Backpacking South America Alone

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I had always dreamed of conquering Patagonia, going crazy is salt flats, getting lost in Amazon and hiking to the top of Machu pichu. And when it finally happened, with meticulous planning I sailed off to fulfill my long standing dream. Well prepared with backpacking essentials and a south america itinerary in mind, I began my exploration.

I loved backpacking through South America alone and loved my adventure through this beautiful continent. Here are the top South America experience you should not miss:

 

1. Mount Roraima

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Mount Roraima, Venezuela

Mount Roraima is a table top mountain located in the Canaima National Park in Venezuela. A part of the mountain is shared with Brazil and Guyana.
As the highest and most famous of the table top mountains, Roraima inspired the Disney animation ‘Up’ and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s ‘The Lost World’ in 1912.
To get to the summit of the mountain, trekkers usually do a 6 or 8 days’ trek across the Gran Sabana in Canaima National Park and spend at least 2 days exploring the otherworldly summit.
There are carnivorous plants, unique black frogs, strange rock formations and even waterfalls and giant pit-holes – up at almost 2800m. Mount Roraima even has a microclimate of her own, where clouds and rainfall come and go unpredictably.
This flat top mountain – also called Tepuy in the native language – is one of the oldest mountain formations on Earth and dates back over 2.3 billion years old and is considered sacred to the native people.
With more and more tourists wanting to visit the mountain, the natives become guides and porters to lead groups up. The border town of Santa Elena has many tour agencies and is a good base to stock up on supplies.
A guide is necessary as the summit is a labyrinth where reports of tourists and even guides went missing. It isn’t an easy hike, but the surreal landscape up atop The Lost World makes up for it.

By Owen ,myturntotravel.com

 

2. Kaieteur Falls

Kaieteur Falls

Kaieteur Falls

Not many people visit Guyana, a country in South America nestled between Venezuela, Brazil and Suriname. The country is completely wild and unexplored, making discovering its many beauties a real treat as chances are one will have the site to him/herself. Such is the case with the stunning Kaieteur Falls, one of the most impressive waterfalls in the world.

They are so isolated that the unless willing to undertake a 5 days journey in Guyana that includes hiking and sailing upstream in the jungle, it is better to take a flight from Georgetown, the capital of the country (it’s around one hour, and the view of the falls from the plane is absolutely impressive).

Kaieteur Falls drop for 250 meters in the middle of a misty, thick jungle. There is no other tourist in sight, making the overall experience incredibly private – imagine not having to fight for a space to take photos! There are three main viewpoints, all of them with incredible precipices. The trail that approaches the falls is home to Guyana scarlet bird cock of the rock and other interesting species of wildlife in Guyana.

By Claudia, myadventuresacrosstheworld.com

 

3. Iguazu Falls

Iguazu Falls, Iguazu, Argentina

Iguazu Falls, Iguazu, Argentina

Iguazu Falls in northeastern province Misiones is on nearly everyone’s Argentina itinerary. This massive system of waterfalls bordering Argentina and Brazil puts Niagara to shame. The number of falls can vary depending on rainfall and ranges from 150 to 300. This is why you need multiple days to visit these falls in Argentina alone, and at least an extra day on top of that if you plan on crossing the border to the Brazilian side.

Walking trails snake through the jungle on the Argentine side of Iguazu. These paths include multiple catwalks that will lead you directly over the falls, the mist jumping up and nipping at your feet. You need two days to wander the length of all the walking paths. There are also speedboats that will bring you right up to the edge of where the falls collapse into the water (maybe it would be a good idea to dress accordingly, you’ll get soaked!)

If you have a visa (check beforehand, countries like the United States require visas for Brazil), then you can book the day tour to end all day tours and spend the day in a different country! It really is worth seeing the falls from both countries’ perspectives. While in Argentina you are IN the falls, from Brazil you have a stunning panoramic view of the falls in their entirety. The experience here is completely different. Whether you have one day or five, one thing’s for sure, you’ll never regret adding Iguazu Falls to your bucket list.

By erin, solsalute.com

 

4. Boating Through the San Blas Islands

San Blas Islands

San Blas Islands

At first glance, this trip could seem very superficial—lots of pretty islands, a ton of rum, coconut trees, crystal blue waters. It’s everything a Caribbean calendar in the supermarket promises. But with San Blas Adventures, we got a whole new layer of experience, interacting with the indigenous Panamanian population: the Kuna Yala. And that quickly became a very special layer to all of us on the trip.

San Blas Adventures is the only tourism company currently operating as a 50/50 partnership between Westerners and the Kuna. Due to bad relationships with tourism companies in the past, a lot of the Kuna communities have shuttered their islands to tourists, and the bulk of the islands we visited with San Blas Adventures were completely closed to other groups.

Boating Through San Blas Islands

Boating Through San Blas Islands

Spending time on the islands meant staying in actual Kuna villages themselves. When we arrived in the first island, Caladonia, our guide took us on a detailed tour of the village, which ran to the very edges of the land space. We learned about their history, their way of life, and their traditions—everything from their political structure to their interactions with mainland Panama to the way the celebrate weddings. What I found most fascinating was their matriarchal system. Female Kunas run the show, from families to businesses; in fact, oftentimes we’d see the men out doing the day-to-day work, and the women would be sitting in hammocks, giving directions. I found that whole experience to be really refreshing and respectful—and felt less like an intruding tourist than a welcomed guest.

By Gabrielle, upandgoneblog.com

 

5. Bolivia’s Salt Flats

Bolivian Salt Flats

Bolivian Salt Flats

A tour through Bolivia’s Uyuni salt flats is one of the most unique experiences in the world – and it’s a must on any South American bucket list.

Just getting to the start of the tours in the town of Uyuni is a bit of a challenge, as this tiny desert outpost sits far out in the frontier. But you’ll be well rewarded for the effort, as you’re about to embark on one of the greatest road trips in the world!

Lasting about three days, the typical Uyuni tour involves you and three to four others packing into the back of a 4×4 with everything you’ll need for your trip (many tour companies offer the trip, but check ratings as not all are reputable). You’ll spend the next few days exploring Andes mountain peaks, pink and green colored lagoons, a train cemetery, and some of the most bizarre landscapes this side of Mars.

Oh, and of course you’ll get to spend a day checking out the famous salt flats themselves. This stunning expanse of white salt is a popular place for photographers to play with perspective. Get creative with your group and you can make it look like you’re fighting off a dinosaur, popping out of a Pringles can, or eating one of your friends!

Whatever you do, strap in for one of the greatest adventures in South America!

By Nate, travellemming.com

 

6. Tayrona National Park

Tayrona National Park, Santa Marta, Colombia

Tayrona National Park, Santa Marta, Colombia

Tayrona National Park has some of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen. The natural park on Colombia’s northern Caribbean coast covers an area of 150 km2 of land, and 30km2 of ocean, and has lush forest, a stunning coastline and an indigenous village to explore. Once you’ve paid your entry to the park you’ll need to hike through the forest for a couple of hours to reach the best beaches, or hop on a horse taxi who will take you there for a reasonable fee. Either way, pack light to save you carrying extra weight! There are several accommodation options in the national park, the most common being hammocks or tents at Cabo San Juan, the prettiest beach. If you are lucky enough to get a hammock in the beach cabin you will wake up to the sounds of the ocean and an incredible sunrise. The water here is perfect for swimming in, you can also snorkel here too. Some of the beaches have dangerous rip tides though so pay attention to the warning signs. The beaches are the main draw in Tayrona National Park, but you can also hike through the forest to spot endangered cotton-top tamarins and listen to the shrieks of the howler monkeys. The pre-Hispanic village of El Pueblito is hidden deep in the forest, where you can see ruins of the original village and houses of the current inhabitants. The Kogui are descendants of the Tayrona people who now live in the park and watch over it, and close the park every year in February to allow the land and beaches to recover from human interference.

By Claire, talesofabackpacker.com

 


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