Nikki Scott

Nikki Scott is the founder & editor of South America Backpacker. A traveller-turned-entrepreneur, she left the UK in 2009 for Asia and after 6 months on the road, she started a bi-monthly print magazine about backpacking. South America Backpacker soon followed and today she runs her backpacking enterprise from her base in Spain. Her honest and fascinating book, Backpacker Business, tells the story of her success in the face of adversity.

Is Colombia Safe to Travel?

Is Colombia Safe to Travel?

Is Colombia safe to travel? It is a question we get asked a lot, especially by solo travellers. Generally, the answer is yes but Colombia is still a country where you have to remain vigilant. Here are our top tips for staying safe.

24 Best Spanish Movies on Netflix

24 Best Spanish Movies on Netflix

Heading to South America and want to brush up on your Spanish? Watching Spanish movies is a great way to hone your language skills.

Top 18 Must Read Books For Anyone Travelling to South America

With our upcoming travels to South America a mere month away we are finding it hard to sit still and contain our overflowing excitement! One of the best fixes we have found is to read, anything connected to the land we are about to explore. We’ve been perusing the libraries, the internet, and spending all of our holiday money on Kindle downloads. Luckily we have found a lot to keep us occupied! Here are our top 18 favorite books for anyone traveling to South America.

Change your Life! Jobs for Travelling Yoga Teachers…

After qualifying as yoga teachers earlier this year, we discovered a website called Yoga Travel Jobs, that listed volunteer, work exchange and paid job opportunities all over the world! It was really exciting to see all of the positions available in beautiful locations from beach resorts to mountain retreats… It seemed that Yoga Teachers were really in demand!

Hitchhiking in South America: A Journey of Humanity

Picture yourself standing on the side of a remote road in a foreign country. You take a good look and breathe in your surroundings. Truckers taking a rest in the midst of their 24 hour international journey, jubilant children playing enthusiastically with a tattered football and a veritable army of snack-selling women waiting patiently to pounce on anyone who dares to slow below 10kmph, curiously all touting a choice of the same 3 items.

A Mountain View in Maragua

The “Tibet of South America”: 4 Adventurous Bolivian Treks

When it comes to trekking in South America, there are a number of famous hikes that always make travellers’ itineraries, the legendary Inca Trail being the most well known. But whether you’ve dreamed about or have actually experienced some of these South American highlights, you’ve probably never contemplated walking in another country here: Bolivia.

Clear Water Off Ilha Grande

Top 10 Escapes from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Rio is one of the most exciting, enthralling and beautiful cities in the world. However, if the pace of the city gets a bit too much, and you need a break from the heat and crowds – don’t worry. The state of Rio de Janeiro is a nature lover’s paradise, and many incredible destinations are easily accessible within a few hours of the metropolis. Check out our list of the top 10 escapes from Rio!

Diving into Bolivian Community-Life: 6 Weeks Volunteering in La Paz

Volunteering has taught me how powerful it can be as an opportunity to come face to face with the reality of life South America. Unlike travelling, where you are often confined to just peering through the grimy bus windows and out into the crumbling adobe of the many communities you pass, when you stop to volunteer, you are invited into those houses, offered a chair, and given a class of refreshing, home-fermented chichi drink. Steph Dyson tells us about her rewarding experience volunteering for six weeks outside La Paz, Bolivia…


Discovering Chile Through its Food…

While not usually garnering the culinary acclaim reaped upon the hybridization of Peru or the asados of Argentina, Chilean food ranges in variety from the arid Atacama desert in the north to the perfect Patagonian peaks of the south. Traditional food mostly caters to workers and can be traced to humble origins, which results in ample quantities of tastiness at great value. Traveller, Max Nathanson takes us on a foodie journey through Chile…

Local Riverboat Travel in Peru: Yurimaguas to Iquitos to Pucallpa

Backpacker Ian Saberton savours the slow pace of authentic river travel in Peru, travelling from Yurimaguas to Iquitos to Pucallpa. Travelling the way the locals do, Ian watches the river landscape go by, makes friends with his fellow passengers and gets a nasty bout of every traveller’s favourite topic of conversation – traveller diarrhoea!

How South America inspired one adventurous couple to be entrepreneurs!

This week we caught up with backpacker-turned-entrepreneurs Ela and Douglas, who are the founders of new travel website Quest Organizer – an easy to use flight search engine that finds the cheapest flights by adding a stopover into your trip. The idea was born during an eight month backpacking adventure in South America…

10 Ways to Save Money Travelling in Brazil

Brazil is an enormous, amazing and diverse country to travel for just about any kind of traveller. Rainforests, vibrant cities, incredible beaches and wilderness – but is it too expensive for budget backpackers? We’re here to tell you that if you do a little research and planning, Brazil can be an affordable and hugely enjoyable destination that won’t break the bank!

A Man Uses His Tablet In An Incredible Setting

8 Tips for Being a Tech-Savvy Traveler in South America

While many travellers feel burdened by the influence of technology during their travels, I do not. Although the skill of manoeuvring through a city with no help from technology nor any knowledge of the local language is pretty thrilling, we are actually being quite inefficient with our use of time. Here are some apps and technologies that will help you get the most out of your travels through South America without sacrificing the joys of adventure. These technologies should actually help you find more adventure!

Punta Gallinas, Colombia: Adventure to the Most Northern Point of South America

Visiting the most Northern point of South America and a place where you can slide from a sand dune right into the Caribbean. Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? However, tours can be expensive and there is little information about traveling to this incredible and remote region independently. That’s why we’re here to help with a detailed guide!

On the Trail of the Seven Lakes in Patagonia, Argentina

Probably the most popular thing to do while visiting Patagonia is the seven lakes trail that goes from Bariloche to San Martin de Los Andes and is roughly 100 km. Showing off landscapes of infinite mountains covered with snow and trees, surrounded by pristine blue-and-turquoise lakes, as well as a surprisingly pumping party scene, it’s a must for backpackers in Argentina!

Casa en el Agua, Colombia.

Casa en el Agua, Colombia – A Hostel Encircled by Tropical Waters!

There are only few hostels that you end up staying while telling yourself… “This is unreal, I never want to leave!” Casa en el Agua is one of those. A little paradise located in the middle of the ocean, the hostel is the first and only one in the San Bernado Islands on the Caribbean Coast of Colombia and a place you should put on your bucket list NOW…

A Magical Stay with the Indigenous Tsachila People, Santo Domingo, Ecuador

Santo Domingo de los Tsachilas, Ecuador, is an industrial hub that draws few visitors, but in its outskirts lies an indigenous people struggling to survive the encroachment of modernization. The Tsachilas are best known for their knowledge of medicinal plants and use of the achiote seed in colouring their hair red. Only 2800 Tsachilas remain, and they comprise one of Ecuador’s 14 officially recognized nationalities. Traveller, Marina Wang visits one of their communities to find out more about their unique way of life…

Mountaineering in South America: Breaking the Ice in Bolivia and Peru

South America offers some of the best mountaineering adventures in the world. With the spine of the mighty Andes stretching along the West coast from Colombia to Chile – the hiking opportunities are endless. 18-year old backpacker, Tomas Aramburu tells us about how he summited Huayna Potosí in Bolivia and Mount Soray in Peru and fell in love with the mountains…

A man sits on a ledge of a heavily graffitied wall in Bogotá

From Ancient Gold Sculptures to Graffiti: A Thriving Art Culture in Bogotá, Colombia

Bogotá, the capital of Colombia was the biggest surprise of my trip to South America. The food, the culture and the people were amazing and an unlikely graffiti tour through the streets of the capital ended up being one of the highlights of my trip… One backpacker tells us about his cram-packed four day visit to the culturally-rich city!

A countryside shot in Venezuela

The Truth About Venezuela…

“Don’t go to Venezuela, you will get robbed or even killed – it’s just not safe”… Again and again I heard those words. I chose to ignore them. I crossed the border from Colombia in the back of a beat-up car, my rucksack resting upon my knees. Police patrolled every corner, I was swept through numerous army checkpoints, the traffic relentlessly passing me by in both directions… Join South America Ambassador Will Hatton as he dispels stereotypes on this daring adventure to South America’s most feared country!

A Pair Of Peru Shoes

How Peru Inspired Three 23-Year Old Backpackers To Start a Socially-Conscious Business!

When three 23-year old French backpackers travelled to Peru last year, they didn’t think that their journey would result in a life-changing project. Wandering through the streets of Cuzco, the ancient capital of the Inca empire, they came across a pair of shoes, sneakers to be precise, with a textile pattern that was unique and eye-catching. Why not bring this distinct design to Europe and the rest of the Western world? AND – at the same time, create a brand that is beneficial to the local people of Peru… Here is their special story!

Yoga in Máncora, Peru

There’s More to Peru than Machu Picchu! Discovering Yoga in Mancora…

Machu Picchu, Inca ruins, Cevice, Pisco sours, trekking, the Andes… We don’t often associate Peru with Yoga and Meditation. Here, traveller and yoga teacher, Laura Heininger describes her experience of living and teaching Yoga in the seaside town of Mancora, Peru, a place once renowned for surf and party…

Exploring the Medellín Slums, Colombia

Brightly coloured graffiti rippled along the walls. Crowds of children played in the dappled sunlight threading it’s way through the streets. The shiny metal escalator loomed above me, leading upwards and into the slums of Medellin, a former war-zone. Just a decade ago this had been a very different place, gangs of youths armed with kalishnikovs and machetes had wandered the streets killing to control the drug trade. The police had been too scared to enter the slums…

Wild Times with Balu: Volunteering at ‘Inti Wara Yassi’ Wildlife Preserve in Bolivia

For more than 20 years, Comunidad Inti Wara Yassi (CIWY) has been working to provide a safe and healthy environment for rescued animals while educating the Bolivian public to respect wildlife and the environment. Traveller Andrew Marston describes the month he spent walking through the jungle with hisy furry new friend Balu, a beautiful Andean Spectacled Bear that is highly endangered…


Trek Torres Del Paine National Park, Chile – How to see the Highlights in Just 3 Days!

Situated in Patagonia, Chile’s Torres Del Paine National Park is a must on many travellers to-do lists. Its scenic beauty, glaciers and the imposing Andes mountains tempt even the most timid adventurer. People flock from around the world to complete the famous 5-day W Trek or tougher 9-day Circular route. But what if you only have a few days to experience as much as you can? The two main highlights are a spectacular view of Glacier Grey, and watching the sunrise at Torres Del Paine. Easier said than done as these sites are at opposite ends of the park and seeing both in a short time frame is a challenge, but a realistic one…


Saving For Your Next Trip? Make Money From Selling Souvenirs From Your Travels!

Traveling is addictive. If you’re anything like us, as soon as you get home, you start planning your next adventure! The only thing that tends to stop you, is cash for a plane ticket! Perhaps one of the easiest way to make some quick money when you get back home is to sell off some of the weird and wonderful souvenirs you have picked up on your travels. In this interesting article, The Broke Backpacker tells us how to do it!

The Buenos Aires Skyline At Night

How Buenos Aires Got Under My Skin…

It was the steak that did it. It wasn’t the first steak I’ve ever had. But it was the first time I really got how good steak can be. Cooked to a perfect medium-rare, every mouthful packed with flavour… and I don’t even like meat that much. Then came the wine…

Casa Elemento, Minca, Colombia – Chasing a Whisper into the Jungle!

It started with a whisper. A soft voice calling across the plains of Backpackistan. “Casa Elemento, you should go”. I first heard it in Guatemala, from a plumber by the name of Josh. “I spent five months there man, in the jungle, sleeping in a hammock; building, working, creating something”. I knew then that I would have to travel to this place to see it for myself…

The Inspiring Intag Project: Volunteering in the Remote Cloud Forests of Ecuador

From a remote farm in the cloud forest in north-west Ecuador, Ned Cresswell has set up the Intag Project, a volunteer programme through which he hopes to introduce sustainable tourism to his local community. This is one backpacker’s experience volunteering with the Intag Project at Magdalena Primary School… TV and internet don’t reach here, and there is no hot water or, in many cases, electricity. Flashpackers need not apply.

A surfer in Ayampe

Ilo – The Surf Spot Peru Forgot

We sat on our boards waiting for another set to come in, with the sun bouncing into our eyes off the cold Pacific water as a lone Pelican skimmed the surface just meters from us, pausing momentarily in mid-air like time had stopped, shaking the water from its feathers before beating its giant wings and gliding away again toward the distant fishing boats in search of food. In this exact moment I smiled and thought to myself, ‘I love my life!’

Why Everybody Should Try Couchsurfing!

Couchsurfing is a global online community for backpackers, expats, students, families and pretty much everyone in between! The concept is that you get free accommodation all over the world from a community of hosts. Ultimately however, it goes a little deeper than that, couchsurfing is an exchange of ideas and cultures. Will Hatton, AKA The Broke Backpacker tells us why it will enhance your backpacking experience…


The Broke Backpacker’s 7 Secrets To Travelling On A Budget

When it comes to travelling the world on a budget, ‘The Broke Backpacker’, (Will Hatton), one of the first South America Backpacker Ambassadors, knows a thing or two! He’s certainly not broke any more, thanks, no doubt, to the mindset that he laid out for us here.

5 Jobs you can do while Backpacking in South America

If you’re planning on backpacking around South America and are looking to boost your travel funds, or even want to stop and live somewhere for a while, then you’ll probably want to find some kind of work. There are many different options available to you besides volunteering, you just need to know how to find them. Here’s our Top 5 Jobs you can do to keep you going in South America…

A Small Raft in Leticia Colombia

Big Fish, Cold Beer & New Amigos in Leticia, Colombia

When Kristian told friends that he was traveling to more remote parts of Colombia on a backpacking trip, people thought he was crazy! ‘It’s too dangerous!’ They cried. During a solo adventure to Leticia, Colombia, a border town on the Mighty Amazon River where Brazil, Peru and Colombia meet in a humid, tropical and mosquito ridden union, Kristian discovers why people are so very wrong about this incredible country…

Volunteering at an Animal Orphanage in Iquitos, Peru: Saving the Red Faced Uakari

It’s kind of a surreal experience the first time a baby Red Faced Uakari monkey drops out of a tree onto your head. Due to hunting and habitat destruction this species is among the rarest primates in South America. Corey Callahan describes an incredible experience working as a conservation volunteer at Pilpintuwasi Animal Orphanage in Padre Cocha, Iquitos, Peru…

Two Gringos Biking, Climbing and Paragliding Our Way Round South America!

Mila Brill and her boyfriend spent six incredible months mountain biking, rock climbing and paragliding in three countries of South America: Peru, Chile and Argentina. Through their encounters with local people they discovered amazing roads, scenery, secret climbing Meccas, awe-inspiring places to pitch their tent and along the way found ultimate freedom of life on the road and learnt some very important life lessons…

Wilman Matty, Indigenous Farmer in Rurrenabaque

Interview with Indigenous Farmer, Wilman Matty – Proud to be Indigenous

We travel to connect. To become inspired by one another. Whether they are locals or other foreigners, travelers quickly learn the power of a conversation, the power that a new perspective can add to our own lives. Check out this interview of indigenous farmer, Wilman Matty conducted by Belinda Grasnick in Rurrenabaque, Madidi National Park, Bolivia…

A Bunch Of Grapes On The Vine

The Perfect Day of Cycling and Wine Tasting in Maipú, Mendoza, Argentina

It seems ridiculous to go to Argentina and not sample some wine. The country is renowned for its Malbec, so ordering a glass of the red stuff to wash down your thick slab of steak is surely a rite of passage. Traveler Helen Davey discovers the perfect day trip as she cycles from one vineyard to the next, sampling Mendoza’s finest in the hot sunshine…

Buen Provecho Sucre: The Culinary Capital of Bolivia

Unknown to many, the colonial city of Sucre in Bolivia is a food-lover’s heaven, where backpackers can enjoy a Top Class four course meal for less than $4 US! Colonial influence has brought German, French and Belgian cuisine; some incredible edible delights for vegetarians and not forgetting the street food in the local market, as well as buzzing night life! RTW traveller Niamh Ní Shúilleabháin went on a culinary exploration of the ‘White City of the Americas’ to see what has hungry backpackers sweet on Sucre.

Torres Del Paine Chile

Top 10 Best Treks in South America

The second biggest mountain range in the world is a constant presence as you travel through South America – affecting climates, cultures and the lives of those who live in their mighty shadows. Is it any wonder then, that this part of the world offers some of the best trekking and most awesome scenery known to man? We list 10 unmissable treks of South America!

A Mountain And A Lake in Altiplano, Bolivia

A Beach Bum Gets High in Bolivia’s Altiplano Region – The Salt Flats

Leaving the beach behind for a more rugged adventure, travel writer Claire Berry, heads to Bolivia’s famous salt flats. Four days of vistas that have inspired artists, hot springs to melt away altitude induced aches, and enough salt to dress up even the blandest pasta dish. Find out why this sun worshipper was more than happy to accept being landlocked for a bit!

Home is Where the Hammock is: Iquitos to Pucallpa Via Cargo Carrier – Peru

Travel writer Andrew Digges shares his experience traveling down the Amazon river via cargo boat. With monkeys as neighbors, a hammock for a bed, and a colorful cast of characters to help pass the time, we are transported into a world rarely visited by backpackers. Read about this unique and exciting adventure and get inspired to step far off the gringo trail!

Graffiti in Valparaíso, Chile.

Why I Fell In Love With Valparaiso, Chile

Just a 90-minute drive from the capital of Santiago, this gritty but enchanting city was one of Chiles best kept secrets until recently. Valparaiso is packed top to bottom with its own unique but enchanting personality. Nobel prize winning poet, and native Valparaisian Pablo Neruda described the city better than anyone: ‘Valparaiso, how absurd you are…you haven’t combed your hair, you’ve never had time to get dressed, life has always surprised you’. Travel writer Carrie Alice- Patrick tells us just why this ‘absurd’ city is so captivating.

The Start of South America Backpacker…What Life is Like on the Road!

We are now five months into our South American adventure, where we’ve been creating a brand new hub for backpackers! When we’re not summiting 5,000 meter mountains or salsa dancing until the wee hours of the morning, we’ve been scribbling away. Spilling all of our crazy stories and secret tips so that your time in South America is equally incredible. So, what does tackling a whole new continent entail? Here’s how we keep busy…

Rio De Janeiro in the mist

Beaches, Beef, and Babes… Getting Comfortable in Rio!

The World Cup 2014, taking place in Rio de Janeiro, starts this week meaning most of the world has got Brazil on the brain. Travel writer and enthusiast, Jennifer Seiser, was lucky to be in Rio this February for Carnival and gives us the inside scoop of how to get comfortable in this larger than life location. A must read for anyone headed to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil this month!

Inti Raymi, Photo Credit - Cyntia Motta

Inti Raymi: A Whole New Way to Welcome the New Year in Bolivia…

In Andean cities such as Cusco and Copacabana June 24th marks an important day. The beginning of the New Year, also known as Inti Raymi, when offerings and thanks to mother earth are given at sunrise. For travelers it is an incredible opportunity to partake in an Incan celebration that still holds as much importance as it did 500 years ago. Backpacker Helen Davey tells us about her experience at Inti Raymi…

Graffiti that says "todo bien" in Bogota

Learning Spanish in Montañita, Ecuador

Explorer Tyler Protano-Goodwin ponders the question; can you really call yourself a traveler without language? With a desire to brush up on her Spanish skills and connect more to South American culture Tyler enrolls in language classes at the Montañita Spanish School in Ecuador.

Cacao Beans Roasting In A Pan

Cultivating Cacao on an Organic Farm in Ecuador

Recently traveler Shakia Stewart dove into the world of chocolate to learn everything she could about the process from cocoa bean to bar. She made sure to sample plenty, but also saved time to document the process for all of you curious chocolate loving backpackers out there…

The Long Haul: Overland From Cuenca, Ecuador to Mancora, Peru

We recently traversed ‘the most dangerous border crossing in South America’ from Ecuador to Peru. What did we find? A whole lot of nothing, the process was actually quite easy. Read our account of the trip so that your experience is equally unspectacular!

I Came Here For the Rhythm, Embracing Dance in South America

You come to South America and are instantly met with energy, a buzzing rhythm that pulses down the city streets. Your only option is to jump in and dance, standing on the sidelines and watching as the party carries on without you simply isn’t an option. Traveler and writer Joey Bilyk introduces us to the feeling of South America through it’s dance culture.

The beach at Cabo Polonio

Cabo Polonio, Uruguay: A Lost Haven Far from Civilization

Nothing is better than finding a place where every day hassles are left behind, where one can simply appreciate the present time by “going back to their roots.” Cabo Polonio in Uruguay is one of those places. Travel writer Gaetan Biduad tells us about one of his favorite off the beaten path destinations in South America!

A view across Medellin from high up

The Truth about Colombia – A Day on Medellin’s Free Real City Walking Tour

Colombia is without a doubt one of the most misunderstood countries on the planet, a place that has gotten it’s fame from violence, drugs, and extreme tragedy. As travelers passing through this incredible country we yearned to know the truth, to understand the past and appreciate all the progress that Colombia has made. So, we joined the city of Medellin’s free walking tour in order to learn as much as we could.

Why Do I Travel? Reflections on Packing up and Heading to South America!

Over the past few weeks as I prepare to switch continents to launch South America Backpacker Magazine, I have been asked the question. “Why do you want to travel to South America?” I find it to be an unusual question to be asked. “Why not?” is generally my first response. Thoughts from Editor Nikki Scott about why she wanted to start a brand new magazine and a brand new backpacking adventure!

Gabriel Garcia Marquez quotes on the wall of his home in Aracataca

Colombia is Magical Realism, a Journey with Tim Buendia to Aracataca-Macondo

Tim Buendia a Dutch artist and expert on all things Gabriel Garcia Marquez has been leading groups through the famed authors hometown for years. Taking the seemingly dusty town of Aracataca, Colombia and transforming it into Macondo the famous setting from “100 Years of Solitude.” As we got lost in between the stories and realities of the town we realized the true power that lies in getting to know the places that we travel to.

The Lost City 'La Ciudad Perdida' in Colombia.

La Ciudad Perdida: The Lost City Trek, Colombia

In the midst of the famed, dense jungle of Tayrona national park lies Ciudad Perdida, quite literally ‘the Lost City’. Not discovered until the 1970’s, Ciudad Perdida is a pre-Hispanic ancient city that predates Peru’s popular Machu Picchu by around 650 years. To witness the ruins of Cuidad Perdida, there is no other option but to hike the four or five days through dense jungle, deep rivers and steep ascents. After having spent a month in Colombia searching, we’d finally found our adventure…

24 Hours on the Island of Taquile, Peru

Located on the Peruvian side of Lake Titicaca, Taquile is one of those rare places that remains remarkably untouched by globalization. From hearty bowls of Quinoa soup to fortunes told by coca tea leaf formations, we realize just how much you can soak up in a mere 24 hours.

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