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Backpacking South America, Advice needed

Travel Forums Central/South America & The Caribbean Backpacking South America, Advice needed

1. Posted by mausoto (Budding Member 3 posts) 8y

Hi all, my name is mauricio and in approximately 2 months I am taking off to backpack South America. A friend from Italy will come to visit me to Costa Rica(where I am from), I'll take him to some great places in here and then we will head to panama, where our journey will start.

I just need all the advice I can get from South American locals and other backpackers who have made a similar trip through South America. More or less we would like to visit Panama, Colombia, venezuela, ecuador, peru, bolivia, brazil, argentina, chile but we don't have anything planned so it is completely flexible. We want to have very little planned, this way we'll enjoy more freedom to make decisions based on what we want and percieve in the moment.

I have a couple of important questions:

1)Is it possible to travel through South America in december/january without having previous reservations for accommodation, transport, etc. and finding cheap hostels/accommodation as we arrive places?

2)I definately wanna go to Machu Picchu but I've heard it is immpossible to find space if you don't make reservations months ahead, is this true?

I thank in advance to anyone who can help me out with these questions and also to anyone who can post information on cool places to go, cheap accommodation, transport and any kind of advice you want to give me.
I am really looking forward to discover the wonders of South America!

2. Posted by El Boot (Full Member 106 posts) 8y

Hey, sounds like a good trip


You shouldnt have much problems with getting accom in hostels by just turning up but maybe just go into an ernet cafe a few days before you arrive to each place and reserve somewhere. Sometimes you will arrive places at night or very early in the morning and its nice to have somewhere to leave your bags/wash/get some sleep when you arrive.

I would do the same with buses. Book your tickets in advance, sometimes this requires going to the local station and queuing for a bit but its nicer to have a seat next to your friend instead of nxt to a toilet..


There are loads of companies in Cusco to choose from in Cusco. You will see the in the main square. You will probably need a few days to get used to the altitude so maybe you can shop around. If you want something to be organised beforehand just do a search for "inca trail agencies" on this site. Im sure you will find lots of info.

Hope this helps

PS how are you getting from Panama to Colombia.? Im going a similar way in Feb and have been looking into getting a boat from Colon to Cartagena

3. Posted by mausoto (Budding Member 3 posts) 8y

Hi man, thank you for your help, I really appreciate it and I will take it into account for my trip.

In regards to crossing the Darien Gap, (Panama-Colombia) I have been doing quite a bit of research on the different options. As you probably know there is no road so it is immpossible to do it by land. According to what I've read, that option you're taking, the boat from Colon to Cartagena, is the best option for sure! It includes a 2/3 days stop in the San Blas Islands where you get to know incredible beaches and cultures.

If I had a little more money for my trip, I would take that tour without a doubt, but since I want to save more money for the rest of South America, I will probably take an internal plane in Panama from Panama City to Puerto Obaldia (border town of Panama), and from there I'll take a launch to Capurgana, Colombia. This is a cool alternative since you get to know some nice border towns and beaches in both countries.

4. Posted by viviurugua (Budding Member 14 posts) 8y

December and January in Uruguay and Argentina are very hot months, an average of 25 to 35C / 77 - 95 F.

And also on the coasts are places and times for beach, especially in Uruguay. While the accommodations may be ocuped, you're sure to find place ...

The costs of Rocha, Punta del Diablo and Cabo Polonio are best for backpackers ...

You can arrive from Argentina-Buenos Aires bus arriving at the terminal and Tres Cruces O ferry: to Colonia province Uruguay.

To reach the beaches of Rocha must reach Montevideo, you can learn about this city and then travel to Rocha, beaches.

And if you have time in Uruguay, I recommend you travel north, there are valleys and rural communities can learn about our culture ...

Welcome to Uruguay!

[ Edit: Edited on Oct 17, 2008, at 6:43 AM by viviurugua ]

5. Posted by mausoto (Budding Member 3 posts) 8y

Hey vivi, I feel a bit silly talking to you in english since I guess you are a spanish speaker as me but I guess its the right thing to do so others can follow

Thank you very much for helping me out! This information is really useful, this kind of details about transport and cool places to go is exactly what I am looking for!

It sounds like Uruguay is a very interesting place to visit, I will take this into consideration since I still haven't decided which countries exactly to visit, I want to visit them all but obviously it's immpossible. I will definately go to Argentina and if I make up my mind to go to Uruguay I will visit those places. I am very excited about this trip and actualy beaches are my favourite spots. I hope I can learn a lot from your culture and meet nice people in the way!