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Superb South America backpacking itinerary starting in Lima. Taking on the Inca Trail, Peru, Bolivia before heading north to Ecuador. All transport and plenty of activities included on this flexible adventure. Epic scenery, culture and adventure on one of the worlds most sort after backpacker routes. You need a minimum of 32 days.

Backpacking Through South America

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Tom Travels – South America Video shot and filmed by Xtreme Gapper Tom Knight

Backpacking South America Highlights Include:

  • Lima arrival pack
  • Surfing in the Pacific
  • Trekking the Inca Trail (alterntive route or classic depending availability)
  • Machu Picchu
  • Staying overnight in Cuzco a really cool town
  • Homestays
  • The Balestas Islands
  • Sand boarding and Dune buggying
  • The Salar Di Uynui (Bolivian salt lakes)
  • Amantani Home Stay 2D/1N
  • La Paz Local City Encounter
  • Salt Flats 3D/2N end Atacama
  • Moon Valley Experience
  • Colca Canyon Trekking 3D/2N
  • Sand-Buggy & Boarding
  • Ballestas & Paracas NR
  • Hop On Hop Off City Tour
  • Local Encounter 2D/1N
  • Cotopaxi Bike Day Trip

Trip Sections:

Lima To La Paz Via The Salt Lakes In Bolivia



See Trip Highlights


This is a backpacking trip taking in the best of Peru and Bolivia.  We will arrange your transportation and activities, but most of your accommodation is not included.  Not that this is difficult to arrange as there are plenty of great hostels en route we can recommend.

We have not laid out a specific itinerary below, because we can tailor make it depending on your specific needs.  The below is an example of what you can accomplish on this trip.

Contact us with what you would like to see, or just say hello to get some friendly travel advice on backpacking in South America.

Lima Surf conneXion

Lima Surf Connection PEru (11)

  • Get a warm welcome with an airport pick up
  • And an even warmer welcome with a one night homestay
  • Get to explore Lima like a local
  • Learn to surf in the Pacific

Lima To La Paz

Lima Surf Connection PEru (9)

  • Amazing cities
  • The Andes mega scenery
  • Massive gorges and huge peaks
  • The salt lakes in Bolivia
  • Lake Titicaca
  • The Nazca lines
  • Hidden cities and lost temples plus much much more

Trekking The Inca Trail

inca trail gap year23

  • Trekking on the ancient pathway through the high mountain passes
  • Discovering Machu Picchu through the Sun gate
  • Notching up one of the must do experiences before you die
  • Meeting other backpackers and sharing adventures on the Trail.
  • Note: We use either the alternative route or classic depending availability. Classic trail is not guaranteed.

Xtreme Bolivia Experience


  • The worlds largest Salt Lake’s
  • Three-day safari by cheap to check out lunar landscapes
  • thermal springs and hot pools

Example itinerary:

Paracas (Balestas Islands)
Cuzco to Ollantaytambo to KM 82 & Trek to Wayllabamba Camp
Trek to Pacaymayo Camp (3,660m)
Trek to Wiñayhuayna High Jungle Camp (2,650m)
Explore Machu Picchu & Return to Cuzco
Copacabana (Bolivia)
Copacabana (Bolivia)
La Paz
La Paz (Death Road) – Uyuni (transportation not included)
Salar de Uuyni
Salar de Uuyni
Salar de Uuyni
La Paz transportation not included)
Fly Out

More about some of the stops (Not in order)

Lima Day

Mysterious, iconic and Xtreme that just about sums up Peru and the amazing adventure-filled trip that awaits you! Your excitement levels will be going through the roof as you arrive in Lima and you think about all the things you are going to see and do over the next 19 days and where better to start than the country’s capital city. Underneath the chaotic atmosphere and often foggy skies you’ll find a stunning historical centre worthy of UNESCO World Heritage status, art galleries and museums galore and cool nightlife.
To make you feel at home in Lima we have included homestay and get to know the real Lima with our resident Xtreme Gap Rep! That means checking out the city and seeing it through the eyes of a local. (He is actually our resident surf instructor and one cool dude, you will be in good hands).
To give you a taste of what Lima has to offer, day two starts with a city tour with local guides who will show you the most interesting sites, including the spectacular Monasterio de San Francisco and Plaza de Armas, and tell you all about the Incan and Colonial past. Even if history isn´t your strong point, we guarantee you´ll be fascinated.

In the afternoon you are free to roam around the centre, checking out the markets and possibly trying one of the local delicacies, Cuy. If you´re Spanish skills aren´t up to scratch yet we can tell you that this is roasted guinea pig (sorry fluffy!). You´ll be pleased to know that there are oodles of restaurants and different cuisine available though.

The Lima ConneXion arrival pack is two days one night, so on day three is time to travel to Cuzco, you should be acclimatised to your new time zone my now. The journey as long but stunning as you will be travelling through steep mountain passes over the Andes.

Because this itinerary has the Inca Trail at the beginning of the trip, it makes it very easy to fix your date and secure your Inca Trail permit, it is very important that we do this many months ahead as they sell out far in advance.


Arriving into Cuzco you have a free nights accommodation on us at the Mill House backpacker hostel. You will be briefed on your Inca Trail itinerary and have the chance to settle in and enjoy this fantastic city, which is a hub for backpackers from all over the world. Check out the cities beautiful square the Plaza de Armas with its beautiful colonial cathedral, and have a drink at the Cross Keys pub to swap stories and share tips before the great trek the following day.

The Inka Trail (Traditional Itinerary)

Inka Trail Xtreme Gap (7)In the morning we will be transferred from Cusco through the Urubamba River Valley to the km 82 point, which is where the first part of our trek begins.   Get ready for awe-inspiring views, dizzying heights and possibly the odd blister!   After registering with government control we cross the bridge and begin the walk to Llactapata, which is the first place of archaeological importance and where we’ll have lunch.   After some nourishing food we continue on to the first camp at Llullchapampa.   It’s pretty steep going, but you’re young and fit so you can handle it!

Llulluchapampa – Chaquicocha

The second day of the trek can seem a little daunting as it involves reaching the highest point on the trail at Warmihuasusca, over 4,200 metres, so it’s a tough day but extremely rewarding.   Also, don’t let the name of this section put you off – Dead Woman’s Pass refers to the shape of the mountain, not the effect that hiking it has on you! To take your mind off the walking you can take in the views of the snow-capped peaks.   After the big climb, it’s time to descend into the Pacaymayu valley, before heading onto the second camp at Chaquicocha, where you can catch up with fellow trekkers around the campfire.

Chaquicocha  Wianaywayna

After breakfast we begin the trek to Runkuraqay archaeological complex, where you get to explore the Incan ruins and admire the sweeping views, before continuing onto another important site at Sayacmarca, where the guide will explain the different theories about what the purpose of the construction was. You’ll see a big change in the geography and climate as you trek through mountains to upper jungle and cloud forests and as you head over the  Phuyupatamarca Pass you’ll reach another archaeological site.   It’s downhill from there to the camp at Wiaywayna and some much needed food and rest, well, that’s after swapping more stories with all the other like-minded adventurers.

Wianaywayna  Machu picchu

The final countdown!   It’s a very early start today as the trek continues to Intipunku, but you’ll be rewarded with the most magnificent sunrise and panoramic view of Machu Picchu’s citadel.   This is when you realise that it’s all been worth it!   After taking in this amazing site and almost filling up your memory card with photos we continue downhill for around 45 minutes to Machu Picchu for a tour and a hike up the mountain of Waynapicchu.   Come on, you’ve got this far!

In the afternoon it’s time to board the backpacker train back to Cusco where you can relax and absorb the fact that you have just completed one of the world’s best treks.   You should reward yourself with a drink or three of the local rum.

Inka Trail Xtreme Gap (16)

Relax your tired legs in Cuzco once again.

Today is a free day for you to relax and recuperate or carry on with the Cusco sightseeing that you didn’t get to finish before the Inca Trail.   At this point you could stay on for a few extra days or if you have chosen to do the Round the World – South America trip then you’ll be looking forward to continuing your awesome adventure into Bolivia.

This is also the ideal time to gather the email addresses, Twitter names and Facebook pages of all your new mates so that when you are back in a boring job saving for your next adventure you have someone to reminisce with, not to mention lots of friends around the world to visit!


Puno is located on the shores of Lake Titicaca.   You might be tempted to catch up on some sleep on the way, but we´re sure that the awe-inspiring Andean Mountain Range will keep you and your camera occupied.   On arrival in Puno you can settle into your hostel accommodation and then head out with some fellow adventurers to soak up the unique atmosphere, with its mixture of different Peruvian cultures, vibrant markets and friendly locals.

Lake Titicaca

Peru Inca Trail (9)If you feel like you’ve seen and experienced a lot so far, you ain’t seen nothing yet!   A full day motor boat excursion on Lake Titicaca is on the schedule, when you get to explore the unique floating islands of the Uros tribe.   Made from Totora reeds, these islands have to be repaired and re-made to keep them sturdy enough for the homes, schools and shops that exist.   It really is ingenious!   Just watch out for any thin patches otherwise you might find yourself with soggy trousers.

The final stop of the day is at the island of Amantani, where you will stay with a local family.   You’ll be welcomed with open arms and after a dinner prepared with fresh local ingredients you can dance the night away at the village meeting place – expect traditional music, colourful clothes and lots of laughs.   It’s a fabulous experience that you will never forget.

Bolivia Itinerary

La Paz

Bienvenidos a La Paz!   Welcome to this amazing, sky-high city, official name Nuestra Senora de La Paz (Our Lady of Peace), where your adventure begins.   If you arrive on a clear day you can admire the aerial view from the plane of snow-capped Mount Illimani and the city’s buildings, which cascade down the sides of the canyon – pretty impressive!

With a varying altitude of between 3000 to 4100 metres, it may take a little while to acclimatize, unless you are on the last leg of our fantastic ‘Round the World – South America’ trip.   After settling into your accommodation and meeting some fellow travellers you can take your first wander around the narrow streets and plazas of this buzzing city.   If you do feel the effects of the altitude, try a cup of Maté de coca, coca leaf tea.

There are museums, markets, the impressive city cathedral at Plaza Murillo and beautiful colonial architecture on Calle Jaen.   One of the most intriguing places to visit is the Witches Market, which is full of stalls selling herbs, potions, jewellery and amulets, not to mention some more disturbing items such as llama foetuses.   You’re also likely to see witch doctors wandering around, who can be identified by their dark hats.

In between the sightseeing, and providing you haven’t lost your appetite, you can chill out at the local cafes or comedors, chat to the locals and sample some of the street food, such as saltenas and empanada tucumana.   Later on in the evening you can hit the penas, or music clubs, to hear traditional Andean folk music.

Why not try… THE DEATH ROAD!Xtreme Bolivia (7)

We’re not sure if there is one word that means ‘butt-clenchingly scary, adrenaline fuelled extreme exhilaration’, but that’s what you’re going to experience today!   The Death Road, or Camino del Muerte as it is known by the locals, is the world’s most dangerous road.   We say road, but what we really mean is a 2-way dirt track, with sheer drops on one side, that weaves its way through the Andes and descends 1200 metres in altitude. And you’re going to mountain bike down it.   Hey, look on the bright side, you won’t have much peddling to do!

Although the road does claim 100 lives per year, we should point out that 50,000 people in total have done this trip and most have survived, so the chances of you completing the rest of the trip are pretty good!   However, if this really isn’t for you then you can spend another day in La Paz.   We certainly don’t make you do anything you don’t want to , but just imagine the feeling of euphoria if you can conquer your fear!

Salt Flats & Dessert Adventure!

1012196_4879975277983_2078014736_nThis section of the trip is a 3 day/2 night Salt Flats and Desert Adventure and over the next few days you’ll experience some unique and breathtaking landscapes. There really is nothing like this place on earth, a massive dry lake caused when the Andes rose up out of the ocean millions of years ago has left now nothing but miles and miles of crystallised salt. All sense of perspective vanishes as you drive from island to island checking out the incredible landscape.

Valle de la Luna (Valley of the Moon)

Situated just 10km from La Paz, this is the first stop.   It’s a surreal, desert-like landscape that has been formed over centuries by the erosion of the clay.   This has resulted in some weird looking shapes and structures, making the whole area look like a desert filled with stalagmites.

Salar de Uyuni

This is the world’s largest salt pan and is a blindingly white landscape that stretches as far as the eye can see.

You and your fellow adventurers will be taken out on the salt pans by jeep, where you’ll discover that your depth perception is totally out of whack!   There are virtually no points of reference out here so mountains that only appear to be a couple of miles away could be several hundred.   What this does provide is some amusing photo opportunities.

Atacama Desert and Desert Lakes

During the trip you’ll pass through some vast deserts, including the Atacama.   We know what you’re thinking, ‘That’s not in Bolivia’, well no, it’s in Chile and that’s why you’ll need to make sure you bring your passport with you!   So, on your Xtreme Bolivia Experience you actually also get to go to Chile.   We’re good to you!   In addition to visiting this famous desert you also get to see another that is named after the famous surrealist, Salvador Dali, so you can just imagine the kind of landscape you’re going to see here.

To make a change from the dusty deserts there are two amazing lakes to see en route – Laguna Colorada and Laguna Verde.   The first is renowned for its population of flamingos and also its rusty red colour, caused by the algae and mineral sediments in the water.   The second is so called because of the vivid green/blue colour, which makes for some stunning photos, especially with the dramatic mountain backdrop.

Sol de Manana Geysers

This is a geothermal area with intense volcanic activity.   It consists of boiling mud lakes and sulphur springs, which shoot a combination of mud and water up to heights of between 10 – 50 metres.   You certainly want to stick to the protected areas so that you don´t run the risk of being cooked and just in case you didn’t realize, the smell of sulphur = rotten eggs.   You do not want a hangover when you visit this place!   Following this you can take a dip in the hot springs at Polques, which are a lovely 30 degrees warm and perfectly safe, so don´t forget your swimsuit.   However, you will need several layers of clothes for afterwards as Uyuni is a high-desert climate where temperatures reach extremes, including the cold.


After being on the water you head to Huacachina to sandboard the afternoon away. It doesn´t matter whether you´ve done it before or not, you´ll have a blast. It´s simple really, just jump on a board, push off and hope for the best! Check out the video for a taster. Those pesky grains of sand get everywhere so don´t be surprised if you find a mini beach on your bus seat when you arrive back in Lima.

Duration Option Price
6 (Week) £ 3200 Book Now


  • An awesome arrival pack in Peru
  • One night homestay in Lima
  • Learn to surf in the Pacific Ocean
  • Get to know the real Lima with local guides
  • All transport pre-booked arranged for you on a flexible itinerary
  • Your own personal travel concierge
  • Trekking the Inca Trail with the predeparture brief
  • One night in Cuzco
  • Milhouse Dorm
  • Cuzco to Puno (Touristic Transfer)
  • Amantani Home Stay 2D/1N
  • La Paz Local City Encounter
  • Salt Flats 3D/2N end Atacama
  • Moon Valley Experience
  • Colca Canyon Trekking 3D/2N

  • Sand-Buggy & Boarding
  • Ballestas & Paracas NR


  • Most accommodation (budget five pounds per night)
  • Food
  • Flights
  • Travel insurance


You can start this trip any time please contact us with your preferred travel dates.



Contact us with your questions below & Get a personalised response.