I thought that giving a bit of information and maps on where I have been could be interesting. If you have any questions please feel free to contact me!
Cartagena: Magnificent fortified city that used to serve as a transit for gold under the Spanish domination.
Santa Marta: Very friendly city 4 hours east of Cartagena; best Hostel of all our trip and great fun!
Tayrona National Park: Some of the best beaches of the Caribbean sea and you can sleep in hammocks by the beach!
Medellin: A city I would love to work at one day; unique culture and amazing people. The women of Medellin are often perceived at as the most beautiful girls of South-America (or are it of the world?) I recommend you do the walking tour there!
Bogota: The capital of Colombia is awesome and the view from Montserrat unforgivable; partying at Andres Carnes de Res is also a must!
Quito: Beautiful Capital with many churches and museums. Many hikes are available from the city itself by taking the chairlift; great for first altitudes experience.
Amazonian Forest: Probably the most amazing place on earth, hundreds of different animals can be observed and the density is insane. Every look around is a surprise: snakes, toucans, Cayman’s, pink dolphins, piranhas and hundreds of other animals made this experience unforgettable.
Banos: The capital of extreme sports of South America. You can do every imaginable sport for ridiculously low amount. The trick is to negotiate with the various
Montanita: One of the best place in the world to learn Surf and an even better place to party! The omnipresent hippie vibe, the surfers and many travelers taking a break to take Spanish classes in some of the best schools in South America makes this place unique.
Cuenca: If you like peacefulness, a lot of Churches and a very conservative mindset this place is for you. I don’t recommend more than 2-3 days here!
Mancora: This is the place to have a good time in Peru. Always sunny with the perfect climate; the surf is great and the drinks are refreshing! YOU NEED to go to the Loki Hostel; best party hostel of South America.
Chiclayo: This town will make keep you distracted for a few days with the various ruins and fallen empires to visit in the surrounding region.
Cajamarca: This town starts is off the beaten tracks, there are few activities to do there and visiting the city will take a few hours at most.
Chachapoyas: This city is by far the best hidden gem of South America! The 3rd highest waterfall in the world is nearby, one of the biggest canyons, a 2nd city as impressive as Machu Picchu, various caves, delicious pastry and a very unique culture yet untainted by travelers. The way people will look at you will make you realize you are one of the few visitors to this region.
Huaraz: The Hiking paradise of this continent. A small town, high in the mountains surrounded by thousands of majestic peaks will offer any hiker the best weeks of their lives. According to National Geographic the 2nd best Hike in the world is there also: Laguna 69!
Lima: The capital of Peru offers many varieties of activities and some of the best restaurants in the world. We enjoyed the multiple microbreweries found around the city.
Huacachina: Surrounded by some of the highest sand dunes in the world this party oasis is a great place to relax and spend a few days. During the day you can surf and slide the dunes and experience the thrill of sand bogies speeding in the desert and watch a beautiful sunset before heading back to party.
Cusco: This city is part of the UNESCO World Heritage and a few minutes of walking will make you understand why. The city is so well-preserved and offers one of the prettiest central square to tourists that come here a few days before heading out to Machu Picchu.
Puno: Puno really isn’t touristic and this makes it charm. This city of fishers and workers should be explored at five in the morning; you quickly realize how full of life and activity the place is and you can really see the unique culture of this town that relies on Lake Titicaca. You can visit the popular Uros Islands before heading out to Bolivia.
Copacabana: You can enjoy the wonderful lake Titicaca while sleeping in good hostels for less than 2$/night. There are a lot of restaurants here and the prices are unbelievably low!
Isla del Sol : My day at Isla del Sol has been my favorite one of the trip ; I was with amazing people, in the best weather possible surrounded by some epic hybrid landscape. Many tribes live on that island and I strongly recommend you sleep there one night and take the mountain trail.
La Paz : La Paz is probably the most confusing city of South America. Built in a valley near an active volcano (why would you do that?) the crooked roads will take you from modern neighborhoods to poor and dangerous ones. Many things to see there: Valley of the moon, the zoo, the witch market, the black market, museums, churches and many great restaurants. This city has so much interesting history and a walking tour is really needed to understand it better.
Sucre: One would not expect to find the most beautiful city in South America in the poorest country. Sucre is small, beautiful, and clean and offers a great quality of life!
Icla: Icla is a village in the mountains where only a few tourists go as the access is very hard and most people lack the required time. We did some Tubing down a river for half a day, some canyoning and explored some very interesting places in the region.
Potosi: The city of the Mountain that eat men; more than 7,000,000 people have been killed by the mountain since they started mining it hundreds of years ago. As a minor if you didn’t die under the mountain the diseases quickly killed you; then your eldest son had to make a living to keep the family going. This cycle has killed generations of men and it seems it is not yet over as the biggest reserves of silver and other rare metal is there. Many tour to visit the mines are offered; not recommended for the claustrophobic and people who are afraid of dynamite.
Tupiza : Tupiza is a village in the northern Pampa’s that remind you the far west movies of Clint Eastwood. The coolest thing to do here is to go horse riding a few days in the desert and sleep at local’s houses. You can also start a Salar de Uyuni Tour there like we did!
Salar de Uyuni : After the Machu Picchu, the salar are probably the most well-known landscape in South America. Once you choose a company you will be going around a massive region at 5000 meters of altitude to explore the salt flat, volcanoes and many amazing landscapes.
San Pedro de Atacama: If you are going north this is where the Uyuni tour would start for you but while you are there you should enjoy the stars. San Pedro is located in the 2nd driest desert on earth making it one of the best place for stargazing in the world. Many night activities allow you to gaze at the sky in telescopes and even though the prices vary a lot they will all please you. I took a very advanced tour, which was my biggest activity cost of the trip but it was worth every peso! The region around this town also offers many outdoor activities. The only downside is the prices; this place is even more expensive than Patagonia!
Santiago: If I had a place where I could live in South America it would definitely be Santiago. Andes Mountains less than one hour away and wine region even closer this city has all it takes to make me happy. The city is awesome and made for bikes and pedestrians and the subway system is great. It has a very European vibe and people are polite and weather great all year round! I LOVE SANTIAGO!
Roadtripin’ : If you head South of Santiago there are many things to do (you will need to rent a car!) The Lake District is a beautiful region with villages, volcanoes and insane landscape. We spent 10 days driving and showering in the wild and cooking food on our super hand-made Canadian fires. It was definitely one of the highlight of the trip. Chile is such a beautiful country!
Puerto Montt: Puerto Montt is a small town surrounded by various volcanoes and national parks. It’s good to take the time to visit the Osorno Volcano and the Chiloe Island.
Punta Arenas: You can visit an exact replica of the expedition of Magellan; it’s really impressive and currently a replica of the Beagle, the boat Darwin was on, is under construction. Another great thing to do is to visit penguin colonies the biggest one is an hour of boat north of this town!
Puerto Natales: Punta Arenas is a peaceful village but honestly there isn’t much to do there; people usually use this town to get to Torres del Paine or to the Argentinian Moreno Glacier.
Torres del Paine: One of the most beautiful National Park I had the chance to visit in my life I can only compare it to Yosemite when it comes to how it makes me feel! Make sure you got at least 3 days to visit the Park and the best option is to do the W trek in 5 days; you should be in physical shape to do it or else good luck! We also did some kayaking near Glacier Grey there!
Ushuaia: Ushuaia is a small city that made its reputation by being the most southern city in the world. The cruise ships that are heading out to Antarctica all leave from here. The backpackers and the very rich all walk the streets of this touristic city where touristic agencies, restaurants and over-priced equipment store can be found all over the place. There is also some maritime activity as various container ships use the Magellan strait.
Buenos Aires: At first you feel in a beautiful and rich city and you soon realize that something weird is going on. Once you learn a bit more about history you realize that you are visiting a city going through a bad economic time. It was once the 4rth richest city in the world and the architectural remnants from the past makes it a must-see. The parillas (steak house) are so amazing and there are various museums, gelato and many great things to do here!
Uruguay – Montevideo
This country could simply be a province of Argentina. The capital is a decent sized city without much exceptional things to do but the beauty is in the peacefulness that comes out of this place. There are a lot of good beaches near the city once you visited Montevideo.
Asunción – Paraguay
Few talk about this country and even fewer ever go there. Asunción is an amazing city where the favelas and the city are pretty much one. The prices are incredibly low and even if 2 days is enough to see the city people turned out to be incredibly warm and we had a great time there!
Iguazu: These waterfalls are considered by many the most beautiful ones in the world. You can visit the falls from the Argentinian side, you are closer to the falls and can get near the water, or on the Brazilian side where the view is unbeatable.
Brazil – Rio de Janeiro
Rio is amazing. With the Olympics coming up and the world cup it had such a big economic boom and now the prices are so high that I wonder how people can even survive. I also learned that not all favelas are dangerous and party in them in really fun. You could easily spend two weeks in Rio and still have a big list of things left to do!
If you have any questions about this trip please feel free to contact me 🙂 !