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Ultimate South America Travel Guide

In February 2022 I embarked on a 6 month journey throughout South America. I had the pleasure to visit 5 countries: Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, and Brazil. Also a bit of Argentina but I will get to that shortly. I am excited to share with you all my tips and tricks starting from routes, itineraries, what to pack, to some of my best highlights I recommend adding to your travel plans! 

  • Iguazu Falls - Brazil & Argentina

  • Uyuni Salt Desert - Bolivia

  • Amazon Rainforest (In Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Venezuela, or Brazil)

  • Salento - Colombia

  • Machu Picchu - Peru

  • Rainbow Mountains - Peru

  • Rio de Janeiro - Brazil

  • Death Road - Bolivia

  • Banos - Ecuador

  • Colca Canyon - Peru

What to pack for a South America Trip? 

Are you planning to backpack or travel with hand luggage? Then this will be a very hard task as you can experience winter and summer in one week. The climate and temperature can vary a lot depending if you are spending time by the beach or visiting major sights in the Andes. Do not worry, I traveled with only a 40l bag for 6 months so you can do that too! I got it all covered in my South America Packing List article. 

The most important things you need with you on a South America trip are: 

  • Raincoat

  • Sunscreen

  • Mosquito repellant

  • Long sleeve top and pants

  • Warm jacket

  • Swimsuit

  • Towel

  • International adapter

Also, if you are traveling with cameras, drones, etc., please invest in good quality hardcovers for all your equipment as trust me, even if you are careful with your stuff, people will throw your bags around like they are potato bags! 

Entry requirements for South America? 

Most countries have a policy that you do not need any special visa to enter and you can stay 90 days without any issues as a tourist if you are from the USA, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, or Europe. After 90 days you will need to obtain a special permit.

Most importantly, you need to have proof that you will be leaving the country, so a ticket out! This seems obvious if you are going on a 2 week vacation but if you are planning to backpack for many months then upon each arrival to a new country make sure you have a ticket out of it. They are very strict with it and might not let you through until you buy a ticket out. We almost were not let on the plane to Colombia because we didn't have the ticket out, so you might not even get to the country without proof you are leaving. Also, please ensure your passport is valid for at least 6 months and you have space for stamps as you will need to stamp your passport on each arrival in a new country. 

The only thing you need to prepare before entering most countries is a health declaration. I will cover that under each specific country section. 

Do I need the Yellow Fever vaccine to enter South American countries? 

It is not obligatory to enter but if you are planning to visit locations closer to the Amazon then it is highly recommended, as the virus is still endemic around areas closer to the rainforest. 

I want to share with you a good trick! The yellow fever vaccine can be quite expensive in your home country but you can get it for free in Colombia! Yes, all you need is your passport. You can get it in Bogota Airport, Medellin, or Cartagena. I got mine in Cartagena and I am still alive haha. I go in the exact directions and details on my Free Yellow Fever Vaccine in Colombia guide. 

I personally advise travelers to get a Typhoid Injection and make sure all Hepatitis Injections are up to date or completed due to the water and microbes your stomach might not be used to.

I will give you a very content summary but if you want to know more about each point, check out my 20 things to know before going to the South America guide.