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Along with Australia and South-East Asia, a gap year in South America is the most popular place for backpackers to spend a year out – and with good reason! It’s a continent like no other on earth, where Amazonian tribes live in close proximity to large cities, where rainforests thrive and deserts sprawl, and where a dry day can quickly turn into a deluge. South America: the continent where you never know what’s around the next corner.

Although the continent is dominated by the massive country of Brazil, there’s much more to South America than this one country. In fact, it’s a smaller country to the east of Brazil that attracts the most backpackers every year, and that country is Peru. And within Peru, you’ll find the jewel in the crown of South America – Machu Pichu. But what else is there to do in this continent of surprises? Here’s a few ideas to spark your enthusiasm…

  • Head deep into the Amazon, along one of the world’s mightiest rivers
  • Volunteer with underprivileged children in Lima
  • Be a gaucho on an Argentinian ranch
  • Head to Ushuaia, the coldest and most southerly point of the continent
  • See the Galapagos Islands, and its amazing array of wildlife
  • Sit on the shores of Lake Titicaca in Bolivia
  • Brush up on your Spanish with a language course

The real beauty of South America isn’t the things you’ll see though – it is the people you will meet. A mix of indigenous roots and modern day attitudes, they will welcome you into their countries with pride, as well as an enthusiasm for your own adventures. And the food! The food is like something you’ve never tasted before, and if you are brave you might even fancy trying a bite of guinea pig while in the Andes!

So, South America offers an exotic adventure for any backpacker looking to get a real taste of a different culture. Whether you just stop briefly while on your way to Australia or the USA, or decide to spend months backpacking the whole continent, the sights, sounds and people of South America will stay in your head for many years to come…

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