South America is a majestic continent full of history, scenery and good food – the perfect location for a backpacking jaunt.
South America: What to pack
When preparing for a trip to this lush continent, it is important to pack everything you need without taking too much.
Here’s a brief overview of what you will need when for a trip to South America.
- Clothing: You should bring a rain jacket, along with some warm clothing, because you could get stuck in an area where the weather is wet and cold. Consider taking some lightweight pants, hiking trousers and shorts, so you can be covered for all types of weather and terrain. Include underwear, swimwear, socks and a hat as well. Having two to three pairs of shoes will allow you to switch out shoes for various events and terrain.
- Toiletries: This bag should include items such as:
- Shampoo and conditioner
- Soap and sanitizer
- Toothbrush with toothpaste and floss
- Razor, tweezers and nail file
- Toilet paper
- First Aid: You can purchase first aid kits that are already set to go on the trip, or you can pack your own with items like bandages, aloe vera, pain reliever, alcohol swabs and the like.
- Electronics: Stay connected to the world with your laptop, and bring a long a camera too, but consider insurance in case they get broken or are stolen.
- Documents: Keep your passport, important documents and travel information together in a safe spot. Keep your paperwork on you in case you run into any trouble. You should have your flight tickets, visas, immunization records and proof of travel insurance.
- Cookware: Bringing along a collapsible pot and pan with utensils is helpful when you are cooking by the campfire. And don’t forget to include a coffee maker in your backpack if you can’t live without a good cup of coffee in the morning!
Educating yourself on the local customs, dangerous areas, and way of life in the areas you plan on visiting can be a good way to familiarise yourself ahead of your trip. It’ll help you to avoid dangerous situations, immerse yourself in the culture, and maybe learn a few important words in Spanish to get you through!
Your biggest safety worry will most likely be theft. Remember to keep your valuables out of sight and your important documents and money in a safe place. Those working in hostels, or hotels, should be able to point out areas on a map to avoid and places that are must sees.
As far as local customs go, immerse yourself in the culture! For example, in Brazil the locals are boisterous and like to speak their minds freely. They are positive and do not take criticism well, although they will openly discuss their problems.
In Colombia, there are many festivals and carnivals to celebrate their culture, and they are extremely warm and welcome to visitors.
Venezuela is a country where family, especially the patriarch is important, because he is the breadwinner and the decision maker. You will also find many types of music and dance here, such as the Merengue, Joropo, and Salsa. The music is a cross between African and European sounds. They also like to incorporate various foods into their cooking, which can make for some great tasting dishes!
Beautiful Trails to Hike
It is impossible to list all of the trails that are worth hiking, but we will give you a few, and hopefully some will tickle your fancy.
Santa Cruz Trek in Peru
This is a place where you can hike the set of huge peaks of the Cordillera Blanca. This is one of the most concentrated amounts of peaks in the Western part of the hemisphere, with 33 summits. Taking the Santa Cruz Trek will allow you to explore the area, its rivers and lagoons. This is said to be one of the best hiking treks in the world thanks to its breathtaking scenery.
Summiting Huayna Potosi in Bolivia
This trail is great for beginners and experts who love to hike. It is said to be one of the easier hikes to the peak, which is 6,000 meters. This is the most climbed mountain in the area of Cordillera Real for beginners, due to its ease. Experts can hike the western area adjacent to the trail for more of a challenge.
Valley of the Volcanoes in Ecuador
Arriving at Cotopaxi National Park you can experience some of the most active volcanoes in the world, such as the Tungurahua with its lava bubbling away. A trip to the Quilotoa Crater Lake that is absolutely breathtaking, and finish the adventure with a visit up Chimborazo so you can say you climbed Ecuador’s highest peak, at 20,548 feet high!
Have you hiked in South America? What was your favourite site to visit?
Rebecca lives in USA, but loves hiking all over the world. Her favourite trail is Everest Base Camp Trek in Nepal. She won’t say no to a hike alongside the ocean either. In her downtime, Rebecca writes for HikingMastery.com