DIY Itinerary in South America – Sample Itinerary Route with Tips on Places to Visit

By Two Monkeys Travel - Contributor August 17th, 2020 Posted in DIY Travel, South America & Antarctica Travel Blog, South America Travel Blog, Travel Blog No comments

If you have the time, there are several different ways to explore countries, and each traveler likes to take various approaches – some like to arrive in one place and gather their bearings before they decide on which parts to explore, while other like to have their places to visit outlined before they arrive.

DIY Itinerary in South America

If you have little or no idea of where to travel in South America, the following section will give you suggestions on routes and activities to get the most out of your travel.  This section is separated into short term trips of up to three weeks, and long term journeys. Suggested travel time is provided at the beginning of each itinerary.

Short Term Journeys

Colombia, Ecuador, Peru

(21 days) Start in the capital of Colombia and arguably the most cosmopolitan cities in South America, Bogota, where you can take the teleferico up to Mount Monseratte and enjoy a view of the whole city or be part of the graffiti walking tour and visit the countless numbers of street art that adorn the city.

DIY Itinerary in South America

From here, catch a flight with the main budget carrier, Viva Colombia, to Cartagena and visit the historic town and relax by the beach.  Then its onto Cali, where you can experience salsa in its spiritual home and take in an exciting dancing show or learn how to do it yourself.

DIY Itinerary in South America

Continue heading south to Ecuador – the first stop is the countless number of market stalls in Otavalo, where you can find yourself some Ecuadorian souvenirs or a classy hat for next to nothing.  It’s then onto the capital Quito, where you can enjoy the Old Quito district with its many historic buildings and museums. From here, head south to the adventure centre Banos, where there are many opportunities for trekking, canyoning, and zip-lining.

It’s then another border hop into Peru, where you can catch a flight to the capital Lima, and enjoy the company of some friendly cats in Miraflores’ Kennedy Park or visit the city historic district for some amazing buildings. Head further south to Arequipa for the historic buildings and mystical Colca Canyon, complete with condors.  Complete your journey at the magical Machu Picchu by completing a trek or catching the train from nearby Cusco.

Peru and Bolivia

(19 days) Begin your journey from the capital of Peru, Lima, where you can sample the local delicacy ceviche, or gaze at the regal buildings in the historic centre of the city.  From here, you can catch a plane to Cusco where you can visit the Sacred Valley or the majestic Machu Picchu.  Then, catch a bus or train to Puno, home of the floating islands of the indigenous communities.

Machu Picchu Peru
Last August 2014 in Machu Picchu, Peru

It’s then a short border crossing by bus into Bolivia, and the first stop is Copacabana.  Here lies the beautiful Isla del Sol and Isla de la Luna, where you can take in the beautiful landscape and explore the ruins on the islands.  A bus ride of a few hours then takes you to the largest city in the country, La Paz, where you can view and purchase traditional ritual offerings llama fetuses and magic dust in the Witches’ Market – I’m sure some photos will suffice!

Uyuni, Bolivia to San Pedro Atacama, Chile

You can then catch a train to Uyuni, where you can visit the iconic salt flats and take some hilarious perspective photos and be in awe of the natural beauty.  Its then a short bus journey to the mining town of Potosi, where you can have an unforgettable tour of the silver mines in the area.  Complete your journey in La Paz, where you can board the teleferico and catch a glimpse of how the locals have survived admirably from the top of the valley.

Chile, Argentina

(12 days) Begin your journey in Valpariaso and the home of Chilean maritime history.  It’s then onto the capital of Chile, Santiago, where you can take in all the sights of the city on a free walking tour or visit the beautiful Bellavista neighborhood.

Our Beautiful Honeymoon Trip in Buenos Aires, Argentina

From here, head towards Argentina and enjoy the cosmopolitan capital, Buenos Aires, with beautiful colonial houses and colorful neighborhoods.  After this amazing city, its onto Cordoba, where you can catch a theatre show or musical performance.  Finally, its time to visit Puerto Iguazu and the iconic waterfalls.

Best of Chile

(12 days) Begin your journey of Chile from the Atacama desert in San Pedro de Atacama and the beautiful star show at night.  It’s then onto Valpariaso for an abundance of maritime history.  Make your way further south to the capital Santiago, where you can catch all the significant sights on a free walking tour.  Then, travel to Puerto Natales and the natural beauty of the Torres del Paine National Park for its beautiful peaks, bodies of water, and wildlife.  End your journey in the south of Chile in Punta Arenas and the surrounding islands for some penguin spotting.

DIY Itinerary in South America

Argentina, Paraguay, and Brazil

(15 days) Begin your journey in the European influenced capital of Argentina, Buenos Aires, and catch a tango show, the national dance of Argentina or visit the colorful neighborhoods.  Afterward, visit Cordoba for a more cultural experience, exploring Casa Grote or taking in a theatre show.

Our Beautiful Honeymoon Trip in Buenos Aires, Argentina

Cross into Paraguay and the capital Asuncion, where you can explore Panteon de Los Heroes or the beautiful Botanic Gardens and Zoo.  It’s then onto Encarnacion and one of the most impressive historic sites in the country – the Jesus de Tavarangue ruins.

The National Icon of Brazil, Christ the Redeemer
The National Icon of Brazil, Christ the Redeemer

From here, you will cross the border into Brazil and visit arguably the most impressive natural beauty of South America – the Iguazu Falls in Foz de IguacuSao Paulo is a good place to visit after this, and here you can visit many galleries, museums and significant buildings down Paulista Avenue.  The end of your epic journey finishes in Rio de Janeiro, where you can relax at the countless number of beaches or enjoy a samba show at Plataforma or Scala.

Brazil, Uruguay

(18 days) Your journey down the Eastern side of South America begins in the capital of Brazil, Rio de Janeiro, where you can get acquainted with several iconic beaches, including Ipanema and Copacabana, or visit the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue.  From here, travel towards Sao Paulo where you can catch a show at the Goethe Institute or the British Cultural Centre.  It’s then onto Curitiba and the cosmopolitan collection of attractions, including Japan Square, the Arab Memorial, and the Jerusalem Fountain.  You can then travel to Florianopolis and enjoy the beach-based activities like paragliding and windsurfing, or the forts in the area.

DIY Itinerary in South America
Rafael Kellermann Streit

Cross over the border to Uruguay and visit one of the largest seal colonies in the Southern Hemisphere on Isla de Los Lobos in Punta del Este; you can also view some great architecture here.  It’s then onto Piriapolis, where you can visit some beautiful beaches.  Finally, Montevideo is a great place to visit many museums, art galleries, and monuments.  The best way to see these all is by taking a tour of the city.

Long Term Journeys

Colombia, Ecuador, Peru

(38 days) Start in the capital of Colombia and one of the most cosmopolitan cities in South America, Bogota, where you can take a walking tour and visit the countless numbers of street art that adorn the city or jump on the teleferico up to Mount Monseratte and enjoy a view of the whole city.

Bogota Colombia

From here, catch a flight with the main budget carrier, Viva Colombia, to Cartagena and visit the historic town and relax by the beach.  Make your way south to Salento for the tropical landscapes and coffee growing expertise, and then its onto Cali, where you can experience the home of salsa and take in an exciting dancing show or learn how to dance for yourself.

DIY Itinerary in South America

Continue heading south to Ecuador, and the first stop is the countless number of market stalls in Otavalo, where you can find yourself some Ecuadorian souvenirs or interesting artwork for next to nothing.  It’s then onto the capital Quito, where you can enjoy the Old Quito district with its many historic buildings and museums. Then head south to the adventure centre Banos, where there are chances for trekking, canyoning, and zip-lining.  After, it’s a brief journey east to Guayaquil, where you can wander along the city’s beautiful Malecon, then a visit to the wildlife mecca that is the Galapagos Islands.

DIY Itinerary in South America

Upon your return to Guayaquil from the Galapagos, make your way south to Peru and the surfing and beach town of Mancora and catch some much-needed rest time.  From here, you can catch the bus or a flight to Peru’s capital Lima, and enjoy the company of some friendly cats in Miraflores’ Kennedy Park or visit the city historic district for some amazing buildings.  It’s then down south to Huacachina, to get some adrenaline pumping sandboarding and rides in a dune buggy under your belt.  Head further south to Arequipa for the historic buildings and mystical Colca Canyon, complete with condors.  Complete the tour at the magical Machu Picchu by completing a trek or catching the train from nearby Cusco.

DIY Itinerary in South America

Peru, Bolivia

(38 days) Begin your journey from the capital of Peru, Lima, where you can sample the local delicacy, ceviche, or gaze at the regal buildings in the historic centre of the city.  From here, you can catch a plane to Cusco where you can visit the Sacred Valley or the majestic Machu Picchu.  Then, catch a bus or train to Puno, home of the floating islands of the indigenous communities.

DIY Itinerary in South America

It’s then a short border crossing by bus into Bolivia, where you can visit Copacabana.  Here lies the beautiful Isla del Sol and Isla de la Luna, where you can take in the view of the lake and explore the ruins on the islands.  A bus ride of a few hours then takes you to the largest city in the country, La Paz, where you can view and purchase traditional ritual offerings of llama fetuses and magic dust in the Witches’ Market.

You can then catch a train to Uyuni, where you can visit the iconic salt flats and take some hilarious perspective photos and be in awe of the landscape.  Its then a short bus journey to the mining town of Potosi, where you can have an unforgettable tour of the silver mines in the area.  The capital of Bolivia, Sucre, is only a few hours away by bus, and you can wander around and be amazed by the classic architecture, or even the bizarre Cretaceous Park.

From here, you can visit the beautiful Santa Cruz, which also has some notable rustic buildings or the Aqualand waterpark.  It’s then off to the jungle around the area of Rurrenbaque, where you can get up, close and personal with the Amazon wildlife.  Return to La Paz to board the teleferico and catch a glimpse of how the locals have survived amazingly from the top of the valley.  Its then back on the bus to Copacabana, and a chance to sample the local delicacy, grilled trout.

Best Local Food in Peru

Return to Peru and enjoy the rustic buildings of Arequipa and trek through Colca Canyon.  With a depth twice the size of the Grand Canyon in the US, it will be an unforgettable experience.  From here, make the journey north to Huacachina, where you can get involved in some hair-raising activities on the dunes, like sandboarding and riding in a dune buggy.  Finally, return to Lima for that bowl of ceviche you’ve been dying for.

Chile, Argentina

(22 days) Your journey begins in the north of Chile in San Pedro de Atacama, and the amazing light show provided by the Atacama desert and a sky full of stars on any given evening.  From here, you can head to Valpariaso and the home of Chilean maritime history.  It’s then onto the capital of Chile, Santiago, where you can take in all the sights of the city on a free walking tour.

DIY Itinerary in South America

From Santiago, head east into Argentina towards Bariloche, where you can enjoy a whole host of adventure-based activities, such as water skiing, rafting, and kayaking.  The next destination, Puerto Madryn will have you immersed in an abundance of marine life.  Then, enjoy the cosmopolitan capital, Buenos Aires, with beautiful colonial houses and colorful neighborhoods.  From here, its onto Cordoba, where you can catch a theatre show or musical performance.  Finally, its time to visit Puerto Iguazu and the iconic Iguazu waterfalls.

DIY Itinerary in South America

Argentina, Paraguay, Brazil

(24 days) Begin your journey in the European influenced capital of Argentina, Buenos Aires, and catch a tango show, the national dance of Argentina.  It’s then onto Puerto Madryn, where you can enjoy an abundance of marine life such as penguins and dolphins.  From here, head towards Bariloche for some awesome adventure sports like kayaking and water skiing.  Afterward, visit Cordoba for a more cultural experience, exploring Casa Grote or taking in a theatre show.

DIY Itinerary in South America
Marcos Giovani Limana

Cross into Paraguay and the capital Asuncion, where you can explore Panteon de Los Heroes or the beautiful Botanic Gardens and Zoo.  It’s then onto Encarnation and one of the most impressive historic sites in the country – the Jesus de Tavarangue ruins.

DIY Itinerary in South America

From here, you will cross the border into Brazil and visit arguably the most impressive natural beauty of South America – the Iguazu Falls in Foz de Iguacu.  The best place to explore from here is Florianopolis for action activities, such as paragliding, windsurfing, and sandboarding.  It’s then onto Curitiba for a train journey on the Serra Verde Express through some wonderful landscapes.

Sao Paulo is a good place to visit after this, and here you can visit many galleries, museums and significant buildings down Paulista Avenue.  The end of your epic journey finishes in Rio de Janeiro, where you can relax at the countless number of iconic beaches or enjoy a samba show at Plataforma or Scala.

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Written by Two Monkeys Travel - Contributor

Two Monkeys Travel Group – Community Travel Blog is a travel blog and website. We quickly grew into a valuable source of inspiring travel stories, advice, itineraries and travel guides, with the aim of demonstrating how to live a sustainable life of travel, whilst living your own definition of success. If you'd like to contribute and write a guest post, contact us at kach@twomonkeystravel.com

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