South America is the newest destination for backpackers who want a different experience than the traditional European route. With some of the best natural wonders and authentic cultures in the world, you’ll want to experience this up-and-coming continent firsthand. One of the biggest perks of traveling to South America is that it’s affordable! Check out our itinerary for a cheap way to explore Peru and Colombia on a backpacker’s budget, plus save an extra $30 off intra-Latin flights.

Flights from Los Angeles to Lima starting at $266* one way

Lima hostels from $6/night**

Must Do Attractions:

  • Miraflores – known for shopping, gardens, parks and beaches, this area of Lima is perfect for jogging, biking or simply taking in the view. Our favorite of these parks is Parque del Amor (Love Park), whose design is very similar to Antoni Gaudi’s Park Güell.
  • San Francisco Monastery – this building is one of the most successful and impressive monuments of Colonial architecture in all of Latin America. It was built in the baroque-style of the late 1600s and has several gilded side altars, lattice domes, and catacombs buried underneath.
  • Cevicherias – Peru is internationally known for its ceviche, which is a mix of raw fish, onions and chili peppers marinated in lime. Visit one of the capital’s top restaurants (we recommend La Mar or Pescados Capitales) to indulge in this authentic experience!

Flights from Lima to Cusco starting at $132* one way

Cusco hostels from $7/night**

Must Do Attractions:

  • Inca Trail to Machu Picchu – consisting of three overlapping trails (Mollepata, Classic and One Day), these routes along the Andes mountain range will bring you through several types of environments, including: a cloud forest and alpine tundra. If you’d prefer a less strenuous trip, take the train from Cusco to Machu Picchu.
  • Sacsayhuaman – often overshadowed by Machu Picchu, this ancient Incan fortress is filled with exquisite stone masonry forming zig-zagged rows of walls.
  • Sacred Valley – also known as Urubamba Valley, this luscious green area is fed by numerous rivers and contains archaeological remains and villages.

Flights from Cusco to Cartagena starting at $240* one way

Cartagena hostels from $13/night**

Must Do Attractions:

  • Barajas Castle – the massive castle fort was used to protect the city from thieves who wanted to steal the city’s rich minerals. Explore the tunnels inside and see what it was like for guards protecting the city.
  • Boca Grande Beach – this beach is located right in Cartagena and is only $1.55 USD taxi ride from the old town. Although there are nicer, lesser developed beaches if you venture further away from the city, you can’t beat the convenience of having the beach right at the doorstep of your hotel.
  • Totumo Volcano – hike up the volcano and take a relaxing mud bath, with a massage for only $1! Afterwards, you can buy lunch prepared right there in open fire stoves and nap in their hammocks under rustic shacks.

Flights from Cartagena to Bogota starting at $82* one way

Bogota hostels from $6/night**

Must Do Attractions:

  • Gold Museum – this is the largest pre-Hispanic gold collection in the world! Learn how metals, especially gold, were used in the indigenous societies that used to live in the area known as Colombia today.
  • Monserrate – take a ride on a cable car up to the top of this mountain for spectacular views of the city. Explore the church and surrounding restaurants and shops while taking it all in.
  • Ciclovia – every Sunday, Bogota shuts down many of its roadways, which turn the normally hectic streets into a massive street party. Take a bike ride through the shutdown roadways, try local food from street vendors and soak in the culture.
  • For access to over 10 top attractions, tours and activities, you can purchase a 1-Day Bogota Pass.

Flights from Bogota to Los Angeles starting at $329* one way

With endless attractions to explore and memories to make, you’ll want to get your friends together and start planning your backpacking trip right away. You can save even more money by booking your flight and hostel with StudentUniverse. Get started today!


All prices were current at the time this post was published. Prices are subject to availability and subject to change without notice. Prices are based on searches done in the last 14 days and for departures between May and August of 2015. Flight prices vary by date, departure city, arrival city and availability. All taxes/fees are included in the price, except certain government taxes, change fees, and fees imposed in destination and airline baggage fees, if applicable.


All prices were current at the time this post was published. Prices are subject to availability and subject to change without notice. Prices are a per night per person lowest amount found based on searches done in the last 14 days for hotel stays for the cities listed above for stays between May and August of 2015. Hotel prices vary by date, city, and availability. Taxes/fees are not included in the price.


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