America Itinerary (Free PDF)

Do You Want To See South America On A Budget?

See Machu Picchu, the Amazon and the Bolivian Salt Flats, all with this efficient money-saving itinerary