South America Travel Guide: A sojourn to the land of exotic food, dance, and culture!

Explore the magnificent landscape, enchanting colonial cities, and the mesmerizing nature of South America!







South America Travel Guide

With numerous white sandy beaches, Amazonian rainforest, colonial towns, and many other magnificent landscapes, South America is a continent worth visiting for every backpacker. Through this South America Travel Guide, we will look into the best time to visit, popular countries to travel, things to know and do in the South American countries.

South America has more than 70ย UNESCO World Heritage Sites and over 300 National Parks. South America counts twelve to fourteen countries, extended dependencies, and internal dependencies. South America has one of the highest peaks called the Andes and has one of the longest rivers called the Amazon. South America is the fourth largest continent, with countless sights that attract several travelers every year.ย 

Some places worth visiting in South America are the Iguazu Falls in Argentina, Angel Falls in Venezuela, Torres del Paine National Park in Chile, Amazon Ecuador, Galapagos, and Machu Picchu in Peru. You can enjoy a day of canoe rides on Amazon. You can go shopping in the indigenous markets in the streets of the colonial towns and other places. Music is yet another attraction of South America. Tango, Andean, Samba, Salsa, Brazilian, and Colombian music are famous in the South American region.ย 

There are many glaciers, canyons, forests, volcanoes, and lakes you can visit in South America.

Featured South America Destinations

ย  ย Visit Brazil

Popular countries to visit in South America by region

South America Travel: Salar de Uyuni

Northern Hemisphere

Peru, Columbia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Brazil are some countries in the Northern Hemisphere. You can explore the Machu Picchu, Chan Chan's remnants, culture, and several festivals while in Peru. Columbia offers a wide range of landscapes, ancient architecture, culture, and many outdoor activities.

Known for its extraordinary natural beauty and idyllic islands, Venezuela is another enchanting destination to explore in South America. You can visit the Andean Peaks, the Angel Falls, and the Caribbean Falls in Venezuela.ย Ecuador is famous for its Kichwa villages, Amazonian rainforests, Andes Mountain, sandy beaches, and colonial centers. In Bolivia, you can enjoy the scenic beauty, the famous salt flats and take part in several adventure sports. Bolivia is also famous for its parades, food, and drinks.

Brazil is a mesmerizing country with an extravagant metropolis, crystalline beaches, and rainforests. These are some main destinations you can add to your bucket list while traveling to South America.

South America Travel: Torres del Paine Chile

Southern Hemisphere

Paraguay, Uruguay, Argentina, and Chile are the most popular countries in the Southern Hemisphere. Paraguay is famous for its huge dams and natural reservoirs. It depicts a rustic way of life, as well.ย Uruguay is the smallest country in South America. But, it provides an extraordinary view of the Atlantic Coast and also has many hot springs. Argentina is a beautiful country in South America that offers mesmerizing city life and glaciers. It has an astonishing culture and landscape. Chile is a land of extremes with several blue beaches, glaciers, and scenic locations. Chile is pretty famous for its wine culture as well.

What is the best time to visit South America?

Best time to visit South America

You can visit South America depending upon the place you are planning to visit. So, there is no single best time to travel to South America. If you plan to travel to Galapagos, you can go in June as it is cold and dry. However, during this time, most of the snow and ice stations would be closed in the Southern region. You can plan your trip to Patagonia either from November to February or January to March. Peru is a destination you can visit anytime in the year. However, from January to March, it is the rainy season.ย 

The best time to visit the coastal region of Northern Argentina, Chile, and Southern Brazil is in summer. It is between March and April. As South America is pretty famous for the Easter celebrations, the countries become pretty crowded between July and August. It is the best time to visit the Galapagos and go to Inca Trail.ย 

Things to know before you travel to South America

Is it safe to travel to South America?

Most South American countries are safe to visit

Uruguay, Ecuador, and Chile are safe countries to visit. However, in Bolivia, Peru, Brazil, and Columbia, problems may occur. Most of the issues that happen in these regions are petty crimes, pickpocketing, and road accidents. In certain parts, there is the presence of illegal drug trade. It is unsafe for travelers to visit these regions. It is essential to take care of your belongings while traveling on public transport. Never keep your things unattended as it could lead to theft. In most places, there are numerous scams taking place. It is also necessary to keep track of the local news to know about any problems or other issues.ย 

What is the currency in South America?

Currency in South America

In South America, there are 12 main currencies in use. Shops widely accept the US dollar on the continent. The official currency of Colombia is Colombus Pesos. Argentina has Argentina Pesos, Brazil has Brazilian Real, and Peru has Nuevo Sol. Ecuador uses the US dollar. You can exchange your money from airports. It is best to have your currency in the US dollar to get a better exchange rate. However, the exchange centers accept pounds, euro, and other currencies as well. You can also exchange your traveler's check from these places. Though most places accept traveler's checks, they are not as convenient as ATM cards. It is always better to exchange your money from banks, official exchange centers, and airports. It is because they do not charge a lot of service charges like other private places. Most restaurants, shopping centers, and hotels accept credit and debit cards. However, it is always better to have cash on you. As in rural areas, they do not take cards or traveler's checks.ย 

Is tipping in South America normal?

Tipping in South America is encouraged in most places

Tipping is not uncommon in South American countries. Most restaurants add a 10% service charge to the final bill in Chilli and Brazil. If there are no such extra charges, or you are happy with the service offered, you can provide a 10 to 15% tip. It is often customary to give tips to your travel guides. You can offer tips, especially in tourist destinations like Galapagos and Amazon. For taxi drivers, you can round up the bill. It is not necessary to tip on public buses.

Responsible Travel and Tourism in South America

Sustainable Tourism in South America

South America prioritizes eco-tourism. There are several hotels and tour operators in South America who focus on eco-travel and sustainability. Logging and deforestation are the main environmental problems confronted in South America. Peru is trying to preserve its rainforests as a national park. They are also monitoring various industries. Overtourism and littering are other main issues confronted. Travelers need to take care of their waste and dispose of them in the wastebaskets. The Amazon region has several eco-lodges. Machu Picchu, the Inca Trail, and the Sacred Valley are other places that highlight the need for preserving the ecosystem. In Bolivia, there aren't many places that focus on conserving the ecosystem. Only a few hotels have shifted into the path of green tourism.

What vaccinations do I need for South America Travel?

Vaccinations to be taken while traveling to South America

For traveling to South America, the WHO and CDC recommend getting routine vaccines for Measles, Chicken Pox, DTP, Flu, Mumps, and Polio. You can also get vaccinated for Hepatitis A and Typhoid. Other vaccines you can take are for Hepatitis B, Rabies, and Yellow Fever. Vaccination depends highly on the country you are coming from and the places you are planning to visit.

Do I need a Visa for traveling to South America?

Visa while traveling to South America

You cannot visit South America on a single visa. Each country has different visa requirements. It depends upon your native country, how long you are planning to stay. It also focuses on the country you are visiting. People traveling from the USA, Canada, New Zealand, and the European Union do not require a visa to travel to Argentina. If you are traveling from Denmark, Norway, Italy, the UK, and Japan to Bolivia, you do not need a visa for 90 days. American citizens require a visa to travel to Bolivia. If you are traveling to Brazil, you do not need a visa for 90 days if you are from Norway, New Zealand, Chile, Argentina, South Africa, Iceland, Malaysia, etc. Travelers from Albania, Canada, Turkey, and the USA can travel without a visa to Chile for 90 days. Most travelers from European countries, Canada, Australia, and all South American countries can visit Colombia without a visa. Travelers from several countries do not need visas to travel to Ecuador for 90 days. However, visitors from India, Cuba, Egypt, Venezuela, and 26 other countries require visas to travel to Ecuador.

Things to do in South America to cross off your America bucket list

Batad Rice Terraces of the Ifugao in Northern Luzon, Philippines

Visit Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Rio de Janeiro, the Capital city of Brazil is a must-visit while traveling in South America. Overlooking the enchanting city of Rio de Janeiro, Cristo Redentor is a 38 meters tall open-armed statue in Corcovado. You can see it in all parts of the city. Corcovado is 710 meters tall. You can reach on top of it via narrow gauge trains that leave every 30 minutes. Another highlight in Rio de Janeiro isย Sugar Loaf Mountain; also known as Pao de Acucar. Located in Rio, it is 396 meters tall. The best time to visit the mountain is in the morning. You can either take a cable car or hike to Pao de Acucar.

South America Travel: Easter Island Chile

Easter Island in Chile

Easter Island offers numerous adventures and opportunities for exploration. It is an isolated island that is a paradise for every traveler.ย The sandy beaches, flora, fauna, and culture are the chief attractions of Easter Island. You can go surfing and swimming.ย Rupa Nai National Park is one of the places you have to add to your bucket list. You can also visit the giant stone statues and Moni on the ceremonial platform called Ahu. The Tapti festival that happens in February is an event that walks you through the culture of Easter Island.

Bangkok Thailand

Iguazu Falls: Brazil & Argentina

Iguazu Falls is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is also one of the natural wonders of the world and is taller than Niagra Falls. Located between Brazil and Argentina, you can visit the Falls from both regions. You can also reach Iguazu Falls from Paraguay. There are hundreds of waterfalls, and it offers a breathtaking view. From Brazil, you can go close to the foot of the Falls, and from Argentina, you can see multiple cascades. There are numerous walkways, and you can go for boat rides as well.

Big Buddha Lantau Island Kong Kong

Salvador de Bahia,ย Pelourinho

With an enchanting old town and a mesmerizing coastline, Salvador de Bahia is a location that is worth visiting. The old town is one of the World Heritage Sites of UNESCO. It has several churches, shops, cobblestoned streets, and architectural magnificence.

Music, cuisine, martial arts, and dancing are the other main attractions of the town. There is a museum of 17th and 18th-century architecture as well as gold-laden churches. In Salvador de Bahia, there are exotic festivals that celebrate African Gods.ย 

Bali Temples

Colonial Paraty in Brazil

Paraty offers a spectacular view to the visitors. Several people travel to Paraty every year. There are colonial streets with pedestrian walks along with white buildings. You can visit the destination any time around the year. In July, Flip, a literary festival, including storytelling and other activities like a walking tour down the old town, happen. You can also enjoy boat trips and kayaking while in Paraty. You can reach beaches via boats or buses. There are many scenic mountains, as well.

South America Travel: Machu Picchu Peru

Machu Picchu in Peru

Machu Picchu is one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in South America. It has lush green vegetation and several archaeological locations.

You can have an astonishing view of Inca ruins. You can also climb the peak of Huayna Picchu. The temple of the Sun and the temple of the Moon are sacred sites in Machu Picchu. The busiest time is between June and August. However, the best time to visit is between late April and Mid June. September and October are other best times to visit Machu Picchu. You can reach Machu Picchu either by hiking (Inca Trail) or by train.

Bolivia Travel: Salar de Uyuni

Uyuni Salt Flats in Bolivia

Salar de Uyuni is the largest salt flat in the world. It is a natural wonder that attracts several tourists every year. There are layers of salt that stretch to the horizon. It is pretty famous for road trips among travelers. During the rainy season, they form a spectacular mirror effect on the ground. Sometimes, the lake overflows, and it gives a breathtaking reflection of the sky. However, in the dry seasons, you can drive through the landscape. The peak season is between June and August. You can always get back to our South America Travel Guide before you board on your trip!