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 would suggest one month is 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 countries or more, slow down your pace of travel and get to know each country a bit better.
How To Spend Two Weeks In South America
Two weeks in South America is a short amount of time but this itinerary is designed so that you can see as much as possible without too much time spent moving around.
A two-week itinerary should stick to two countries.
This gives you approximately 7 days in each which is more than enough to see the best of both countries.
This itinerary will take you through Colombia and Ecuador, countries that are neighbours, meaning you have shorter travel distances and save money on flights.
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
You will start this two-week journey in Bogota – 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.
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.
If you are a sun lover then you will love day 4-5 which takes you to Palomino and the Caribbean sea. It 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.
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.
Make sure you have a night out too. Medellin is a party city, and you can find many of the best party hostels in South America in this city.
Week 2- Ecuador
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.
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.
Then to end this two-week adventure, you have two days in the lush green valley of Baños. Here you can find thermal baths, white water rafting and one of the tallest waterfalls in Ecuador.
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:
Total Two Week Budget
If you are a budget traveller, happy to stay in basic hostels and eat at local markets each day, go for the budget option.
If you enjoy the finer things in life and want to eat out at restaurants twice a day and have your own private room in a hostel, go for the flashpacker budget.
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:
4 Efficient Two-Week South America Itineraries For Every Backpacker
Two weeks in South America really isn’t a long time, so to have the best time it’s about finding the shortest route and most efficient itinerary so that you can see as much as possible. Here are 4 expertly curated two-week backpacking itineraries for South America to...Read More
How To Spend Three Weeks In South America
Three weeks in South America is better than two, but it still isn’t a long time.
To have the best time it’s about finding the shortest route and most efficient itinerary to see as much as possible.
I still think visiting two countries in three weeks is preferable over three countries as it gives you around 10 days in each which means you are still seeing the highlights but less rushing around.
Better to slow down and get to know each country better rather than speed through on a whirlwind tour.
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)
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.
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!
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.
Day 6-8 involves the beautiful city of Arequipa and a trek into Colca Canyon – the second deepest canyon in the world.
One week in and you’ve already ticked off some of the best parts of Peru.
Day 9-12 - Peru (Cusco and Machu Picchu)
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.
Best to spend one day in Cusco first, preparing for your journey. Then 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.
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.
When you need to leave depends on what time ticket you purchased. However, I would recommend trying to get a 6:00 AM ticket which is the earliest entry possible so you avoid the crowds and also reach the top for sunrise!
Then on day 12 you’ll return to Cusco and spend the rest of your time recovering.
Day 13-21 – Bolivia (Copacabana To Uyuni)
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.
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.
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.
Your mind will be blow by all the incredible scenery and you will leave on a high. The perfect way to end an incredible 3 weeks in South America!
How Much Will Three Weeks In South America Cost?
As mentioned, 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 shown here includes two 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. Then a Salt Flats tour 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:
Total Three Week Budget
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:
4 Expertly Curated Three-Week South America Travel Itineraries & Routes
Three weeks in South America really isn’t a long time, so to have the best time it’s about finding the shortest route and most efficient itinerary so that you can see as much as possible. Here are 4 expertly curated three-week backpacking itineraries for South America to...Read More
How To Spend One Month In South America
So, you have one month to see the best highlights of the incredible continent of South America – but with over 10 countries to choose from it can be hard to decide where to go and what route to follow.
Sticking with the theme of less is more, I would recommend visiting three countries.
Again, you will get more time in each place, feel less rushed and save money on travel.
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
Starting with 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.
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.
Your final stop in Ecuador is the green valley of Baños. Here you can enjoy thermal baths, ride bikes along the ‘route of waterfalls’ and go white-water rafting along the Rio Verde.
Day 11-21 - Peru
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.
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.
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.
Once in 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
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.
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.
From Rurrenabaque you should be able to take a short flight to Uyuni to save time, and then 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.
In one month in South America, you’ve seen Machu Pichu, the Amazon, the Salt Flats and countless volcanoes, mountains, and other unique landscapes. What a way to spend a month!
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:
Total One Month Budget
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:
4 Epic 1-Month South America Backpacking Itineraries
So, you have one month to see the best highlights of the incredible continent of South America - but with over 10 countries to choose from it can be hard to decide where to go and what route to follow. That’s why we’ve outlined four incredible 1-month...Read More
How To Spend Six Weeks In South America
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, but 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 when 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:
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
A Comprehensive Six-Week South America Travel Itinerary & Route
So, you have six weeks to see the highlights of the incredible continent of South America - but with over 10 countries to choose from it can be hard to decide where to go and what route to follow. That’s why we’ve outlined out the perfect six-week...Read More
How Much Will Six Weeks In South America Cost?
As these itineraries start to get longer, the recommended weekly budget will start to go up as you are adding in more activities and more transport.
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.
Therefore, I would budget $500 a week and a minimum of $3000 for the total.
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.
Total Six Week Budget
How To Spend Two Months In South America
The variety of travel routes you can take through South America is endless.
The best route really depends on your goals and budget. 2 months in South America is a great amount of time. 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:
The Ideal 2-Month South America Itinerary For Budget Backpackers
So, you have two months to see the highlights of the incredible continent of South America - but with over 10 countries to choose from it can be hard to decide where to go and what route to follow. That’s why we’ve outlined out a simple but...Read More
How To Spend Three Months In South America
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:
The Ultimate 3-Month South America Backpacking Itinerary & Route
3 months is a great amount of time to travel around South America and it also gives you lots of flexibility. You can go with a month in 3 countries or spread your time over 5-6 countries to see as much as possible. Luckily for you, we’ve...Read More