These 9 South American Trip Ideas Will Have You On The Next Plane South In No Time
South America has something everyone can enjoy. The fourth largest continent in the world is home to a vibrant blend of Latin American and Indigenous cultures, fantastic food, fierce football, chocolate, coffee, rainforests, music, romance, and passion. Most of it comes at affordable prices, and most of us already speak the language — so really, what are you waiting for?
The continent is also home to majestic levels of ecological diversity, attracting millions of tourists each year to traverse its jungles, climb its towering peaks, and swim in its crystalline seas.
From the world’s highest waterfall and largest river to the longest mountain range and largest rainforest, a vacation to any one of South America’s 12 countries is a totally unforgettable experience from start to finish.
Island-hop in Ecuador’s Galapagos
It’s a challenge to uncover a more bucket list-worthy trip in South America than the jaw-droppingly spectacular Galapagos Islands. A chain of 19 islands and dozens of islets formed after a series of volcanic eruptions millions of years ago, it’s a magical place that will linger in your mind long after leaving. But be sure to visit with a trusted tour operator as they’ll provide a knowledgeable guide and you won’t want to miss out on any of the fascinating information.
Do you have the ganas to snorkel in turquoise waters with hammerhead sharks, graceful manta rays, playful sea lions, and turtles? Yeah, thought so. You’ll also see giant tortoises in their natural habitat, hike an active volcano, and spotting wildlife is easy. If you’re more the adventurous type, go kayaking in deep blue lagunas.
Backpacking along Colombia’s Caribbean Coast and Coffee Regions
There’s a reason Colombia is consistently voted among the happiest countries in the world; it offers a spectacular combination of breathtaking biodiversity, Instagram-worthy beaches, and friendly people. Just a few hours’ flight from the US lies Colombia’s Caribbean coast and coffee region. It’s an easy trip that can be tackled in two to three weeks on your own, via the affordable and safe buses that ferry tourists and locals around.
Fly into Cartagena, the sparkling colonial jewel of the country which is comprised of pastel-painted buildings and lively nightlife. From there, catch a bus along to Santa Marta where you can arrange trips to the isolated town of Minca. Nestled in the Colombian Sierra Nevada mountains, Minca offers amazing views overlooking the Caribbean seas and unique backpacker hostels.
Then, head back down the hills to uncover some pristine coastal rainforest at Parque de Tayrona, a protected national park filled with monkeys, lizards, and parrots where you can camp or spend the day. The beach-bum town of Palomino on the coast is also worth a trip — tubing down a river and sunning yourself in a hammock are the main attractions, along with hikes to nearby indigenous communities in the mountains. Next, it’s on to the coffee country in Salento, a rural town that offers serene mountain views, amazing architecture, and paisa hospitality with a smile.
Cruise the Amazon River Through Brazil’s Rainforest
Exploring the Amazon jungle sounds like a difficult task right? But if you opt for an eco-friendly river cruise, you can uncover the areas’ mysterious wildlife from the comfort of a chill boat. You’ll have the chance to see the magical meeting of the waters, where the sediment-filled River Negro mixes with the black, nutrient-rich Amazon River. Wake up early to watch the sky turn from pink to orange. Go on adventures to spot multi-colored macaws, blue butterflies and Amazon kingfishers. The Brazilian Amazon is also the only place on Earth you can see pink dolphins!
From your boat, you can hop on kayaks or canoes to explore further into the flooded forests to see monkeys hanging from trees or giant sloths lounging on branches.
Get Cultural in Paraguay
Lesser-known and understated in its beauty, Paraguay is perfect for the explorer keen to find a road less traveled. You won’t see tourists at every landmark here, and it’s not a country for those in search of lively bars and pumping adventure, but you will find exotic lakes, thriving nightlife, artisan workshops, and impressive colonial towns. The terrain is varied and exciting with the subtropical Atlantic Forest in the east and the dry wildlife of Chaco on the other side of the country.
Few places on the planet are as magical as Patagonia, which as long tempted travelers after pure adventure. Situated at the southernmost tip of South America, Patagonia is dotted with dramatic glaciers, towering forests and pristine lakes. But even though it’s 400,000 square miles of breathtakingly barren land, with a bit of forward planning you can cover a fair amount of ground and see a lot. For organized trekking and established tourism, head to the national parks in the northern lake districts of Argentina (Los Glaciares) and Chile (Torres del Paine)
Spot Jaguar in Guyana
This lesser-traveled South American country with a strong Caribbean culture borders Brazil and Venezuela and is working hard to shed its reputation as turbulent and hard-to-navigate after years of political strife. Today it’s much safer and is rich in dense forests and colorful ranches, meaning that travelers who don’t mind the rustic edge can enjoy one of the continent’s best-kept ecotourism secrets. Take the pressure off organizing something yourself and head to the area with Steppes Travel who’ll take you to search for jaguars in the Iwokrama Rainforest, paddling in the world’s highest free-falling waterfall, Kaieteur Falls, and visiting the colonial capital city, Georgetown.
Get Wet and Wild in Brazil’s Iguazu Falls
The Iguazu Falls are world-famous waterfalls of the Iguazu River which flow through Brazil and Argentina, situated in lush and protected land that’s teeming with incredible wildlife. Do the falls yourself, as part of a long expedition through Brazil, or on a flying visit to the area from Sao Paulo or Rio. Feel the spray of the falls on your face before heading into the steamy Amazon for excursions into the jungle as well as piranha fishing and pink dolphin-spotting.
Drink All The Wines in Chile and Argentina
If you’re up for seeing a lot in a little amount of time, and its style, culture and cuisine you crave, head to Argentina and Chile. Wine-lovers start off in the artistic region of Santiago, with its snow-capped mountains and vibrant markets. Later it’s onto Casablanca Valley, Chile’s fastest growing wine region, and the ambient World Heritage port city of Valparaiso, before a visit to magnificent Mendoza, where the famous Malbec wine is produced. After a stop-off in the relaxing area of Estancias, you’ll finish up in Argentina’s energetic capital of Buenos Aires, where you’ll be able to immerse yourself in its enchanting streets and mix of European and Latin culture, with a dance at a tango bar or rich meal of steak and red wine. Heaven.
Uncover the Best of Bolivia and Argentina
Immerse yourself in some Latin American culture with an adventure through Bolivia and Argentina. Tick the Bolivian Uyuni salt flats off your bucket list before taking in the incredible Atacama Desert, the driest place on earth which boasts flamingos bathing in mineral lakes and an everlasting supply of cacti. If you’re into colonial architecture and eclectic cities, this trip also takes you to Buenos Aires in Argentina, where you’ll dine on great food and explore some incredible neighborhoods as well as La Paz, a city renowned for its incredible markets.
So what are you waiting for? Book your trip to South America!