plan your trip

Where to start the South America loop?

August 16, 2016

copacabana, bolivia

Bogota, Lima, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo or Buenos Aires are the common destination where tourist chooses to land on. We suggest Santiago, Chile as a first destination. The route we recommended would be Chile- Argentina-Uruguay-Bolivia-Peru-Ecuador-Columbia, end at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.


The most modern city in South America have most reliable public transports network, efficiency subway system, embassies are around.It's perfect to stay a week for preparing your next destination and document if you need it. Cum, if you cross the pacific to Rapa Nui(Easter Island) before landing on the continent, that would be perfect.

Valparaíso,Maipo Valley Vineyard is less than two hours bus ride from Santiago. Pay them a visit while waiting for the document. After that, head south to Chiloé.

Don't miss famous W trek. Head Puerto Montt then cross Argentina border to Torres del Paine National Park. Buses available from Bariloche, Argentina direct to Puerto Montt. You can stop at El Chaltén or El Calafate before to Torres del Paine National Park. Head south to Tiera del Fuego, stay at the most southern City at the world-Ushuaia.Take a plane to Buenos Aires from here. Avoid buses to wasted your time or money unless you are Ruta40's fan.

loop south america

You may head north to Uruguay, and go Argentina side's Iguazu falls, then Brazilian side. you will loop the continent anti-clockwise through Venezuela, Colombia, Peru. But we do suggest head northwest after Buenos Aires. You will at Salta or Jujuy. Join the Uyuni salt flat tour from here direct to Bolivia without return. Or heading to San Pedro Atacama in Chile. Visit Valle de la Luna, then also join three days jeep tour to Uyuni.

buenos aires to bolivia

Buses in Argentina maybe the best and luxury. But if you are a budget traveler, try to avoid buses at Argentina. usually, there are no economic buses options.


In Bolivia, the plan is easy, just head north. After Uyuni, heading to Potosi-Sucre-(or stop atCochabamba)-La Paz-Copachabana。 Copacabana is Bolivian's side Lake Titicaca, you can take bus to Puno, Peru


Puno-Arequipa-Cusco(Machu Picchu)-Nazca-Ica(Huacachina)-Lima-Huaraz-Trujjilo-Piura.

laguna 69, huaraz, peru


Piura definitely not a touristic place. but many travelers, even the official tourist information in Peru, iPeru staff claimed that is not safe when crossing the border by public transport. plus, public buses take more time, it will be too late to arrived border.the better options will take a bus from Piura, direct to Ecuador city, either Cuenca or Loja at night. Only one bus daily.

After Cuenca, heading to Ambato(actual destination is Baños),then Quilotoa-Quito-Otavalo-Tulcan。

*If plan to Galápagos Islands,after Cuenca before Ambato, head to Guayaquil. The infrastructure at west coast in Ecuador was damaged by an earthquake in the early year of 2016. check the information before heading to west coast Ecuador. Tumbes at Peru has a direct bus to Guayaquil.


Take a cap or share taxi from Tulcan, Ecuador to the border, then your first city will be at Ipiales. You can find many direct buses to any big city in Columbia, however, if you take the bus to Cali and buy another ticket there to Bogota, it will be cheaper. Bogota, you can go Central America or head to Venezuela, or go to Amazon by plane.

There are few options: Ipiales- Pasto-Popayan-Cali-Armenia(coffee town)-Salento-Manizales-Medellin-Bogota-Cartagena(or Cucuta-Venezuela)-Maracaibo-Venezuela。(10-18days) or Ipiales-Pasto-Popayan-Cali-Armenia(coffee town)-Salento-Manizales-Bogota-Medellin, then take a flight to Panama.(7-10days)

or Ipiales- Pasto-Popayan-Cali-Armenia(coffee town)-Salento-Manizales-Medellin-Bogota, then a flight to Leticia.

There is sharing an inner city in the middle of Amazon forest with Tabatinga, Brazil. Slow boat or the fast boat to cross the Amazon by the river to Manaus. (7-10days, excluded the time to take boat)
*Columbia have good bus network coverage in the country, if any destination suggested you are not interested, you can just skip and go to the next one.


If you short of time and cash, skip Venezuela is a better option. From Tabatinga, take a slow boat to Manaus only 180BRL (approx 50USD, June 2016). Four days and three night (depending on the water level, it could be faster in raining season), prepare your hammock, foods are included.

The 5th biggest land on earth, high living coast. but thanks to the budget airline, there are many options when you at Brazil. There are always batter to take a plane rather than long hours bus. It more efficient to visit Brazil. Start from Manaus, you can stop at Foz do Iguacu. And here, cross the border to Argentinian side to make one day trip. Take night bus(16 hours) to Sao Paulo, then to Rio.

If you have more time and money don't forget the coast city Salvador or the inner city Bonito.

Rapa Nui/ Easter Island(3-7days)

Basically, the significant landmark at the island can be visited in 12 hours, but no rush, you should take it easy. It's the best island I have stay in my life. And the thing is, technically you wouldn't be able to visit the all significant landmark in one day.

A limited schedule of the LAN airline, you will be landing on the island at noon or evening. Yet, it would be cheaper for the flight ticket if you stay longer on the island, that's why a lot of travelers stay there for a week rather than 3 days.

ahu Tongariki in Hanga Roa, rapa nui