The Solo Globetrotter | Solo Female Travel Blog

25 Gorgeous Destinations For Solo Travel in South America

solo travel in South America

Solo travel in South America is not yet a popular option, unlike in Asia or Europe, which are considered safer and comfortable destinations for traveling alone , especially if you are a solo female traveler.

Safety is a top concern while traveling alone in general, but more so when you think of countries in South America – thanks to the violence and crimes that we see on the media, and also because we probably hear less about traveling alone safely in these countries.

I asked some seasoned travelers who have explored the beautiful counties in Latin America alone, about how safe the places are, and to share their experiences. And I’m excited by what I got to know!

Because, in this blog, 25 travel bloggers from around the world have shared their preferred destinations for solo travel in South America and their experiences on the road.

Whether you are looking for hiking amidst beautiful mountains or wander in vibrant cities or looking to explore wildlife, you have a mix of all kinds of places to travel alone in South America.

Check out what these travel experts have got to say!

Best Destinations For Solo Travel in South America

1. el chalten in patagonia, argentina.

One of the best places for solo travel in South America is Patagonia. Spread across Argentina and Chile, Patagonia is more famous for its breathtaking landscape than for its towns – which to be fair are not interesting at all.

Small towns such as El Calafate, El Chalten and even Ushuaia, in Tierra del Fuego, are the perfect starting point for some of the best  hiking in Patagonia . Of these, the tiny El Chalten is the one you should not miss.

solo  travel in South America

Located at the foot of Mount Fitz Roy and Mount Torre, at about 3 hours bus ride from the bigger El Calafate, the town itself is honestly nothing special. Just imagine a series of low rise buildings lines along two main streets, a few gear shops, some good restaurants, pubs and wine bars and a couple of good hotels and hostels.

No more than 1000 people live in El Chalten during the cold winter months but come spring and summer, and it comes to live with the many travelers who want to enjoy the many hikes.

Yet, El Chalten provides easy access to world-class hiking trails that can be enjoyed even independently and alone. The trails start right outside town, and they’re usually are quite a few people walking them (though it never feels crowded) so that it is safe to set for a hike alone as someone will always pass by to provide help if needed.

Where to stay in El Chalten?

Keep in mind the one where I stayed is way out of town (50 mins walk, I am still baffled as to why the company put us there!!). I went by the place mentioned below several times.

Rancho Grande is the best-known hostel near the centre of El Chalten. You can get dorms as well as private rooms; there are good common areas. The best features are the in-house pub serving good, earthy comfort food (the fresh french fries are to die for) and an on-site tour company.

Contributor – Claudia, My Adventures Across the World

2. The Islands of Lake Titicaca, Peru

If you’re looking for an unforgettable, cultural experience, in a one of a kind environment, look no further than the Peruvian islands of Uros, Amantani and Taquile. These three islands are located on Lake Titicaca , the highest navigable lake in the world.

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It is one of the most beautiful places worth adding on your list for solo travel in South America. It sits at just over 3800 metres above sea level, and you’ll be awed by the clarity of the air, the brilliant blue skies, and incredible light at this altitude.

On  Amantani Island,  you’ll find two peaks, 4000 metres above sea level, called Pachamama and Pachatata. There are ancient Incan ruins at the top of both of these peaks, along with a mesmerizing view of Quechua farming terraces and the vastness of Lake Titicaca.

solo travel in South America

Uros is fascinating because the island is made entirely out of reeds that grow naturally in the shallower parts of Lake Titicaca. The Aymara people that inhabit Uros, cut, stack and pile up these reeds to create islands.

You’ll find houses, a methodist church, a school, and even little reed islands for raising livestock.

solo travel in South America

Taquile is famous for its knitting men, who have the sole job of knitting, starting at the age of 8. The handwoven textiles produced there were declared “Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity” by UNESCO in 2005.

Where to stay at Lake Titicaca ?

It’s not possible to stay overnight on Uros, or Taquile, but Amantani Island offers a unique homestay experience , where you can spend the night with a Quechua family.

Generally speaking, the accommodation and meals provided during these homestays are very simple. However, it’s a much-needed contribution to the economy of Amantani, and a beautiful window into real-life atop Lake Titicaca.

Contributor – Shelley Lee,  Travel-Stained

3. Medellin, Colombia

Medellin may have a reputation for being dangerous — but that reputation is outdated! Today, the “Murder Capital of the World” has reinvented itself as the “City of Eternal Spring” — and it’s one of the safest and most pleasant cities for solo female travel in South America.

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Start your visit with the Real City Tours free walking tour of the city. It’s the best free walking tour I’ve ever done, clocking in at 4 hours with engaging guides. First, you’ll learn the city’s history, from colonial times to the Escobar era. Then, the second half of the tour focuses on Medellin’s transformation — fueled by the incredible Metrocable system.

Speaking of which, don’t miss a ride on the Metrocable. You’ll get incredible views over the barrios, all for the under-$1 price of a metro ticket. You can use the Metrocable to reach Comuna 13, a neighbourhood famous for its colourful street art (best seen on tour).

solo travel latin america

Don’t overload yourself with activities, though.  Medellin is a city best ‘experienced’ rather than rushed through.   Take time to wander around downtown, chat with the extraordinarily friendly locals, chill at a coffee shop, and spend a night on the town in the Poblado neighbourhood. Meanwhile, indulge in some of the continent’s best vegetarian cuisine.

Where to stay in Medellin ?

The best base for solo travelers in Medellin is Black Sheep Hostel. This Aussie-owned, locally operated hostel has comfortable dorms and private rooms, a pleasant garden and a roof deck. And it’s in a quiet neighbourhood 5 minutes from a Metro stop and 15 minutes from the bustle of Poblado.

Contributor – Carrie Mann,  Trains Planes And TukTuks

4. Asuncion, Paraguay

One of the least recommended countries for solo travel in South America is Paraguay,  but it’s one I highly recommend visiting . For one thing, the locals are some of the friendliest people I’ve met anywhere in the world, and there is so much history in the country. At the centre of it all is the capital city, Asuncion. An underrated destination with plenty to see and do.

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You’ll find many colonial-style buildings throughout Asuncion, as well as many museums and the cathedral. Some of the most important historical sites are Casa de la Independencia, the place where the country declared its independence, becoming the first in South America to do so, and Paraguay’s war memorial Panteón Nacional de Los Héroes. 

Where to stay in Asuncion ?

One of the best areas in Asuncion is Barrio Loma San Jerónimo , a brightly coloured neighbourhood located around 2km from the centre. Here you will find plenty of local cultures as well as brilliantly decorated streets and houses.

For somewhere to stay in Asuncion, El Jardin Hostal is perfect for location, facilities and cost. It’s in the centre of the city and within easy walking distance of all the main sights. The accommodation has a very relaxed feel with hammocks and a swimming pool, which are both great for chilling out and avoiding the heat. They even had a pair of rambunctious kittens living there during my visit. 

Prices are around USD 32 for a private double room or less than USD 11 for a bed in a dorm with a substantial breakfast included.

Contributor – Stuart Fahy,  Just Traveling Through

5. Uyuni, Bolivia

Uyuni was the absolute highlight of my Bolivia trip, and I can only recommend everyone not to miss this excellent travel destination. A trip to Uyuni not only includes the city of Uyuni in the south of the country but usually also a  3-day Uyuni salt desert tour .

The city of Uyuni itself doesn’t have much to offer, to be honest. It is located in the middle of the desert and therefore, there are only a few shady spots.

Is Uyuni safe for solo travel?

The Uyuni salt flats and its surroundings, on the other hand, offer all the more. It is one of the most popular and recommended destinations for solo travel in South America. Group tours are the best way to explore the salt desert.

The tour takes place in groups of 6 people. So it happens that couples usually travel with other couples and solo travelers with other solo travelers. Great friendships often develop during these three days in the Bolivian highlands. The tour is entirely safe even for female solo travelers, as your local tour guide and group will always accompany you.

Editor’s note: Solo travel tips – 25+ things to know before your first solo trip

solo travel latin america

On the first day of the tour, you’ll see the Bolivian Salt Flat. It is particularly impressive during the rainy season, since a kind of water mirror forms on the salt that reflects the clouds – an impressive spectacle of nature.

You spend the other two days of the tour in the Bolivian Altiplano. There is a lot of breathtaking nature and fascinating lagoons. You can also see some animals, such as flamingos up close.

Where to stay in Uyuni ?

Accommodation during the tour is already included in your ticket. For your time in Uyuni, I recommend the Beliz B&B .

Contributor – Vicki Franz,  Vickiviaja

6. San Pedro de Atacama, Chile

The Atacama Desert in northern Chile is, hands-down, one of the best destinations for solo travel in South America! Known for being the driest place on Earth, in the Atacama, you’ll find from volcanoes of over 6,000 meters of altitude to lunar landscapes, saline lagoons, clear night skies, and a cosy village -San Pedro de Atacama- full of good people, and great food! 

solo travel latin america

Is San Pedro de Atacama safe for solo travel?

San Pedro de Atacama is a safe destination suited for both the expert solo traveler and the recently initiated. Alcohol and clubbing are banned in town, so in a way, this reduces the chances of things going too crazy. However, travelers keen to enjoy a drink after a day out exploring can do so in many of the authorized restaurants located on the main street!

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Another perk for solo travelers is that most outdoor activities are organized through travel agencies, and pretty much everyone speaks English, so it’s very easy to navigate your way through all the different options -you can even get everything arranged at your accommodation. 

The Atacama does get packed as it’s quite a touristic destination, but if you are capable of traveling over shoulder season you’d still get to enjoy good weather and skip the crowds! That said, it’s worth it, and you’ll find there are not many places on Earth that look and feel just like the Atacama Desert.

solo travel latin america

A last piece of advice, get proper clothing for this adventure as temperatures range up to 20 Cº between day and night! The soil is also arid and rocky, so make sure to pack a good pair of  hiking shoes  and a winter jacket!

Where to stay at the Atacama?

The Hostal La Pueblo is the right choice if you are on a tight budget! It’s one of the most affordable hostels in town, and you don’t need to sacrifice location as it’s just a 5-minutes walk from the town centre.

Contributor – Martina Grossi,  The Global Curious

7. Iguazu Falls, Argentina

Iguazu Falls on the border between Brazil and Argentina is one of the most amazing natural attractions I’ve ever seen. Iguazu Falls are one of the largest waterfalls in the world; it’s often compared with Niagara Falls and Victoria Falls.

The waterfalls and the surrounding area are awe-inspiring, it’s easy to move around the park, there are boardwalks and wooden platforms that let tourists get very close to the falls. Flora and fauna in the park are very diverse: monkeys, coatis, tropical butterflies, hummingbirds, giant ferns, massive trees, colourful flowers – all these create an impression of being in Jurassic Park.

solo travel latin america

Is it safe for solo travel?

It felt safe to walk around the town to go out for a drink. I will rate it as one of the areas that felt the safest to me in Brazil. Visiting the Iguazu Falls is not the only activity here. You can go hiking, tandem skydiving, horseback riding, visiting a bird park or Itaipu Dam and more.

The two nearest cities to the waterfalls are Puerto Iguazú in Argentina, and Foz do Iguaçu in Brazil. I visited both places as a part of my first solo travel in South America. Iguazu Falls were the second stop on my itinerary, and it completely blew me away. 

I stayed in Foz do Iguaçu for two nights and made friends here that I explored the park and traveled around the area. Foz is a small touristy town and a Brazilian getaway to the Iguazu National Park. 

Where to stay at Iguazu ?

There are many hostels and hotels here for any budget. If you are looking for a budget Hostel, then I’d recommend Made in Brazil Hostel . Wyndham Golden Foz Suítes is an excellent option in the Mid-price range.

Contributor – Alya, Stingy Nomads

8. Machu Picchu, Peru

As the jewel in Peru’s crown, few places are as famous as Machu Picchu , the revered Inca citadel that stands atop a remote mountain outside the city of Cusco. It’s become the ultimate destination for most travellers to Peru, with many opting to take the four-day, three-night Inca trail hike to reach the site. 

Is Machu Picchu safe for solo travel?

This iconic destination is ideal for adding to your bucket list for solo travel in South America. Not only is it impossible to  hike the Inca trail  alone, but you’ll meet like-minded travellers as part of your tour group, meaning you’ll never feel on your own.  

Best of all, the hikers with whom you’ve shared this special moment are likely to become close friends after four days on the trail and can quickly become travel companions for the rest of your adventure around Peru!

traveling alone in South America

The Inca trail itself – an old Inca stone pathway that once connected Cusco, the capital of the empire, with Machu Picchu, a favoured spiritual retreat – is a challenge, but one where the rewards are incredible. 

Not only are the views spectacular as you climb up into the Andes, appreciating the ice-strewn  apus  or mountain tops that were considered sacred by the Inca, but there’s no experience quite like arriving at Sun Gate just above Machu Picchu for breathtaking dawn over these venerated ruins. 

During the trek, you stay overnight in comfortable tents erected by your porters and dine on truly impressive meals (they have been knocked up on the side of a mountain, after all!) cooked up by your chefs. 

Where to stay at Machu Picchu ?

After you’ve explored the site and returned to Cusco, you’ll want some pampering, so I recommend the MOAF Cusco Boutique Hotel, where rooms are cosy and modern, and some have beautiful views across Cusco.

Contributor – Steph Dyson,  Wordly Adventurer

9. Ushuaia, Argentina

Ushuaia is the most southerly city in the world and famous for being the “end of the world”. While most people visit Ushuaia before departing on a cruise to Antarctica, the city is well worth a visit even if you aren’t heading there, and one of the recommended destinations for solo travel in South America. With pristine hiking trails and incredible opportunities to see marine wildlife, Ushuaia has a lot to offer.

Is Ushuaia safe for solo travel?

Ushuaia is one of the best places for solo travel in South America. It is a safe city, and many people here go hiking alone. Hitchhiking to the start of the trailheads is common. 

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One of the best things to do in Ushuaia is to go  walking with penguins . This a unique day tour that takes you to Martillo Island, where you will get to walk with three different kinds of penguin species. These tours are often in combination with a cruise down the beagle channel, where you can see more marine life including whales.

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Ushuaia is also an excellent place to go hiking. Some of the best hikes are in Tierra Del Fuego National Park, which is just half an hour away from Ushuaia. There are also glaciers nearby which you visit. 

Where to stay in Ushuaia ?

If you’re looking for a place to make hiking buddies then check out Antarctica Hostel , it is an excellent place for solo travelers to stay as it has a social atmosphere where you can comfortably meet others.

Contributor – Lora Pope,  Explore With Lora

10. Quito, Ecuador

Quito in Ecuador is one of the best places for solo travel in South America. Not just a stopover to the Galapagos Islands or the Amazon, Quito is home to a colourful and vibrant historic centre full of cobblestone streets, Colonial squares, and local shops and restaurants. 

solo travel in Quito

While visiting the old town, which is a UNESCO Cultural Heritage Site , spend time at the city’s ornate churches. I recommend two in particular: La Compania de Jesus, which is completely covered in gold, the Basilica del Voto Nacional, for its magnificent views of the city and unusual gargoyles.

Quito is the second tallest capital city in the world (give yourself an extra day or two to acclimate to the elevation) and its hills create great panoramic views of the city. Ride the TelefériQo, or cable car, up 12,000 feet, for panoramic views of the city in all directions. Climb up El Panecillo, or the hill with the winged statue of the Virgin Mary, which overlooks the city. 

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If you an extra day, head to Otavalo for their handicrafts on market day. The market is open daily, though only tourists visit on off-days. Make sure to go on the designated market day for the authentic experience.

Quito is an excellent destination for solo travel and a bit of off-the-beaten-path exploration. I highly recommend visiting this city for its history, culture, and natural beauty.

Where to stay in Quito ?

My hostel, Quito terrace , also had great views of El Panecillo and highly recommended if you’re looking for a nice, but affordable place to stay.

Contributor – Rosie Julin, Popcuria , a narrative travel podcast

11. Bariloche, Argentina

San Carlos de Bariloche is basically where Argentinean Patagonia starts and is one of the best destinations to your itinerary on your solo travel in South America. 

The city, which is also called Bariloche, is famous for its beautiful surroundings as well as the Swiss culture. You will find a lot of chalet-style buildings, cheese fondues and delicious cakes everywhere. There are plenty of cute shops, cafes and outdoor activities. 

hiking in South America

The region is best known for skiing in winter and hiking in the summer. Many trails are starting from the area around the town, but in case there’s a trail a bit further away, you can quickly grab a transfer or a taxi to the trailhead. 

You can hike at Cerro Catedral, near Lago Nahuel Huapi or even better: at Pampa Linda where you can trek up to Refugio Otto Meiling. This latter one requires some planning, but it’s a total must if you are a hiker. 

If you prefer not to hike, you can grab a tour on Circuito Chico (half-day) to the lakes surrounding the city or enjoy the Lake Crossing to Puerto Montt in Chile. You can also, for example, rent a bike and head out for a few hours on your own. 

Is Bariloche safe for solo travel?

As Bariloche is quite western and modern, I felt utterly safe here both times I visited and would recommend you heading there as a solo traveller.

Where to stay in Bariloche ?

There are plenty of places to stay from low budget to more expensive. During my most recent visit, I stayed at Design Suites , just outside of town but beautifully located at the lakeshore.

Contributor – Antonette Spaan,  We12travel

Awesome Destinations For Solo Travel in South America

12. chiloe island, chile.

Located in the North of Patagonia, Chiloe island is a beautiful destination for solo travel in South America. What makes Chiloe so unique are the myths and legends that the locals are keeping alive to the day. 

The stories of the Trauco, La Pincoya or El Caleuche, all mythological characters from deep inside the culture of the island, can be heard all over Chiloe. The mythology in Chiloe was born when the Spanish reached the island and their stories mixed with the ones of the indigenous people who lived here. 

Besides its myths, Chiloe is also a fantastic island to discover. Among the traditional wooden houses built on stilts, in the harbours, in Chiloe, you can also see the different churches made out of timber and wood shingles, painted in vibrant colours.

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The gastronomy on Chiloe island is unique as well, with many fish and seafood dishes, but also a German imported cake, the kuchen, which became the local dessert over the years. For a unique culinary experience, you have to try the  curanto on Chiloe Island , a traditionally Mapuche method of underground cooking.

For nature lovers, Chiloe Island doesn’t disappoint. The Chiloe National Park located in the west part of the island is fantastic to place to explore the local flora but also observe animals such as different types of whales, including the endangered Southern right whale. In other parts of the island, you can also see Magellanic and Humbold penguins, pink flamingos, sealions or the pudu – the world’s smallest deer.

Where to stay on Chiloe Island ?

Traveling around the island is very easy, with buses and minibuses going from North to South all day long. I suggest setting a base either in Ancud – in the North (I recommend here the 13 Lunas Hostel ), or in Castro – in the Centre of the island. 

Contributor – Joanna Davis,  The World In My Pocket

13. Cuenca ,  Ecuador

It might have been the fuss and chaos of Peru growing on me after three months. When I finally discovered Ecuador, and especially when I got to Cuenca, I immediately fell relieved, and in love.

Something is comforting about Cuenca. The 3rd largest city of Ecuador is not that large. It is a university town, which means lots of reasons to go out; but it’s also full of history, street art and beautiful colonial buildings. I have a thing for colonial buildings.

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Cuenca is a city to discover on foot if you see what I mean. The attractions are close to each other, and there’s a gentle atmosphere you can only breathe when you take your time.

From the main square and its majestic cathedral, you can easily reach the pretty San Blas square and its church; the 9 de Octubre market for your lunch or your bag of veggies; the river banks for a bucolic stroll, or Calle Larga for a drink or a coffee.

solo travel in Ecuador

If you like museums, check out the free Pumapungo and the adjoining ruins for a look into the past. The cheap Museum of Native Cultures is also mightily impressive, and a free guided visit of the toquilla straw hat museum reveals the most popular product from Cuenca.

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Cuenca combines fun and culture, making it one of the best cities for traveling alone in South America. It still tops to this day my favourite  backpacking destinations in Ecuador.  And for a day trip in the green, hop on a bus to the nearby Cajas National Park.

Where to stay in Cuenca?

There are many accommodations in the historic centre of Cuenca, the cheapest options being in the going-out district around  Calle Larga . It’s a very central place, only a stone’s throw away from the main square and the river. One of the recommended hotels is  Hotel Monaco if you are looking for a comfortable apartment or a condo.

Contributor – Anthony,  Green Mochila

14. Buzios, Brazil

If you’re looking for a break from the hustle and bustle of Rio de Janeiro or Sao Paulo, I highly recommend spending a few days in Buzios. This tranquil resort town is situated a 3-hour drive east from Rio de Janeiro, and one of the destinations ideal for solo travel in South America. Buses leave daily from Novo Rio bus terminal, and you can book your ticket online.

Buzios is an upmarket coastal resort town where you will feel safe as a solo traveller. It’s a great place to relax in nature. You can laze on one of the stunning beaches with soft sand and turquoise water or do some scuba diving and snorkelling.

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In the evening there is a big choice of restaurants on offer, including vegan and vegetarian options and chic clubs where you can dance until dawn. And don’t forget to have ice cream in one of the make your Sorveterias. Acai flavour is a must!

Buzios is also a destination famous for day-trippers from the surrounding areas. If you don’t have much time but still would like to experience this peaceful resort, you can book a day boat trip from Rio de Janeiro. The boat will drop you off at the Buzios jetty where you will have free time to enjoy the resort.

Where to stay in Buzios ?

I recommend staying at Vila d’este Handmade Hospitality Hotel in a beachfront location. The property consists of beautifully designed bungalows situated in a well-groomed garden with two pools that are facing the bay with some epic sunset views!

Contributor – Mal Hellyer, Raw Mal Roams

15. Buenos Aires, Argentina

Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina, is a fascinating city with a rich and diverse culture and history. Although the city is large, it is very walkable and safe and therefore one of the best places for solo travel in South America. 

Culture vultures will love the fact that it has more theatres than any city apart from New York and more bookstores per capita than anywhere else. Blend the two and visit the fantastic El Ateneo Grand Splendid, a multi-storey bookstore in what used to be a theatre. 

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Foodlovers are also drawn to Buenos Aires for its thriving food scene, from casual bodegones to buzzing parrillas to acclaimed fine dining. While it’s famous for its super-sized portions of grilled meats and bread covered pizzas, Buenos Aires is most well known for its dulce de leche, the super-addictive caramelized sweetened milk. 

You can scope out the best dulce de leche at La Casa del Dulce de Leche (yes, there are various versions available). If your sweet tooth isn’t satisfied, go ice cream parlour hopping at Freddo, Rapa Nui and Persicco. Or pop into Donut Therapy for a dulce de leche covered donut. 

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While a visit to Argentina’s capital might be focused around food, there are plenty of  things to do in Buenos Aires  apart from eating. See sculptures like Floralis Generica, artworks at Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, gorgeous churches like Catedral Metropolitana de Buenos Aires and of course shopping at Galerias Pacifico. Dante Alighieri fans should not miss Palacio Barolo which is a building erected as a homage to the Divine Comedy.

Where to stay in Buenos Aires ?

If you want a centrally located and top-notch hotel, the Recoleta and Retiro area is your best bet with lovely choices like Palacio Duhau and Alvear Palace .

Contributor – Mar Pages,  Once in a Lifetime Journey

16. Pucón, Chile

Pucón is Chile’s capital of adventure. If you’re into adrenaline and active holidays, then I can’t think of a better place for a solo trip in South America! You’ll meet tons of like-minded people ready to do the same activities you want to do, so new friends are guaranteed! After a day full of activities, the town has a great nightlife. You’ll find laidback bars with local craft beer and club where you can dance the night away. Something for each taste!

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So, what can you do in Pucón to feed your adventurous soul? Well, from  climbing the active Villarrica volcano  (a beautiful massif of 2,840mt / 9318ft where you can see lava in the crater) to white water rafting in Trancura river’s class III and IV rapids.

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The town also offers sledging (hydrospeed), canyoning and rappelling down a waterfall, skydiving, zip-lining over a forest, exploring volcanic caves, quad riding and hiking. See why it’s the country’s adventure centre?

When you’re done with adrenaline, choose one of the nearby natural hot springs and let your body recover with their healing properties.

Where to stay in Pucon?

If you also want to chill at your accommodation, book a room in the fancy Grand Hotel Pucón . For a more budget-friendly stay, go for Chili Kiwi Lakefront hostel .

Contributor – Constanza Fernández,  Experiencing the Globe

17. Lima, Peru

Lima, the only coastal capital city in South America, is often overlooked by world travelers. Their loss is your gain, as this fair, beautiful city has lots to offer! Set along the Pacific coast, most of the things that make Lima special revolve around the water and great outdoors. 

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You can eat world-famous ceviche along the beach after taking a private surfing lesson, go paragliding along the water with views of the upscale district of Miraflores, bike or run through the public art found in the waterfront Parque de Amour, and even tour 13 dancing light and water features in the world’s water fountain complex found in a public park.

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Not only is enjoying nature essential to Lima, but the city is also full of both modern and historical architecture. You can go from visiting pre-Incan ruins to the catacombs of a Catholic monastery to an incredible shopping and dining complex built into the seaside cliffs within a cheap, 15-minute cab ride!

Those interested in enjoying a combination of beautiful parks, seaside adventures, safety, and delicious restaurants should consider a hotel in the upscale (though still inexpensive) neighborhood of Miraflores (check out all the  fun things to do in Miraflores ). You can easily stroll the streets for great vegan fare then catch a cab to other city highlights! 

Where to stay in Lima?

If you are looking for a comfortable apartment with nice views, you can go for 28 de Julio Luxury Apartment . For something cheaper, you can head to Apartamento en Miraflores Lima .

Contributor – Susannah O’Brien,  The O’Briens Abroad

18. Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay

Colonia del Sacramento, in Uruguay, is a great place to explore for solo travelers. Colonia is a charming Spanish colonial city with picturesque cobbled streets and some historical buildings. It is located on the shores of Rio de la Plata, southwest of the country, and can be reached by ferry from the city of Buenos Aires.

Although it is possible to visit Colonia on a day trip from the Argentinian capital, I recommend spending at least two nights in the city to get the most out of it.

Colonia in Uruguay

Is Colonia safe for solo travel?

I visited Colonia during my world tour traveling solo, and I had a great time. Colonia’s historical centre is listed as world heritage by UNESCO, so it is a place that sees many tourists. The city is safe to visit and walk around, much safer than its neighbour on the other side of Rio de la Plata, and it is well equipped with restaurants of all kinds, cute cafes and hotels.

It is possible to explore Colonia on your own; the main sights always have information panels with some primary historical data. Guided tours are also available, and they can be a great way to meet other travelers or just to learn more about Colonia’s rich past.

Where to stay in Colonia?

Solo travelers, especially the ones traveling on a budget, also have the option to stay in hostels, and there’s a good choice of hostels, well equipped with kitchen and dining spaces and with dorms of different sizes. I was staying at the Hostel Suites del Rio , and I recommend it.

Contributor – Elisa, World In Paris

19. Sao Paulo, Brazil

Sao Paulo makes a great city for solo travel in South America with so many fantastic things to do and see in this city of over 12 million people living in this large metropolitan area. With so many lovely and unique neighbourhoods, a historic downtown area even with its version of the Empire State building, impressive churches and historic buildings and so many beautiful museums to explore and visit. 

You can easily cover most of the city via metro, which is easy, fast and inexpensive to travel around and safe at all times of the day and night. 

solo travel in South America

Some of the more fun and unique neighborhoods to visit include Vila Magdalena with hip galleries and shops and amazing visual street art everywhere, the busy and popular downtown Paulista area, Ibirapuera park, Japan town or Liberdade, Pinheuros or the gay district, Jardin which is where all the trendy shops, bars and cafes are, and the historic district around the Cathedral de Se.

There are so many beautiful places to visit in each neighbourhood, each with there own appeal. Still, typically you’ll also find outdoor markets, instant pop-up shops, street food vendors selling delicious takeaway foods, tropical fruits and yummy ice creams. 

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For art lovers, there are so many beautiful museums, free galleries and corporate-sponsored cultural centres offering rotating art exhibits and shows that are mostly free for the public to enjoy. There’s also a lot of beautiful outdoor places to enjoy including Ibirapuera, gardens at Pinacoteca, Instituto Butantan, Parc Villa Lobos and so many other outdoor venues.

If you are exploring more of this beautiful city solo, check out my post on  free things to do in Sao Paulo here  for more inspiration for fun and free experiences around the city.

Where to stay in Sao Paulo?

Sao Paulo has a lot of accommodation options in the city centre. If you are looking for a hostel on the cheaper side, I’d recommend Casa Azul . If you are looking for a comfortable mid-range hotel, then I’d suggest Your Studio at London SP Residences .

Contributor – Noel,  Travel Photo Discovery

20. Cusco, Peru

If you are looking for the best place to solo travel in South America, you cannot overlook the ancient capital city of the mighty Inca Empire, Cusco. A beautiful historic city located in the Andes, it is the perfect place to learn about Peruvian culture, try delicious  Peruvian cuisine , and explore the nearby natural wonders.

Typically, South America gets a reputation for being unsafe, but that is far from the case in Cusco. A popular tourist destination due to one of the nearby Seven Wonders of the World Machu Picchu, Cusco is one of the safest cities in South America for solo travelers. Unlike most cities in South America where most of the locals do not speak English, most of the locals generally do talk to English due to the tourism in Cusco. 

solo traveling in Cusco

Cusco is also a great base to visit the nearby attractions that Peru offers, such as the mighty Machu Pichu, the colourful Rainbow Mountain, and the various Inca ruins in the Sacred Valley. There won’t be a day without excitement when visiting Cusco.

Though one thing I do have to warn you though is the altitude. Cusco is located about 3,300 meters above sea level, a height that could cause severe altitude sickness. As a result, your accommodation in Cusco must have the proper equipment such as oxygen-enriched rooms or oxygen machines to help you just in case you need it!

Where to stay in Cusco ?

If it is your first time in Cusco, I recommend you to stay in the artsy area called San Blas in the historic centre. Tariq Hotel Boutique Cusco is a hotel with breath-taking views just in case the altitude isn’t doing its job!

Contributor – Sean Lau,  Living Out Lau

21. Villa de Leyva, Colombia

Located three hours north of Bogota, Villa de Levya feels as though it has been captured in time. The small town is known for its white colonial buildings and cobblestone streets that have been preserved for over 400 years. But it’s the friendly vibe, social hostels, and  variety of things to do in Villa de Leyva  that make it an excellent destination for solo travelers in South America.

After wandering the charming colonial streets, explore the many activities outside of Villa de Leyva, including a visit to Casa Terracota. Just outside of the historic city centre, this clay house is the largest piece of pottery in the world, with equally impressive artistic details inside. 

solo travel in Colombia

History buffs will be drawn to the story of the Muisca people who inhabited this area when the Spanish arrived in the 16th century. Now an archaeological site, they created a “Solar Observatory” to track the seasons, which influenced their planting and harvesting.

And science lovers won’t want to miss El Fossil Museum which was built around an enormous marine reptile fossil found by a farmer in the 1970s. Residents insisted the fossil not be moved to a museum and instead they created a museum around it.

Or spend your day hiking to one of several nearby waterfalls. If you get started early enough, there may be time for a wine tasting at Vineyard Aim Karim on the way back. Whether you’re into history, hiking, shopping, or simply exploring daily life in a small town, you will undoubtedly enjoy your time in this colonial gem.

Where to stay in Villa de Leyva?

Finding a social place to stay as a solo traveler in Villa de Leyva isn’t difficult. Many of the hostels collaborate together by hosting different evenings of fun. There’s also a group Whatsapp that helps travelers coordinate things to do during the day. My pick is Hostel Xué where open spaces and modern art touches create a vibe more of a boutique hotel than a hostel.

Contributor – Julien Casanova, Cultures Traveled

22. Valparaiso, Chile

I’d heard about  Valparaiso, Chile’s street art scene  before I booked my solo trip, but seeing it for myself was even better than expected! Valparaiso is a port town on the water, but you won’t see much impressive art on the waterfront – the most colourful streets are nestled higher up in the Cerros (hills).

It would have taken me some time to figure that out on my own, so I decided to take a tour instead (if you go, I recommend Tours4Tips!). It was a great decision – I heard the stories behind some of the more popular murals and learned that many of them were created to protest local and national social injustices.

solo travel latin america

Is it safe to travel alone to Valparaiso?

I’d recommend the town if you are going to do solo travel in South America. I felt very safe walking around Valparaiso during the day and at night in the busy neighbourhoods (I avoided vacant areas). Tourist thefts are occasionally reported, so like any destination, it’s necessary to be aware of your surroundings. I was advised by my guide which streets to avoid, and that carrying around expensive camera equipment wasn’t the best idea. I heeded all his advice and never had a problem.

solo travel latin america

A couple of other things to do in Valparaiso – ride the ascension (outdoor elevators that take you up the Cerros on steep tracks) and do a harbour boat tour. 

Where to stay in Valparaiso ?

I highly recommend Fauna Restaurant at the top of Ascensor Reina Victoria for great food and drinks and an excellent view of the town and bay below. Bonus: they’re a hotel, too!

Contributor – Mary Beth,  MB Sees .

23. Cartagena, Colombia

I travelled to Cartagena a few years ago, and I was a little sceptical about how safe the city would be for a woman. Some friends that have already been there told me I have nothing to worry about but, still, I wasn’t that sure.

As soon as I stepped foot in Cartagena, I knew my friends were right. The locals are more than happy to welcome tourists, and even the ones that don’t speak English will try their best to understand you.

solo travel latin america

The beautiful city of Cartagena is well known for its fortifications and the Old City; both have the UNESCO World Heritage recognition. Inside the walls, built five centuries ago, you can find museums, restaurants, hotels, churches and some typical, colourful and colonial houses.

solo travel latin america

I spent  five days in Cartagena , and my favourite spots of the city during my stay were the St. Catherine of Alexandria Cathedral, St. Peter Claver Church the Abaco Bookshop and Cafe del Margoo there for the sunset!-. It’s a small city so you can walk around and find every tourist attraction quite close to each other. 

Where to stay in Cartagena ?

Regarding accommodation, I have two different recommendations. If you prefer to be surrounded by young people you should stay in Getsemaní, the Media Luna Hostel is a great idea. If you’re more into chill and romantic places, then for sure I would recommend you to stay in a hotel in the Old City, the Casa India Catalina has the charm of the typical Cartagena houses and will make your stay unforgettable.

Contributor – Laura Otero, Laura No Esta

24. Galapagos,   Ecuador

One of the best destinations for solo travel in South America is Galapagos. Especially if you love animals, then you can’t miss this place. It’s so easy to get lost in the moment, just sitting there alone watching a flamboyance of flamingos (yes, it’s a flamboyance, I looked it up) for several hours. Whether it’s hammerheads, finches, seals, penguins or boobies you came to see, nowhere else on earth have I seen a place so abundant in wildlife.

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Flights are your highest cost, and there’s an entry fee of USD 100. Basic accommodation is around USD 40 in the towns. Food isn’t cheap, but reasonable if you shop/dine where the locals go. Interisland ferries range from USD 20 to 70.

Bicycle rental is only a few dollars. Bikes are great to cover lots of ground with plenty of freedom. There are plenty of small tour operators offering fair prices to visit remote and restricted areas.

solo travel latin america

 I took a snorkelling tour to Las Tintoreras Islet. It put my Spanish to the test, but it was a great way to contribute to the local economy. If you bring your gear, you can snorkel for free; a great spot is near the jetty at Puerto Villamil. Lots of seals, penguins and turtles there!

solo travel latin america

Galapagos’ most famous residents are giant tortoises. These epic things weigh up to 400 kilos! Best place to see them is Santa Cruz; visit a breeding centre, or head to the mountains and see them in the wild. You can meet them wondering around the other islands too. Remember, these animals are wild. Keep a safe distance.

Where to stay in Galapagos?

If you are looking for a hostel, then Hostal Romy in San Cristóbal Island is the recommended place. For something comfortable in the mid-range budget, go for Hotel Galapagos Suites B&B in Puerto Ayora.

Contributor – Luke Wilki,  Culture Shock Adventures

25. Chachapoyas, Peru

Far from the beaten tracks, Chachapoyas is a unique destination to include in your solo travel destinations in South America if you are looking to explore more unspoiled regions of Peru.

backpacking through south america alone

Situated right at the door of the Peruvian Amazon forest , but with a very different climate and landscapes, Chachapoya is the cradle of the pre-Inkas populations from which it inherited the name. 

And, besides an unspoiled wild nature that offers spectacular walks in the jungle, waterfalls, canyons, and caves, the main attractions are the ancient sites of the Chachapoyas, such as the old city of Kuelap, the sarcophagi’s of Karaja and the mausoleums of Revash.

best countries for solo travel in latin america

The pretty small town is getting ready to welcome the growing number of tourists attracted by such a safe and unspoiled area with charming little cafes, local restaurants, and lovely boutique hotels.

There are so many  things to do in Chachapoyas  that during my trip through Peru, I stayed there for two weeks, exploring every single corner both by myself and joining local tours. 

Although I am an advocate of do-it-yourself trips, I have to say that in this case, many of the tours are much worth it, for the price and the time you save. Because most of those interesting sites that I mentioned are located in very secluded parts of the region that are not frequently reached by local buses. Besides, having a knowledgeable guide giving you fascinating insights about the local culture and history is always exciting. 

Where to stay in Chachapoyas ?

If you are looking for a budget stay option, I would recommend Killa Wasi Hostal . For something in the mid-range, Hotel Posada Del Arriero .

Contributor – Isabella Biava,  Boundless Roads

BONUS – 1 More Destination for Traveling alone in South America

26. arraial do cabo, brazil.

Rio de Janeiro might be a delightful city, especially with its lively districts such as Santa Teresa–which is one of the  best areas to stay in Rio , by the way! Still, Arraial do Cabo, also known as the Brazilian Caribbean, is a coastal town famous for its blue water and incredible wildlife. As you can imagine, it is called the South American Caribbean for a very good reason.

Arraial do Cabo has mesmerizing white-sand beaches, such as Forno, Pontal do Atalaia, Farol, and Grande. And honestly, all of these places have the most beautiful blue water my husband and I have ever seen.

One of these beaches, Forno, is so unique and clean that the Navy controls the access to it rigorously to preserve its beauty – tourists can’t enter the beach with food, drink, or cigarettes, and are only allowed to stay there up to 40 minutes. Beyond that, access to Forno is made only by boat as it is on an island just off the coast of Arraial do Cabo.

Where to stay in Arraial do Cabo?

solo travel latin america

As for accommodation, the  Guesthouse Canto da Canoa  offers a view over the beach like no other. Although you need to go through a dirt road to get to it, the views of the blue sea are totally worth the trip.

Under those circumstances, it’s not a secret that Arraial do Cabo has everything to make a solo trip among nature unforgettable. It is a unique place!

Contributor – Bruna,  I Heart Brazil

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Other Way Round

Solo Travel to South America (including 7 countries you can’t miss)

by Steven Dillon | Feb 17, 2021

solo travel latin america

A Guide to Solo Travel in South America

South America is home to some of the most dramatic landscapes on earth.

The misty mountaintops of Peru and Patagonia, bold Brazilian beaches, and the glistening salt flats of Bolivia attract travelers from all over the world looking to experience something a little different. 

It’s one of the most popular continents for solo travel even if the sheer magnitude of South America and its diversity can be daunting.

I’ll break it down into bite-sized pieces for you. Whether this is your very first solo adventure or you’re already a seasoned solitary globetrotter, this guide will cover everything you need to know about solo travel to South America. 

View this post on Instagram A post shared by Other Way Round (@otherwayroundtravel)

What to Expect Solo Travelling in South America

In short, phenomenal food, friendly locals, and striking landscapes. 

What more could a person ask for? 

The food culture in South America is heavily influenced by its many indigenous groups and relies heavily on corn flour, potatoes, and generous helpings of meat. Although each country has vastly different traditional foods and food preparations. Don’t expect to find the ubiquitous taco of Mexico here. 

Latin cultures are often warm and much more friendly than their Northern neighbors. You can expect to meet locals regularly and to be treated with nothing but kindness and generosity.

solo travel in south america chile

And if you’re looking to meet other travelers on the road, you’ve chosen the perfect corner of the world to travel to. For those who are hesitant about solo travel in South America just follow the well established “Gringo Trail”. The trail cuts through Colombia , Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, and Argentina and hits the major tourist stops along the way. You’ll never be far from a network of like-minded travelers to link up with. 

As far as sights go, South America is as diverse as they come. From wandering the pastel-hued Caribbean cities of Colombia & sky-high bustling metropolis’ in Peru, trekking in the Patagonian mountains or verdant jungles of Venezuela, to wildlife spotting in the Ecuadorian Galapagos, there is no shortage of awe-inspiring attractions. 

No matter your reason for choosing South America, you won’t be leaving the continent disappointed.

(Read Also: Swapping Solo Travel for a Group Tour – a first timer’s experience )

solo travel to south america medellin

Tips for Solo Travel in South America

What exactly do you need to know before you visit South America Solo? Here are a few tips to make your trip a breeze. 

1. Prepare Vaccinations & Travel Insurance 

Certain countries and regions have different vaccination requirements. Yellow Fever is present in South America & some countries require proof of vaccination for you to visit the Amazon Rainforest.

Travel insurance is always a good idea. Especially if you plan on partaking in any adventure activities like paragliding, trekking, or diving. Make sure you choose a travel insurance company that covers those kinds of activities though. 

2. Look Up Visa Fees

Visa fees vary wildly across South America depending on your nationality. The fee for a U.S. citizen getting a visa to Bolivia or Paraguay is $160, while countries like Venezuela only charge $30. 

3. Brush Up On Your Spanish

Although every country has several different locally-spoken languages, you’ll be able to get by with a rough knowledge of Spanish in South America. 

English is not widely spoken and for first-time solo travelers, this can be overwhelming at first. If you struggle remembering common Spanish phrases it can be helpful to carry a phrasebook. 

4. Altitude Sickness

South America has some of the world’s highest cities. Many sitting above 10,000 feet. Be prepared to take it easy upon arrival and be extra careful not to overindulge in alcohol. 

5. Expect to be Offline

In many places in South America Wifi is unreliable if not non-existent. Be prepared with plenty of podcasts for long bus rides and offline maps for exploring cities. 

But don’t worry too much about it. Many places will have Wifi. Just intermittently. 

6. South America is Built For Backpacks

Even for the boutique traveler, there are benefits to traveling with a backpack in lieu of a suitcase. Those picturesque cobblestone streets become an obstacle if you’re reliant on wheels.

In Argentina travelling south america alone

Solo Traveller Looking to Make Friends?

Fortunately for you, it’s easy to make friends while traveling in South America. 

1. Stay in Hostels 

Sleeping in hostels is one of the easiest ways to meet people in any country. In South America, they are budget-friendly and comfortable. 

2. Facebook Groups  

Search ‘South America Travel Groups’ on Facebook and you’ll find communities of former and current travelers to South America. Not only can you link up with others but it’s a great place to ask for up to date travel advice. 

3. Go Out at Night 

The nightlife scene in South American cities is booming. Do your research and find an expat or traveler friendly bar in the area and go mingle. 

4. Join a Tour

From walking tours to food tours & cooking classes there are plenty of social activities you can sign up for. Joining a group tour is a great way to find a handful of like-minded travelers.

travelling alone in south america meeting friends

Travelling Safely in South America

For most solo travelers safety is the number one concern. & rest assured, South America is a relatively safe place to travel alone. But here are a few rules to live by if you want to err on the side of caution. 

1. Avoid Nighttime Transport. 

Night buses can be a convenient and cheap way to get around in South America, but being dropped off in the middle of the night in an unfamiliar city can also be a recipe for disaster. Check what time the bus arrives before you book. 

2. As they Say in Colombia “ No Dar Papaya” 

Theft is the most common criminal activity in South America, although that shouldn’t deter you from traveling here. High levels of poverty lead people to drastic measures. “No Dar Papaya” simply means not to temp thieves by wearing flashy clothing or accessories. Dress casually and don’t flaunt your wealth. 

3. Drink in Groups 

This is where hostels can come in handy. Drinking heavily can make you an easy target. If you plan to really hit the town it’s best to go with a small group to look out for one another. 

travelling south america solo and safely

Planning a Solo Trip to South America

As you’ve probably noticed, South America is massive. Unless you have 3 months ( at the absolute minimum ) you’re going to want to narrow your focus. Pick destinations where the culture fascinates you, where the food scene excites you, and include any bucketlist-worthy destinations you can’t miss. For many trekking to Machu Picchu makes the cut.  

Solo travel is deeply personal and one of the greatest benefits of solo travel is that you have no one to answer to but yourself. You can go anywhere your heart desires.

Whether that be a long-term trip around the entire continent or simply a few weeks in a single country the choice is entirely up to you. 

Here’s a look at some of the best countries to visit solo in South America. 

(Read Also:  Solo Travel vs Group Travel )

planning a solo female travel trip to south america

1. Colombia

One of the most diverse countries in South America. Colombia offers Caribbean beaches, lush jungles (including the Amazon), & Andean mountains. In fact, it’s home to nearly every ecosystem on earth. 

A typical itinerary to Colombia will include the vibrant Caribbean town of Cartagena , the jungle town of Minca , a weekend savoring the idyllic shores of Tayrona National Park , and sampling coffee in the pueblo of Salento . The major metropolis of Bogota is gritty and grungy while Medellin is a digital nomads paradise. 

If you’re looking for a great trekking opportunity, the ancient Lost City tucked into the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta is comparable to Machu Picchu. 

Check out this 15-day Colombia itinerary  

solo travel to south america colombia

2. Argentina

The most romantic destination in South America. Filled with tango, salsa (dancing that is), & of course wine. You might think Argentina is the last country a solo traveler would want to find themselves in. But you would be wrong. 

Argentina is an extremely geographically varied country. You can spend weeks trekking in the snow-capped mountains of Patagonia , sink into the city life in Buenos Aires , or marvel at the jungle surrounding Iguazu Falls . But you should probably do a healthy mixture of it all. The Perito Moreno Glacier is an absolute must-see. 

solo travel to south america argentina

Often overlooked by solo travelers, Bolivia is a great country to make some friends. Group tours heading out to the reflective salt flats of Salar de Uyuni and the flamingo-filled Laguna Colorada are the perfect way to meet fellow travelers and check some items off your bucket list. 

If you’re looking for more of a cultural hub, the sprawling city of La Paz is the place to be. But the serene laid-back vibes of Samaipata and Sucre are towns popular with expats and travelers you could lose yourself in for a bit. 

solo travel to south america bolivia

Solo travelers visiting Peru should visit Cuzco – the capital of the ancient Incan empire, Lima – the culinary king of South America, trek through the Andes in Huaraz , make the sacred pilgrimage to one of the seven wonders of the world- Machu Picchu , and explore the traditions of the Uros people in Lake Titicaca . 

Peru is also one of the gateways to the Amazon Rainforest. Most wildlife enthusiasts would recommend the Peruvian portion for the best chance at spotting exotic fauna. 

Be sure to try some Peruvian Ceviche and Pisco Sours during your visit. 

Check out this 12-day Peru itinerary

solo travel to south america peru

This is probably the least-commonly traveled country on this list. But Uruguay has a lot to offer a solo traveler. 

For one, it’s one of the most LGBTQ-friendly countries in South America. (Although, South America, in general, has become much more accepting over the years.) Add to that its Gothic/Spanish Colonial architecture in metro-centers like Montevideo, the cobblestone streets of Colonia del Sacramento , and the now Instagram-famous ‘hands in the sand’ on the lovely Punta del Este beach. You’ll have plenty to see in this off-the-beaten-path destination.

solo travel to south america uruguay

6. Ecuador 

Tiny country. Big attractions. Ecuador is packed with quaint colonial cities, wildlife experiences to top any bucketlist, and ancient Inca ruins. You can trek up active volcanoes like Volcán Chimborazo or even hike to glaciers nestled in the Andean Mountains. Quito & Cuenca are both UNESCO-Heritage recognized towns that are beyond beautiful. 

The real highlight of Ecuadorian travel, however, lies off its coastline. The Galapagos Islands are some of the most ecologically diverse in the world. Come see 150-year old tortoises, penguins, and all kinds of animals endemic to this iconic chain of islands. 

solo travel to south america ecuador

The country stretches across the entire east coast of South America offering glittering golden beaches and also adventures into the Amazonas region . If the great outdoors is your cup of tea the massive cascade of Iguaçu falls can’t be missed. 

Solo travelers will spend the majority of their time in Rio de Janeiro. A city made world-famous for the wild celebrations of Carnaval and the iconic views from the Christ the Redeemer statue and Sugarloaf mountain. The modernized metropolis of Sao Paulo and the colorful facades of Salvador should also make the list. 

Check out this 12-day Brazil itinerary

solo travel to south america brazil

Feeling Adventurous? Try one of these Off-the-Beaten-Path Solo Travel Destinations

Travelers who have been to Venezuela often name the country in their top 10 favorite countries of all time. Whether it’s the hospitable people, budget-friendly prices, or simply the added joy of venturing where few travelers before them have gone. 

Intrepid explorers will have the opportunity to see Angel Falls , sun-drenched beaches, and of course have a little history lesson on Simon Bolivar in the modern cultural hub of Caracas . Venezuela is filled with national parks boasting gushing falls, thick jungles, rolling deserts, and sky-high viewpoints that offer breath-taking views of the country. 

solo travel to south america venezuela

As far as cities go Santiago, the cultural capital, and a truly beautiful South American city and Valparaiso , are the most popular choices for travelers. 

But Chile offers travelers looking to leave the city behind and immerse themselves in nature plenty of opportunities to do so. 

Chile is home to wilderness still so raw and untamed it draws adventurers from all over the world. Torres Del Paine National Park in the Patagonia region is the most accessible for solo travelers looking to live an ‘Into the Wild’ fantasy. Or if the desert is more your fancy Valle de la Luna in the Atacama desert will give you a taste of unspoiled Chilean beauty.  Lauca National Park is home to Chile’s trademark llama’s set against a backdrop of snow-capped volcanic peaks.

solo travel to south america chile

What Are You Waiting For?

South America has so much to offer a solo traveler today, no matter what it is you’re looking for. Plan a cross-continental trip that takes you through all of the countries above or a short jaunt to a single country of your choosing. Either way, you’re bound to fall in love with the continent and its patchwork of rich cultures and likely to meet some travel companions or lifelong friends along the way.

(Read Also: Group Travel in Your 30s & 40s )

Solo Travel to South America With Like-Minded Travellers Aged 25-45

We’re  Other Way Round Travel   and we bring together groups of solo travellers aged 25-45 for immersive & authentic trips to South America. Here’s some of our most popular South America trips.

12 Days in Brazil. Admire street art in  São Paulo, trek rainforests in colonial Paraty and marvel at the madness of Rio de Janeiro. See Itinerary

colombia group tour for solo travellers

12 Days in Peru. Cook ceviche in Lima, sail the Amazon, hike to Machu Picchu and become awestruck by the Sacred Valley.  See Itinerary

colombia group tour for singles

15 Days in Colombia. Dance salsa. Meet coffee farmers. Sail tropical islands. Hike lush jungles. Taste the finest Caribbean rum .  See Itinerary

Group tours of colombia

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Tips for solo travel in South America

Mar 1, 2019 • 5 min read

solo travel latin america

Explore the expansive South American landscapes by car © Igor Alecsander / Getty Images

There’s nothing better for the soul than a solo trip, and South America is the destination of choice for many single adventurers. With dramatic landscapes , vibrant cities , exceptional food , and world-class culture there’s plenty to inspire and explore.

But the prospect of traveling alone can be daunting, no matter how experienced you are. Navigating your way around the vast continent can be tricky, but with a little extra planning and a few of these tips, you’ll get the very best out of your journey. Whether it’s your first time traveling alone or you’re a seasoned lone ranger, here’s some top tips for solo travel in South America.

A woman stands in a stone doorway overlooking a green valley next to a rocky mountain

Sociable solo dining  

Share a table and some conversation with locals and like-minded tourists by attending a supper club . They’ll take a little research to track down, but with food by local cooks in unique and unusual locations, it’s so worth it. The name can differ depending on the destination: in Buenos Aires look for puertas cerradas  –  Casa Felix is a good place to start.

Food tours are a sociable and hands-on introduction to a new dining culture, all in the company of a local guide. In Bogot á , for example, the guides from A Chef's Tour  take guests to thirteen tastings across eight restaurants, offering the chance to sample everything from lechona (roasted suckling pig) to the local liquor aguardiente .

Cooking classes allow an interactive taste of local cuisine with a group of fellow gourmands. Lima is world-renowned for its food scene, with creative young chefs leading a foodie renaissance (the exemplary sourdough from El Pan de la Chola is a case in point, paired with the best pizza and craft beer from its sister restaurant La Pizza de la Chola ). For an introduction to more traditional fare try SkyKitchen , where you’ll learn how to cook a selection of classic Peruvian dishes, before feasting on your hard work on a terrace with breathtaking views over the city.   

A number of multicolored tents are set up among trees in a green valley in Los Glaciares National Park, with snowcapped mountains in the background

Make amigos with group activities

Book onto organized activities and you’ll make friends while exploring the local landscape. Join a group of gauchos on a horse trek in Patagonia, traversing the iconic mountains of the Parque Nacional Los Glaciares before camping in a rural outpost with a traditional Argentine asado . Book direct with Nibepo Aike  and saddle up.

Keep up your usual hobbies like yoga or running and make friends doing what you love. Some running groups in cities are free – check Facebook for local events.

Soak up the culture solo

The solo globe-trotter needn’t miss out on culture; look up local theaters, dancehouses and concert halls and treat yourself. From Buenos Aires’ decadent Teatro Colón , where some Fridays offer free tickets for dress rehearsals of major ballet productions, to the bohemian Teatro Pablo Tobón in Medellín, which regularly hosts free orchestra recitals.

Gigs are another window into local life, and every city has its own scene. Check websites like Indie Hoy , Songkick   and Vuenoz   for listings across the continent. 

When it’s time for some downtime, there’s nothing better than a solo trip to the movies. Cinemas are a big part of life in Colombia , and foreign language films are often shown in their original language and subtitled in Spanish. Cine Tonalá is Bogotá’s indie film champion, with a cozy screen, hip bar and Mexican restaurant spread over multiple floors of a lovingly restored 1930s mansion. Meanwhile, the Museo de Arte Moderno in Medellín is a contemporary architectural marvel, where visitors can catch cutting edge cinema after enjoying a well curated line-up of modern art.

A group of five people eat at a table in a hostel common room

Safe sleeping

Finding a safe place to lay your head down is always a priority, not least when you’re traveling alone. Hostels are the obvious choice – they’re cheap, friendly and it’s easy to meet people – but they’re not the only option. For a little more privacy, rent a room with a family on Airbnb (look for the ‘superhost’ badge for added peace of mind); that way you’ll get your own space, while benefiting from their local knowledge and expertise. Otherwise, book a homestay with a local family. They’re affordable, can include meals and many language schools will arrange them at an extra cost.

Learn the language

Getting to know the locals has to be high on the list of a solo traveler, and learning the language is key to meeting new people. Organize some lessons at the start of your trip; you’ll be more tuned to the local accent and have an immediate social circle in your classmates. Ailola runs schools across South America, including the UNESCO world-heritage listed Quito in Ecuador .

A white car drives on the Panamerican Highway through the Atacama desert away from a brown, sandy-looking mountain range

Getting around South America

South America is well connected by domestic flights ,  but sometimes tickets can be expensive. If you’re looking to save money and have the time to spare, book a bus . Service can be pretty basic in Andean countries, but they're surprisingly comfortable in places like Argentina, Brazil, and Chile. Longer trips can be booked in advance online; ask for the highest tier – it’s called coche-cama , or leito in Brazil – and includes a fully reclining seat.

Many top sights (the otherworldly landscapes of Atacama Desert , for example) are easier to visit with your own wheels. To cover ground independently and safely as a solo traveler, try a hiring a car. Chile is particularly well served, with big-name rental companies operating throughout. Choose a reputable brand like europcar.com, who provide 24/7 roadside and a huge selection of pick-up and drop-off points. Depending on your nationality and the country you’re visiting, you may need an International Driving Permit in addition to your driving license.

Safety for solo travel  

South America is a safe place to travel alone, but solo travelers in any destination should always be vigilant. Booking hostels in advance, writing down addresses and researching your route means you’ll walk purposefully and won’t have to get your phone out, making you less of a target for thieves.

Take some simple precautions just in case your stuff gets snatched – it’ll make a stressful situation easier to deal with. Make a photocopy of your passport, put some money aside in a separate account and keep the card somewhere safe. Also, find out where your nearest embassy will be; you never know when you might need them for help, especially if you’re on your own.  

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Somto Seeks

Somto Seeks

Navigate the world with confidence

10 Top Destinations in South America for Solo Female Travelers

January 31, 2020 By Somto Ugwueze Leave a Comment

Musicians in Cali, Colombia

It is the golden age of travel. It has never been this easy to wander, especially for solo female travelers. It is also becoming an increasingly inspiring pursuit with a lot of female social media influencers sharing their own adventures online.

Planning to go traveling yourself? There are two ways to do it. You can take your backpack and go backpacking, planning a tailor-made trip on your own, or you can seek professional help like the online travel agency MustGo . Each way has its own pros and cons, but we believe we can all agree on one thing: both are equally fulfilling because the experience of travel itself, and experiencing other cultures is already life-changing on its own.

There are a lot of places you can go to, but for us, nothing beats the charm of South America. It has a rich culture. The continent has a lot of history. And the adventures that it offers are off the charts. South America has a dream experience for everyone. The exciting question is, where should you go? Here are our favorite spots:

1. Cali, Colombia

Cali, Colombia

Colombia has quite a reputation that can fill even the toughest female traveler with dread: prostitution, violence, trafficking. However, these cannot be further away from the truth. Cali, for instance, is a place so safe and quiet that most people are within their homes by seven in the evening. But within these homes are locals who live and breathe salsa. It’s a perfect destination for those who enjoy music and dance.

2. São Paulo, Brazil

Sao Paolo Brazil

One of the reasons why we love traveling solo is the fact that we get to meet more people that way. Even the shyest and most socially-awkward person will definitely find a friend in Brazil and that’s absolutely what we love about this place! Everyone is simply so outgoing and friendly, especially in São Paulo. It’s a perfect destination for those who love beach parties till dawn.

3. San Pedro de Atacama, Chile

San Pedro de Atacama, Chile

Let’s face it, though. No matter what we say about Colombia and Brazil, their reputation will still lie hanging in the air, like an uncomfortable “what if” that you don’t want to be answered. Hence, why not visit a place with a reputation of having zero violence? It’s a perfect destination for those who enjoy the warmth and breathtaking scenery of a rolling desert.

4. Santiago, Chile

Santiago, Chile

And since Chile is really a safe place, there’s really no reason to go just yet. From its rolling deserts, why don’t we go to the other side of this country and witness its spectacular snowy scenery? We also love this city’s bustling nightlife. It’s a perfect destination for those who enjoy the chill of lively nights out.

5. Montevideo, Uruguay

Montevideo, Uruguay

Do you have the budget to spare? Then why not visit the beautiful and historic estates and vineyards of Uruguay. It is the perfect setting for a historical novel and a feast for both the eyes and your palate. What’s more, is just like Chile, Uruguay is also known as one of the countries in South America with the lowest crime rates. It’s a perfect destination for any hopeless romantic. Just make sure not to fall in love with a local.

6. Punta del Este, Uruguay

Punta del Este Uruguay

Punta del Este is another romantic town straight out of the pages of a book. Seriously, who knew that there’s the perfect reflection of a Grecian port somewhere in South America? You can relive the moments in the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants in Punta del Este. This is the perfect destination for those who seek the relaxing sounds of the waves. It’s almost therapeutic.

7. Copacabana, Bolivia

Copacabana Bolivia

No, we’re not talking about the same place referenced in the famous song by Barry Manilow. We’re actually referring to a quiet beach in Bolivia where you can go for a deeper, more spiritual journey. We advise you to go out of your shell and talk with the inspiring women that live there. They have a lot of lessons to teach you. This is the perfect destination for those who want to go on a more soulful journey.

8. El Chalten, Argentina

Los Glaciares National Park, Patagonia, Argentina

One of the most stressful factors that drive solo female travelers away from South America is the place’s reputation for being overly passionate, for lack of a better term. What else can we say? This continent is very sexy and they know it. But, if you’re looking for a refuge that can keep you away from catcalling and other problematic forms of abuse, then might we recommend El Chalten? It is a go-to place for artists and it has a chill and hippie vibe going on. It is a perfect destination for creative San Josee women looking for inspiration.

9. San Jose, Costa Rica

San Jose Costa Rica

Continuing with the countries with a stellar reputation for being clean and safe is Costa Rica. But aside from that, we love it for its more adventurous offerings. We’re referring to its exotic fruits, volcano trekking activities , and more! And offers them all. This is the perfect destination for those who enjoy extreme activities to try.

10. Cusco, Peru

Cuzco, Peru

Finally, any travel list on South America will never be complete without the mention of Cusco where you will find the legendary Machu Picchu . What we absolutely love about Cusco is that it is a city that revolves around tourism all-year-round, and because of that, they already have a lot of established security protocols for tourists. Some buses, for instance, even require an ID to board. It is the perfect destination for those who love exploring the secrets of the past.

The Bottomline is: Stay Vigilant!

And there you have it! We have listed the safest locations for female solo travelers in South America that we have visited and experienced ourselves. However, always remember that no matter how safe a place can be, there will always be people who will be up to no good, unfortunately. Don’t give them the chance. Always stay vigilant and don’t put yourself in situations that will make you vulnerable. Safe travels!

About the author

Richard Cole

Richard Cole is a Marketing and Content Manager at MustGo.com and has been working in the Digital Marketing industry since 2002. He writes about marketing, lifestyle, travel and everything else in between. As a conversion-driven marketer, he is passionate about helping businesses expand their online visibility and reach their goals.

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10 best solo travel destinations in South America

Somto Ugwueze

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Hi! I'm Somto. Two years ago, I stopped making excuses, ditched my indecisive friends, and started booking flights. Today, I'm a full-time solo traveler on a mission to inspire young women to seek new adventures.

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Who Is Somto Seeks?

Hi there, I’m Somtochukwu. Can you try pronouncing that? I've always gone by Somto (Sohm-toe). I'm a child of Nigerian immigrants who decided to pursue her dream of living an extraordinary life. In 2015, I chose faith over fear, packing my bags and moving to Spain with $1,000 in my pocket. This was after being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease that caused me to develop a giant bald patch in the middle of my scalp. Living in Spain and traveling around Europe for a year changed my life forever, allowing me to discover the freedom of solo travel and the freedom of working from anywhere. Today, I’m a full-time travel writer whose mission is to help you navigate this big, beautiful world with confidence and have those omg-pinch-me-moments you’ll remember for a lifetime.

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The Most Popular Destinations For Solo Travelers In Latin America

Rafael Peña

With its sun-soaked Caribbean islands, bustling South American cities, charming Mexican pueblos, and the majestic peaks of Patagonia, Latin America offers an enticing array of experiences for solo travelers. While the region comprises over 20 countries, the question arises—which ones are the best for solo exploration?

Before delving into the top picks, here’s why Latin America should be a prominent feature on your travel bucket list.

What is Latin America?

Latin America is a tapestry woven together not by geographic boundaries but by strong cultural and linguistic bonds. It spans the Caribbean, North, and South American continents, encompassing nations with shared heritage and romance languages, predominantly Portuguese and Spanish. Instead of rigid borders, Latin America is defined by cultural and linguistic intersections, stretching from Mexico to Chile, with citizens of these countries identifying as “Latinx.”

What to Expect as a Solo Traveler in Latin America

While these countries share cultural norms, each offers a unique experience. Warm-hearted people, a significant Catholic influence, cuisine steeped in corn, and rich indigenous traditions are common threads throughout the region. Most Latin American countries boast robust tourist infrastructure, ensuring a safe and welcoming environment for first-time solo travelers.

indigenous Peruvians in traditional attire

Peru, the ancient land of the Incas, stands as a top culinary destination and home to Machu Picchu, one of the world’s seven natural wonders. Ceviche , pisco sours, and cacao harvested from the Amazon rainforest await your palate. From the Andes’ icy glaciers to the Sacred Valley’s green hills, there’s a wealth of cultural exploration and adventurous excursions for solo travelers.

Palenquera woman in Colombia

Over the past few decades, Colombia has evolved from its notorious past, now attracting digital nomads and nature enthusiasts. Vibrant cities like Medellin, Cartagena, and Bogota offer rich cultural experiences, while adventure seekers will find paradise in San Gil. Well-connected public transport and world-class coffee ensure you’ll easily make friends and explore.

LAS GRUNTAS Mexico

Mexico, considered by many a top pick, offers a vibrant tapestry of experiences. From traditional pueblos and colonial towns steeped in history to bustling cities with lively nightlife and idyllic beach towns in the Yucatan, Mexico caters to all types of travelers. Explore cultural gems like Mexico City and Oaxaca or unwind on the soft sand beaches of the Yucatan or Baja Peninsula. Mexico is a cost-effective, developed destination with abundant activities, making it easy for solo travelers to connect with fellow explorers.

classic car on colorful street in Cuba

In the Caribbean, Cuba stands out as one of the safest destinations for solo travelers. A lack of violent crime provides an ideal introduction to solo travel. Enjoy the local culture, experience the 1950s Americana vibe, and explore stunning white-sand beaches and picturesque cities.

man on beach in Brazil in Latin America

Brazil, a vast country that covers almost half of South America, boasts world-class beaches, dramatic landscapes, and annual festivals like Carnival. Sizzling cuisine, vibrant music, and colorful colonial towns make Brazil an enticing destination for solo travelers. Cities like São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and Recife, along with breathtaking natural wonders, offer a range of experiences.

Latin America, with its distinct cultures and varied landscapes, offers a rich tapestry of experiences for solo travelers. Plan your next adventure to one of these destinations and immerse yourself in the Latin American experience.

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Solo Travel in South America

How To Travel Within South America

Solo Female Friendly Star Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Budget: $30 to $90 a day

Cheapest: Bolivia

Most Expensive: Uruguay & Chile

Safest Country in South America: Uruguay

Most Dangerous Country in South America: Venezuela

Languages Spoken: Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, English (in the Falkland Islands and British Guyana), French in French Guiana. 

Solo travel in South America

About South America

South America is made up of: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, British Guyana, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Falkland Islands, French Guiana, Paraguay , Peru, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela.

South America is a melting pot of cultures and dance; from samba in Brazil to the Argentine tango, this continent has soul with a Spanish flavour.

It has everything from the world’s driest desert to tropical rainforests, snow-capped mountains, volcanoes and colonial towns, and is one of the most bio-diverse continents, with many high-altitude cities and towns.

The Amazon runs through seven of the thirteen countries, including one of the largest, Brazil, with a harbour fit enough to be one of the Seven Wonders. Soak up some rays at Copacabana Beach, go bohemian in Santa Teresa, dance to Brazilian beats at Bahia or just marvel at Iguazu Falls, which are higher than Niagara.

Then there’s Easter Island. The world’s most isolated inhabited island, known for its giant moai statues and named after the day it was discovered. * Read: Things To Do in Easter Island

Wherever you choose to go, solo travel in South America, and you can expect to return home with more than a few new dance moves. If you're planning on taking a South America trip or backpacking South America, below is a summary of each country to help you choose the right destination for you.

Click on the images at the end for the solo destination guides. For a more detailed guide, read: Related Post: How To Travel With South America

Solo Travel in South America

South America is a continent that’s popular with backpackers and many women travel here without any problems. It’s mainly a macho society, so expect attention from males, whether it’s just shouting “linda” (meaning beautiful) from afar or asking you to dance.

If you travel to rural areas, they may not be used to seeing a woman alone, so expect even more attention of the flattery kind.

In the more-developed cities, such as San Jose or Medellin, you can dress how you like so there’s no need to dress conservatively. Crime is the biggest issue here, so be careful of your belongings and if you go off the beaten path, buddy up with other travellers or take a tour.

Travelling in the less-developed countries of Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador will be a culture shock, especially in Bolivia. First due to its poverty and second because of its altitude. Travelling to neighbouring Venezuela is not advised due to the economic and political situation at present.

Solo travel in South America

Travelling Around South America

Unlike Central America, South America has vast distances and flying from country to country is not the cheapest method to get around. Although airlines operate within many countries in South America, the routes are not generally direct. Costs can be expensive compared to flying internally within countries. A good tip here is to cross the borders by bus, then fly within the countries to maximise your time away.

Although bus travel is the cheapest method of travelling around the continent, you need to be cautious on some border routes, which are popular with robbers. Travel during the day and check travel forums if you have to travel overnight to make sure that your route is safe. If you do travel by bus, expect some routes to be windy if you’re going through a mountainous pass.

Hiring a car isn’t really advised as the traffic can be chaotic and you don’t want to be driving anywhere off the beaten track alone. There is also the chance of being stopped by corrupt police, so use other methods of transport if you can. If you have time, taking a river cruise through the Amazon is a unique way of getting from country to country.

But if you travel from Colombia to Brazil, for example, you’ll need to allow a few days to get there. Some islands here are too far to travel by sea, so if you want to visit San Andres, Easter Island or the Falkland Islands, you have to fly.

Below is a summary of the countries and how to get around.

Solo Travel in South America

Solo Travel in Argentina

There is more to Argentina than the leg-flicking tango and the Falkland Islands. The Argentines enjoy good wine and steaks, and have a passion to be proud of, not to mention the stunning fjords and lakes within the Patagonia region, which they share with Chile.

There is a good traveller network in Argentina and friendly locals, especially the younger generation, who are open to mixing with travellers. Just be careful of the stray dogs that hang around some of the bus stations. * Read: Solo Travel in Argentina

Solo Travel in South America

Road to Monte Fitz Roy, Patagonia, Argentina

Travelling Around Argentina

Argentina isn’t that cheap to fly around, although there are airlines which offer domestic routes, such as Aerolineas and LADE. Be prepared that travelling here will eat into your budget.

There are many bus companies for long-distance travel and some with fully reclinable seats. If you can’t afford a seat that goes all the way back, then take a semi-cama instead, which is cheaper and still comfortable.

There are tourist trains which operate along La Trochita and the Tren a las Nubes, which take you towards the Chilean border. Avoid the trains otherwise, and in towns, opt for shared taxis, which operate on fixed routes and leave when full. Boats on the Patagonia side will take you into Los Glaciares National Park and Nahuel Huapi National Park.

Solo Travel in South America

Solo Travel in Bolivia

Bolivia may be poor, but it is rich in scenery and has the highest capital in the world, Death Road, the witches’ markets in La Paz and the blinding sight of the Uyuni salt flats.

Although there is crime, Bolivia is still one of the safest places in South America and being the cheapest, it’s popular with travellers, so you’ll find plenty of others here.

Avoid taking any jungle tours alone, and watch for petty thieves within markets and bus stations. Be careful at night and in Oruro, and on any border crossings. Steer clear of El Alto, as it is not the safest place for tourists, with robbery and pickpocketing. * Read: Solo Travel in Bolivia

Solo Travel in South America

Take a 4×4 tour through Bolivia

Getting Around Bolivia

Bolivia does have a poor road system, but the best way to get around the country is still by bus. Taking tours, especially those on a 4×4, is the best way to see the stunning landscapes in Bolivia and is necessary if you’re travelling overland from Bolivia to Chile through the Atacama Desert.

There are trains here, but they’re generally slower than buses, and flying can be quite costly. Consider taking a tour if you don’t fancy a rough bus ride.

Solo Travel in South America

Copacabana Beach in Brazil

Solo Travel in Brazil

Brazil is huge and has so much to see. If you’ve ever wanted to see the Christ the Redeemer Statue, take a cable car across Sugarloaf Mountain or witness the stunning Iguazu Falls, then Brazil should be on your solo bucket list.

Other popular destinations apart from Rio de Janeiro and Iguazu Falls are the beach destinations of Bahia & Salvador, Fortaleza and the tropical beaches of Recife.

In a country the size of Brazil, you may not find many other travellers outside the main tourist destinations and cities. You do need to be careful here, as it has a high crime rate, so don’t walk around with any valuables on show and be careful at ATMs.

Take caution if you go off the beaten track, especially if you take a jungle tour with a male guide. Look for larger groups or team up with fellow travellers if you want to explore lesser-trodden routes. Brazilians are really friendly, but having some phrases in Portuguese will help you to get by. * Read: Solo Travel in Brazil

Solo Travel in South America

Rio in Brazil

Travelling Around Brazil

Brazil offers air passes to make the most of flying around the country. You can buy tickets within the airport or even shopping malls with Latam. Trains offer a more scenic route than some of the bus journeys, which can be up to 36 hours in some places, but you can get different classes on buses. If you’re on a budget, take an economy bus or a deluxe bus if you prefer more comfort.

Solo Travel in South America

Devil's Island, French Guiana

British Guyana & French Guiana

Both British Guyana and French Guiana aren’t really tourist destinations. Georgetown, the capital of British Guyana, has a high crime rate, and although the city has some colourful colonial architecture, you probably wouldn’t want to be solo here.

The rest of the country offers community-based tourism, birdwatching and wildlife. Minibuses and river taxis allow you to travel through the small country of Guyana, as well as 4x4s and hire cars, but if you do visit here, you may feel more comfortable with an organised tour.

Solo Travel in South America

Travelling Around Guyana & French Guiana

French Guiana is a territory of France. Tourism infrastructure is difficult here, and you could find yourself waiting hours for a minibus from Saint Laurent du Maroni to Cayenne, the capital. Boats take you across the river from Saint Laurent du Maroni to the border of Suriname. The biggest attraction here is the Guiana Space Centre in Kourou, but you do need to book ahead for a tour (in French). Hire a car if you come here.

Solo Travel in South America

Patagonia in Chile

Solo Travel in Chile

Chile is a beautiful country. You have the Atacama Desert, the cosmopolitan capital of Santiago surrounded by the Andes Mountains, the colourful port city of Valparaiso, the Lake District, Northern Patagonia and Torres del Paine National Park.

It is a popular destination with solo females, so expect to meet others, especially in the funky area of Bellavista in Santiago. Relax on the endless stretch of Chile’s northern beaches, visit a vineyard for a Chilean Blanc or experience the Atacama Desert, the driest desert in the world, where you can also meet others.

* Related Post: How I Travelled Chile

Solo Travel in South America

Easter Island is a 6.5 hour flight from Chile

Travelling Around Chile

Chile has good overnight buses and internal flights. You can even try to get a discount on your bus ticket if you see a bus half-full. Locals hitchhike here, but like anywhere, follow your gut instinct if you decide to do it. Getting to Patagonia, however, is a different story. There is no direct road from Chile, so taking a flight or a boat is the only option. Although once you’re there, you can sail around the fjords. Chile can be combined with Argentina if you have time.

Solo Travel in South America

Cartagena, Colombia

Solo Travel in Colombia

Colombia, once declared too dangerous to travel to, is now a magical realm for tourists, with Caribbean beaches, coffee plantations and the Amazon. It has come a long way in the past decade. Medellin, Bogota and Cartagena are among the most popular destinations here, with the Pacific Coast lacking in tourism infrastructure.

Although Colombia gets a bad rap in the press, the majority of areas are fine for a solo female. Safety has improved over the past decade in Colombia, but if you walk around with valuables on show, you are more likely to be robbed. Avoid certain areas, especially the more remote areas, and avoid hiking alone. There are cases of buses being held up, so avoid night buses on particular routes, such as Bogota to Quito, and opt for travelling during the day instead.

Only carry as much money as you need, and don’t carry all of your credit and debit cards with you. There is still guerrilla activity within parts of the Amazon, so avoid exploring by yourself. Colombia is a beautiful country, with the friendliest people, but you do need to be street-wise here. * Read Solo Travel in Colombia

Solo Travel in South America

The cable car in Medellin, Colombia

Getting Around Colombia

In the cities of Bogota and Medellin, there is a good transport system, with both having metro and bus services. If you take a taxi, use a taxi app in Bogota and avoid hailing one in the street. In Medellin, you can take a taxi from the street.

There are also collectivos, which are minibuses. Instead of taking a bus across the country, look at Viva Colombia for internal flights. Some of the roads are mountainous, so you may prefer to fly if you suffer from travel sickness.

Solo Travel in South America

Cuenca in Ecuador

Solo Travel in Ecuador

Neighbouring Ecuador is also diverse. From the colonial town of Quito to whitewater rafting in Tena, there is much to see in this Land of Eternal Spring. Visit the Galapagos Islands for cloud forests, active volcanoes and unique wildlife. Some solos combine Ecuador with Peru or Colombia and travel overland.

Don’t miss the Equator Line, which runs through the country. You can visit this touristy spot to say that you stood in the ‘middle of the world’.

Banos is absolutely stunning and is for the adventure solo, with whitewater rafting, paragliding, canyoning and bridge swings. The area is lush with waterfalls. Trek the Quilotoa Loop for beautiful views of a crater lake, surf in Montanita or visit the Equatorial Amazon.

Ecuador is relatively safe, but avoid certain areas of Quito at night. Theft does happen on the buses, so be careful at bus stations and keep your belongings close to you. The Galapagos Islands are welcoming to travellers and have a laid-back attitude, but be prepared for some friendly attention.

* Related Post: How I Travelled Ecuador as a Solo

Solo Travel in South America

Central Ecuador

Getting Around Ecuador

Buses are incredibly cheap in Ecuador and follow a certain route. If you want to get off the beaten track and visit a corner of the country, then you may find yourself spending hours on a bus having to backtrack. Keep your valuables on your lap in the buses too, as they are known for thieves.

If you aren’t taking a cruise around the Galapagos Islands, fly to them instead. You can take a flight from Guayaquil or Quito, and fly into Santa Cruz and fly out of San Cristobal. Once you are on the islands, you can island hop with the boats. Santa Cruz is the main hub. From Loja there are night buses down to Peru.

Solo Travel in South America

Lake Titicaca, Peru

Solo Travel in Peru

Peru is a country steeped in fascinating history, with lush scenery and colourful traditions. Many solos visit here for the culture and mountains. Peru also has good surf, with Mancora and Huanchaco attracting young, adventurous solos.

Learn about the Inca Empire in Peru and visit Machu Picchu, the most famous Inca ruin of them all, before visiting the ancient capital of Cuzco and Lake Titicaca. There are so many ruins to see here that you need at least two weeks to see just some of the country.

Then there is Rainbow Mountain, Arequipa and the Nazca Lines to explore. If you spend time in Peru, stay in Miraflores, which is less hectic and more comfortable than the rest of the city.

The north of Peru does not have that many tourists and parts of the country are out of bounds, so check FCO advice or use a tour company if you are unsure of where to travel.

Not all indigenous villagers will welcome you; some remote Andean villages which live in complete isolation are not keen on visitors, so stick to the tourist route when travelling alone or hire a Quechua-speaking guide.

You may find that Peru is not as friendly as other South American countries and begging is increasing within the tourist destinations. As a solo, you may encounter stares from the locals.

As in any other city, be careful with your belongings in Lima and don’t walk about at night (Cuzco is much safer). You may experience altitude sickness here, so take altitude sickness tablets with you and tell others if you feel unwell.

  • Related Post: Solo Travel in Peru
  • Related Post: How I Travelled Peru

Solo Travel in South America

The Andes in Peru

Travelling Around Peru

The buses in Peru are fantastic. Because of the long distances they have overnight buses, which include a meal and sometimes breakfast. Sleeper buses have either semi-cama or cama seats, so you have the choice of half-reclining or completely flat. The buses are comfortable and safe to travel on.

You may prefer to fly internally if you’re short on time. Be careful if you fly from Lima to Cusco, as you could experience altitude sickness when you arrive. Allow a couple of days longer here to acclimate. The best way to see the Nazca Lines is by plane. Flying to Iquitos, then taking a boat, is the easiest way to explore the Peruvian Amazon.

Solo Travel in South America

Marowijne River near the village of Bigiston, Suriname.

Solo Travel in Suriname

Suriname is a Dutch colony and is popular for its eco-tourism. The capital, Paramaribo, is known for its wooden colonial buildings and is on the UNESCO World Heritage list. You can follow the sugar trail, experience the Moengo cultural traditions or just wander around the Mosque Keizerstraat, one of the most beautiful historical monuments in the country.

Most people come here to experience the Amazon way of life and stay in an eco-retreat along the river. This country is abundant in nature, and when you are ready to see the countryside, step outside the capital and take a boat trip along the Amazon River.

The country attracts Dutch and European tourists because of the Dutch language. If you do venture into the villages along the river, be prepared for people to stare at you.

The capital isn’t a very comfortable place to stay due to the attention of the local men, who think that you are here searching for a Caribbean lover. If you can ignore the constant purring, then come here independently. If not, consider taking a tour.

Solo Travel in South America

Travelling Around Suriname

Suriname is expensive due to a lack of tourists, but there is a minibus system here and two local airlines. The best way to get around the country is with a tour company. Once you arrive at Paramaribo, you can arrange tours from there. The private buses leave once they are full, or you can hire a car instead. Boats take you along the river to eco-lodges, and you can also take a minibus to the border of French Guiana.

Solo Travel in South America

Solo Travel in Uruguay

Uruguay is a small country on this continent which sometimes gets overlooked. If you’re travelling to Argentina then it’s easy to combine a trip here. Montevideo is the capital, and the city is a mix of the old and the new, with Independence Square dividing both parts.

Visit the Circus Palace, the Uruguayan walk of fame and the theatre before heading to the beach area of Punta del Este on the east coast. This area, with its giant hand coming out of the sand, has good nightlife, resorts and beautiful beaches.

Colonia is the oldest city in Uruguay and its attraction is its historic quarter, a gorgeous area that sits on the coastline with cobbled streets and colourful old stone houses.

  • Related Post: Montevideo, Uruguay's Quirky Capital
  • Related Post: Things To Do in Colonia Uruguay as a Solo

Solo Travel in South America

Travelling Around Uruguay

You can reach Uruguay by ferry from Buenos Aires and once you’re there, they have an extensive bus network. Avoid hiring a car, which can be expensive, and travel any long distances by bus. You can also reach cities in Brazil from here.

Solo Travel in South America

Canaima Lagoon, Venezuela

Solo Travel in Venezuela

Venezuela has the tallest waterfall on Earth called Angel Falls but unfortunately this country is off limits to travellers because of its current crisis. Travelling around Venezuela is currently unsafe, with any travellers only visiting Isla de Margarita. Outside of here there are virtually no travellers.

Solo Travel in South America

Machu Picchu

Attractions of South America

  • See fjords in Patagonia
  • Get inspired at Iguazu Falls – Argentina/Brazil
  • Sample Argentina’s wines in a winery, in Argentina
  • Get spooked at the witches' market in La Paz, Bolivia
  • Watch wildlife on the Galapagos Islands
  • Dance the tango in Argentina
  • See the Moai figures on Easter Island
  • Watch sea turtles in Guyana
  • Explore Torres del Paine National Park, Chile
  • See the salt flats (Salar de Uyuni) in Bolivia
  • Go cattle herding in Uruguay
  • Stay overnight in Tayrona National Park, Colombia
  • Marvel at Angel Falls in Venezuela
  • Relax on San Andres Island.

Seven Wonders of the World

  • Harbour of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  • Christ the Redeemer in Brazil
  • Machu Picchu in Peru

Solo Travel in South America

Iguazu Falls at the border between Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay

South America itineraries

South america itinerary: 1 week.

Argentina & Uruguay – Buenos Aries, Montevideo, Colon. Colombia – Bogota, fly to Medellin, fly to Cartagena, Santa Marta.

Patagonia – El Calafate, Glacier National Park, El Chalten, Rio Blanco Base Camp, El Chalten, El Calafate.

Solo Travel in South America

Laguna Cuicocha, Ecuador

South America Itinerary: 2 Weeks

Brazil & Argentina – Buenos Aires, Iguazu Falls, Paraty, Ilha Grande, Rio de Janeiro.

Peru – Lima, fly to Cusco, Sacred Valley, Ollantaytambo, Inca Trail, Machu Picchu.

Solo Travel in South America

Rainbow Mountain in Peru

South America Itinerary: Three Weeks

Argentina to Brazil –– Buenos Aires, Colonia, Montevideo, Iguazu Falls, Paraty, Ilha Grande, Rio de Janeiro.

Peru to Ecuador – Lima, Paracas, Nazca, Arequipa, Colca Canyon, Cusco, Sacred Valley, Ollantaytambo, Machu Picchu, Cusco, Puno, Lake Titicaca, La Paz.

Amazon & Ecuador – Quito, Tena, Banos, Alausi, Guayaquil, Guayas River, Puerto Lopez, Machalilla National Park, Quito, San Clemente, Otavalo, Quito.

Colombia – Bogota, Villa de Leyva, Armenia, Calarca, Cocora Valley, Salento, Medellin, fly to Cartagena, Santa Marta, Taganga, Tayrona National Park, Lost City trek, Santa Marta.

Solo Travel in South America

Guatape in Colombia

South America Itinerary: 1 month

Peru to Brazil – Lima, Paracas, Nazca, Arequipa, Chivay, Colca Canyon, Cusco, Sacred Valley, Ollantaytambo, Machu Picchu, Cusco, Puno, Lake Titicaca, La Paz, Uyuni, Salt Flats, Potosi, Sucre, Santa Cruz, Puerto Suarez, Corumba, Pantanal, Bonito, Iguazu Falls, fly to San Paulo, Paraty, Ilha Grande, Rio de Janeiro.

Cartagena to Quito – Cartagena, Santa Marta, Lost City trek, Taganga, Minca, Tayrona National Park, Santa Marta, Cali, Pereira, Manizales, Medellin, Bogota, fly to Quito, Cotopaxi, Otavalo, Quito.

Ecuador & Galapagos – Quito, San Cristobal Island, South Plaza Island, North Seymour Island, Chinese Hat, Las Bachas, Santa Cruz Island, Floreana Island, Espanola Island, Cerro Brujo, Kicker Rock, San Cristobal, Quito.

If I’ve inspired you to travel to South America, click on the photos below for the solo destination guide to help you plan a trip to that country.

Related Articles

  • How To Travel With South America
  • Cycling Through South America
  • How I travelled Chile as a Solo

solo travel latin america

Travelling Solo

South America is a continent that is popular with backpackers and many solo women travel here without any problems. Expect attention from males and the locals if you go off the beaten path so buddy up with other travellers or take a tour. Crime is probably the biggest issue so be careful of your belongings.

Solo Travel Rating

3star

Budget £20 – £30 a day

Need to know.

Language Spoken – Spanish, Portuguese

Best Time to Go – June to Oct

Do I Need a Visa? 

Currency Exchange Rate

Vaccinations Required

Airlines To South America

Safety Within Central America

caution

Places to See

South America’s Natural Wonders

Seven Wonders of The World  Harbour of Rio de Janeiro – Brazil Christ the Redeemer – Brazil Machu Picchu – Peru

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5 great countries in South America for solo travel

solo travel south america

Leave any misconceptions at the door – South America is simply fantastic for solo travel. If you think that countries like Brazil and Colombia aren’t welcoming, you just haven’t got to know them yet.

There really is a whole wealth of destinations crying out to be explored in this epic continent. Pick the right one as a solo traveler and you’ll quite literally be pulled into the swing of things in all of the best ways (yep, South Americans are known for their rhythm on the dance floor). So, whether you’re traveling on your own or fancy flying solo on a group tour, rest assured that, as long as you’re sensible and pack some trusty common sense, the time of your life is awaiting.

Here are some of our favorite countries in South America for solo travel:

We couldn’t help it,  Peru  is too awesome not to lead with. It’s easily accessible, has an incredible food scene, and there’s no point in beating around the bush… the triumphant 15th-century ruins of Machu Picchu are reason enough to travel there. Simply put, it’s one of seven wonders of the world to knock off your bucket list —travel companion or not (and this  story is sure to inspire a visit, promise).

South America for solo travel

Solo traveler at the top of Machu Pichu

Back to the food scene. We’re talking everything from hip breweries to a ceviche class to a cacao plantation in Huayopata. So much to tantalize taste buds. And from other perspectives, too. Peru’s wealth of experiences don’t end with its rich archaeological sights. There’s  Huacachina  (the only desert oasis in South America), there’s Lake Titicaca (one of the largest, highest lakes in the world) and there’s also the little-known northern region , which is home to ruins that rival Machu Picchu’s (but with none of the crowds)!

Peruvians tend to be as welcoming and social as they are used to tourists — another win for solo travelers. Safety in the main tourist areas is very good. And it’s very easy to mix with fellow travelers in tourist hubs like Cusco, Arequipa and the Miraflores and Barranco neighborhoods of Lima.

But, wait – just wait – there’s even more to love. Intrepid Travel’s 9-day Classic Peru trip has been so popular with solo adventures previously that a solo-only departure for it has been created! Like-minded travelers can jump on board (literally – there’s an included homestay and boat ride in Lake Titicaca) and take in a bunch of amazing sights together. From Machu Picchu to Cusco to Lima and more, check the itinerary for the whirlwind of cool activities packed right in.

If you go to South America for solo travel, let me tell you, Colombia has so much in store. Don’t let Colombia’s tangled history convince you that the country is unsafe — that’s totally outdated now. The vibrant country also has a delicious coffee culture (evident in towns like Salento!), awe-inspiring palm trees in the Cocora Valley (the highest ones in the world!) and utterly world-class mountains. Though Colombians primarily speak Spanish you’ll find that many also speak (at least a little) English.

south america for solo travel

Wandering the colorful streets of Cartagena

But Colombians communicate through more than just words. Street art maps out the history of Medellin , the city of eternal spring, and then of course, there’s everything unspoken that’s expressed on the dance floor. Yeah, I’m talking about the heat brought via  salsa dancing.  For solo travelers, the lively salsa scene is a way for locals to extend their welcome and give you confidence to put your best foot forward.

Another way Colombia keeps you moving is Tayrona National Park on the Caribbean coast.  It combines spellbinding sandy beaches, thick rainforest and rich biodiversity (spend an entire day there on this 10-day trip). Noteworthy: on the same trip you’ll also explore arguably the prettiest Colombian town, Barichara, as well as exploring iconic Cartagena and the capital, Bogota.

RELATED: WHY TO CONSIDER SOLO TRAVEL IN COLOMBIA (AND WHAT TO EXPECT)

South America for solo travel

Salar de Uyuni salt flats

Bolivia  doesn’t fall short when it comes to solo travel in South America. It’s incredibly rewarding for its dramatic landscapes, otherworldly sights and extremely inexpensive price-point. La Paz will have you feeling on top of the world (literally, it’s the highest capital city in the world). Whilst Bolivian street food vendors will become any solo adventurer’s best friend. Expect to feast on  tucumanas   (Bolivian-style empanada –  salteñas – that have been deep fried)… YUM! And definitely drop by the wonderfully unique array of potions and herbal treatments at the Witches’ Market in El Alto, too (accessible from La Paz by cable car).

La Paz contrasts beautifully with the open salt flats of  Salar de Uyuni  where you’ll feel as if you’ve stepped off onto the surface of the moon. Solo travelers, forget the selfies. Lay your camera on the salt flats and use the backdrop of the endless salt flats to inspire some cool perspective shots.

Beyond the salt flats, the Amazon and Isla Del Sol offer the perfect dose of adventure and relaxation. You’ll find just what you’re looking for and then some in Bolivia. Not least because the cheapness draws in backpackers and the salt flat isolation draws in shared bus departures. New friends aplenty to be found here…

RELATED: 5 REASONS TO VISIT BOLIVIA (THAT AREN’T SALAR DE UYUNI)

south america for solo travel

Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro

We could have easily swapped Brazil for Argentina (experience both on this  7-day trip ). They’re both high-energy countries that solo travelers can and should gravitate to when in South America. Maybe it’s the abundance of sunshine hitting the stunning beaches, the iconic tango and samba dances or the passionate football fans that make for a lively social scene, but everyone just seems to be happy here.

For the  best of Brazil,  you’ll probably be attracted to the coast, which boasts its unashamedly hedonistic lifestyle. With Brazil’s national cocktail, the caipirinha, in hand you can bask in the sun at Ipanema beach with a diverse crowd. But it doesn’t have to be all about partying (and carnivals). Hit up Rio’s Tijuca, the largest urban forest in the world, or let the Iguazu Falls take your breath away.

Oh, and don’t forget to head down the coast to Paratay for some relaxation. This beach hideaway is brimming with lush mountains, pedestrian-only cobbled streets, and secluded islands nearby.

RELATED: A WALKING GUIDE TO RIO, BRAZIL’S MOST COLORFUL COUNTRY

Wedged between the two aforementioned South American powerhouse destinations, Argentina and Brazil, Uruguay  may be one of the smallest countries in South America, but it isn’t shy on experiences for solo travelers. Uruguay is one of the few countries on the continent with protected LGBTQ rights. This definitely speaks to how progressive the country is. Rest assured you can feel truly safe here as a solo traveler.

south america for solo travel

A boardwalk and a lighthouse at Punta del Este in Jose Ignacio

RELATED: THE BEAUTY OF URUGUAY, SOUTH AMERICA’S OVERLOOKED GEM

Uruguay also has a charm and hospitality that cultivate an especially wonderful solo travel experience. The relaxed vibes and underrated nature really make it stand out for those willing to try someplace new. Even capital Montevideo is as safe as it is sophisticated, with excellent steak, art deco buildings, lovely beaches and more. And that’s not to mention the tango!

Some other highlights and ideas on what to do? Camp in Santa Teresa National Park or channel your inner gaucho (a highly-skilled horsemen; more than just a cowboy) during an unforgettable  3-day homestay on an estancia.  Colonia de Sacramento , one of the oldest towns in Uruguay and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a quaint and an underrated spot for foodies. While the remote beaches of Cabo Polonio host a natural reserve of sea lions (only accessible by 4x4s — Intrepid will get you there on this  trip ).

There are plenty more unspoiled experiences with just the right amount of off-the-beaten path for solo travelers…But we’ll leave them for you to find. After all, isn’t that the magic of solo travel?

Take your pick for you next solo trip, book a small group adventure in South America.

(Images credits from top to bottom: Julie Faye Germansky, Intrepid Travel, Julie Faye Germansky, Rosie Horton, Intrepid Travel, iStock/Luso)

Feeling inspired?

solo travel latin america

Julie Faye Germansky

I am a storyteller based in Toronto with a passion for all potato-based dishes, solo travel, sky-high views and talking to strangers. Join me for the ride at talk-to-strangers.com or keep up with my Instagram @julesfayegermansky and Twitter @julsgermansky

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Solo Travel Destinations in South America

Traveling alone to Latin America? This is part two of our solo travel destination series . This guide is designed to help jumpstart your journey through South America. We’ll work our way through the continent from Colombia and give you itinerary ideas all the way to Patagonia. If you are traveling the entire length of the Americas, you can check out our solo travel guide through Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean . 

Each section of this solo travel guide highlights a different country including Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, and Brazil. There are even some side trips you can take into Bolivia, Uruguay, and Paraguay. If you have six weeks or more to travel, you could travel through each of these countries. If you have less time, use this guide to show you the highlights of each country as individual itineraries, flying in and out of the international airport.

Please enjoy this guide to solo travel through South America... Stay safe, get off the beaten path whenever possible, and don’t forget to challenge yourself!  

If you are new to solo travel, don’t forget to check out our Ultimate Guide to Solo Travel.   

Solo Travel Destinations in Colombia

Begin your trip to Colombia in one of the three major cities with the best international airports--Bogotá, Medellín, or Cartagena. Cheap flights from the United States can be found to any of these three destinations, including with low-cost carriers like JetBlue. If you are coming from Central America, my best recommendation is to arrive in Cartagena by boat, island hopping your way through the San Blas Islands of Panama.  

You can read these tips and more in my solo travel guide to Central America . Keep in mind that no roads go through the Darien Gap between Panama and Colombia, so your only options are to come by boat or plane. There are plenty of flights from Panama City to Bogotá for the less adventurous ;).

Colombia beaches solo travel destinations

Cartagena is the second oldest city in all the Americas and its main tourist area is even preserved as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. To really get a feel for the city, and its unique history, be sure to stay inside the walls of the old city, and not in the more modern areas.  The vibrant colors of colonial Cartagena come alive as people dance in the street and eat fresh ceviche and coconut rice.  

Take a city tour and have a cup of Colombian coffee at my favorite coffee shop, Café San Alberto. Explore the artisan neighborhood of Getsemani and climb to the top of the fort, Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas. For the best cultural experience in the region, book a day trip to Palenque, the first town founded by freed slaves in the Americas. Look up our friend Danilo with Paletur. He only speaks Spanish, so tell him “ Mateo de Under30Experiences ” sent you.

Palenque Cartagena Colombia south america solo travel destinations

If you want to really understand a country, apart from what most tourists see, visit its capital. In Latin America, capitals are often congested and dirty, but if you want authenticity, this is what a city like Bogotá offers you. I always enjoy seeing a city from above, so I’d recommend a trip up Monseratte, a vantage point that stands at over 9,000 feet (2,743 meters) above sea level and is accessible on foot or by cable car.  

If you are traveling through Latin America, it’s a good idea to know who Simon Bolivar is, who led revolutions against the Spanish in multiple countries. Check out Simon Bolivar Metropolitan Park in Bogotá for a great photo op.  

For shopping, visit the Usaquén market where you can find tons of artisan goods at local prices.  In the Candelaria neighborhood hit the Gold Museum, Botero Museum, the National Shrine of our Lady of Carmen church, and hang out in Plaza Chorro de Quevedo. Finally, escape the city to Parque de la Sal in Zipaquirá, a church built in an underground salt mine!  

Medellín is nicknamed “The City of the Eternal Spring” because of its amazing year-round temperate climate. Although recent television series like Narcos have glorified the city’s connection to Pablo Escobar, locals are still sensitive about the destruction that occurred here in the 1980s.  

Ride the Metrocable to Parque Arvi for a bird’s eye view of the city. Most solo travelers will enjoy a visit to the high-end El Poblado neighborhood to visit one of the many bars and restaurants in the area. Matriarca came recommended to me as the best Colombian restaurant in Poblado. Provenza is another night-life scene to hit as well. Be sure to take the Comuna 13 Graffiti Tour to get a taste for the local street art.  

The Lost City Trek

Colombia is a huge country, so I couldn’t possibly detail all there is to do in this overview, but one of my top suggestions would be doing the Lost City Trek near Tayrona National Park.  

The Lost City Trek, or La Ciudad Perdida, is a three-day trek that has been on my bucket list for years. I can’t wait to learn from the indigenous people of the region about this ancient civilization and sleep in a hammock under a mosquito net. This trek has been heralded by many solo travelers as “the next Inca Trail.”  

Solo Travel Destinations in Ecuador

Nobody told me how cool Quito was before I got there, but this UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site is extremely beautiful, especially at night. Located high in the Andes Mountains at 9,350 feet (2,850 meters), don’t be surprised if you are a little light-headed on day one from the high altitude. So, remember to eat light, and take it easy.  

I love well-preserved colonial city centers and I think you will too. Get the panoramic views from El Panecillo, and if you like vistas, check out Parque Metropolitano for a great place to overlook the Cumbayá Valley, and go ride the Teleférico cable car and hike Cruz Loma to see the views of the volcanoes! Escape Quito to hike and bike the snow capped Cotopaxi Mountain, the world’s second highest volcano. 

Galapagos tortoise ecuador south america solo travel destinations under30experiences

Galápagos Islands

The Galápagos Islands are a bucket list destination for so many solo travelers. A lot of people choose to see the Galápagos on a cruise, but if you’ve read my book on solo travel you’ll already know that cruises are one of the least sustainable ways to travel. Luckily, the country of Ecuador goes to great lengths to protect this fragile ecosystem if you choose an overland route.  Keep in mind that there is a $100 USD fee to enter Galápagos National Park, which is collected upon arrival to your first island.

Take time to understand why this otherworldly environment was the inspiration for Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. On the Galápagos archipelago you can find sea lions, marine iguanas, blue-footed boobies, Darwin’s finches, Galápagos penguins, and frigate birds. Swim with marine iguanas, sharks, seabirds, and sea turtles. The Galápagos Islands are truly a naturalist’s paradise.

I’d recommend flying into Seymour Airport on the island of Baltra. From here, you’ll be a very short ferry ride away from Santa Cruz Island. On your way from the airport and the ferry, explore the highlands and look for the giant tortoises, but please don’t get too close to the wildlife. 

Continue down to Puerto Ayora where you can visit the Charles Darwin Research Station and take a short hike to an amazing volcanic swimming hole called Las Grietas. Also on Santa Cruz, visiting Tortuga Bay is a must-do, one of the largest white sand beaches in the Galápagos. Kayaking and snorkeling with the white tipped reef sharks was one of the coolest things I’ve done in my life. Something about staring down a shark, all alone in the water, is exhilarating.   

solo travel galapagos islands kayaking under30experiences

As I mentioned before, the Galápagos Islands are very protected, so there are a lot of restrictions on which islands you can visit and when. When you arrive on Santa Cruz Island, you can book day trips to various uninhabited islands like Santa Fé or Bartolomé. This will give you an even more extraordinary look at nature. You will need to be accompanied by a local Galápagos Island guide who will be able to give you excellent explanations of the flora and fauna. 

After a few days on Santa Cruz Island, take a speedboat to Isabela, the largest island, and home of six volcanoes. Hike the Sierra Negra Volcano to the second largest crater in the world.  Keep in mind that the Galápagos Islands are on the equator (“ ecuador ” means “equator” in Spanish!) so the sun will be extremely intense. Bring plenty of water, wear sunscreen, and do not hike at midday.  Here is what to pack for the Galápagos . 

To round out your trip to Isabela, snorkel Concha de Perla, bike the Wall of Tears, and visit Poza de Flamingos. Take another boat trip to Islote Las Tintoreras for another look at the sharks! 

Inland Ecuador 

There is so much to do in the interior of Ecuador, from the Andes Mountains to the Amazon Rainforest. Puyo is the gateway to the Amazon, where you could visit one of the many wildlife rescue organizations in this area. Reserva de Cuyabeno is an amazing place to spot wildlife including tapir, jaguars, pumas, dolphins, and manatee. Enter the park with an indigenous guide in a motorized canoe. Be sure to go for a nature walk and learn about medicinal plants. 

Ride the scenic Devil’s Nose Train through the Andes for a hair-raising ride…but only if you like heights. Alternatively, ride the Ice Train in Riobamba. 

Cuenca is a beautiful Spanish-influenced city, and known as Ecuador’s capital of culture, filled with art, history, and architecture. Visit the Pumapungo archeological site, for a deeper look at ancient civilization. Few people know that Ecuador has their own section of the “Inca Trail” that is less famous than Peru that leads to Ingapirca, the largest Incan site in Ecuador.

Solo Travel Destinations in Peru

Working your way south through Latin America as a solo traveler, Peru is a country that should not be missed. There are coastal beaches, incredible jungles at the Amazon Basin, magical highlands through the Sacred Valley, and so much more. Indigenous culture is so rich everywhere you look in Peru and the food has become world renown. Have you booked your flight yet?!

I’ve been to Lima many times, but it’s not for everyone. Traffic is intense and the pollution is bad, but I always enjoy a few days in this sprawling metropolis. Usually, it’s because the food is so damn good!  

Stay in the Miraflores neighborhood where there will be plenty of fun activities within walking distance.  You’ll have the best air quality rolling off the Pacific Ocean, and beautiful cliff side parks to explore along Costa Verde or the Green Coast.  Playa Makaha is a great consistent wave for beginner surfers who want to learn. Walk up Malecón Balta to Parque Kennedy to see all the cats who live there and are cared for by the locals. Barranco is the up and coming artsy neighborhood you’ll want to visit for boutique stores, restaurants, and bars built in restored art deco mansions.  

Finally, when in Lima , it’s obligatory to visit “Centro”, or the center of Lima, where all the impressive government buildings are. See the changing of the guard ceremony at noon any day at Plaza de Armas, and eat at Restaurante El Cordano, where the Presidents of Peru have been eating for over 100 years! Visit one of the many cathedrals including Iglesia de La Merced,  Convento de Santo Domingo, Catedral de Lima, and go underground to the tombs of the monastery Basílica y Convento de San Francisco de Lima. 

My first night in Cusco, I went for a walk on a crisp clear evening, and I said to myself “I can’t believe a place on earth like this exists.” I love Cusco! The best time to visit Cusco is during South American winter when it is cold and dry in this area of the Andes Mountains, making May - September a great target date range.

 In Cusco, you will see the juxtaposition of old world Incan culture with Spanish architecture, sometimes literally built on top of the indigenous sites. When you arrive in Cusco, you’ll find yourself at over 11,000 feet (3,352 meters) of elevation, so take it easy and grab a handful of coca leaves to chew, which is the local remedy for altitude sickness. 

Most solo travelers stay within walking distance of Plaza de Armas, the main square in Cusco. If you stay outside the square, I highly recommend Hotel Torre Dorada . It’s locally owned, has top-notch service, and offers a shuttle to the plaza. I consider it my home away from home in Cusco!    

Be sure to visit the historic sites like Qorikancha, the Cusco Cathedral, and the Inca Museum. If you are acclimating for the Inca Trail, I’d suggest getting some exercise and taking the stairs from the San Blas neighborhood up to the Jesus statue at Cristo Blanco for an amazing view of Cusco, and then continuing to Saksaywaman, one of the most mysterious archeological sites in the world.  

There is so much to do in Cusco , but again, eating and drinking should be high on your list. Have a coca tea on the balcony of the café Cappuccino and hit the Pisco Museum for a pisco sour, a cocktail made from their famous local brandy. A few of my favorite restaurants are La Fería, Inka Grill, and Ciccolina. Eating cuy, or guinea pig, is a local delicacy, as well as lomo saltado de alpaca (yes, the cousin of the llama)!  But don’t worry, there are plenty of dining options for everyone...Vegetarians and vegans will be in heaven, as health conscious chefs from around the world have opened restaurants in Cusco.  

Finally, the market with the best local souvenirs is Mercado Artesanal on Avenida El Sol.  If you are into seeing interesting foreign produce, meats, and juices, check out San Pedro Market. Healing House Cusco has excellent massages and yoga for your ailing body after the Inca Trail!

Thanks to Instagram, the Rainbow Mountains have emerged as one of the hottest new destinations in South America.  Book a full day trip from Cusco to this high altitude adventure! 

Exploring the Parque de la Papa, Peru solo travel destinations under30experiences

‍ Sacred Valley

Continue your journey towards Machu Picchu by going down to a lower elevation in the Sacred Valley.  This area is home to Under30Experiences’s community project where we work with local indigenous farmers and textile workers. Do not miss the artisan market in Chinchero, one of the best places in Peru to buy their hand woven goods. Try to negotiate in Spanish, but remember, many of the people in this rural area speak Quechua, the native language. If you want your fix of Inca archeological sites, I’d recommend purchasing the Cusco Tourist Ticket that gets you access to Pisac, Ollantaytambo, Chinchero, and Moroy.  

Machu Picchu

The only way to arrive at Machu Picchu without hiking is by train. Your two choices are the Inca Rail and PeruRail. They are relatively the same, but Inca Rail has better branding and a little more upscale l. This train ride through the Urubamba Valley is truly spectacular. Get an incredible glimpse of Veronica Mountain that will inspire you to hike the high altitude Salkantay Trek. The Lares Trail is another great alternative to the Inca Trail. Both are on my bucket list! 

The Machu Picchu archeological site is incredible, and as they say, it’s difficult to take a bad picture of the place. Machu Picchu is also a tremendous moneymaker for the country, and during peak months, it’s not uncommon to feel overwhelmed with the amount of people visiting this New 7th Wonder of the World. The Minister of Tourism is working hard to regulate the amount of people who can visit Machu Picchu per day, and to make the guided tours through the site feel more orderly. I always tell people that the Sacred Valley is the real highlight of Peru and Machu Picchu is just the cherry on top.

Machu Pcchu, Peru travel couple solo travel destinations

Inca Trail 

Simply put, arriving at Machu Picchu via the four day, three night Inca Trail trek was one of the highlights of my life. This trek is highly regulated by the Peruvian government, so you’ll need to book your tickets a year in advance, especially if you want to hike during the dry season of May-September. Only 500 people are allowed on the trail per day, and this includes guides, porters, and cooks who accompany you on your trek. To go on this adventure you’ll need to join a group Inca Trail hike , where your equipment will be supplied for you and permits are arranged on your behalf.  Most solo travelers’ biggest question is about the difficulty of the hike, to which I always answer a 2.5 out of 3, or “intermediate-advanced” level.  You’ll be hiking up over the grueling Dead Woman’s Pass at nearly 13,000 feet (3,962 meters), so I suggest training, but if you exercise regularly you should be able to complete this hike. Your fearless porters will be doing most of the work by carrying your equipment, so all you’ll need to do is focus on carrying yourself, your water supply, and snacks in your day pack. Here is what to pack for the Inca Trail .

The Amazon Basin of Peru

If you want a well-rounded trip to Peru, where you feel that you saw the coast, the Andes Mountains, and the Amazon, you’ll need to venture into the jungle. The two main areas I’d recommend in Peru’s Amazon Basin are Iquitos and Puerto Maldonado. These branches of the Amazon River have many eco-lodges from rustic to luxury to suit your fancy. You’ll most likely want to fly into Iquitos or Puerto Maldonado, unless you are a glutton for punishment and want to be on a bus for multiple days. 

Then, once you arrive in Iquitos or Puerto Maldonado, the only way into most of the ecolodges is via boat, where you’ll get to look for jaguars, tapirs, giant river otters, parrots, macaws monkeys, sloths, piranhas, and pink river dolphins. You are sure to see locals selling ayahuasca journeys, a traditional Amazonian psychedelic, but this ceremonial medicine is not something to take lightly. Beware of fake shamans, do your research, and remember you are literally going to be up a creek without a paddle.    

Lake Titicaca    

Finally, if you can get to Lake Titicaca you won’t regret it. Take the train from Cusco, but keep in mind if you are having trouble with the altitude, this train ride will bring you up over 14,000 feet (4,267 meters).  Take a boat from Puno to visit the islands in this freshwater lake, inhabited by the Uru people. For a bonus experience, cross into Bolivia after Lake Titicaca to explore the Uyuni Salt Flat.

Solo Travel Destinations in Chile

Chile is home to some of the most magnificent landscapes in the world. This long, skinny country that stretches 2,653 miles (4,270 kilometers) is a solo traveler’s dream to explore.  

Northern Chile and the Atacama Desert

If you are on a long solo trip from Peru and/or Bolivia, your first destination in the north of Chile should be San Pedro de Atacama, a small town in the Atacama Desert. Here you’ll find salt flats, geysers, and blue lagoons on this high Andean plateau. It’s one of the best places in the world for stargazing with clear nights and incredible observatories. 

Take a day trip to El Tatio geysers for a swim. See pink flamingos at Laguna de Chaxa in Reserva Nacional Los Flamencos , as well as Death Valley or Valle de la Muerte .  In the same park, check out the “Valley of the Moon”. With a name like that, you probably don’t want to miss it! ‍

You may have heard of civil unrest in Chile in 2019, but the protests went away quickly after strict government COVID-19 lockdowns.  If you are concerned about the safety of the country, understand that the riots have stopped, and that nearly all the unrest was in Santiago, so if you plan to go to Patagonia or Atacama, this wouldn’t have affected you much.  

Santiago is a modern city that is one of the most developed in Latin America. It is surrounded by snow capped mountains much like Denver, Colorado. You might even want to watch the sunset from the top of the Sky Costanera skyscraper.  

If you've been reading my guides to solo travel you know I can’t write one without recommending a cable car ride to see a city from above. Visit Metropolitan Park ( Parque Tupahue aka Parque Metropolitano ) for the zoo, botanical gardens, and ride the Teleférico Santiago for the beautiful view.  

Santiago is full of landmark buildings with impressive architecture. Plaza de Armas, La Moneda Palace, and the Metropolitan Cathedral are three areas you might want to check out.  Santiago also boasts several museums including the Fine Arts Museum ( Bellas Artes ), Museo Interactivo Mirador, and the Casa Museo La Chascona. To find street art, good coffee shops, and local food, check out the Bohemian neighborhood of Barrio Bellavista. Cerro Santa Lucia is a great little park for a sunny day. Finally, escape the city into the countryside for a vineyard tour or go skiing at Valle Nevado.

An hour from Santiago, Valparaíso is a coastal city where many Chileans from the capital vacation. This city boomed before the Panama Canal with boats from Europe traveling to take advantage of California’s gold rush. 

Share the local delicacy chorrillana, a plate of french fries with egg, sausage, and other meats piled on top.  My wife is Chilean and grew up coming to Valpo… I wonder if this heart attack on a plate inspired her to be vegetarian!

Barrio Concepción is a great way to get a good look at local art and culture, like the massive murals. You could walk up the hill to see sunset, but again, you know I’m a fan of funiculars like Ascensor Concepción . At the time of this writing the lift is being renovated, so you might still need to walk. Concepción is one of the best areas for souvenir shopping. Parque Cultural de Valparaíso is a great place to see people dancing and hanging out on top of an old Spanish Fort. Calle Cumming is a great place to find a bar for a pisco sour, and if you really want to see culture, look out for a traditional Chilean tango bar. 

The beach town to the north of Valaparíso is called Viña del Mar and is considered to be the Miami of Chile. The National Botanical Gardens and the popular beach Playa Renaca area are two of the best outdoor places to check out. If you can’t make it to Easter Island, head to the Francisco Fonck Museum to see the authentic Moai in the garden, straight from Rapa Nui. For some adventure, explore the Concon Dunes, and try your hand at sandboarding. If you go during the summer, wear shoes and avoid midday, as the sand gets very hot! 

Patagonia and Torres del Paine ‍

As you work your way south through Chile, fly to Puerto Arenas and then take a 3-hour bus ride to Puerto Natales, your last stop in civilization. From this gateway town, hike the W shaped circuit through Torres del Paine National Park that will take 4-5 days. Patagonia is an expensive trip, but a once in a lifetime experience. If you are going to spend the money, check out EcoCamp Patagonia , an incredible sustainable dome shaped hotel. From Torres del Paine, look to visit Argentinian Patagonia and take a bus to El Calafate. ‍

Torres del Paine National Park south america solo travel destinations Chile

‍ Easter Island ‍

Known as Isla de Pasqua in Spanish and Rapa Nui locally, this volcanic island is 2,300 miles (3,701 kilometers) west of Chile in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. After a nearly six hour flight on LATAM from Santiago, you’ll actually be in the Polynesian triangle. Pay an ~$83 USD National Park Entrance fee to enter the island. Everyone goes to these remote islands to see the moai, or ancient face carvings, from 1250-1500 AD. Relax on beautiful beaches like Anakena and see the freshwater lake in Rano Kao Volcano. 

Solo Travel Destinations in Argentina

Argentina is a beautiful country to explore, starting with the cosmopolitan capital of Buenos Aires, often known as the “Paris of South America”. Argentina is known for its red meat and wine, so fuel up and then go see a polo match before heading south to Patagonia for some world-class hiking and kayaking. Finish your trip with the breathtaking Iguazú Falls.    

Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires is a big city with a European feel. Puerto Madero is one of the top attractions in the city, with modern architecture, spendier restaurants, nightlife, and a great place to stroll similar to the London Docklands. For a reprieve into nature nearby this neighborhood, check out the Reserva Ecológica Costanera Sur, with 900 acres of free nature walks. Buenos Aires is also a top pick for many LGBTQIA+ travelers, as the community has many gay friendly businesses.         

La Fería Mataderos is a more off the beaten path experience where locals go to listen to live music, tango, and shop at the street fair. Recoleta is another great weekend flea market to check out right in the center of the city. If you like beautiful architecture, consider touring the French Tudor style homestead Círculo Militar, and Palacio Barolo for a great view of the city.  For a better understanding of local culture, check out La Boca and the Caminito Street Museum for its colorful homes, outdoor markets, art, and music.

There are lots of ways to escape BA to get out of the hustle and bustle of the city. Take a ferry to Uruguay for a day trip and explore Colonia del Sacramento, the Portuguese influenced UNESCO heritage site. See the Argentinian countryside and understand Gaucho cowboy culture. For a high-end activity, take a polo lesson, or visit an estancia, or polo club, for a match.  Finally, consider visiting El Tigre, a town often compared to Venice, Italy to check out the old fruit harbor, craft market, and mate tea museum. 

Argentinian Patagonia 

If you explored Chilean Patagonia, cross the border at El Calafate to enter Argentina, where you’ll find yourself near the end of the Patagonian Ice Field. Enter Los Glaciares National Park and head to El Chaltén. Hike Laguna de los Tres and try to see Monte Fitz Roy. But don't plan on climbing this one unless you are a mountaineer, as it’s notoriously more difficult than Mount Everest. Back in El Calafate, take a boat ride to get up close and personal with Perito Moreno Glacier.  

If you’ve always wanted to visit “The End of the World” fly to Ushuaia from Buenos Aires or Santiago, Chile to access Tierra del Fuego National Park. Look for penguins on a boat through Beagle Channel at Isla Martillo, or choose to kayak with a guide. Take the Southern Fuegian Railway tourist train for a nice sightseeing excursion.  

Iguazú Falls

From Buenos Aires fly to Cataratas del Iguazú International Airport (IGR) and stay in the town of Puerto Iguazú. Legend has it that upon setting eyes on Iguazú Falls, First Lady of the United States Elanor Roosevelt exclaimed, “Poor Niagara!” This set of 150-300 waterfalls is located in Iguazú National Park on the Argentinian side and Iguaçu National Park on the Brazilian side. Take the time to see the falls from both sides and hike these parks. Here is a great trail map of Iguazú Falls . Bring your own reusable poncho and hike beneath the falls on the Brazilian side at Trilha das Cataratas. If you are continuing your trip through Brazil, fly to São Paulo or Rio de Janeiro from Foz do Iguaçu International Airport (IGU).

Iguazú Falls in Argentica south america solo travel destnations

Solo Travel Destinations in Brazil

Many people are apprehensive about visiting Brazil as a solo traveler as safety can be a concern. In my experience, you should take extra precaution, especially in major cities like Rio de Janeiro, keep your valuables locked up, and don’t walk alone at night. Be aware on the beaches and never leave your stuff unattended. Not so many people speak English in Brazil, but I was able to use my Spanish to speak Portunhol the way non-Spanish speakers might speak Spanglish in Hispanic countries.  All that being said, Brazil is an incredible, culturally rich country and I recommend exploring! 

Rio de Janeiro ‍

There is so much to do in Rio de Janeiro! I suggest staying at least three days, but spending a week here would fly by, in my opinion. I stayed at Casa Cool Beans in the hip neighborhood of Santa Teresa. These guys really took care of me and had endless recommendations for what to do and see. I loved sitting at the neighborhood bar, and really appreciated how welcoming the locals were, as they share beer and Brazilian barbecue on the streets. Ride the old street car in Santa Teresa and walk down the Selarón steps in search of a caipirinha, the national cocktail of Brazil.

Selaron Steps in Rio de Janeiro Brazil  South America solo travel countries under30experiences

‍ The world-famous Christ the Redeemer statue is a must-see in Rio de Janeiro. I’m not a fan of ultra-popular tourist sites, but I arrived early before the crowds to get a view of this incredible coastal city from the top of Corcovado Mountain. There is a lot of hiking in Tijuca National Park, but I wouldn’t recommend hiking alone as a solo traveler in Brazil. It’d be a good idea to hire a local guide or make friends with another traveler at your hostel.

After Tijuca National Park take a stroll through the Rio de Janeiro Botanical Gardens for your moment of zen.  These walking paths are a very safe place to stretch your legs. Bring your appetite and feast at a traditional Brazilian churrascaria, or steakhouse. Go out on a Friday night to the Arcos da Lapa district and catch a samba show.

To shake off the fog the next morning I hiked Dois Irmãos, in the Vidigal Favela. I know entering a favela sounds scary, but I went with a friend who lived in Vidigal teaching English.  She is a petite, fair skinned, North American, and she never had any problems.  This was several years ago, so ask around about safety. Here is a great guide to hiking Dois Iramãos . 

Next up, going to the top of the famous Pão de Açúcar, or Sugarloaf Mountain, is a fantastic experience. There is a well-traveled hike up Morro da Urca , and then continue up the cable car, or go with a guide and climbing gear to the summit of Sugarloaf . No prior climbing experience is necessary and the views from the top are so worth it.      

Finally, if you want to reach Brazilian pro-status, you’ll need to attend a soccer game. Seeing a game at Maracanã is like telling a baseball fan you went to Fenway Park or an American Football fan you’ve been to Lambeau Field. It’s a legendary environment, just be aware of your surroundings outside the stadium as things can get rowdy!   

solo travel latin america

São Paulo is the third largest city in the world, and while most people choose to visit Rio de Janeiro, no solo travel guide to Brazil can leave out this metropolis. Ethnic groups from all over the world have chosen São Paulo as home. Be sure to visit the Liberdade District, the largest Japanese community outside of Japan, and enjoy the Asian markets, cuisine, and celebration of culture. Paulista Avenue is home to mansions of former coffee plantation owners, many museums, theaters , and the financial district of Brazil. Rent a bike and cruise around Ibirapuera Park, São Paulo’s version of Central Park. São Paulo is part of the Atlantic Forest, so the parks are full of interesting flora and fauna. 

Solo travelers to Brazil love the colonial city of Salvador, home to one of the country’s largest Carnival celebrations. The culture in this Afro-Brazilian city is warm and vibrant, but take time to understand Salvador’s historical significance as a sugar and slave trade hub. See the Pelourinho neighborhood and shop, eat, and dance to your heart’s content. Enjoy famous Brazilian dishes like moqueca, a coconut based fish stew, and catch a live capoeira show right on the street. Pack your bathing suit for time at beaches like Porto de Barra, Flamengo, and Stella Maris.

Go west from Salvador and check out off the beaten path in Chapada Diamantina National Park.  Here is what to pack for Brazil ! ‍

Foz do Iguaçu

I cover solo travel to Iguaçu Falls in the Argentina section of this guide.  In that section you will also find tips for the Brazilian side of the falls.

Trips for solo travelers : Learn why more than 70% of our travelers are solo travelers!

South America is an incredibly beautiful part of the world to explore. Backpacking or solo travel through this continent can be quite inexpensive if you are mindful of your budget. Be sure to support the local economies, and use your dollars to vote for the type of world you want. Many of these areas rely on tourism and the little money you spend is much appreciated. Look to spend money locally rather than at corporate or government run places. Spend your money directly with the people and support small businesses. Travel sustainably, protect the environment, and have fun!   

For more information on solo travel check out my book, The Millennial Travel Guidebook: Escape More, Spend Less, and Make Travel a Priority in Your Life .

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19 Frequent Travelers Shared Their Best Travel Hacks And Underrated Destinations In Latin America

"I am a solo female traveler. I never felt unsafe in Mexico. I am in Mexico City right now."

Kristen Harris

BuzzFeed Staff

Recently, I asked the BuzzFeed Community , "What advice would you give to people who are planning to solo travel in Latin America?"

Here are 19 tips and recommendations for solo traveling in latin america:.

Some responses are also from this Reddit thread by u/TheMakeUpBoy and this Reddit thread by u/zbr13.

First, here are some travel hacks and general advice for visiting Latin American:

1. "just spent 12 years in nicaragua. best advice: learn spanish, learn spanish, learn spanish".

dora the explorer

2. "Generally, I'd recommend keeping a picture of your passport on your phone, as police sometimes stop to check you're not overstaying your visa."

woman at the airport

— u/UnconditionalMay

3. "I spent 10 months in South America and just over a year in Central America and had an amazing time. Take a reusable water bottle with a built-in filter so you can fill up from any fresh water source and have safe, clean drinking water — you'll avoid getting sick from drinking dodgy water, save money from not buying bottled water, and reduce plastic waste too!"

woman drinking water

"Aside from that, take your time and enjoy!"

— clairesturz

4. "Theft in hostels wasn't uncommon, so lock your shit up."

person zipping a suitcase

5. "I found the best advice was from either hostel staff or other travelers I met along the way."

person checking into a hotel

6. "I traveled South America solo as a female over land and air, from Argentina to Venezuela through Chile, Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, Brazil, and Ecuador. Leave your valuables at home. Blend in. Be polite to everyone. Don't act like a tourist, pull out maps, have your bulging wallet in a pocket, or wear a bum bag."

person taking a photo

"I kept a credit card in a hidden pocket (cargo pants pocket near the shin), enough bus or taxi fare to get home in another hidden or zipped pocket, and the smallest amount of cash to pull out for drinks, food, small purchases etc. Any rearranging of pockets was done in the toilets unseen."

— u/Truantone

7. "Just remember, people are people wherever you go, and people in Central and South America are extremely warm and friendly. Don't be afraid to use what Spanish you know. If you run out of Spanish, just smile and communicate with your hands and eyes. They will smile and help you."

people getting picked up at the airport

—  u/craig_j

Now, here are tips for visiting specific countries and cities:

8. "peru was more difficult to travel around in. driving anywhere via bus will take a while due to the mountainous roads. we flew to most of our destinations to save time.".

mountain views from the plane

— u/Bubba_Junior

9. "I travelled as a solo female in Peru for a month and didn't feel unsafe. I was also a bit nervous about transportation, so I opted to use PeruHop , which is a hop-on/hop-off bus service that runs from Lima down to Arequipa and back up to Cusco. I found it took a lot of the stress out of trying to get around, plus they helped book hostels and activities."

cityscape

— u/brigidsbollix

10. "I stayed in Havana, Cuba in a 'casa particular' [a private accommodation, similar to a bed and breakfast], which was kinda neat because you got the hostel crowd staying there, but you also get to see the locals more. In my case, it was a whole family who ran the casa particular."

old buildings in havana

— u/SolidardadLibertaria

11. "Tour buses can be reserved from one of the fancy hotels in old Havana. I took one to Viñales, but you can also take a taxi colectivo [share taxi] out there too."

people on a tour bus

12. "Costa Rica lacked good public transportation. Our first trip, we took shuttle vans that we reserved beforehand, which was $20–$50 for each leg. I would highly recommend avoiding that and renting your own car."

person getting out of their car by the ocean

"Most things are spread out quite far, so driving is nice."

13. "In Colombia and Ecuador, try to get your hotel or restaurant to call for a cab rather than hailing one on the street."

hotel front desk on the phone

— u/craig_j

And now, here are some recommendations for places solo travelers should visit:

14. "i'm very biased because my mom is from there, but quito, ecuador is a wonderful city to visit there's so much to do, and the food is delicious (and relatively cheap). you can easily get around on the bus for 25 cents or less, or use taxis, which will run you $5–10, depending on how far you need to go (sometimes even less) and are usually safe.".

person with a city behind them

"For women, if you feel safer using an app instead of taxis, try DiDi. It's the equivalent to Uber. I found it easy to use. 

The city is massive — seriously, don't underestimate it — but a few places I’d recommend are the Virgen del Panecillo monument (easy to get a bus there) and the historic center, which is full of beautifully preserved churches & historic buildings that you can tour solo or with a guide (available in English) for $30 or so. 

There's also a teleférico [an aerial lift, similar to the Disney Skyliner] and museums with free days — just check in advance. Last summer, I even went to an adorable classic movie theater that I'd never been to before, and it was amazing! Sadly, I don't remember what it's called, but it shouldn't be too hard to find.

There's also the Mitad del Mundo attraction with exhibits of all the regions of Ecuador, great food, and souvenir shops. 

Lastly, don't forget to check out Baños. It's a short drive out of the city, also accessible by bus, and has so many options for outdoor adventures (zip lining, swing that goes over a cliff, bike trails, waterfall, etc.). As with anywhere, be mindful of your items and of your surroundings, especially try to be careful when using your phone (grip it tightly, don't be obvious, keep it in an inaccessible location), and you should be fine."

— yourfavoritebibliophile

15. "Don't count out Guatemala! Hike an active volcano, explore Mayan ruins, and chill in Antigua."

volcano

— u/TinKicker

16. "So, I have to speak up about Honduras. From Belize, you can drive to a city called Omoa. Then you take a ferry to the Bay Islands. Google them; they're amazing and super cheap."

picnic tables in the water shaded with straw umbrellas

"If you make it down here, you won't want to ever leave."

17. "Visit Peru! You must come here! You have Lima, the Latin American capital of gastronomy. Then, you can visit Arequipa, which is really beautiful, and you cannot leave Peru without visiting Cusco (including Cusco City, Sacred Valley, and Machu Picchu). Believe me, you won't regret! And it is very cheap for you that will come with euros."

city view of peru

— u/dianavg12

18. "I am a solo female traveler. I never felt unsafe in Mexico. I am in Mexico City right now."

view of mexico city

"The culture, music, food, museums, and parks are so rich."

— u/laureire

19. And finally: "I went to Costa Rica as a solo woman specifically because it's one of the safest countries in the Americas. The experience was better than home."

waterfall

"I highly recommend the Guanacaste area during low season."

— u/egusisoupandgarri

If you've ever solo traveled, what tips and recommendations do you have for visiting your favorite destinations? Share your answers in the comments!

Some entries have been edited for length/clarity.

Join BuzzFeed in celebrating Latine Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15.

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7 Day Cusco Travel Package: Cusco, Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu, Humantay Lake, and Rainbow Mountain.

My friend and I had a fantastic experience with Freddy's tour. Our guide, David, was very kind, and Wilson, our driver, was reliable. David was knowledgeable and provided us with interesting historical facts and insights into the local culture. The vehicle was always on time and ready for us. If I ever return to Cusco, I'll definitely consider booking another tour with Kantu Peru tours. Thank you for a great experience!

La Paz to Buenos Aires: Andes & the Atacama Desert Tour

La Paz to Buenos Aires: Andes & the Atacama Desert

Excellent tour. Good choice of accommodations and an amazing Trip Leader Angeles!

Lima to Buenos Aires: Deserts & Dancing Tour

Lima to Buenos Aires: Deserts & Dancing

A really good mix of hiking, culture, and exploration. I really enjoyed this tour, as it covers so many places that aren't otherwise accessible on your own. Arguable, Inca Trail was the highlight, but there was so much more. Ballesta Islands, Lake Titicaca, the Yungas Road in Bolivia, steak in Salta, etc etc. I enjoyed Bolivia much more than I expected (the museums in Potosi were world class). You have free time to explore the big cities such as La Paz on your own if you choose. Only downside were some inflexibility in restaurant choice. Overall a good trip I'll remember for a long time.

Epic Patagonia Tour

Epic Patagonia

We did the Epic Patagonia trip through OneSeed. I cannot tell you how great everything was. Our guide was amazing! He was extremely knowledgeable, friendly and helpful. We have never done an organized trip before and was hesitant to be a part of one as we tend to like to do our own thing. This was beyond our expectations. All the other group members (5 in total) were awesome and made the trip more enjoyable. It was really nice to just have to show up and hike and have all the arraignments taken care for us. OneSeed such a great job planning all the details and everything worked out wonderfully. I would highly recommend not only the Epic Patagonia trip but booking it with OneSeed!

5 Day Cusco Travel Package: Cusco, Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu, and Maras Moray. Tour

5 Day Cusco Travel Package: Cusco, Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu, and Maras Moray.

I highly recommend booking the 5 day Cusco travel package. It was truly worth every penny as we had an incredible time throughout. The services provided were exceptionally well-organized, and every person who assisted us was highly professional. We are grateful for the outstanding experience and would like to express our thanks to the entire team. This travel agency comes highly recommended!.

The Lure of Central America (Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua) Tour

The Lure of Central America (Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua)

Reviews of latin america solo tours.

What an amazing organisation. Our thanks go out to Wendy, Rose, Sam and Alberto. We never knew who did what, you did it so seamlessly (the phone numbers were a hint). Your daily messages on WhatsApp were so helpful. We would like to express our gratitude and admiration for your team. The prompt reply to any queries we had and the coordination of our pickups and delivery, made our trip extremely comfortable and trouble free. Our thanks to all, Beth and Derick.
I really really enjoyed my trip. Met lots of wonderful people including our exceptional guide, Ilsen and had SO many amazing experiences!! I will definitely be booking with G Adventures again! It really does take all the stress out of travelling and I especially enjoyed having a local guide who taught us so much about the cultures of the countries we were in!
Excursions were spot on. Got to see everything we wanted to see and more. They were well organized and someone was there to pick you up and drop you off as planned. All staff were very friendly and helpful. The hotels were a little underwhelming and could be improved upon. I am still giving Waman a 10 for the experience.

More Tours in Latin America for Singles and Solo Travellers

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International Versions

  • Deutsch: Rundreisen für Alleinreisende & Singlereisen in Lateinamerika
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  • Español: América Latina circuitos para viajeros solos
  • Nederlands: Single reizen in Latijns-Amerika

Southerner Says

8 Best South American Cities for Solo Female Travelers

Are you looking for the best South American cities for solo female travelers? Good thing I have travel blogger friends from all over the world that can help. As a solo traveler myself, I’m always interested in finding the safest destinations for women who want to travel alone.

This article is the next in a series to empower and equip solo female travelers to travel the world safely, whether it be to Europe , Mexico, Canada or the United States.

These recommendations come from female travelers writers who have spent time in, and even live in, these South American cities and provide valuable information for solo female travelers.

This post contains affiliate links. That means I may receive a commission, at no extra cost to you if you book or buy something from a link I provide. This keeps Southerner Says online and on the road

Best South American Cities For Solo Female Travelers

Traveling solo as a female can be challenging and at times. To feel comfortable alone in a destination, it must be safe, because safety is always the top priority , it must be easy to get around in and bonus points if the people are friendly and the currency is easy to use.

The cities on this South America list fit the bill. Known for being super welcoming to visitors and having plenty of attractions and things to do to keep solo travelers busy, you can’t go wrong. Which city will you visit first?

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Contributed by Erin at SolSalute.com

Buenos Aires is a lively metropolis and the capital of Argentina (both politically and culturally). It’s an ideal location and one of the best South American cities for solo female travelers with its endless activities and excellent network of fellow travelers and expats.

Hostels like Millhouse downtown have large social areas to mingle and meet fellow solo travelers yet the rooms are set far enough apart to be quiet for rest.

To get to Buenos Aires, most international flights into Ezeiza International Airport (EZE) are overnight, allowing you to arrive rested – hopefully – from a night’s sleep on the plane. The local currency is the peso.

Check the exchange rates before traveling because at times there exists a black market rate that is much more advantageous than what you’ll get from ATM’s (to access this rate try Western Union transfers). The language is Spanish but it’s a unique version called Rioplatense Spanish, heavily influenced by its many waves of immigrants in the 20th century. 

Once here, explore the many Buenos Aires neighborhoods . Rather than a checklist of landmarks, it’s the different neighborhoods that makes Buenos Aires special. Wander through Palermo Soho to window shop, see the city’s best street art, and people watch from sidewalk cafes.

In Recoleta, visit the cemetery and admire the city’s biggest mansions. In San Telmo, wander through historic colonial streets with a bohemian feel.

There are a number of walking tours for street art, wine tasting, and restaurant hopping that are great ways to meet fellow solo travelers as well. Much of Buenos Aires’ charm is hard to find on the surface and tours with a local are highly recommended.

Check out these Buenos Aires hotels:

  • Buenos Aires Marriott
  • Hilton Buenos Aires
  • InterContinental Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires

Cusco, Peru

Contributed by Megan at PackingUpThePieces.com

One of the best South America Cities for solo female travelers is the Imperial City of Cusco Peru. Step back in time, wander the charming cobblestone streets and see relics left behind by the fascinating Inca Empire.

This must-see city has its own airport and has a major public transportation hub that connects to domestic and international South America bus terminals. Be mindful of the altitude, Cusco sits at a staggering 11,152 feet.

Cusco is easy to navigate with a slick public transportation system, frequent collectivos (vans) departures, and both short and long distance buses. Peru uses the currency of Sols and is a Spanish speaking country.

In Cusco, you will hear some English, but not in the local markets or neighborhoods. Since it is a popular tourist destination, tours companies always offer English speaking guides. As you move away from the city, it’s possible to hear Quechua, the language of the indigenous people.

There are so many awesome things to do in Cusco . Visit the impressive Inca sites. A majority are included on the popular Cusco Tourist Ticket, but curious travelers can hike in the towering hillsides to appreciate the many free Inca ruins that are rarely frequented by tourists.

Cusco has a plethora of bustling markets, a charming bohemian neighborhood, San Blas, cute cafes, inviting plazas, interesting museums, and a fun culinary scene. Casa Rivero has private rooms a few blocks from the Plaza de Armas and is the perfect base to explore Cusco.

Cusco is the gateway to the famous Machu Picchu. Adventurous travelers can tackle a multi-day trek to see the “Lost City,” but there’s also trains, buses, or tours. No matter which method you choose, all roads lead to Machu Picchu.

There’s also nearby attractions like the Rainbow Mountain, Lake Humantay, and the unmissable Sacred Valley. The Sacred Valley is home to sprawling Inca sites, salt mines, and adorable villages. Travel deeper to the over-looked South Valley, which is portal to the breathtaking Ausangate Trek and the hidden Waqrapukara ruins.

Cusco is such a tourist friendly city, but also has so much to offer those looking to “get off the beaten path.”

Check out these Cusco hotels:

  • Hotel Casa San Blas
  • Ramada by Wyndham Costa del Sol
  • Hotel Encantada Boutique Spa

a viewpoint of the city in Cusco, Peru one of the best South American cities for solo female travelers

Quito, Ecuador

Contributed by Carly at HomeToHavana.com

Home to Latin America’s largest and best-preserved historic center, soaring mountains, and an incredible cultural heritage Quito has so much to offer travelers – including solo female travelers.

Increasingly a hub for backpackers, expats, and digital nomads, it is easy to meet potential travel companions or new friends along the way. Ecuador’s official language is Spanish and the country uses the U.S. dollar, making it particularly easy to visit for travelers from the United States.

A trip to Quito isn’t complete without exploring the historic center, including the presidential palace, Iglesia de San Francisco, and the incredible Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesus, famous for appearing to be completely covered with gold inside.

The best way to enjoy the views of this city’s streets and buildings creeping up the mountains and hills in the valley is by heading up the clocktowers and spire at the Basilica. Complete your time here by visiting the Equator at Mitad del Mundo.

If you’re looking for where to stay in Quito , consider The Secret Garden both for dorm beds in a hostel and private rooms. This friendly hostel is the perfect mix of social and relaxed to cater to all kinds of travelers.

Even if you don’t plan on staying in the hostel, visit the rooftop for a sunset drink – the views of the Historic Center are truly spectacular. After staying at The Secret Garden Quito, head to their sister hostel, The Secret Garden Cotopaxi, for a retreat in Cotopaxi National Park at one of South America’s most stunning hostels.

Check out these other hotels in Quito:

  • JW Marriott Quito
  • Hotel Quito
  • La Casona de Ronda

The cathedral spires in Quito, Ecuador

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Contributed by Victoria at GuideYourTravel.com

Rio de Janeiro is often overlooked by solo female travelers but is actually a beautiful and unmissable city. While there are certainly more dangerous neighborhoods, a large part of the city is very tourist oriented and great for solo travelers.

To be safe use these travel safety tips and avoid going out in the evening by yourself and stay in a hostel if possible to make some friends and go out for drinks. Rio de Janeiro has a large international airport so it is easily accessible from all around the world.

A must-do when visiting Rio de Janeiro is going to the famous Copacabana Beach as well as the nearby Ipanema which is just as nice. The Christ the Redeemer Statue is another fantastic place to visit as well as Sugarloaf Mountain.

Since Rio is built in between lush forests and hills there are plenty of viewpoints to enjoy and gorgeous vistas of the city and nearby ocean. The islands close to Rio de Janeiro are also a great place to visit, especially as a day trip. Ilha Grande or the Governador island can easily be reached by ferry and there are plenty of things to do and see.

The official language in Brazil is Portuguese and the real is the main currency where one US dollar is close to 5 Brazilian real. If you’re looking for a safe and social place to stay in Rio de Janeiro you should look into either Ipanema Beach Hostel or Cabana Copa Hostel which both have great locations.

Check out these hotels in Rio:

  • JW Marriott Rio
  • Ritz Copacabana Boutique Hotel
  • Novotel Rio de Janeiro Leme

A view of Rio de Janeiro from the mountains outside the city

Cuenca, Ecuador

Oftentimes a highlight of South America, the colonial city of Cuenca is the perfect city for solo female travelers. Cuenca, Ecuador has a small airport and is well connected with a navigable bus terminal.

The city also boasts a state of the art tramway, the Tranvia. The city also utilizes a modern city bus system via the Movilizate card. Each ride costs 30¢. Cuenca is tourist friendly and the historic center is easy to maneuver.

Conveniently, Ecuador uses the U.S. dollar as their currency. Spanish is spoken, but in Cuenca you will hear some English, but rarely in the local markets. As you move into nearby artisan villages and communities, expect to hear Kichwa, the language of the Indigenous People. Cuenca is a tourist hub and there are many English speaking tours.

There are many worthwhile things to do in Cuenca Ecuador. The city center is a UNESCO World Heritage Center and is filled with abundant marketplaces, inviting plazas, and artisan shops. Four rivers flow through the city and provide ample biking and walking paths lined with colonial buildings.

There are tons of museums, many of them are free to visit. Don’t miss a sunset at the Turi mirador, which offers sweeping views of the city surrounded by the Andes mountains. Relax in the nearby Baños de Cuenca, curative hot springs that are a short taxi ride away. Stay at the sustainable Pepe’s House Cuenca Boutique Hotel in the heart of the city.

Cuenca also boasts a diverse range of day trips . Hike in the otherworldly and high-altitude Cajas National Park. Visit the popular El Chorro Waterfall or spend the day browsing the nearby authentic villages. There’s both Inca and Cañari cultural sites to discover. All of these places can be explored independently, or with a guided tour.

Cuenca is a delightful place to visit and one of the best South American cities for solo female travelers.

Check out these hotels in Cuenca:

  • TRYP by Wyndham
  • Mansión Alcázar
  • Hotel Santa Lucia

A gorgeous building in Cuenca, Ecuador

Medellín, Colombia

Contributed by Carrie of PlanesTrainsandTukTuks.com

Medellín has emerged from its dark past to become one of the most pleasant cities – and one of the best South American cities for solo female travelers – not just in South America, but in the world.

The city exudes a joyful energy. The weather is amazing. People are friendly. If you spend a few days in Medellín, you’ll inevitably start to imagine yourself moving to the “city of Eternal Spring!”

Dive into Medellín’s ancient and modern history with a Real City Tours walking tour. Your guide will explain the city’s humble origins as a coffee trading center, the terror of the Pablo Escobar era, and the revival.

The tour is short on sights, but the guides are so engaging, you won’t mind. Real City Tours takes you to parts of the city that aren’t entirely safe for independent travelers – making this a safe way for solo women to explore the downtown.

Next, ride the cable cars into the hills. You’ll see, hear and smell local life out the windows as you climb into the surrounding mountains. If you want to stretch your legs, ride all the way to Parque Arví, where you can go for a quick hike.

Other Medellín activities include street art tours, playing tejo – a local game in which you drink beer and throw rocks at gunpowder-filled sacks – and visiting the museums. If you have a spare day, don’t miss a trip to nearby Guatape – one of the most colorful towns in South America.

The Poblado neighborhood is the tourist center in Medellín. It’s completely safe, day or night. While you’ll see plenty of gringos here, locals also eat and drink at the excellent restaurants, bars and cafes. The neighborhood is also home to Black Sheep Hostel – the cleanest, safest and friendliest budget guesthouse in Medellín.

Tip -Backpackers looking to party should head elsewhere – the vibe at Black Sheep is “10 pm quiet time”.

The main language spoken in Medellín is Spanish, and it’s a good idea to brush up before you visit. The currency is Colombian pesos – ATM’s are widely available and it’s a good idea to keep small change on hand for the Metro system.

Check out these hotels in Medellín:

  • The Click Clack Hotel Medellín
  • Selina Medellin
  • Medellín Marriott Hotel

The teleferico in Medellin, Colombia

Santiago, Chile

Contributed by Disha at Disha Discovers.com

Another one of the best South American cities for solo female travelers is Santiago, Chile. Surrounded by the Andes Mountains, this modern metropolis is dazzling, with plenty of unique things to do. Santiago is brimming with activities and attractions. There are great restaurants, bars, and nightclubs in the city, and there are also plenty of things to do outdoors, including hiking, skiing, and more. The city also has a rich history and culture, and there are plenty of museums and galleries to visit. Chile is often touted as one of the safest countries in South America for those traveling alone. This is especially true for its capital city, Santiago. As a solo female traveler, you can feel confident and safe exploring all that Santiago has to offer. Getting to Santiago is easy. You’ll fly into Comodoro Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport, which is located around ten miles away from the city center. From there, you can take an Uber or use the city’s excellent public transportation. When in Santiago, visit Cerro San Cristobal. Cerro San Cristobal is a large hill in the center of the city with great views of Santiago. There is a funicular that takes you to the top of the hill, where there is also a statue of the Virgin Mary. Next, explore Barrio Bellavista. This is one of Santiago’s most vibrant neighborhoods. It is home to many restaurants, bars, and cafes. There are also some great street art murals in this neighborhood. Plaza de Armas is the main square in Santiago and is a beautiful spot to relax or people-watch. The square is surrounded by colonial buildings, including the Santiago Metropolitan Cathedral. Other fun things to do in Santiago include taking day trips to nearby natural landscapes, such as Valle Nevado Maipo Canyon, and Quinta Normal Park. The currency is the Chilean pesos and US Dollars are very rarely accepted in Chile, unlike other neighboring countries. Spanish is the official language of Chile, but English is common in Santiago. Santiago Marriott Hotel is a great place to stay as it’s centrally located.

Check out these hotels in Santiago:

  • AC Hotel by Marriott
  • Mercure Santiago Centro
  • Hotel Boutique Le Reve

A city view of beautiful Santiago, Chile

Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

Contributed by Lisa of Tour the Galapagos

The Galapagos Islands have always been a bucket list destination but they are also one of the best South American destinations for solo female travelers. 

The archipelago is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and fully 97% of the area is designated as National Park lands. For this reason most visitor sites require that you be accompanied by a National Park Certified Naturalist Guide. 

The Galapagos Islands are part of Ecuador and the official language is Spanish although in this tourist mecca you will find many people speak English. The currency and the current are both American, meaning you can use your dollar bills and plug your American phone charger right into the wall socket.   

While cruising is very popular, island hopping gives you a lot more flexibility regarding budgeting and activities and is the best way to interact with both the local people and the local wildlife. There are four inhabited islands where you can find accommodation ranging from small hostels to boutique luxury hotels and resorts. 

Santa Cruz and San Cristobal are the most populous and the only two accessible via airline directly from the mainland. Isabela and Floreana, the more natural, less populated, are reached via small ferry boats from Santa Cruz.   

The Galapagos boasts several endemic species among them, the Galapagos Giant tortoise, the Galapagos penguin, and the marine iguana, the only swimming iguana in the world. 

Many visitors are also excited to see the blue-footed booby – only seen in specific areas of North and South America – especially adorable if you catch the males in their mating dance. Snorkeling and hiking are among the most popular day trips and the islands boast some incredible scuba diving locations.   

The entire archipelago is very safe for all sorts of travelers and choosing where to stay and how to spend your time depends entirely on your personal preferences. 

Where to stay in the Galapagos Islands:

  • Isla Azul Galapagos
  • Hostal Romy

Blue footed boobies sit on a rock outcropping in the Galapagos Islands.

Tips For Traveling to South America

Traveling to the South America from the United States is fairly straightforward. Most major cities on the east coast, and even a few Midwest cities have direct flights to the capital cities on this list. Once in country, public transportation and taxis are widely available.

For U.S. travelers, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru do not require visas for stays under 90 days (Peru allows 183 days) But just to be sure, always verify visa and entry requirements directly with the country you are traveling to.

And for U.S. citizens, check the U.S. Department of State for travel advisories and to register with S.T.E.P. – a free service that allows U.S. citizens/nationals traveling abroad to enroll with the local U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

Now let’s talk travel insurance. All the countries on the list have good healthcare but unexpected medical bills can ruin a vacation. Even if your U.S. insurance covers you in other countries, a travel insurance policy fill in the gaps and even helps you get back home in case of an emergency or need to evacuate a foreign country.

Travelinsurance.com is my go-to for comparing policies and prices on travel insurance. Their website pulls policies from different companies so you can easily find the right one for your travel type without having to speak to anyone. It’s all done online and is super simple.

Best South American Cities For Solo Female Travelers Round-Up

So, are you ready to pack your bags for one – or several – of these best South American cities for solo female travelers?

See you on the road!

solo travel latin america

Author: Lori Blalock

A girl raised in the south, Lori is the founder of Southerner Says and has over 100k miles of solo road trip experience. A lover of public lands, sunsets and good barbeque, Lori spends her time in Georgia and Nevada when she isn’t on the road.

solo travel latin america

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The Top Latin American Cities for Solo Travelers

Go solo

Traveling is a priceless experience. It is through your adventures and experiences abroad that you will have the opportunity to broaden your cultural horizons, expand your mind, unlock parts of your inner self, learn valuable life lessons, encounter inspiring people, stimulate all of your senses, and just feel blissed out. Traveling alone verses with another person or in a group is a whole different experience. There are a handful of cities in Central and South America that are particularly perfect for the solo traveler.

Santiago, chile.

Santiago, Chile was once more commonly considered as just the starting point for more popular destinations in Chile such as Patagonia by solo adventurers. However, many travelers are beginning to realize that Santiago is actually an incredible city to visit and spend some time. It is safe, clean, developed, and bursting with great cafes, restaurants, bars, shops, museums, parks, and other cultural landmarks. The city is relatively easy to navigate and public transportation is accessible. You can find everything from five-star luxury accommodations to friendly hostels. As a solo traveler , Bellavista is a great area to stay around. This bohemian neighborhood is where the famous Chilean poet Pablo Neruda lived and where you will find the best nightlife.

Lots to explore

Buenos Aires, Argentina

solo travel latin america

Ambergis Caye, Belize

Belize is a rapidly up and coming travel destination and expat hotspot in Central America. Amergis Caye is the largest of more than 200 cayes in Belize. As a solo traveler, this is an amazing spot to visit. The tropical paradise is bursting with beautiful beaches, rainforests, an awe-inspiring and expansive barrier reef, fun bars, fabulous restaurants, and even Mayan ruins. Belize is also an English-speaking country, which makes it even more appealing for non-Spanish speaking travelers. The caye is only 40 kilometers/25 miles long and 7 kilometers/4.5 wide. The spectacular barrier reef is only a hundred yards off the coast. No long distance traveling once you are here!

people cheering on a mountain

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Unreal water color

San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

San Juan del Sur is a happening little beach town in the southern part of Nicaragua. It is a lively, walkable, friendly, safe, and inexpensive beachfront destination that is full of solo travelers, backpackers, surfers, and expats. There are cute boutique hotels and hostels all around town, plenty of dining options, and a really fun nightlife scene. San Juan del Sur is also close to a number of other great beaches and areas to explore. If you come here alone, it is likely that you will have a whole group of friends by the time the sun sets.

Not a bad place to be solo

Tamarindo, Costa Rica

Tamarindo is a popular beach mini city on the Pacific Northwest coast of Costa Rica. While Tamarindo (and Costa Rica in general) isn’t the cheapest option, this town is rich with personality, energy, nightlife, beauty, food, and an eclectic assortment of individuals. It is a perfect base for all the adventure tours that you could possibly want to undertake, there are multiple surf breaks within walking distance, plenty of shops and modern conveniences, and a great selection of accommodations that range from high end luxury to family vibe hostels.

One of those famous sunsets

Montezuma, Costa Rica

Montezuma is a bohemian beach town on the Nicoya Peninsula near Santa Teresa . This small and charming town offers solo travelers plenty of activities, such as yoga, surfing, hikes to waterfalls, sea kayaking, scuba diving, and a happening, but mellow vibe nightlife scene. Montezuma attracts a lot of solo travelers, adventurers, yogis, surfers, and people with a hippie heart and open mind. You can walk around the town with ease and Santa Teresa and Malpais are only a short drive away. There are several great yoga and wellness retreats and surf camps in this area too.

Walk to a waterfall

Panama City, Panama

Panama City is arguably the best major city in Central America. While the rest of Panama is still developing, the capital city is pleasantly well developed and still growing and improving. Like most major cities, there are several different districts and areas that will suit different needs and preferences. As a solo traveler, staying in or near Casco Viejo is highly recommended. Casco Viejo is the old district of Panama City, but has become the new hip and trendy neighborhood. There are tons of boutique restaurants and hotels, cool bars, a beautiful walkway that connects back to the main part of the city, and a captivating contrast of dilapidated old buildings and tasteful renovation.

Quite an impressive city

Bocas del Toro, Panama

The province of Bocas del Toro is made up of a mainland area and nine main islands. The Bocas del Toro archipelago is an incredible place to visit as a solo traveler. The main mode of transportation is bicycle or boat taxi. There are endless waterfront restaurants, bars, hostels, hotels, and plenty of gorgeous beaches to explore. It is relatively inexpensive, very friendly, safe, and energized with an easy-going Caribbean vibe. Bocas del Toro attracts a lot of backpackers, budget-conscious travelers, surfers, and free-spirited souls.

Take a Caribbean vacation

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South america, the galapagos islands: protecting ecuador’s “living laboratory of evolution”.

Last updated on November 14th, 2023

A small ship expedition to Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands is an opportunity to witness some of the world’s most spectacular wildlife, while learning first-hand about evolution and adaptation.

Latest Stories From South America

Pink Dolphins, Piranhas and Parrots in Ecuador’s Amazon Rainforest

Pink Dolphins, Piranhas and Parrots in Ecuador’s Amazon Rainforest

by Carolyn Ray | Oct 20, 2023

In Ecuador’s Amazon, adventure awaits with pink dolphins, piranhas and tarantulas that blend into the night.

Adventures in Ecuador: Stepping Outside my Comfort Zone

Adventures in Ecuador: Stepping Outside my Comfort Zone

by Carolyn Ray | Sep 8, 2023

Adventures in Ecuador’s Amazon Basin, the Andes and the Galapagos Islands show us that travel is a two-way relationship.

Travel by Book to South America with Isabel Allende’s “Eva Luna”

Travel by Book to South America with Isabel Allende’s “Eva Luna”

by Carolyn Ray | Feb 7, 2023

Set in South America, our February Book is Isabel Allende’s “Eva Luna” which explores the transformative power of words and stories.

Looking for a Woman-Friendly Tour in South America?

More stories from south america to inspire you.

12 Countries Women Solo Travelers Want to Visit in 2023

12 Countries Women Solo Travelers Want to Visit in 2023

by Carolyn Ray | Nov 3, 2022

When it comes to 2023 travel, 12 countries top the list for solo women over 50, according to our latest survey results.

Spark Your Curiosity With These 10 Books Set in South America

Spark Your Curiosity With These 10 Books Set in South America

by Tina Hartas | Oct 12, 2022

TripFiction’s Tina Hartas shares 10 books set in Central, Latin, and South America that capture the heart and soul of the countries in this incredibly culturally rich and beautiful part of the world.

Safe for Solo Women? The Reinvention of Medellin, Colombia

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by Carolyn Ray | Oct 5, 2022

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Five shoulder season travel destinations recommended by women that offer lower costs, less crowds, and unique experiences.

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Five Memorable Places to Ring in New Year’s Eve

Five Memorable Places to Ring in New Year’s Eve

by Carolyn Ray | Dec 28, 2021

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The Top 10 UNESCO World Heritage Sites Recommended by Women

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by Amanda Burgess | Jun 2, 2021

The top 10 UNESCO World Heritage sites that women say should be on every solo traveller’s must-experience list.

The Top Seven Once-in-a-Lifetime Travel Experiences Every Woman Should Have

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by Carolyn Ray | Jun 2, 2021

We reveal the top seven Once-in-a-Lifetime Travel Experiences recommended by women, including the Northern LIghts, the Camino de Santiago, Canada’s Rocky Mountains, a Safari in Africa, an Antarctica expedition, Machu Picchu and Bali.

Get Inspired With Rita Golden Gelman’s Solo Travel Classic, “Tales of a Female Nomad”

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by Carolyn Ray | Dec 3, 2020

An inspiring solo travel classic, Rita Golden Gelman’s book “Tales of a Female Nomad”, shows you’re never too old to start travelling solo.

Women’s Solo Travel: Hiking Safety Tips in the Colombian Rainforest

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by JourneyWoman Staff | Nov 2, 2020

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JourneyWoman Book Club: “State of Wonder” Takes You to the Amazon Rainforest (Brazil)

JourneyWoman Book Club: “State of Wonder” Takes You to the Amazon Rainforest (Brazil)

The JourneyWoman Book Club ventures into Brazil and the Amazon Rainforest for a journey from darkness to light with Ann Patchett’s novel “State of Wonder.”

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Solo Travel Memoirs: Sue Finds Family in Brazil

by Amanda Burgess | Oct 15, 2020

A summer in Brazil changed Sue’s life forever, teaching her about courage and taking risks.

Eyes open in Patagonia: The Breathtaking Consequences of Climate Change

Eyes open in Patagonia: The Breathtaking Consequences of Climate Change

by Carolyn Ray | Oct 3, 2019

A visit to Argentina’s Southern Patagonian ice fields and Glaciar Perito Moreno reveals the effects and consequences of climate change.

What to Wear in Paraguay

What to Wear in Paraguay

by JourneyWoman Staff | Sep 23, 2017

The JourneyWoman network shares their best tips and advice on what to pack and how to dress like the locals when travelling to Paraguay.

What to Wear in South America

What to Wear in South America

The JourneyWoman network shares their best tips and advice on what to pack and how to dress like the locals when travelling to South America.

“Nobody can discover the world for somebody else. Only when we discover it for ourselves does it become common ground and a common bond and we cease to be alone.” – Wendell Berry.

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Morocco Group Trip 2024

Morocco Group Trip 2024

Join me in beautiful Morocco this November 2024 for a group trip! From the mountains to the north coast of the island, we’ll be seeing…

Dominican Republic Group Trip (2024)

Dominican Republic Group Trip (2024)

Join me in the beautiful Dominican Republic this October 2024 for a group trip! From the mountains to the north coast of the island, we’ll…

WOC Wellness Era Retreat

WOC Wellness Era Retreat

Introducing the WOC Wellness Era Retreat hosted by Flavia and Yenelsa. It’s a retreat curated specifically for Women of Color to promote self care, wellness…

Salamanca Street Art (Unique Thing To Do)

Salamanca Street Art (Unique Thing To Do)

After I made the decision to have Salamanca as a stop on my way from Evora, Portugal to Barcelona, Spain, I started looking up what…

What Solo Travel Can Teach You (9 Skills)

What Solo Travel Can Teach You (9 Skills)

Traveling solo is a life changing experience I believe everyone should have at least once in their lifetime. In addition to how much you learn…

How to Take Good Photos of Yourself as a Solo Traveler

How to Take Good Photos of Yourself as a Solo Traveler

One of the most asked questions I get as a solo traveler is, “How do you take photos of yourself when traveling solo?” I’m here…

Guatemala One Week Extreme Itinerary (Things to do)

Guatemala One Week Extreme Itinerary (Things to do)

During February and March of 2023, I asked you on social media (Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, and Twitter) to choose where I should go between Guatemala,…

Solo Female Traveler Safety Tips (New & Experienced)

Solo Female Traveler Safety Tips (New & Experienced)

Nowadays there are a lot more women taking the plunge to travel solo and I am so HERE FOR IT. I’ve been traveling solo since…

What to do in Bordeaux (12 hours)

What to do in Bordeaux (12 hours)

Long layovers are becoming ever more popular for travelers. Instead of a short 4-5 hour one where you probably won’t have time to leave the…

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Solo Traveller Holidays

As a solo traveller, you can be uniquely open to everything your destination has to offer, throwing yourself into new experiences and forging a connection with the local culture. The freedom experienced as a single traveller is unparalleled and often exhilarating. In fact, Journey Latin America clients choose to go solo for all sorts of reasons.

A great starting point is to consider joining one of our escorted group tours – not only is this an economical choice but it’s a chance to band together with other like-minded people in a friendly environment where there’s a real sense of camaraderie. Our selection of more than 30 group tours are a popular choice for solo travellers, in fact over 40% of our annual group tour clients are solos. What’s more, there is no single supplement to pay if you’re willing to share a room with a member of the same sex (even if final numbers mean you end up with a room of your own!).

If you prefer tailor-made travel arrangements, we can help there too. With their encyclopaedic knowledge of Latin America and an unrivalled range of options at their fingertips, our Travel Experts specialise in creating custom-made itineraries to fit individual requirements. Now’s the time to indulge your interests: you don’t need to worry about what anyone one else wants to do, so you can have everything just as you want it!

See the best of Central America on our Tropicbird: Highlights of Central America escorted group tour. This journey brings together some of the cultural, architectural and geographical highlights, including Granada, León, Suchitoto and Antigua. Tour indigenous market villages in Guatemala, visit the abandoned Mayan city of Tikal and explore the magical rainforest from a lodge in the heart of Belize.

If you wish to get under the skin of Peru, our Condor: Peru in depth escorted group tour is the perfect choice for you. Explore the three contrasting natural landscapes: the desert, Andean mountains and the Amazon rainforest on this comprehensive holidays. Visit colonial Arequipa, drive through the desert on the rim of Colca Canyon, continue on to the Lost City of Machu Picchu and finish off your trip with a few days enveloped by bird-filled tropical rainforest in an Amazonian jungle lodge.

Or why not explore one of the world’s most dramatic and ethereally beautiful mountain ranges: the Andes on our Pato Andina: Panorama of the Andes escorted group tour. This holiday visits some of the highlights of Argentina, Chile, Bolivia and Peru, including Buenos Aires, the Atacama Desert, the Uyuni salt flats, Lake Titicaca and Machu Picchu.

Contact our Travel Experts to find out the best way to travel across Central and South America as a solo traveller. At Journey Latin America, we have over 40 years of experience in booking trips in Central and South America, so you can trust us to help you plan an unforgettable trip.

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Flexible, custom-made holidays to Latin America created to match your exact requirements: our tailor-made itineraries are as unique as the clients for whom they are designed.

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Albatross: Ecuador’s highlands and Galapagos

16 days from £7,498pp.

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Panama / Costa Rica / Nicaragua / El Salvador / Honduras / Guatemala

Alcion: Central America Discovery

22 days from £3,807pp.

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Andean Flamingo: Andes laid bare

17 days from £5,528pp, chachalaca: colombia’s colonial and coffee culture, 14 days from £3,864pp.

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Charito: Pure Patagonia

12 days from £3,304pp.

Peru / Lake Titicaca / Bolivia

Condor: Peru in depth

20 days from £3,818pp.

/ Guyana / French Guiana / Suriname

Coq of the Rock: Trailblazing the Guianas

16 days from £4,800pp, cotinga: off the beaten track nicaragua, 18 days from £3,580pp, eagle: aztecs, mayas and conquistadores, 15 days from £3,848pp.

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Solo Travel Colombia-Alluring Latin & Caribbean Mix

solo travel Colombia a top solo travel package

Solo Travel Colombia: Background:

Growing up in the United States, in part in Florida, South America was interwoven in my earliest school days.  With roommates from Venezuela, at that time I learned more about Maracaibo and Caracas than Paris and Rome. I envied their sunny Christmas holidays as I struggled through wintry days. Later on, for my first solo travel abroad, I went to Trinidad and Tobago to work on community projects and serve as a camp counselor.  Fast forward to the current day, I see bits of Colombia virtually everywhere I go here in Washington, DC. The Colombian flag greets me daily as I walk my dog past one of their embassy office buildings. At work, a colleague while based in DC now, spent decades traveling to Colombia, Peru and Chile. Now a neighbor has moved to live and work in Bogota and recently published an insightful  piece for Conde Nast Traveler on eco-tourism and sustainability as the way ahead in Colombia .

One of the intriguing features of northern Latin America is the way Caribbean culture is blended with its prior Spanish colonial history. In contrast, when I visited Chile and Argentina, I was struck by their feel of Europe. For example, when I arrived in Santiago, my hotel was offering afternoon tea, and the leading national gallery was featuring a major European art exhibit.

The days before the European’s arrival was known as the pre-Columbian period .  Starting in the fifth-century BC, Colombia was  home to many tribes including artisans working in gold. For many of these artifacts, visit Gold Museum in Bogota.

In 1500 Spanish explorers arrived looking  for gold. While Bogota was founded in 1538 by the Spanish, in the early 19th century the country made its first attempt at independence.  That fledging democracy failed but was later rescued by the fabled Latin America patriot, Simon Bolivar, who became its  first President. The new country of Colombia was expanded to include Venezuela, Peru and Ecuador. While that was not to last, the current separate nation of Colombia is now a thriving cosmopolitan home to fifty million people. In addition to the capital of Bogota, Medellin and the walled city of Cartagena are big tourist draws . Colombia boasts the world’s largest rainforest reserve, endless miles of beaches.

To understand Colombia, it is important to start with recent decades. The latter have been dominated by two battles. The first has been the internal struggle with Marxist guerillas, known as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (“FARC”).  FARC was organized in 1964 as a military offshoot of Colombia’s Communist Party. They became well-known for violence, including kidnappings of prominent Colombians and foreign executives. While ransom was the motivating factor, their captives did not always survived.  After years of turmoil which weakened Colombia’s economy and tourist industry, on Aug. 15, 2017, the crisis came to an end. The Colombian government declared an end to the end of this guerrilla warfare when FARC turned over its remaining weapons.

The second internal battle for Colombia was fought over the active cocaine trade. It began in earnest in the 1970’s. At its height drug sales reached $60 million in one day. One of the best known drug lords was Pablo Escobar of the Medellin Cartel,

The Medellin Cartel was soon followed by the Cali Cartel. However, by 1996, its leaders were largely behind bars. Colombian cartels continue to be active in the drug trade. However, Mexico led by the well-known figure “El Chapo” has joined as a main conduit along the path of this lucrative trade.

While Colombia is a top solo travel destination on a standalone basis, it is also centrally located to combine a trip to neighboring countries, such as Panama and Ecuador. For a cross-border eco-tour, you can combine an Amazon River expedition by adding Manaus, Brazil.

Solo Travel Colombia-OAT Travel Packages:

OAT Travel has thirty years’ experience in the global travel industry. They guarantee that their tour groups will be no more than sixteen travelers and NO SINGLE SUPPLEMENT for all land packages*. (*Do book early while there is space available for no single supplement!)

Colombia: Colonial Jewels & the Coffee Triangle: A Prior Sample Itinerary

Bogota: DAY 1-3

  • Explore Bogotá • Monserrate Hill, La Candelaria & Gold Museum
  • Visit Zipaquirá Salt Cathedral optional tour

Medellin: DAY 4-DAY 5

  • Visit Medellin
  • Discover Guatape
  • Stroll through the Coffee-Making Region
  • Have a day-trip to Quimbaya • A Day in the Life of the Coffee Triangle
  • Gain more insights along Simon Bolivar’s path
  • Enjoy this hiker’s paradise-Up to 5-hour route!

Cartagena DAYS 9-12

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How to Bogotá

  • July 15, 2023 in Life in Bogotá: How to Bogotá and Me in 2023
  • October 18, 2019 in Rest of Colombia: Things to do in Cali: my trip to Colombia’s salsa capital
  • August 8, 2019 in Nature: Choachi: an undiscovered trail for hiking near Bogota
  • July 24, 2019 in Around Bogotá: Horse riding near Bogota: an adventure in La Calera
  • July 11, 2019 in Life in Bogotá: Updates to How to Bogotá (and a chance to buy me a digital cup of coffee :))
  • July 9, 2019 in Miscellaneous: Magic in Colombia: From Gabriel Garcia Marquez to Ghost Stories
  • July 16, 2018 in Nature: Close encounters with hummingbirds at the Observatorio de Colibries
  • July 10, 2018 in Life in Bogotá: Bogota’s La Macarena neighborhood
  • May 22, 2018 in Neighborhoods: Quinta Camacho neighborhood
  • May 15, 2018 in Entertainment: Things to do in Bogotá when it’s raining
  • April 16, 2018 in Life in Bogotá: Bogotanos: Humans of Bogotá
  • April 3, 2018 in Health: The essential things you need to know about healthcare in Colombia
  • March 1, 2018 in Musings and Commentaries: Solo female travel in Latin America: my experiences and why you should go for it!
  • February 9, 2018 in Work and Money: Volunteering in Bogotá
  • January 31, 2018 in Getting started: Beat culture shock: 10 things to do after moving to Bogota
  • January 18, 2018 in Rest of Colombia: A weekend in Villa de Leyva
  • January 12, 2018 in Money: Colombia currency: the Colombian peso
  • January 11, 2018 in Transport: Uber in Bogota: the big debate!
  • January 8, 2018 in Around Bogotá: Visiting Chingaza National Park in Colombia
  • December 9, 2017 in Food: Where to drink specialty coffee in Bogota
  • December 9, 2017 in Art: Bogota’s Museum of Contemporary Art
  • December 1, 2017 in Food: Vegetarian restaurants in Bogota
  • August 14, 2017 in Tours and Trips: The best Colombian coffee farm tour near Bogota
  • July 17, 2017 in Musings and Commentaries: Learning to love my moustache in Bogotá
  • April 20, 2017 in Communication: Useful contacts if you’re moving to Colombia
  • February 13, 2017 in Food: 23 great places to eat in Bogota
  • February 9, 2017 in Life in Bogotá: What to wear in Bogota
  • July 23, 2016 in Secret Bogota: 8 great markets in Bogotá – and where to find the best prices!
  • November 3, 2015 in Life in Bogotá: 10 Bogotá anecdotes which made me Bogo-smart!
  • October 18, 2015 in Blogging: Colombia Blogs
  • June 1, 2015 in Communication: Learn Spanish in Bogotá
  • December 2, 2014 in Getting started: Salaries, Tax and Working in Bogota
  • December 1, 2014 in Getting started: 10 tips for taking a taxi in Bogota
  • November 17, 2014 in Accommodation: Cost of Living in Bogota
  • May 4, 2014 in Getting started: Teaching English in Bogota
  • March 4, 2014 in Accommodation: Bogota neighborhoods: where to live in Bogota [Updated 2023]
  • January 30, 2014 in Accommodation: How to find a place to live: Bogota apartments

Solo female travel in Latin America: my experiences and why you should go for it!

Posted on March 1, 2018 by HowtoBogota in Musings and Commentaries , Safety // 3 Comments

About this time last year, I found out that three women writers I know in Bogotá would be compiling a book of tales about solo female travel in Latin America . Although I didn’t submit a tale of my own, it did make me start to reminisce about my own solo travel experiences as a young woman. I thought I’d write this post to encourage women who feel nervous about the idea of travelling to Colombia (or any other Latin American country) alone, to come anyway!

I’ve lived in Argentina, Mexico and now Colombia; I have travelled alone, and with family and friends. In 15 years, I’ve never run into any big problems in Latin America, and I do believe that if you try to avoid doing anything that is obviously unwise, illegal or just plain stupid, there’s no reason why you will either.

The Summer of ’03

I suppose you might say that my travels with my friends in the summer of 2003 were my preparation for the adventure I would embark upon alone in Argentina later that year. That summer was probably the best of my life. I’d known since I was about 11 that I wanted to travel after I finished school. So just a week after school was out forever, I went on holiday to Turkey for a week with one of my best friends, Jigna. I remember nearly every shop-owner in the local market would invite us in for an apple tea whenever we went down there. A few weeks later, our group of six girlfriends (me, Jigna, Sheryl, Helen, Jo and Amanda) went to Switzerland. We invented ‘Swiss rounders’ one sunny afternoon by the Zurich lake, and (probably unwisely) stood on a bridge during an electrical storm one night, ‘oohing’ and ‘ahhing’ at the zig-zag lightning bolts over the lake. A couple of weeks after that, Helen and I went to visit our friend Christina in Germany, and on a sweltering evening in 40-degree heat, we danced to Christina Aguilera’s Fighter in our swimsuits in the living room. I’ve lost the video we made of our performance but I’m sure it’ll turn up and provide some hilarity for the grandchildren somewhere down the line! Later that year, a couple of weeks before my big trip to Argentina, my friend Desirée and I went on holiday to Tunisia. I danced salsa and merengue for the first time, and couldn’t sit down properly for days after we went horse-riding on the beach at sunset.

My friends and I are women who love to travel – alone or together.

Solo female travel - the girls in Zurich

Clockwise from bottom left: Amanda, Jo, Naomi (me), Helen, Jigna and Sheryl

My Argentine Adventure

Solo female travel - Buenos Aires, Argentina

La Boca neighbourhood, Buenos Aires.

Fourteen years and four months ago, a week before I turned 19, I got on a plane to Buenos Aires. When I was planning my trip, it never occurred to me that I shouldn’t go, or that I would be putting myself in danger somehow by travelling alone as a woman. It was simply a dream, and I was determined to live it. The experience of landing in the ‘Paris of South America’, cruising along Avenida 9 de Julio – the widest avenue in the world – and passing by the iconic Obelisco was exhilarating. I loved teaching English and I adored Buenos Aires. It’s no exaggeration to say that you’ll see couples dancing the Tango on the streets in some areas. Mention you’re British and the locals will almost certainly ask you when you’ll be giving the Falkland Islands ( Las Malvinas ) back to Argentina (usually with mock irritation and a cheeky grin on their faces nowadays).

The Argentine people showed such kindness and concern for me – possibly because I was a fresh-faced 19-year-old (who looked about 15), often to be found wandering alone through the city, with a slightly manic, excited smile on my face! Naturally I felt homesick after a while, and I missed my family, friends and home comforts. I also witnessed the tragic reality of homeless children and urban slums for the first time, and I became far more worldly-wise. But all in all, the five months I spent living in Argentina was probably the most important time of my early adulthood, and it helped to shape the person I would become. It also ignited an ongoing passion for Latin America.

Young and Fearless

After I finished my voluntary teaching placement in Buenos Aires, I packed my bags for an adventure through the rugged wilds of Patagonia. Well-meaning friends and acquaintances expressed alarm that, as a ‘girl’, I’d be travelling alone through rural Argentina with only elementary Spanish to help me along the way. I was told stories of women who had been kidnapped on the Patagonian dirt tracks. Even other female travellers from my hostel audibly inhaled and declared “I’m not sure I could have done that when I was 19.”

Solo female travel - Perito Moreno Glacier

Perito Moreno Glacier, El Calafate, Argentina

I never saw my age or gender as an obstacle or a reason why I shouldn’t embark on this adventure. In any case, I made (mostly) sensible choices to ensure my safety as far as I could – I at least owed that to my parents for letting me go without a fuss! For most of my trip, I was on an organised placement or travelling with a tour group, and when I was alone, I always knew where I was going and how I would get there and back. I visited the gorgeous glaciers at El Calafate. I went on a three-day road trip, travelling 1,400km by bus on a dirt-track from El Calafate to Bariloche, trekking through canyons, exploring caves and meeting all kinds of interesting characters along the way (including, of course, a few  gauchos !)

Solo female travel - La Cueva de las manos

La Cueva de las Manos (The cave of hands), Argentina

A great achievement

One of my favourite memories was my little solo hike through the breathtakingly beautiful El Chaltén national park. Patagonia had been experiencing unusually hot weather that year – it was about 30 degrees Celsius in an area where it would usually have been around 20. I wasn’t a seasoned hiker and stupidly, I hadn’t brought enough water with me that day. At one point, as I hiked through the hills under the burning sun, I almost turned back. But I was determined, and thought I’d carry on for a bit longer just to get to the first viewpoint of the stunning Mount Fitz Roy. In hindsight, it was probably a silly and risky thing to do, but luckily a Danish family caught up with me on the track, offered me some of their water and invited me to join them. (Moral of that story: always be prepared, and bring more water than you think you’ll need!). When I reached the viewpoint, it was a moment of immense pride for me. I remember thinking that I would look back on this as one of my greatest achievements, and at that point in my life, it was. I had been fearless. I had dared to be adventurous – and I was doing it alone.

Solo Female Travel Mount Fitz Roy Argentina

The gorgeous view of Mount Fitz Roy in El Chaltén National Park, Argentina

When the worst happens…

I began to recall my time as a teenager in Argentina as I read the horrific news of the murder of two young, Argentinian women , Marina Menegazzo and María José Coni, in Ecuador in 2016. They were in their early 20s and had set off from their homes in Mendoza, Argentina, to see the world, surely with the same sense of excitement and anticipation as I had felt back in 2003. I had travelled the world alone and with my girlfriends, so I completely understood why two young women would want to head off together in search of adventure, with a desire to discover and learn about new cultures and enjoy new experiences, far away from the comforts of home.

But unlike me, Marina and María José never returned home. News of their murders received extensive international media coverage, and amidst the outcry, there was indignation from some people as they questioned why two women would choose to take the risk of travelling “alone” (i.e. without male chaperones). I was astonished. Why, in this day and age, should it occur to a woman that she shouldn’t travel without a man? We can be just as adventurous, and we can share the same dreams. Why should there be a different set of rules and risks for us to consider?

Travelling – alone and with my friends and family – has changed my life and undoubtedly had an important, formative impact on me as a person. Should I have sacrificed that, just because I was a woman? ( No!  #viajosola ) These comments frustrated many women like me who have gained so much from exploring alone. We want other women to be able to have the same enriching, life-changing experiences as we have had, without being deterred by chauvinistic – or even often well-meaning – comments about the risks of being a woman solo traveler.

Alone Together: Tales of Sisterhood and Solitude in Latin America

Alone Together - Solo Female Travel

As a woman solo traveller, and as a blogger who has now lived in Colombia for more than four years, I understand when women contact me with concerns about travelling alone, especially to a continent that has seen its fair share of wars, dictatorships and upheavals over the past decades. This is why I believe that the honest, heart-wrenching and entertaining adventures in Alone Together are essential reading for anyone curious about this part of the world. Because there is so much more to Latin America than the bad press it too often receives.

Don’t be swayed by the media: discover the magic for yourself!

Brazil isn’t just what you saw in the film  City of God ; El Salvador isn’t just violent gangs covered in tattoos; and Colombia does not equal Pablo Escobar and Narcos . Latin America is dance, vibrant colours, passion (and jealousy), volcanoes, hot springs, hummingbirds, rainforests, coffee, chocolate, palm trees, chaotic cities and magical realism – among many other things. Anyone who feels curious about it and excited about the idea of sifting white sand through their toes, about shaking it to the irresistible salsa or samba beats, or who dreams of being awoken by the unmistakable buzz of a hummingbird outside their window should be able to come without being deterred by bad press.

Solo female travel - El Chaltén, Argentina

El Chaltén National Park, Patagonia, Argentina

Be sensible, travel safe, and have the time of your life!

Even though this blog is about Colombia, I chose to write mostly about my travels in Argentina here because I really was alone there, whereas I moved to Colombia to be with my boyfriend Javier. I was young and inexperienced when I went to Argentina, but I was also just the right amount of fearless and sensible. If I can travel to Latin America alone at the age of 18 with just a few words of Spanish, you can too!

When you visit a new place you should always be smart and careful. Do your research and find out about local customs and etiquette. Talk to people and find out which areas of town to avoid, ask for safety tips and take time to get to know a place. Sometimes the Expat Facebook groups for a country can be really helpful when you’re looking for advice. Learn some basic phrases in the language in case you get into difficulty. Don’t take risks that you wouldn’t take at home. Do explore. Do tell people where you’re going and how they can reach you if they need to. If you want to visit a particular place and you’re worried about whether it’s safe to go alone, book a tour with a reputable company. Sometimes it helps to do an intensive language course or a period of volunteering if you’re on a longer trip, as you’ll meet people who can advise you and look out for you, and it’ll give you a bit of time to settle in and adapt before setting off on your travels around the region. You might also meet some travel-buddies!

Remember the people back home who’ll be worrying about you and check in with them regularly, but don’t let their well-meaning concerns inhibit your adventurous spirit. Go boldly where many solo women travellers have gone before, and have the time of your life!

A few more memories from my travels…

Playa del Carmen, Mexico solo female travel

2008: Me and Esther, enjoying Playa del Carmen alone together 🙂

Salvador, Brazil, solo female travel

2009: A selfie in Salvador, Brazil (back when taking selfies was still a bit of a skill!)

Cartagena Colombia solo female travel

2011: My first trip to Cartagena in 2011, with my friend Johanna.

Cabo de la Vela Colombia solo female travel

2011: Cabo de la Vela, Colombia. A truly special place.

Tell us your experiences as a woman solo traveller in the comments below! 🙂

Solo Female Travel Latin America

3 Comments on Solo female travel in Latin America: my experiences and why you should go for it!

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It’s an awe-inspiring article, Naomi! And I totally understand why you fell in love with the traveling experiences. It’s like a drug in the end.

I’m a big fan of El Chalten! And the last part of the trail to get at the foot of the Fitz Roy is quite steep!

I have to order this book for my sister!

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Fabulous story, and very lucky girl, you did it while young and full of life, the best time in life to do it.

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Wow! seems like you had an amazing experience. Loved it.

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