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Backpacking in South America – Guide to the Famous Gringo Trail

By Kach Umandap May 16th, 2019 Posted in Travel Blog No comments

South America is a massive continent and perhaps the most diverse with so many fun-filled adventures waiting to be discovered. It houses the Andes, the world’s second highest mountain range, stunning beaches, the Amazon rainforest, the ancient Machu Picchu, as well as beautiful dry deserts, breathtaking glaciers, lush grasslands and one of kind wildlife that’s bound to leave your jaw dropping. South America caters to any kind of traveler who wishes to experience gorgeous nature and rich culture.

Machu Picchu Peru

There are many trails you can follow to truly experience the beauty of South America. One of these trails is the famous Gringo Trail, leading you to explore many countries. The people are very friendly to foreigners and the food is super delicious. Getting around South America is fairly easy, and if you go everywhere with busses it will be cheap. Below is the ultimate backpacker’s guide to exploring the beauty and culture South America has to offer.


Brazil is the largest country in the continent and can be an entire trip on its own due to the vast activities and sites it has to offer. It’s home to the largest rainforest, the Amazon, and the largest river. Take a canoe ride and meet the dolphins, jaguars and an array of wildlife and beautiful scenery. Brazil’s largest cities are Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, each offers a different travel experience. Rio is situated among idyllic mountains, white sandy beaches and rocky islands with a booming nightlife and gorgeous art galleries. São Paulo, on the other hand, is a multicultural city known for its big personality. There you can find great music, delicious food, and a fun nightlife scene. Also, don’t miss out on the world’s widest waterfalls, the Iguazu Falls on the Brazil-Argentina border.  


Our Honeymoon Experience in Mendoza, Argentina - Guide for HoneymoonersBackpacking in Argentina is cheaper than Brazil, considering it offers so many sites and adventures to be explored. From snow-capped mountains to bustling cities, whatever you’re in the mood for is in Argentina. If you’re visiting Bariloche, Argentina, be sure to grab your skiing gear because it offers an amazing skiing experience in the winter and superb summer hikes. It’s also home to many artisan chocolate shops. Spend some time in the north with indigenous tribes, go wine tasting in the foothills of the Andes and hike up the snowy Andes trail, or visit one of the 40+ Patagonian glaciers. Reach the end of the world at Ushuaia and take a cruise to see penguins and sea lions, or soak up the culture in Cordoba, the famous student city, with an array of literature, music and art events. A visit to Argentina is never complete without stopping by one of its gorgeous cities, Buenos Aires. Named the Paris of the South, it’s filled with colorful districts, beautiful markets, fun nightlife, and all-around exciting city experience.


Two Monkeys Travel - Inca Trail - Machu Picchu - Peru - Sacred Valley-17

It’s hard not to fall in love with this enchanting and magical country. The vibrant city, Lima, is one of the most diverse cities and allows you to soak up delicious cuisine, and lively history and art scene. If you’re looking for adventure, hike up the Inca trail to view the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu. No visit to Peru is complete without it. Visit the Sacred Valley in Cusco and soak up all the culture of the previous capital of the Inca Empire. Go rock-climbing in Huaraz, then head over to Lake Titicaca, known as the world’s highest navigable freshwater lake, which shares its border with Bolivia.  


From Lake Titicaca, head over to La Paz, Bolivia’s capital. Considered to be the highest capital in the world, you can take a cable car to view the beautiful mountains towering over the city. Also, be sure to visit their Witch Market with everything you need to perform a ritual. Head over to view the world’s largest salt flat, Salar de Uyuni. You can take stunning photographs of this large and stunning mirror-like flat. Visit the white city of Sucre for the “dinosaur dance floor,” where you can see real dinosaur footprints! End it with a bike ride on the world’s most dangerous road, the North Yungas. Known to be the “Death Road,” it’s the go-to place for a biker looking for an adventure.


Uyuni Salt Flats, Bolivia
Uyuni Salt Flats, Bolivia

Known to be the world’s longest city, around 80% of South America’s glaciers lie in Chile as well as being home to one of the driest deserts. Chile is known for its breathtaking ice-sheets, volcanos and fjords. Go stargazing in the Atacama Desert, the driest place in the world, or go trekking in Torres del Paine National park and visit the glaciers in Puerto Natales. Ride on one of the many funiculars in Valparaiso, Chile’s art capital and soak up the culture left by many poets and artists. Finally, enjoy the culinary and wine offerings at Chile’s capital, Santiago.

An Adventure Awaits You

A continent with an array of adventure, South America is the holy grail of the seasoned traveler. This article will never be enough to display the vast culture and nature South America has to offer. Besides the aforementioned countries, Colombia, Ecuador, and Venezuela are also worth a visit. From culinary experiences to nature exploration, South America is truly the most diverse continent in the world. Get your passport ready and be prepared for an adventure of a lifetime!  

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Written by Kach Umandap

Founder of Two Monkeys Travel Group. Since 2013, Kach has visited all the 7 continents (including Antarctica) and 151 countries using her Philippines Passport. In 2016, she bought a sailboat and went on sailing adventures with her two cats - Captain Ahab & Little Zissou in the Caribbean for 2 years. She now lives in Herceg Novi, Montenegro where she's enjoying her expat life and living on a gorgeous Stonehouse. She writes about her experiences traveling as a Filipina traveler with a PHL Passport. Also tips on backpacking trips, luxury hotel experiences, product reviews, sailing & adventure travel.