A few years ago I've had one of the best travel experiences of my life. Having saved up all my money from student jobs, I left my country after graduating to go travelling for half a year. While my classmates started looking for jobs, I decided to wander around South America, a destination that had appealed to me since I was a kid. Even though this happened a few years ago, I haven't told a lot about it or even showed any pictures to anyone. The reason hereof is that I've got so many stories that I don't even know where to begin. I've also got so many pictures that I have not even managed to go through them and make my selection. Because people sometimes ask me for recommendations, I will start by publishing my itinerary and complete it with the matching stories as I work my way through the photos.
As mentioned earlier, I've travelled through South-America for six months, more precisely from October 4, 2013 to March 21, 2014. I've flewn from Brussels to Saõ Paulo (because it was cheaper than flying to Rio de Janeiro) and ended the trip in Bogotá. In between these two dates I've subsequently visited Brasil, Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador and Colombia. I will list the names of the places I've visited in each country below, which may come in useful if you ever plan a trip on this continent.
Personally, I think six months was about the right amount of time to travel South America. It is not enough time to visit everything, but it is definitely enough to soak in the South American culture and to take some distance from daily life, which I felt was a very enriching experience, allowing me to put seemingly important matters into perspective. I realised I was free and in control of my own life. By somehow rebelling against the set idea that we should find a job as soon as we graduate, I realised that I should pursue what I wanted, not what society wants from us. From that day on I decided that I would apply that mindset in everything I'd do further on in life.
I'm rambling on... Anyhow, personally I would advice against travelling for more than six months in South America, because -although it is incredibly beautiful- the landscapes are not so shockingly different in the individual countries, so against all expectations, a certain boredom set in after a few months. The places I visited by the end of my trip became 'a variation of something I had seen before'. Although I still enjoyed it, the landscapes didn't impress me anymore, meaning I lost one of the main reasons to travel around. I guess that's the sign it's time to search for another adventure.
I have not included the time needed for travelling in between places, but know that South America is huge and that travelling around -most often done by bus- will take up a lot of time. The longest time I have been on the bus was in Argentina: I've spent 26 hours on the bus from Perito Moreno to Bariloche.