South America 3 Month Itinerary

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 outlined both options and alternatives below so you can choose the best 3-month South America Itinerary for you!

Contents

Can You See South America In 3 Months?

You won’t be able to see the entirety of South America in 3 months. It’s way too big. However, 3 months is a good amount of time to see 3-5 countries without rushing. 

 

If you are looking to see the whole continent and tick off the most popular countries (Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina and Brazil), I would recommend 5-6 months. 

 

If you would like one of these extended itineraries, head to the post below: 

 

  • The Ultimate 6-Month South America Itinerary

What's The Best Way To Spend 3 Months In South America?

There’s two ways in which I think you should spend 3 months in South America. 

 

One is focussing on ‘slow travel’, savouring the journey and embracing the culture of South America. The second is a pacier itinerary that allows you to see more in a shorter amount of time.

 

Here are your options:

 

 

  • ‘Slow Travel’ 3-Month Itinerary – a month each in Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia
  • Pacier 3-Month Itinerary – two and a half weeks each in Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, Chile and Brazil 

 

The first option of embracing slow travel is my preferred choice. I will always encourage travelers to immerse themselves in local cultures and explore destinations at a leisurely pace. 

 

However, there’s nothing wrong with the second option and going down this route means you will see the highlights of South America. 

South America Backpacking Itinerary

3 Month South America Itinerary - Ecuador, Peru & Bolivia

ITINERARY BREAKDOWN

Here is a full breakdown of this 3-month South America itinerary that covers Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia:

 

  • Week 1 – Ecuador – Quito, Otavalo and Mindo
  • Week 2 – Ecuador – Cotopaxi Secret Garden and Quilotoa 
  • Week 3 – Ecuador – Baños and Guayaquil
  • Week 4 – Ecuador – Galapagos Islands
  • Week 5 – Ecuador Montanita
  • Week 6 – Peru – Lima and Huaraz
  • Week 7 – Peru – Paracas and Huacachina
  • Week 8 – Peru Arequipa and Colca Canyon 
  • Week 9 – Peru – Cusco
  • Week 10 – Peru – Salkantay Trek and Machu Picchu
  • Week 11 – Bolivia – Copacabana and La Paz
  • Week 12 – Bolivia – Amazon and Uyuni Salt Flats

PROS & CONS

+ ticks off some of the best sights in South America including Machu Picchu, Galapagos Islands, the Amazon and the Salt Flats.

 

+ moving at a much slower pace and allows time for surf and language schools if you want to include them.

 

+ cheaper compared to second itinerary outlined further on in this post that covers 6 countries.

 

+ This itinerary can be done on a budget if needed. Just remove the Galapagos Islands. 

 

+ follows a well established backpacker route so you’ll meet lot’s of people along the way.

 

Galapagos Islands in Ecuador add around $750 to your budget.

 

Patagonia isn’t included which is often the place most people want to visit when visiting South America.

Week 1 - Quito, Mindo and Otavalo

Day 1 -3 - Quito

Spend 2-3 days in the capital getting your bearings.

 

Whilst there you can explore the UNESCO historical centre, visit the equator line at Mitad Del Mundo, and have a night out on the town.

 

If you are feeling brave you can also attempt your first hike at altitude and climb Volcano Pichincha which looms over the city.  

For more information on what to do in the capital, check out our guides below:

 

Day 4-5 - Otavalo

Then it’s a short 2-hour bus journey north to Otavalo for a couple of days to see the largest indigenous market in the whole of South America and to complete your first hike at the beautiful crater lake, Laguna Cuicocha.

 

If you didn’t climb Pichincha in Quito, then this will be your first hike at altitude to get you prepared for the many more to come over your 3-month South America journey.

For more on Otavalo including the best places to stay and more great things to do, head to the post below:

 

Day 6-7 - Mindo

And to finish off your first week in South America, another short bus ride will get you to the town of Mindo so you can go exploring in the beautiful cloud forest.

 

Here you can try some of the best chocolate in Ecuador at one of the many farms, hike in the cloud forest along the ‘Route of Waterfalls’, or go tubing down one of the powerful rivers.

The Mindo city guide below has all the information you need: 

 

cyclists in Quito

Week 2 - Cotopaxi National Park & The Quilotoa Loop

Day 8-9 - Cotopaxi National Park

Now it’s time to spend 2 days at Ecuador’s best hostelSecret Garden Cotopaxi. The hostel is set in the middle of the national park and has one of the best views in the world, directly opposite Cotopaxi Volcano.

 

From the hostel, you can plan hikes into the park, go horse-riding across the Andean planes, and even summit Cotopaxi if you are brave enough. 

Or if you want to visit the park by yourself, I’ve outlined 3 other ways you can get there including a day trip from Quito or renting a car and exploring on your own:

 

Day 10-14 - Quilotoa Loop

After a lovely stay at Cotopaxi, it’s time for even more trekking. A short journey will take you to the town of Latacunga where you can prepare for the epic 3-day, self-guided trek known as the Quilotoa Loop.

 

The challenging 70km ‘loop’ will take you through 3 towns in the Ecuadorian countryside, eventually ending at the breathtaking Quilotoa Crater.

 

Alternatively, if you aren’t a big hiker you can just visit the crater on the day trip. The town of Quilotoa is tiny and you can walk to the crater in 5 minutes for incredible views without any of the hiking. This will give you a couple of extra days spare if you want longer in the surf town of Montañita or to visit the Galápagos Islands. 

Completing this 3-day trek requires some preparation so be sure to read the complete guide below so you’re fully prepared:

 

snow-capped mountains in cotopaxi

Week 3 – Baños & Guayaquil

Day 15-19 - Baños

You can easily spend 4-5 days in the adventure capital of Ecuador.

 

There’s so much to do here including white-water rafting, hiking, and riding bicycles along a 16km stretch of road known as the ‘Route of Waterfalls’ to the insanely powerful waterfall ‘Pailon del Diablo’.

 

Banos is also the perfect place to relax! Massage and treatments are cheap here and there are several bath houses with thermal baths fuelled by the volcanoes surrounding the town.

Check out the complete Baños backpacker guide for more information:

 

Day 20-21 - Guayaquil

After this, you will need a full day to travel to Guayaquil (7-8 hour bus) where you can also spend an extra day or two if you wish, but there isn’t much here for backpackers.

 

Just use any extra days to get ready for your once-in-a-lifetime trip to the Galápagos Islands!

ruta - Banos, Ecuador

Week 4 – The Galápagos Islands

You can’t visit South America for 3 months and not go to the Galapagos Islands. The price often puts a lot of backpackers off but it’s such an incredible place that it can’t be missed. 

 

If you can’t afford a week then 5 days is still a good amount of time to visit two of the main islands and still have a great time. The island has so many free activities that you only need to worry about spending money on food and accommodation.

 

Contrary to what most people believe, you don’t need to book a tour or a live-aboard boat to see the islands. You can take direct flights to the islands and explore them yourself without blowing your budget on an over-priced tour that does the exact same thing. 

If you are looking to do it on a budget then check out these two posts to help you:

 

Joe and Alex with Sea Lions in Galapagos

Week 5 – Montañita

After an amzing week on the Galapagos Islands, fly back into Guayaquil. You might want to rest up a day before heading to the amazing beach town of Montañita.

 

Montanita is the surf and party capital of Ecuador. It draws in travellers and locals alike looking for good swells and beachside dance floors that stay open late into the night.  It’s not all just surfing and boozing though, and the town has a lot more on offer from immersive language schools to tranquil yoga retreats.

 

You have a full week here so now it’s time to relax, sign up for an incredible Spanish school, and learn how to surf!

For more on Montanita, head to the post below:

 

For a more detailed version of this backpacking route, including a breakdown of each day and how to budget for it, you can also check out these posts:

 

 

the beach, Montanita, Ecuador

Week 6 – Lima & Huaraz

Day 36-37 - Lima

Two days in the capital of Peru is more than enough to explore the bohemian district of Barranco and try some amazing regional dishes like ceviche. But there isn’t much here for backpackers so feel free to move on if you want.

If you are interested in spending some time in Lima, then use the post below to help you plan out your time there:

 

Day 38-42 - Huaraz

Then on to Huaraz, the hiking capital of Peru.

 

Single-day hikes to Laguna 69 or Laguna Paron are perfect for beginner hikers who still want to experience the beauty of the mountains.

 

Alternatively, there are multi-multi-day hikes such as the famous Santa Cruz trek or the Cordillera Huayhuash route that will see you climbing among the above the clouds and camping in the mountains from 5 to 10 days.

Lima Guide

Week 7 – Paracas & Huacachina

Day 43-46 - Paracas

Paracas National Park is an untouched natural landscape perfect for exploration and adventure. You can navigate the park by bicycle, ATV, or dune buggy. As you fly down giant dunes at sunset with an endless expanse of desert in front of you, it will feel like you’re on another planet.

 

Paracas is also home to the Ballestas Islands. This is another chance to see some incredible wildlife such as sealions, dolphins and blue-footed boobies. However, seeing as you’ve already visitied the Galapagos Islands on this 3-month itinerary, you may want to skip this part. 

 

Top Tip – The desert heat here is intense so make sure you stay at Kokopelli Hostel which is the only hostel in town to have a pool!

Check out the guide linked below for more info:

 

Day 47-50 - Paracas

Then after Paracas, it’s time to swap one desert for another with a visit to the famous oasis at Huacachina.

 

You’ll get another chance to fly across the giant dunes in sand buggies as well as sandboard down to the tallest of them, watch the epic sunset, and party the night away in the crazy Wild Rover backpacker hostel.

 

Stay at either Wild Rover or Banana Adventures whilst here. Both have pools and this is necessary in the day to deal with the desert heat. Wild Rover in Huacachina is one my favourite party hostels in South America.

For a complete list of the best hostels on the continent, follow the link below:

 

Red Sand Beach

Week 8 – Arequipa & Colca Canyon

Day 51-53 - Arequipa

Arequipa is worth an extra day or two both before and after visiting Colca Canyon. It’s full of great backpacker hostels, restaurants, and bars to enjoy.

 

My favourite thing to do there is find a rooftop bar and watch the sunset. Arequipa is surrounded by volcanoes so you’ll be treated to one of the best views in Peru whilst enjoying an ice cold beer.

 

Other great things to do here include stunning Santa Catalina Monastery, a historic convent with vibrant, maze-like streets and visiting the iconic Plaza de Armas, surrounded by beautiful colonial architecture and the majestic Cathedral. 

Use the planned itineraries in the post below to plan out your time here:

 

Day 54-56 - Colca Canyon

Arequipa is an amazing city for backpackers but the real wonder here is a visit to Colca Canyon – the second deepest canyon in the world.

 

Trekking down into the Colca Canyon is an experience like no other takes anywhere from 2 to 3 days depending on the route you take. 

For more on Colca Canyon:

 

Preparing for your first trip to South America? 

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

Week 9 – Cusco

Cusco is the highlight of the country and a week here is needed to see everything it has to offer.

 

I would recommend taking your first day easy and adjusting to the altitude, one day exploring the town and then one day trekking to 5000 to the top of Rainbow Mountain. 

 

For your other days, take day trips into the Sacred Valley. The Sacred Valley boasts some of Peru’s most captivating sights, including the ancient Inca ruins of Ollantaytambo, with its impressive stone terraces and archaeological significance, and the picturesque Pisac, renowned for its vibrant artisan market and hilltop ruins offering panoramic views. 

 

If you aren’t busy hiking or exploring the beautiful natural wonders around the city, you’ll be relaxing in one of the many artisan cafes or partying the night away with all the other backpackers in town.

To see how to spend a full week here in style, click on the itinerary post below:

 

a town in Cusco

Week 10 - The Salkantay Trek

The Salkantay Trek is consistently voted among the world’s best treks. It’s also a fun, efficient and challenging way to reach Machu Picchu. 

 

The 5-day trek will take you to some of the most scenic places in Peru such as Laguna Humantay and the Salkantay Pass, and then on the final day, you will climb the steps to the famous Incan citadel for sunset.

 

This will be one of the best memories from your 3-month trip to South America and can’t be missed! 

The Salkantay Trek requires preparation so make sure you check out the guide below to see whether its for you:

 

Cusco mountains

Week 11 - Copacabana & La Paz

Day 77-79 - Copacabana

Lake Titicaca is the highest navigable lake in the world at 3,810 metres above sea level. Half of it sits in Peru, the other half in Bolivia.

 

The town of Copacabana on the Bolivian side is a small but pretty place filled with local markets and artisan restaurants, but it’s the lake itself that is the must-see.

 

Fun activities include walking up to the summit of Cerro Calvario to get beautiful views of the lake and taking a boat tour to Isla del Sol which is the largest island on the lake.

Day 80-83 - La Paz

Once you reach La Paz you have an endless list of things to choose from such as biking down Death Road, trekking in the Valley of the Moon, or climbing Huayna Potosi.

 

3-4 days is a good amount of time to cover it all.

Follow the La Paz guides below to help you plan:

 

La Paz

Week 12 - The Amazon & Salar De Uyuni

Day 84-87 - The Amazon

Visiting the Amazon in Bolivia is a good idea as it’s so much cheaper compared to other countries in South America. 

 

You can get a package deal that includes a 3-day jungle tour and return flights from La Paz for around $200 depending on the season and how savvy you are.

 

From the town of Rurrenabaque, you will spend 3 days exploring the winding tributaries of the Amazon river by speedboat, searching for caimans, anacondas, and rare birds of paradise.

Read the booking guide below for more on how to find the best and cheapest tours:

 

Day 88-90 - Uyuni Salt Flats

After the Amazon, you can fly back to La Paz or straight down to Uyuni. And once you arrive in Uyuni, it’s time to end this epic South America trip with one of the best tours on the whole continent.

 

The 3-day Salar De Uyuni 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 first day on the tour is spent taking the famous perspective and reflection shots. Then on the second, you drive out across the Altiplano, the high altitude desert that’s home to volcanoes, geyser fields and high altitude lakes.

 

Your mind will be blown by all the incredible scenery and you will leave on a high. The perfect way to end an incredible 3 months in South America!

Check out the complete guide linked below to help you book the best tour:

 

If you want to extend the trip in Bolivia, then check out our 1-month Bolivia itinerary and budget guide:

 

 

salt flats

3 Month South America Itinerary - Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile & Argentina

ITINERARY BREAKDOWN

Here is a full breakdown of this 3-month South America itinerary that covers Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile and Argentina:

 

  • Week 1 – Ecuador – Quito and Cotopaxi Secret Garden
  • Week 2 – Ecuador – Quilotoa and Baños 
  • Week 3 – Ecuador – Guayaquil and Galapagos Islands
  • Week 4 – Peru Lima, Paracas and Huacachina
  • Week 5 – Peru – Arequipa and Colca Canyon
  • Week 6 – Peru – Cusco and Machu Picchu
  • Week 7 – Bolivia – Copacabana and La Paz
  • Week 8 – Bolivia – Amazon and Uyuni Salt Flats
  • Week 9 – Chile – Atacama and Santiago
  • Week 10 – Chile – Torres Del Paine National Park
  • Week 11 – Argentina – El Calafate and El Chalten
  • Week 12 – Argentina – Buenos Aires and Iguazu Falls 

PROS & CONS

+ ticks off almost all of best sights in South America including Machu Picchu, Galapagos Islands, the Amazon, Salt Flats, Patagonia and Iguazu Falls.

 

moving at a much faster pace and which may be stressful for some

 

more expensive compared to first itinerary outlined above as more countries and places means more flights

 

+ follows a well established backpacker route so you’ll meet lot’s of people along the way.

 

Galapagos Islands in Ecuador and Patagonia add around $1500 to your budget.

Week 1-3 - Ecuador

Week 1 - Quito and Cotopaxi

This 3-month itinerary follows the same route as the one outlined above but with more places cut out to allow you to visit 5 countries instead of 3.

 

Start by spending 3-4 days in Quito. To make the most of three days in Quito, start by exploring the historic Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site, where you can visit iconic landmarks like the La Compañía Church and the Independence Square.

 

Then, take the Teleférico up to the base of Pichincha Volcano for stunning panoramic views of the city and surrounding mountains. Pichincha Volcano is one my favourite treks in South America and if you are an experienced hiker, I always recommend it as a good trek to acclimatise to the altitude in Ecuador. 

 

Then spend 2-3 days at Secret Garden Cotopaxi to complete this first week in South America.

If you stay at Secret Garden Hostel in Quito, they have a free shuttle bus that takes you to Secret Garden Cotopaxi. This is one of my favourite hostels in Quito, but if you want to see a full list, head to the post below:

 

Week 2 - Quilotoa and Banos

The Quilotoa Loop is still do-able on this 3-month itinerary and well worth including. 

 

There are some great hostels along the loop including Lulu Llama which has a hot tub and their own resident llamas. Make sure you check it out!

 

Alternatively, if you aren’t and fan of trekking and would like to spend your time somewhere else, you can easily visit the Quilotoa Crater for a day. 

 

In Banos, spend your time in the same way as outlined in the previous itinerary – riding the route of waterfalls, white-water rafting and relaxing in the thermal baths. 

Week 3 - Guayaquil and The Galapagos Islands

You have 5-6 days total on the Galapagos islands which gives you enough time to see two islands.

 

Flying into San Cristobal is better as the town is a 5-minute taxi ride from the airport (compared to a 45-minute journey on Santa Cruz).

 

Start by exploring the island on your first day. You can walk to many of the best places which include museums, secluded beaches, and viewpoints. Aim to visit the Interpretation Centre, Cerro Tijeretas and Playa Punta Carola. On the second day, book a tour to take you to see the highlands where you’ll find the Giant Tortoise Sanctuary. 

 

The second island, Santa Cruz, is the more developed of the three main islands. The town has more restaurants and bars to enjoy, and a greater diversity of natural areas so you can spend more time exploring here.

 

Here you’ll find Tortuga Bay. A  secluded beach surrounded by mangrove trees. Along the beach, you can see marine iguanas crawling out of the sea and up onto the beach to warm up. If you go snorkelling, you’ll be able to find baby sharks, rays, and turtles in the mangroves. 

The Galapagos Islands are such a magical place. It’s a shame travellers are put off by the price. Check out the post below to see how to do visit whilst sticking to a budget:

 

city in ecuador

Weeks 4-6 - Peru

Week 4 - Lima, Paracas and Huacachina

Same as with Ecuador, follow the same route we have outlined in the first itinerary but skip over a couple of places. Personally, I would skip Huaraz unless you are hiking fanatic. It requires a return flight from Lima which adds admin and cost. 

 

Take a couple of days in Lima.  Check out the trendy bars in Barranco and try a Pisco Sour at Ayahuasca Bar.  This is also the best try to try ceviche seeing as you’re on the coast. It will have been caught fresh from the ocean. 

 

Then feel free to split your time between Paracas and Huacachina. If you are looking to do something different, rent ATV’s and ride around the desert in Paracas. 

Week 5 - Arequipa and Colca Canyon

Take 2-3 days in Arequipa. If you are visiting during Peru’s summer then I recommend staying at Selina. Aside from the top quality dorms and co-working spaces, the hostel is set within a beautiful garden with an outside pool. It’s one of my favourite hostels in South America.

 

Another great thing to do whilst in Arequipa is check out the traditional restaurants called picanterias. These are traditional, family run restaurants that will serve some of the best food you’ll try in Peru. 

For more on these restaurants along with the best cafes and breakfast spots, click the link below:

 

Week 6 - Cusco and Machu Picchu

This itinerary doesn’t include the Salkantay Trek but it can easily be included if you want. 

 

The alternative way to get to Macchu Picchu is either by bus or train.  I always recommend the train as it only takes 3 hours in comparison to the bus which takes 9 (meaning you lose an entire day). The train will drop you off in the town of Aguas Calientes (the closest town to Machu Picchu).

 

Once you arrive in Aguas Calientes, take the evening to relax and get an early night in preparation for Machu Picchu.

Early the next morning, it’s finally time to climb the 1,600+ stairs up to Peru’s most popular tourist attraction – Machu Picchu.

 

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. Most people wake up around 4.30AM and wait outside the gates from 5:00 AM.

 

When the gates open you can start the hike. The alternative is to wait and take the bus which will get you to the top quicker. Either way, you’ll be one of the first people into Machu Picchu, catching the sunrise and largely having the place to yourself (at least for half an hour, until it becomes packed).

 

After you have finished at Machu Picchu, you can either spend another night in Aguas Calientes or return to Cusco. 

Check out our shorter Peru itineraries for more detail so you can decide which places suit you the best and which ones to skip:

 

Cusco, Peru

Weeks 7-8 - Bolivia

Don’t change anything from the previous itinerary. The Amazon and Salar De Uyuni are two experiences that can’t be missed.

 

If you want to extend your time in Bolivia then places like Torotoro National Park and Sucre are hidden gems that are off the usual backpacker trail, so feel free to add them in if you like that sort of thing:

 

Weeks 9-10 - Chile

Week 9 - Atacama Desert And Santiago

A Salar De Uyuni Tour drops you on the border between Atacama and Bolivia.

 

All you need to do is take a 45-minute bus from the border to the town. Once here we recommend renting a jeep and exploring even more high-altitude lakes, volcanoes, and geysers.

 

Or if you don’t want to rent a jeep you can book tours. We highly recommend the stargazing tour – you can see the Milky Way in the desert because the night sky is so clear.

 

After a couple of days in the desert, fly down to Santiago for the standard city escape with walking tours and museums. 

3-4 days in the Atacama Desert with your own 4×4 jeep is the perfect escape from guided tours. You can explore at your own pace and stay at your favourite sights for as long as you want. To see how to do this, head to the post below:

 

Week 10 - Torres Del Paine National Park

From Santiago, you’ll need to take a 3 hour flight  down south to Puerto Natales. This is the closest town to Torres Del Paine National Park and where your adventures into the park will start from. 

 

After you arrive, take a day to organise yourself and purchase any last equipment you need before embarking on the 5-day W-trek in Torres Del Paine National Park.

 

Time to end your time in Chile with one of the best multi-day treks in the world – the W-trek in Torres Del Paine National Park.

 

This 5-day self-guided trek takes you in the shape of a W – in, out, and around the beautiful Cordillera Paine mountain range.

 

The trek is relatively easy with the first two days taking you on an easy 3–4-hour hike past Lago Grey up to the stunning Grey Glacier. Then on the final day, you will trek up to the famous towers of Torres Del Paine.

 

A lot of people wake up at 3:00 AM to start trekking to reach the towers for sunrise. If the weather is good then it is definitely worth it, as the three towers are lit up perfectly by the morning sun.

If you don’t have 3 months to spare, see how this part of the itinerary can be done in a month instead:

 

South America Backpacking Itineraries - Torres Del Paine National Park

Week 11-12 - Argentina

Week 11 - El Calafate And El Chalten

You are a 5-hour bus and border crossing away from Argentina and the town of El Calafate.

 

Take an early morning bus from Puerto Natales so you arrive early afternoon. From here you explore the town and plan your visit to Parque Nacional Los Glaciares and the epic Perito Moreno Glacier.

 

You can take in the views of this huge chunk of ice from the visitor centre or take a boat to get a up close and personal. If you are lucky, you may catch a chunk of ice falling off and crashing into the water below.

 

For the second part of this week, spend your time in El Chalten. Thiss town is known as the “Trekking Capital of Argentina”. You will have your pick of hikes from single day to multi-day options that take you into the beautiful Patagonian wilderness and Glacier National Park. 

 

One of the most iconic single day hikes is the Laguna de los Tres hike, popular for the sublime panoramic views it offers of Glaciar de Los Tres and Mount Fitz Roy. You can hike out-and-back to Laguna de Los Tres from El Chaltén in one day, but a popular option is to camp overnight near the lagoon and witness a fantastic sunrise the following morning.

Week 12 - Bariloche And Buenos Aires

Nestled amidst the picturesque Andes Mountains, Bariloche offers a stunning display of natural beauty. From snow-capped peaks to crystal-clear lakes and lush forests, the landscape is nothing short of awe-inspiring.

 

Surrounding the town are several must-visit spots that provide panoramic views of the region’s mountains, lake and forests, making it a favourite among photographers and nature enthusiasts alike.

 

Bariloche serves as a gateway to the Nahuel Huapi National Park, a vast protected area brimming with diverse flora and fauna. The park is perfect for trekking, birdwatching, and exploring the pristine wilderness. Don’t miss the chance to visit the array of islands within the Nahuel Huapi Lake, accessible by boat excursions.

 

You are nearly at the end of this 3-Month South America itinerary but there’s still so much fun to be had. 

 

Now it’s time for a few days in one of the best capitals on the continent.  Buenos Aires is known as the “Paris of South America,” as it feels like your visiting a European capital.

 

Go and experience the city’s famous tango dancing, visit the colourful neighbourhood of La Boca or take a boat tour of the Rio de la Plata.

For more on why Bariloche is such a fantastic place to visit and spend time in, head to the post below:

 

glacier south america

3-Month South America Budget Backpacking Itinerary Options

The Galapagos Islands and Patagonia make this 3-month itinerary much more expensive than the first one. If you can’t afford this part of the trip, then cut out both and replace them with cheaper parts of South America.

 

Instead of the Galapagos Islands, spend longer in mainland Ecuador. Instead of Patagonia, a cheaper option is to head into North Argentina after the Atacama Desert. 

 

The north of Argentina is a hidden gem untouched by tourism, so everything is cheap and you get all the sights to yourself.

 

The closest town from Atacama is Salta – a 10 hour bus ride. From here you can follow the wine route south to El Cafayate and Mendoza, where you will find Argentina’s best wine region. 

For more on the north of Argentina, check out the guide below:

 

How Much Money Do You Need To Backpack South America For 3 Months?

For three months backpacking in South America, I would recommend bringing $6000.

 

Your basic monthly budget will be $1500. This gives you $50 a day a for accommodation, food, transport and basic activities like day tours. Then I recommend taking an extra $500 for each month for flights and bigger activities and tours that cost more such as Machu Picchu and the Amazon.

 

A week on the Galapagos Islands costs a little more – around $500 for the flights, entrance fees and higher costs for food and accommodation on the island. However, Ecuador is so cheap you’ll spread that cost out over the month. 

 

Luckily, because you are only visiting three countries, you can do most journeys via local buses or overnight buses and avoid costly flights. The only two you’ll need is the flight from Ecuador to Peru, and then an internal one from Uyuni to La Paz before you return home.

 

Machu Picchu, Amazon tours and Salt Flat tours can cost anywhere between $150-250. The best way to get these cheap is to book in person and haggle. Online prices are always  over inflated in South America. 

 

Here’s a breakdown of a 3-month budget for South America:

3-Month South America Budget Cost ($)
Ecuador Budget - 1 Month
$1500
Galapagos Islands - Flights and Entrance
$500
Flight #1 - Ecuador To Peru
$150
Peru Budget - 1 Month
$1500
Machu Picchu
$250
Bolivia Budget - 1 Month
$1500
Amazon Tour
$300
Salt Flat Tour
$200
Flight #2 - Uyuni To La Paz
$100
TOTAL COST
$6000

For the second 3-month itinerary on this list that includes Patagonia, I would recommend taking $7500. This is due to the additional flights you need to take and the fact that visiting Patagonia is one of the most expensive things to do in South America. 

Check out this budget guide to help you plan your spending whilst travelling South America:

 

Peru, Bolivia and Chile Itinerary
South America 1 Month Itinerary PDF COVER

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