Planning to go cycle touring in South America? Here's a look at what to expect, along with travel tips on biking across South America.
Cycle Touring South America
If you want to explore South America, there's no better way than by bicycle. The landscapes vary from tropical rainforest, to snow-capped Andes and deserts. You'll find ancient Incan ruins, colonial cities with cobblestone streets and grassy pampas full of llamas.
There's vast open places to camp out, high mountain passes to challenge the legs and lungs, and a natural beauty that permeates the soul.
South America really does have something for everyone, and it's one of the best regions in the world to go bike touring.
Cycling South America Routes
There's no one right way to tour South America by bike. Some people like to visit just one or two countries at a time. Others might be on a longer trip such as my bike tour from Alaska to Argentina.
You can check out some of my cycling diaries from South America below:
- Bicycle touring in Colombia
- Bike touring in Ecuador
- Bike touring in Peru
- Bicycle touring in Bolivia
- Bike touring in Argentina
My route followed a classic north to south pattern, starting at Colombia and finishing in Argentina. (I actually didn't make the Tierra del Fuego because I ran out of money!).
Biking across South America
Cycling in South America is an attractive proposition for a number of reasons. I've already mentioned the scenery and landscapes, but there are other, very practical reasons why cyclists love touring in the South American region.
South America can be one of the most wallet-friendly places in the world to cycle. There's endless opportunities to wild camp for free, the cost of living for things like food is very low, and hotel prices in countries such as Bolivia and Peru are legendarily cheap.
If you're looking for a part of the world to cycle cheaply, it really doesn't get much better than biking South America!
Anyone with more than a passing interest in ancient civilizations and cultures is going to love South America. We've all heard of Machu Picchu of course, but try dropping by other lesser known sites on your bike tour like Kuelap and Markawamachucko!
Another often overlooked advantage to cycling in South America, is the length of visas granted to visitors. This means there is plenty of time to see a country from the saddle of your bike without feeling rushed to get to the border before your time runs out. Many countries also offer easy ways to extend your visa.
It's quite possible to bounce around the countries in South America for years on your bicycle without ever needing to exit the region.
Most of the countries in South America are Spanish speaking, apart from Brazil. It is fairly easy to pick up enough basic Spanish either before or after a trip to communicate (combine it with a bit of sign language!).
I have to say that learning foreign languages are not really a strong point for me, but I learned enough Spanish to be able to converse in what I am sure was grammatically horrible sentences!
Gear for bikepacking South America
If you're looking forward to cycling the length of South America, you'll want to be as self-sufficient as you can in terms of bring camping and cooking gear. I'd also advise bringing a water filter of some description, and also making sure that your electronic gear is in good working order.
Suggested bike touring gear lists here:
- Best Powerbank for bike touring
- Bicycle Touring Gear List For Cycling From Greece To England
- Cycle Touring Kit List For A Month Bike Tour In Greece
- Bicycle Touring Gear List for a One Week Cycle Tour
- Bike Touring Gear List For The Hercules Bike Tour of Peloponnese
- Bike Touring Gear List For A One Week Tour – Credit Card Touring
- Bike Touring Essentials – 10 Items I Always Take On A Bike Tour
Bicycle Touring in South America
Planning a bikepacking trip across N and S America? You might also want to check out these other bike touring guides:
- Cycling North America
- Bike ride from Canada to Mexico on the Pacific Coast Highway
- Tips for picking a bicycle touring sleeping bag
- Where to sleep when bike touring
- Duct Tape Bike Repairs: Bicycle Touring Tips and Hacks
– Dave Briggs
Dave cycled across South America when bike touring from Alaska to Argentina. In addition to this post about cycling in the South American continent, he's written many other guides to bike touring.
Follow Dave on social media for travel, adventure and bike touring inspiration: