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South America, Central America, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas), Peru, Paraguay, Suriname, Venezuela, Uruguay

How much time is needed to backpack South America and Central America?

Planning a backpacking trip through South America for 3 months and wondering if this is enough time to see every country in South America and possibly make it to Central America? Getting to Central America is less important but we would like to consider our options.

It will be myself and one other male traveler. We've planned about 3 months for our trip. Is this enough time to get through all of South America? Also, for others who have done this trip, how much money did you spend on average for the entire trip?

We would really like to visit every country in SA. Has anyone backpacked/visited Venezuela recently with the political problems? Are there any other areas we should be concerned about?

Thanks so much in advance for the help! 

6 Answers

top answer by

Haven't done Venezuela yet but I traveled 3.5 months down there and spent somewhere in the neighborhood of $8k visiting (in this order) Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina and Uruguay. Bolivia was by far the cheapest followed by Colombia or Peru probably. I want to save Brazil for later in life because it's a trip all in itself.

Honestly I could do SA for the same amount of time and not repeat any places I went to so if you want to do EVERY country I'd say 3 months is definitely not enough. Prioritize what you might want to do the most and take it from there. That route I mentioned above is also a very popular route among travelers, it just depends if you want to start in the south or north. I personally like starting in the north but if you're trying to go to Central America after maybe try the reverse. Also, I heard crossing into Panama is tough and that a boat from Colombia into Central America is not only easier but a beautiful ride. Never done it though so I can't say for sure. Good luck!


That's including my airfare though. I stayed at Dreamer Hostel in Cartagena which was real cool. Definitely recommend it and if you have the chance check out the Lost City Trek while staying there. It's just an organized trek they offer but it is intense. No doubt you'll hear about Loki Hostel Cusco in Peru too. They were best hostels we stayed at in SA and I think there are four total down there - two in Peru, one in Bolivia and the last in Argentina maybe. Way legit for the money.

I camped and hitch hiked for almost three weeks straight once we got to Patagonia, and that was cheap but most of my expenses were from cool treks and things we did in each country. Lots of major national parks don't allow you to trek without a guide, therefore making it expensive for multi-day trips. Once I got to Buenos Aires I paid for an apartment too so that was another big cost. Like I said there's just so much to see. I kind of splurged on trips that looked amazing to me but you can make it as cheap or as expensive as you want. Couch Surfer is a great resource down there too. Just don't miss Patagonia. It's probably my favorite place in the world.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Colombia (attraction)
  2. Peru (attraction)
  3. Bolivia (country)
  4. Chile (attraction)
  5. Argentina (attraction)
  6. Uruguay (attraction)
  7. Central America (attraction)
  8. Loki Hostel Cusco (hotel)
  9. Buenos Aires (city)
  10. Cartagena (city)
7 thankscomments (1)

answered by
Emily from United Kingdom

I spent 6 weeks just doing Peru and Bolivia and missed so much out! I totally understand the attraction of seeing lots of different countries but take the advice of people who have done it - it's soooo much better to go slow and enjoy yourself! You will spend a ridiculous amount of time on the road or a ridiculous amount of money flying your way around, you will miss so many highlights and unique experiences of the different countries and the KEY thing to remember about travel - you can always go back! There really isn't any need to rush it right now so I'd say extend your trip or knock off some countries and enjoy yourself :) 

6 thanks

answered by
Sarah from Global Gypsy

I have written a blog post about exactly how much you will need for each country in South and Central America. All the work done for you in one post! Enjoy:

1 thanks

answered by
Sarah from Global Gypsy

I did 6 months in South America- The countries are BIG and 3 months in Central. The best time of my life. Colombia is by far the best country. The people are amazing. Check out my travel website I've got loads of stories/photos/tips on that side of the world! 

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. South America (attraction)
1 thanks

answered by
Claudia from Miami

I'm originally from Venezuela, and although its probably the most gorgeous country with the most amazing beaches in all of SA, I would not risk my life going there. As a tourist its very likely you can get pretty much killed. Although its painful to say i would skip it.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Venezuela (attraction)

answered by
Daniela from Santiago

Wow thats a hard question. If you want to at least go to the biggest countries no less than 3 months. For more at least 6 months. 

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