Backpacking South America

Travel Forums Central/South America & The Caribbean Backpacking South America

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1. Posted by joanne07 (First Time Poster 1 posts) 17y Star this if you like it!

Hi -

Four of my friends and I are planning on backpacking Argentina, Chile and Peru next summer (their winter) for 4-5 weeks. Our ages range from 17-19 (two guys, three girls). I was wondering if it is safe for us to travel in South America? Any advice for us? Thank you so much!


2. Posted by wotthefiqh (Inactive 1447 posts) 17y Star this if you like it!

You should be pretty safe. just take the normal precautions of looking after your backpacks and important gear (eg. passports, credit cards, money ,etc).
My wife and I did a 3 month backpack through SA beginning late January 2005 and it was MEGA!!!
I have some pics of SA on my profile, and I'm slowly writing a doco detailing where we went and what was good, bad or indifferent.
I could send you the doco if you want.
Any great reason why you are going in the SA winter?


3. Posted by SkacoreUK (Full Member 56 posts) 17y Star this if you like it!

To be honest, I can't forsee any problems, just as long as your sensible and look out for your things.

I am 3 days into my great C & SA adventure, spending 5/6 months going from Cancun to Antarctica, and so far Cancun has been very friendly, especially considering I don't speak any Spanish.

Don't know what the more out of the way places are going to be like, but I will let you know.

With 5 of you, I can't imagine you will have any problems, and you will have an awsome time!!

Just get the money down on you flights, and do it!

all the best


4. Posted by GregW (Travel Guru 2635 posts) 17y Star this if you like it!

I did Chile and Argentina in 2003. I was fine. I actually felt safer most of the time than I do in big-city United States (especially in the poorer areas).

If you have any specific questions on Chile or Argentina, let me know. The trip was a total blast, and I would recommend it for anyone!

5. Posted by samsara_ (Travel Guru 5353 posts) 17y Star this if you like it!

Hi Joanne,

I'm going to be backpacking Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina and Brazil in early 2006 alone. Obviously, safety issues are a big concern for me and I've been doing as much research as I can on it.

I'm not overly worried about Peru, Bolivia, and Chile but I was talking to a sales assistant that I met yesterday who is from Rio de Janeiro and she genuinely thought i was nuts to consider travelling to Buenos Aires and Rio de J.
She said that I had to realise it was NOTHING like home, she said NEVER take out my camera in public unless I am very discreet about it, carry little cash on me at all time, use credit cards as much as possible, and she really stressed not going out at night unless with a group of people that I knew.

She dampened my spirits a bit, but I'm sure it was all sound advice, and its important to listen to what local people have to say

If there's five of you, you should have no worries!

6. Posted by sinfronter (Budding Member 29 posts) 17y Star this if you like it!

Hi Samsara,

I wouldn´t worry a little bit. The only time I feel unconfortable in big cities like those is the moment you arrive at a busterminal and you don´t know which hostel to choose. You feel kinda vulnerable with your backpack, here´s what I did:

Get a couple of options for hostels out of a guidebook, and go by cab (preferably prepaid) to the first one that has space. Spend one night there and use some hours to shop for another, or decide to stay. The point is to find a place to drop your bags as soon as possible.

I really didn´t find Rio or BA threathening without luggage. Take a small camara around and wear easy shoes, those hiking boots might be confy in the mountains but they´ve got "backpacker" chalked all over them. Change some dollars as soon as possible (at the airport, even if the rate is not the best) and carry your local money loosely in your pocket (no wallet, can easily be stolen). Leave dollars, checks, creditcards at the hotel (safe) unless you´re going to $pend.

And have fun ;), see you in Bariloche?


7. Posted by samsara_ (Travel Guru 5353 posts) 17y Star this if you like it!

Hi Sinfronter!

THanks for the tips. Am hoping to see you in Bariloche yes!

8. Posted by Constanz11 (Budding Member 5 posts) 17y Star this if you like it!

Hi, I am Peruvian, have lived there most of my life, but have travelled a lot. I am quite the adventurer and see absolutely no problem in you and your friends doing what you are going to do. Of course, there are safety issues, most of them, as robbery...are not a problem where you are going. Lima is the most dangerous of all. People in the mountains are welcoming and trustworthy. Of course you should always take conscious care of yourself and your belongings. Make photocopies of your legal documents, as well and give them to family at home, your travel partner, and embassy or consulate. Wear your day pack on your stomach.

· Be prudent, not paranoid. Paranoia will keep you home or, paradoxically, make you more of a target. Reasonable precautions will help reduce feelings of insecurity.
· Don’t fight back if you are assaulted. Despite the hero stories and the anger you are likely to feel if robbed, resistance is extremely risky. Better to just hand over your stuff.
· Be extra careful after dark. Might seem obvious, but most robberies occur around or after nightfall. In most Latin American cities, it’s best to take a taxi at night. If walking is absolutely necessary, stick to lighted areas or walk down the middle of the street (traffic permitting).
· Techniques: Pick-pocketing, opening bags, slitting bags or pockets with a razor blade
· Watch for: Tight, small spaces including crowded public transport, crowds, markets, and unexpected or sudden crowding or pushing.
· Don’t: Wear a wallet in a hip pocket or keep cash in outer pockets or loose-fitting pants.
· Do: Keep your cash where you can feel it. Front pockets of tighter pants (e.g. jeans) work best for spending cash. Use hidden pouches/pockets for larger amounts or vital documents. Don’t keep things in outside pockets of your bag or otherwise easily accessible. Best of all, leave stuff at home, the clubhouse, or in the safe-deposit box of your hotel. Do not keep all your money in one place on your body, spread it out and have an emergency stash, in a leg pouch for instance.

This is only a little bit of info really, and, apart from having lived there almost my whole life.


The trip you are planning on embarking on is a very important one and one that is probably going to change your life. The people of the countries you are visiting are going to show you a hospitality beyond belief. The simplicity of their actions mixed with the beautiful complexity of their attire, their ethnic dances and customs will be dazzling. It is always better to be well informed and I have heard nothing but good things about these clubhouses.

Have a good trip,

[ Edit: sorry, no promos in the forum please. ]

9. Posted by justinalex (Budding Member 3 posts) 17y Star this if you like it!

gOODLUCK Jo, book your flights early, they don't get cheaper

I am going to Ecuador at end of december 2005, no flights booked yet, prices have gone up. Oh well looks like I AM goingto have to dish out on the fairs. Will be travelling on to peru bolivia and chile, will be in south america for 3-5 months. ANYONE GOING MY WAY . I am from Wales, work in Cardiff. You can email me on -snip-. Would love to hear from you.

[ Edit: Sorry, no emails in the forum please. Try the message center. ]

10. Posted by elindbeck (Budding Member 2 posts) 16y Star this if you like it!

Hi! This is my senior year, I'm 17, and at my school you spend 7 months working on a huge independent senior project that can be anything you want it to be. I have chosen to do an anthropology trip that will certainly involve backpacking in SA for an extended period of time. However, for obvious reasons I am not going on this trip by myself, but am wondering if there are groups of people who backpack around SA together? I wish i had a group of friends to go with, unfortunately no one my age has the time or money to do this besides myself...any advice of people or organizations to contact would be much appreciated. I don't want to go with a program on this trip I would just like to go with a group of people who are interested in ecology like myself. Sooo any suggestions as to where I should look to help shape this expedition? Thanks!