Updated May 29th, 2017.
Traveling in South America is a complete delight! A land of diversity, excitement, and enough adventure to entertain everyone from the rookie backpacker to Edmund Hillary (that guy who first decided to conquer Everest)! We take a moment to reflect on all the reasons why backpacking in this amazing continent is top notch!
You can easily get off the beaten path: It’s Carnival, one of the biggest festivals in all of South America. I’m in Baranquilla, literally every single backpacker that I’ve met traveling so far is here, and yet I see none of them. That’s the beauty of South America, it’s huge, meaning that if you want to get far from the backpacker trail you can. Even if you want to stay right smack in the middle of things you can still get completely lost in your own experience far from familiar faces.
Go on have no fear, this place is best when you jump right in!
There’s no need to be a stinky backpacker: I have a backpack with me, and as you know its the typical travel from place to place, stuff my clothes in, no iron for me. However, I also have a pair of wedges packed along with my flip flops and hiking boots. I don’t always have to look grungy while I’m here, there are plenty of opportunities to put on a little mascara and fit right in with the dressed to impress locals.
For the most part people are looking out for you: The other day there was money sticking out of my pocket, a nice wad of cash, accessible, a quick grab. While I was in the process of ordering pizza a kind woman came up beside me and alerted me to the situation, I tucked my money safely back into my pocket. It happens all over the place, people looking out for me, making sure I’m safe, giving me a friendly heads up instead of taking advantage of any vulnerable situation I may have unknowingly placed myself in.
Beer is cheep: Cheaper than water is some cases. Don’t really have much to say. Beer is good. Drink a bunch. Be responsible.
With that said there’s more to do at night than just dance: If you want to spend the night out on the town and skip the bars there are plenty of options. Sometimes while backpacking the pressure to go out all the time can make your knees buckle with exhaustion. Thank goodness South America has enough cultural events oozing from it’s cobble stoned streets to keep you soberly entertained. Film festivals, elegant restaurants, theater productions, contemporary concerts, the options are plentiful.
Cultural events abound, take advantage of all the education that is accessible.
The name of the game is to be present and loud (well most of the time): Dance when you want to dance, giggle when things are funny, talk to strangers, smile often. This is a land of energy and the best thing you can do is to join in the madness.
There’s a backstory behind every backstory: There’s a depth to South America that is palpable and the best part is that people are eager to share. As Marquez illuminated this is a land where reality often times mixes with past lives and twisting plot lines, and it’s up to the curious traveler to uncover as much as they can.
The history is rich here, take the time to uncover it.
It attracts a diverse range of travelers: There’s a baby in my hostel, and a surprisingly sturdy older man, and an entire gaggle of high spirited woman reliving their university days. Travelers here are diverse in age and experience, adding to the richness of the backpacking journey.
Hostels are like palaces over here: It absurd what you can get for a mere twelve dollars a night. Clean, spacious, pod style dorm beds, places with roof top pools and entire spaces dedicated to enjoying the latest films. Just be careful not to spend you’re whole trip inside the walls of budget friendly luxury!
Yup, that’s a hostel folks, and you can afford to stay here.
It’s a get up early go to bed late kind of place: There is never a shortage of things to do in South America. Adventure seekers will find mountains to hike requiring 4am wake up calls and the sturdiest of walking boots. While those ready to shimmy with the best of them will have no problem finding brilliant parties filled with enough pulsing beats to burn a hole through your dancing shoes.
The landscape is incredible: Take Ecuador for example, in five hours you can go from surfing on the coast, to eating quinoa in the Andes, to speeding on a boat through the Amazon Rainforest. Pow, it’s like a punch in the face of welcomed stimulation.
Written by: Tyler Protano-Goodwin