As far as traveling to new destinations go, nothing lures you in like South America. The setting for many adventure books and movies, South America’s 12 countries have so much to offer that it would take you years to really feel you’ve experienced its majority. From the Andes to Patagonia, to bustling cities, villages, and islands, the continent is home to a multitude of textures, cultures and climates.
You’d be brave to just turn up and go when heading to South America, no matter how long your trip is, this continent needs and deserves some preparation. As wonderful as it will be, it isn’t an easy adventure to go into. One thing we can say though, once you do leave the continent, you will have changed, your eyes widened, your brain stretched out and your lust for travel even stronger.
So, keep growing, keep learning and keep striving. But before all that, take a look at some tips before you head to South America.
Pack for All Weather
Unlike Asia, where the climate is usually warm in most places, South America has a mix of weather and temperatures. Especially if you’re high up in the mountains or at different altitudes, the weather can get very cold! So, rather than just shorts and flip-flops, pack some trainers or trekking shoes, pants, sweater, and a jacket too!
Learn Some Lingo
Spanish is spoken in the majority of South America. Knowing the basics will go a long way here, as any other languages aren’t widely spoken, although as you’d expect, some English is. That being said, in places like Brazil where the language is Portuguese, English or any other languages can be hard to come by!
Prepare for Altitude Differences
Heading to cities like Quito in Ecuador, or La Paz in Bolivia aren’t your normal city breaks. Their altitude will be at least a couple of thousand meters above sea level. Prepare for this, because some travelers have more trouble than others. Altitude sickness is nasty and can hit you or anyone at anytime!
Don’t Wear Too Much Bling
South America isn’t all plain sailing; you have to be aware of that. Like all places in the world, there are good parts and bad parts. It’s quite common for travelers to get robbed in some spots, especially at night in cities or off the beaten track. Even a piece of jewelry worth nothing can provoke thieves. Keep things at a minimum, we say.
Learn to Dance
You’ll be partying in South America at some point, we have no doubt, and one of the largest cultural elements to go with that will be the kind of Latin dancing on show. Whether it’s samba or salsa, learn a step or two before you go. It’s all part of the experience!
Plan Your Route
South America is a big place; so don’t really expect to rush right through. If you do, make sure you book most things in advance. Getting from one spot to another can take the best part of 24 hours traveling on land. Don’t try to do too much, unless of course you have the time.
Expect to Go Over Your Budget
Food, alcohol and other elements can be cheap in South America, depending on the country. In Ecuador, it is $1 per hour to go anywhere on coaches. However you might find in Chile, prices go up quite a lot in comparison. There are so many things to do in all the countries, you’ll find yourself doing a lot of tours. So, have a budget, and have a little more, just in case.
Seek Travel Health Advice
Wherever you travel, it’s always important to seek health advice (and get travel insurance). We’ve touched on the altitude sickness, and some countries require Yellow Fever vaccination certificates. Go see your travel doctor and ask them about what you need. Better safe than sorry!
Don’t Worry Much, You’ll Get to See Machu Picchu
Many travelers ask the question, whether it is possible to see Peru’s famous ruins, Machu Picchu without booking in advance. The answer is YES! Although there maybe some restraints on tourism in the near future, you don’t have to go on the famous Inca trail to see MP. You can do day trips or visit on your own.
Here is a link to The Wandering Walker’s blog entry, explaining how to visit MP. You can do day trips or visit on your own. Here is a link to The Wandering Walker’s blog entry, explaining how to visit MP.
Got anything to add? Tell us in the comments!