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We’ve been crossing South America in the last 3 months, leaving behind the technology, discovering surreal places, tasting local food, meeting new people, letting go of the ‘baggage’.
We’ve experienced travel at a whole new level, just as we always dreamed.
Scariest moment? You will laugh, but it was when we left Europe and boarded the first plane! Later on, it’s just you, trying to adapt to the environment every day, breathing all in.
Latin America has a feel that can’t be found anywhere in the world. There’s a certain vibe of simple life and friendliness of the locals. As for the lands, there are immense beautiful wild areas, untouched by humans. You can’t believe they still exist in this Era!
And because we wanted to know how it’s been for other travelers, we invited our favorite bloggers to share their highs and lows in South America.
Boots and Roses – Cezarina & Maya
Our best experiences were always related to people and South America made no exception. Meet Olga, Jorge and Karla, the kindest and most caring people! They took care of us during our week in Tupiza, Bolivia. Karla (a tango pro) entertained Maya who became her greatest fan, Olga (Karla’s mom) helped me recover after an empanada overdose in Salta and Jorge (Karla’s dad) took us all on a hike to the top of the highest peak in town when the empanada concentration in my guts dropped to less gigantic levels. 🙂
Bad experiences were practically inexistent. But if we were to nit-pick about something, that would be unpredictable bus routes and suspicious ceviches, they both make you lose time and weight. 🙂
Exploring Kiwis – Sarah & Nathan
The peak of our incredible six months in South America was undoubtedly our time cruising the Galapagos. We genuinely had no idea the animals would let us get so close and be so unphased by us; it’s an incredible place! For nature lovers, it really is an absolute paradise.
All through our time in South America, it felt like everyone raved about Colombia. To say it was our low is a little unfair as we did really enjoy a few key points but overall it didn’t have quite the same feeling for us as the other countries we visited on our trip. It certainly taught us a lesson about tempering our expectations though and falling in love with a country ourselves!
German Backpacker – Patrick
My favorite part of traveling South America is its incredible diversity – the continent has everything! From the beautiful and colorful Caribbean coast of Colombia to the peaks of the Andes mountains in Peru, South America is full of awesome landscape and great experiences. It’s difficult to pick one highlight, there’s just too many! Visiting Machu Picchu, exploring the Amazon Rainforest, climbing Rainbow Mountain, roaming the Uyuni Salt Desert, watching the Iguazu Falls – you name it! Therefore, my big highlight in South America is the incredible variety of things to do and to see.
My least favorite part of South America is its safety situation. While nothing happened to me, it’s very common to hear horrible stories from other travelers on the road about scams, mugs and robberies. While this certainly shouldn’t stop you from traveling South America, you always need to be careful and behave responsible, and you just can’t explore South America as free and careless as for example Southeast Asia.
Nomads Voyage – Daniela & Mihai
It has been a year since our almost 4 months long journey through South and Central America and we can’t remember bad things about it. We discovered that bad memories fade once you arrive home. But we still remember the altitudine sickness during the first night we slept in Bolivia at 4000m, the night bus journey from Uyuni to La Paz in the back seats near the toilet, and the maid in our 4-stars hotel room stealing our phone and 200 euros in Uruguay.
But there are definitely more good memories. Cusco is our favorite town with its people and their traditional food or Museo del Cafe with its speciality coffee. Also, the breathtaking landscapes in Torres del Paine with its glaciers and guanacos or hiking in El Chalten with its Fitz Roy Peak and the next day’s sore muscles. Or the fine dining experience in Lima, Peru, at the amazing Maido restaurant, that we so much needed after being so far from home for so long…
Riding around the Globe – Joelle
I had no idea that Peru had a desert. So when the girls I was traveling with told me we were going to a desert oasis, I had no idea what to expect. Huacachina blew me completely away. Our first night there we climbed to the top of a dune and watched one of the most magical sunsets I’ve ever seen. Once the sun disappeared, the stars started to come out and I was in pure bliss. Huacachina is such a magical place that for me, rivaled the Sahara. You can spend the day sandboarding and riding buggies around the dunes or relaxing by the oasis. Don’t miss Huacachina if you go to Peru!
Worst moment was the process of crossing into the Peruvian border from Ecuador. We stood in line for 6 grueling hours and that was just the beginning of it. You can read more about my experience here!
Slovenians Travel – Simona & Jure
Imagine snorkelling around Galapagos islands. Then literally out of the blue a sea lion swam to us and started playing with us in the ocean. He was making eye contact with us, was swimming around us like a puppy. It was unbelievable. This was one of our top 3 memories from our 1 year round the world trip.
Worst memory was when we were in Huanchaco, Peru and heading towards the border with Ecuador. The day before our departure we heard on the news that a bus from the same company, operating on the same route, was robbed and a man was killed. We got very creative with hiding all the valuables we had and on the bus we didn’t sleep for 1 minute. Luckily everything was fine, but it still twists our stomacks, when we think about it.
Something of freedom – Sam & Natalia
Staying in a favela in Rio was an amazing experience as we got to see a different side to the city. The locals were extremely friendly to us, going out of their way to talk to us and make us feel welcome – which isn’t the kind of thing you normally hear about favelas!
When we visited the Argentinian side of Iguazu Falls, one local tourist became extremely aggressive towards Sam. He initially started asking us to move out of the way so he could take pictures of his girlfriend but as we were there first we asked him to wait, at which point he threatened to gauge Sam’s eyes out and squared up to him. Fortunately, nothing more happened although his girlfriend didn’t look particularly pleased with him afterwards!
StoryTravel – Radu Ilie
During my travel to South America one of my best moments was the breathtaking view over Torres del Paine National Park from the point closer to Hostería Pehoé. The blue-turquoise color of the lakes and the landscape of “Cuernos“ from Cordillera del Paine will always remain in my soul.
The funniest thing that happened to us was in Rio de Janeiro. All of us know that in this city it’s a must to pay special attention to your safety and personal belongings. First day in Rio we entered a metro station and we took some pictures of each other inside the premises. A lady asked us if we want a picture together and because I forgot, for a moment, all safety aspects related to personal belongings, I gave her my phone. While she was taking photos from different angles, I realized what I have done and I started to panic regarding “what if my phone will disappear”. Of course, nothing wrong happened. The lady took a lot of pictures, and returned my phone.
Tales from the lens – Jenny & Steven
It is hard to pick only one memory from our 15 months in Latin America. However, the two days spent in Rio Tranquillo with 5 other backpackers we met while hitchhiking along the Carretera Austral is one that stands out. We will never forget sharing a boat with them and reaching the very remote but superb Marble Caves. The Caves are the most beautiful of blues and the water is just so attractive. It is one of those off the beaten track places that not many people get to see. The people and the place holds a special place in our memories.
Regarding our worst memory, it has to do with a car accident we had while volunteering in Patagonia. It is true that Chileans are crazy drivers and gravel roads are so unstable that speed doesn’t go well with it. We were fortunate to get away with nothing serious but the souvenir which is a trauma we hope will fade with time.
Travelship – Anda & Ionuț
From the 5 continents that we visited so far we can say that we have by far a favorite part of the world: Latin America. We had visited so far 6 countries from here and counting (Columbia and Peru will follow in a month).
It was love at the first sight: the unique mix of the people, their kindness and eagerness to help, the fact that the life has other values here (success is measured in dance hours rather that in hours spent at the office) and last but not least, the unique nature and colonial architecture.
It’s hard to choose only a single memorable moment from here. Could it be the night spent in the middle of the Amazon jungle in Brazil? Or the Christmas Night on the top of Acatenango Volcano in Guatemala, after we climbed over 3900 meters, one of the biggest challenges of our lives? Or the day on the Playa des Ingles in Cuba, a remote tropical beach where we were alone and had the feeling that we returned 400 years back when only the pirates enjoyed this paradise.
Speaking also about bad things, we can say that even if the safety is a not as bad as described on the internet, it’s impossible to ignore the sentiment that you’re not in Europe or other safer continent and you need to be precautious every time with your belongings, not to pass the gringo (tourist) routes and try to limit your walkings during the night. However, if you respect these rules, no worries, Latin America is the best!
Two Scots abroad – Gemma & Craig
Craig and I (Gemma) travelled through Colombia, Peru and Bolivia during the South America leg of our 18-month career break to travel the Americas and Europe. There were so many highlights along the way but a lasting memory will always be our day trip to the Salt Flats at Uyuni, Bolivia. It was such a laugh taking silly photos with dinosaurs then snapping the sun set over the horizon-free land.
My worst memory is being screwed over by the airline Viva Colombia. They wrote down the wrong gate number for our flight from Bogota to Santa Marta in Colombia so we missed it. It taught us to be more vigilant in transit! Colombia itself was just magical, the people are so friendly and passionate and the Caribbean Coast is stunning.
Curious about our highs and lows? 🙂
We have been blown away so many times by the scenery, that’s really hard to pick a number 1. Let’s say that getting to Perito Moreno glacier in Southern Patagonia is something I will never forget. We had no expectations of how the National Park looked like, and yet that day when we faced the third largest ice cap in the world made us feel so small!
If we were to pick a place based on its personal significance, I will go for Machu Picchu. It was simply a 10-years dream, come true. In the end we couldn’t believe we were standing on top of that complex masterpiece, never discovered by the conquistadors! And that’s something to remember.
Low point? Oh, it definitely is that night spent at 4500 meters of altitude, in a refuge with no electricity, while crossing the Eduardo Avaroa Reserve in Bolivia. The whole body struggles with the lack of oxygen, you are shaking and head hurts like hell. Impossible to close an eye all night. It was the first time I could hardly wait for 5 in the morning to hit the road again!
So, is it all hype? Is it as dangerous as South America’s reputation? The truth is always in the middle. Our advice is just GO.
In January 2018 we booked one-way tickets, took our backpacks and left cozy old Europe, for (hopefully) the greatest adventure of our lives: South America. If you like our story, don’t forget to spread the word!
South America in 2.5 months – all you have to know to do it yourself
Happy travels and stay safe!
13 thoughts on “The good and the bad of South America: 12 travelers reveal highs and lows on the road”
Those pictures are amazing. I’ve been to Ecuador, so I certainly recognize some of those locales.
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I love them too! They belong to the bloggers who agreed to share their experiences with us, so the credit is totally theirs 🙂 Only the cover picture and the last 3 pictures (Perito Moreno,Machu Picchu and the Salt Flats) are ours in this article. Thank you for the visit! :*:*:*
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That’s fine. It’s still cool how you got to visit all those places.
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Yeap…best decision of our lives! 🙂
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I wouldn’t blame you. Hahaha!
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It’s great of you to put all of this together. The worst experience of Slovenians Travel got me. I would have canceled that bus reservation if it was me. I’d feel scared. Even I can feel my heart beating so fast just from reading it! You guys are brave!
I went to Buenos Aires more than 5 years ago. It was my first time but that trip was sponsored by my previous company. I really wanted to go out, but they warned us of the safety issue. And if something were to happen, they won’t be liable since they already warned us. I ended up staying at my hotel for 2 days. After a couple of years, I heard one went out and enjoyed her time and was completely safe. I was regretting it! Now I don’t know if I will have a chance to go to Buenos Aires again.
So I agree with you that the truth is always in the middle. So just GO.
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Thank you very much! This interview of my favorite travel bloggers who went to South America is something i’ve been wanting to do since we left! 🙂 Second, so sorry you missed exploring Buenos Aires….i really felt safe on the streets, and actually all the capitals in South America are very evolved as a society, and quite safe if you watch your belongings. Buenos Aires feels like Europe! The place i felt less safe is Rio de Janeiro, but nevertheless nothing happened to us either. Anyway, our decision to leave for a few months to South America was the best of our lives! Thanks for dropping by and for sharing! 🙂
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Being accustomed to Latin American customs definitely helped us when visiting South America. You seem to have adapted very well with this as well.
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Haha well.. You have to! 😊