Plan the Perfect South America Travel Route – We Don’t Mind if You Pinch Ours!

After months of planning, talking to countless travellers, researching our hearts out and finally spending six months on the road, we’re pleased to be able to share our very own South American travel route.

We’ve done the hard work so you don’t have to!

If you’re headed to South America (specifically Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador and/or Colombia) and aren’t quite sure where to start, this post is for you…

It’s a simple rundown but should help give you all of the basic information you need to start planning your own adventure.  Should you be ready for more detailed information, be sure to click through to the links scattered throughout this post or check out our South American page.

With that said though, let’s get route planning!

Our South American Travel Route

The Low-Down on Our Route


Santiago – 5 nights
Activities: Day trip to Valparaiso and sleeping off the jetlag.
Accommodation:  Rado Boutique Hostel
Onwards Travel: Night bus

Pucon – 17 nights – Chile’s Adventure Capital (though you won’t need as long there)
Activities: Horse riding, snowboarding, hydrospeeding, hot pools and hiking (along with plenty of work time).
Accommodation:  Chili Kiwi
Onwards travel:  Shared ride with friends.  Bus available.


Bariloche – 5 nights
Activities: Chocolate tasting and hiking.
Accommodation:  La Justina
Onwards travel: Bus

For more detailed information on the above, check out our first months itinerary from South America.


Puerto Varas – 2 nights
Activities: Relaxation and shopping for Patagonian supplies in Puerto Montt.
Accommodation:  Margouya Patagonia Outdoor
Onwards travel: Bus to Puerto Montt and then flight to Punta Arenas.

Puerto Natales – 7 nights (either side of Torres del Paine)
Activities: Time to work and recover!
Accommodation:  Patagonia Adventure
Onwards travel:  Private transfer

Torres del Paine – 5 nights
Activities: Hiking the W Trek and exploring Torres del Paine.
Accommodation:  Accommodation throughout the W Trek and EcoCamp – bucket list stuff!
Onwards travel:  Shuttle bus


El Calafate – 2 nights (either side of El Chaltén)
Activities: Perito Moreno glacier visit.
Accommodation:  America del Sur Hostel
Onwards travel:  Bus

El Chaltén – 2 nights
Activities: Hiking the Laguna de los Tres (AKA the Fitz Roy).
Accommodation:  Rancho Grande
Onwards travel:  Plane (after catching a bus back to Punta Arenas)

Buenos Aires – 5 nights
Activities: Relaxation and markets.
Accommodation:  Circus Hotel & Hostel
Onwards travel:  Plane

Puerto Iguazú – 2 nights
Activities: Visit the Iguazu Falls (including falls boat ride).
Accommodation:  Yaguarete Lodge
Onwards travel:  Bus


Foz do Iguaçu – 1 night
Activities:  Take in the falls from the Brazilian side.
Accommodation:  CLH Suítes Foz do Iguaçu
Onwards travel:  Plane

Rio de Janeiro – 5 nights
Activities:  Christ the Redeemer, Copacabana Beach, Pedra de Gavea, walking tour, Ipanema Beach at sunset and the red ‘Escadaria Selarón’ steps.
Accommodation:  Discovery Hostel
Onwards travel:  Shuttle bus & ferry

Like the sound of something above?  Check out our second-month South American itinerary for more detail.

Ilha Grande – 3 nights
Activities:  Island snorkel tour and stand up paddleboarding.
Accommodation:  Hostel Refugio
Onwards travel:  Ferry, shuttle bus & private boat

Paraty – 2 nights
Activities:  Swimming with bioluminescent plankton, visiting nearby bays and hammock time!
Accommodation:  Happy Hammock Eco Guesthouse
Onwards travel:  Private boat & night bus


La Paz – 3 nights (plus 2 nights before Copacabana)
Activities:  Death Road and Red Cap Walking Tour
Accommodation: Landscape – International B&B
Onwards travel:

Uyuni – 1 night
Activities:  Preparation for our Salt Flats tour.
Accommodation:  Piedra Blanca Backpackers Hostel
Onwards travel:  Tour 4WD

Salt Flats Tour – 3 nights
Activities:  Varied tour of the Bolivian Salt Flats and their surroundings; lagoons, mountains, salt and much, much more.
Accommodation:  Included in the tour.
Onwards travel:  Tour 4WD


San Pedro de Atacama – 4 nights
Activities:  Food tour, star gazing and a trip to the Valle de la Luna.
Accommodation:  Juriques Hostal
Onwards travel:  Night bus

Arica – 1 night
Activities:  Relaxation – there’s a nice beach there but we just broke our journey up.
Accommodation:  Residencial Tres Soles
Onwards travel:  Bus (to La Paz before continuing on with Bolivia Hop)


Copacabana – 1 night
Activities:  Afternoon visit to Isla del Sol.
Accommodation:  Hostal 6 de Agosto
Onwards travel: Bolivia Hop


Puno – 1 night
Activities:  Afternoon visit to Uros, the Floating Islands.
Accommodation:  Suite Independencia
Onwards travel:  Peru Hop

Cusco – 2 nights (and another 7 nights after Machu Picchu and Puerto Maldonado)
Activities:  Rainbow Mountain, Laguna Humantay and via ferrata/zipline.
Accommodation:  Magicpacker Hostel
Onwards travel:  Night bus

Machu Picchu Tour – 3 nights
Activities:  Inca Jungle Trek: Mountain biking, rafting, hiking, ziplining, hot pools and of course, a tour of Machu Picchu.
Accommodation:  Organised as part of our tour.
Onwards travel:  Train and shuttle to Cusco and then a night bus to Puerto Maldonado.

You know the drill!  If you’d like to read more about any of the above locations, read our post; Our Third Month in South America.  If you’re specifically after information on Cusco, check out our fourth month too.  If you’re specifically looking for some insider tips, we suggest you check out this Peruvian itinerary planning post and these awesome 22 ideas to help you enjoy Peru too!

Puerto Maldonado – 3 nights
Activities:  Boat float, night nature walks, Amazonian tribe visits and more – all organised through our Amazonian resort.
Accommodation:  Amazon Planet
Onwards travel:  Bus to Cusco and an overnight Peru Hop to Arequipa

Arequipa – 3 nights
Activities:  We were sick so didn’t venture out of the town but rafting and hiking the Colca Canyon are on offer.
Accommodation:  Flying Dog Arequipa
Onwards travel:  Peru Hop

Huacachina – 1 night
Activities:  Dune buggies/sandboarding.
Accommodation:  Wild Olive Guest House
Onwards travel:  Peru Hop (via Nazca lines)

Paracas – 2 nights (only 1 needed)
Activities:  A visit to the national park along with the possibility of quad biking and paragliding.
Accommodation:  Los Frayles
Onwards travel:  Peru Hop

Lima – 3 nights
Activities:  Shopping, eating and walking tours.
Accommodation:  Pariwana Hostel Lima
Onwards travel:  Night bus

Huaraz – 3 nights (would have ideally stayed longer)
Activities:  Hiking Laguna 69 and Laguna Churup
Accommodation:  Hostel Akilpo
Onwards travel:  Bus (day, night and day!)


Guayaquil – 1 night
Activities:  Rest prior to departure for Galapagos
Accommodation:  Residencial Turistico Guayas
Onwards travel:  Flight

Looking for more detailed information about any of the above travel stops?  You’ll find it in this post, sharing our fourth month on the road.

Galapagos Island Cruise – 7 nights
Activities:  Animals and nature galore!  Gentle hikes, snorkelling, boat trips and more, all in the lap of luxury.
Accommodation:  MV Origin – Ecoventura
Onwards travel:  MV Origin – Ecoventura

Galapagos Islands, San Cristobal – 2 nights
Activities:  Dive day trip.
Accommodation:  Casa de Jeimy
Onwards travel:  Flight

Quito – 2 nights
Activities:  ‘Live Quito Like a Local‘ walking tour.
Accommodation:  Casa Gangotena
Onwards travel:  Private transfer

Mashpi – 2 nights
Activities:  Included activities at Mashpi Lodge including the skybike, Dragonfly gondola and wildlife walks.
Accommodation:  Mashpi Lodge – a National Geographic “Unique Lodge of the World”
Onwards travel:  Transfer to Quito and then bus to Baños

Baños – 7 nights
Activities:  Whitewater rafting, canyoning, visit to ‘the swing at the end of the world’
Accommodation:  Hostal Princesa Maria
Onwards travel:  Bus

Quilotoa Loop – 4 nights (1 at each) – Latacunga – Isinlivi – Chugchilán – Latacunga
Activities: Hiking!
Accommodation:  Latacunga – Hostel Sendero de Volcanes. Isinlivi – Llullu Llama. Chugchilán – Cloud Forest Hostal.
Onwards travel:  Bus to the start of the trail and then hiking until the end of the trail.  Bus back to Latacunga and on to Quito


Bogota – 2 nights
Activities:  Graffiti tour, shopping and eating.
Accommodation:  Republica Hostel Bogota
Onwards travel:  Bus – check out our Salento travel guide to help you get there.

Salento – 3 nights
Activities:  Hiking Valle de Cocora and visits to the coffee plantations.
Accommodation:  Walker’s House Hostel
Onwards travel:  Bus – again, don’t forget about our Salento travel guide to help you move on.

Medellín – 8 nights
Activities:  Paragliding, a tour to Comuna 13, Guatape visit and a tour into a local community.
Accommodation:  BlackPine Hostel
Onwards travel:  Flight

You’ll find more information about our visit to Ecuador and Colombia in our month five itinerary.

Cartagena – 2 nights
Activities:  Exploring the beautiful old town.
Accommodation:  El Viajero Hostel Cartagena
Onwards travel:  Shuttle

Santa Marta – 2 nights
Activities:  Relaxing – we’d suggest less time here.
Accommodation:  The Dreamer Hostel
Onwards travel:  Colectivo

Minca – 4 nights
Activities:  Hiking and swimming in waterfalls.
Accommodation:  Casa Relax Minca Hostal Boutique
Onwards travel: Colectivo (to Santa Marta) and bus (to Palomino)

Palomino – 2 nights
Activities:  Tubing and relaxing.
Accommodation:  The Dreamer Hostel – Palomino
Onwards travel:  Bus (to Santa Marta) and shuttle (to Barranquilla)

Barranquilla – 3 nights
Activities:  Absolute relaxation and a touch of shopping.
Accommodation:  Holiday Inn Express Barranquilla Buenavista
Onwards travel:  Plane

The last of Colombia?  You’ll find it in our final South American itinerary round-up.

With memories to last a lifetime and just enough adventure to want more, we couldn’t ask for more from our visit to South America.  We hope that our itinerary will help you in planning your own once-in-a-lifetime travels through the region too!

Psssst – you don’t want to miss these posts…
Backpacking South America: The Best Hostels – Tried and Tested!
Buses in South America: The Ultimate Coach Transport Travel Guide
The Best of the Best in South America – 12 Experiences You Can’t Miss! 

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