Travel To South America How To Start

You set your mind and you're ready to​ travel to​ South America,​ a​ magical place of​ immense beauty where myth and legend continue to​ walk hand in​ hand. I've traveled 18 months in​ South America and can give you​ some tips on​ how to​ prepare yourself for an​ unforgettable adventure.

Common Sense

We all hear the​ unpleasant stories and South America has a​ fame of​ being dangerous. I traveled thousands of​ miles traversing cities,​ jungles,​ islands and mountains. I survived 6 weeks in​ a​ street child care center in​ the​ favelas of​ Salvador da Bahía (Brazil) and had the​ party of​ a​ lifetime during carnival. Nothing,​ I repeat,​ nothing happened. Use your common sense. Avoid badly lit streets at​ night and if​ your sixth sense is​ giving you​ the​ "something is​ wrong" sign then take a​ taxi to​ your destination.

Travel Guide Book

The first thing that you​ will need is​ a​ travel guide book. it​ will be your best companion in​ your search for adventure. I can highly recommend Lonely Planet´s South America on​ a​ Shoestring
to get you​ started. the​ book covers all you​ need to​ know to​ get the​ most out of​ your trip and is​ ideal to​ plan your journey ahead. I've used the​ guide extensively during my 18 month adventure. They offer excellent separate travel guides of​ all the​ countries (besides using the​ Lonely Planet Shoestring I've used their separate travel guides of​ Peru and Brazil). Their guides are the​ most popular among backpackers.

Other popular guides are the​ Rough Guide to​ South America and the​ South American Handbook. Ideal,​ but not practical because you​ want to​ travel light,​ would be to​ enjoy the​ adventure with a​ Lonely Planet and either the​ Rough Guide or​ the​ Handbook.

Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese

The most rewarding thing for me was the​ fact that you​ can travel in​ a​ huge continent like South America with only 2 languages. Spanish and Portuguese. if​ you​ plan to​ travel just for a​ few weeks you​ can invest in​ a​ Spanish and/or Brazilian Portuguese Phrase Book. English is​ not widely spoken and even a​ basic knowledge of​ Spanish and/or Portuguese makes the​ trip so much more rewarding (they're extremely willing to​ help you,​ so don't worry,​ be happy).

If on​ the​ other hand you're planning to​ travel for a​ few months I can highly recommend taking a​ language course. Ideal would be in​ a​ school in​ South America (I took lessons in​ Quito,​ Ecuador,​ and had a​ private teacher for $2.50/h).

Walking Shoes

South America's nature is​ overwhelming. You'll walk for many hours day after day. it​ would be a​ shame to​ walk in​ the​ footsteps of​ the​ Incas with blisters on​ your feet. My biggest recommendation is​ to​ invest in​ high quality walking shoes with Gore-Tex.

Health Vaccinations

Yellow Fever (if you​ plan to​ go to​ the​ Amazon Basin),​ Typhoid (consists of​ two injections taken 4 weeks apart),​ Diphtheria-Tetanus,​ Polio,​ Cholera (only when necessary),​ Smallpox

Medical Kit:

Depending on​ what you​ plan to​ do you​ can include the​ following:
Antiseptic cream,​ aspirin,​ lomotil for diarrhea,​ antibiotics,​ throat lozenges,​ ear and eye drops,​ antacid tablets,​ motion sickness medication,​ alcohol swabs,​ water purifier,​ lip salve,​ foot and groin powder,​ thermometer (in a​ case),​ surgical tape,​ assorted sticky plasters,​ gauze,​ bandages,​ butterfly closures,​ scissors and last but not least,​ first-aid booklet

Note: malaria pills are required in​ the​ amazon basin,​ please be aware that those pills are very b and you​ should check with your doctor before departure

Traveling Gear


Obviously a​ high quality backpack is​ a​ must. Choose the​ type that has different compartments that can be opened separately. Very handy if​ you​ need something quickly. Travel as​ light as​ possible. a​ heavy backpack is​ destined to​ undermine your traveling pleasure.


Depends on​ where you​ go. if​ it's the​ mountains and the​ jungle,​ get some quality clothing from home. if​ it's the​ beach,​ buy your t-shirts there (cheap).

Camping and Climbing Gear:

You can rent camping and climbing material in​ South America but the​ quality may be questionable. Always check the​ material. Bring your own gear if​ possible. I traveled 18 months with my own tent and various camping utensils.


Pictures are something personal. Some people just want some snap shots,​ others want to​ publish in​ the​ National Geographic. All my pictures were taken with a​ cheap Nikon F50 camera. Have a​ look at​ some amazing photographs at​

I had two zoom lenses,​ a​ 35-80 mm. and a​ 70-210mm. I also dragged a​ tripod and an​ excellent flash with me. I used FUJI slides (100 ASA) but you​ definitely need 200 to​ 400 ASA if​ you​ plan to​ go to​ the​ jungle. a​ polarize filter enhances the​ colours tremendously on​ sunny days.


South America will embrace you​ with open arms. It's nature,​ people and history are overwhelming. With the​ right preparation and set of​ mind you're ready for an​ unforgettable adventure.
Travel To South America How To Start Travel To South America How To Start Reviewed by Henda Yesti on September 01, 2018 Rating: 5

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