A continent of captivating beauty, layered history and plenty of rhythm, South America is a must-visit destination. Welcome to our South America travel guide.
It’s virtually impossible to travel to South America and not swing into Brazil’s capital, Rio de Janeiro. It’s a high-definition riot of colour and carnivale, from the beaches to that lush mountainous backdrop and the frenetic energy coursing through the streets. Samba is the beat this city dances to and everyone’s invited to the party. Another hot city is the humming Argentinian capital, Buenos Aires – described by many as “the Paris of South America”.
A narrow sliver of land between the towering Andes and the Pacific Ocean, Chile is blessed with natural beauty far beyond her size.
Nestled in a bowl created by the Andes Mountains, whose peaks are easily visible throughout the city, the country’s cosmopolitan capital Santiago pulses with a love for life. Each of its vibrant neighbourhoods leaves a unique impression, from stately Centro (downtown), which is full of colonial architecture; to Bellavista with its relaxed and bohemian vibe; and boisterous Barrios Brasil.
Then there is the Caribbean. Where else can you see 365 beaches on one island, enjoy a pina colada where it was invented, meet an Indigenous tribe long since thought to have disappeared, admire 13 different species of wild hummingbirds in one day, climb a volcano, and stroll through the aisle of a Concorde aircraft?
Known for its stunning beaches and laid-back vibe, the Caribbean encompasses more than two dozen nations and 7000 islands and cays including the holiday mecca of Barbados.
Until recently Havana, the capital of Cuba has been largely closed off to the world with America’s 50-year-old embargo. This has also meant the rich and compelling culture of the Caribbean city has been absolutely preserved, to the point where it’s almost stuck in a ’50s timewarp.
Its eclectic (and somewhat ramshackle) architecture spans 600 years mixing all sorts of styles such as Moorish, Baroque, Art Deco and Neoclassical; pre-Cuban Revolution cars such as Buicks and Chevrolets line the streets; and locals are dressed in styles from traditional Cuban to Afro Cuban to 1950s-style western to modern western.
From its dense jungle and coastal desert to the glacial peaks of the Andes, Peru, the land of the Incas is an empire of different worlds to explore.
Machu Picchu, the 15th-century Peruvian marvel is one of the new Seven Wonders of the World and is pretty much on everyone’s bucket list. Don’t let that deter you; there’s a reason so many flock to this UNESCO World Heritage site. Set in the Andes Mountains, its location would be spectacular on its own – however, the ruins of this Incan citadel will leave you awestruck.
Glaciers don’t generally come to mind when you think of South America, but they should. Patagonia, a geographical area at the southernmost tip of the continent, spans both Argentina and Chile and is a seemingly limitless wilderness of ice and rock.
Adventurous types might choose to cycle Bolivia’s infamous “death road,
sail through Cuba and the Caribbean or explore the majesty of The Amazon.
Many seasoned travellers say Paraguay is South America’s best-kept secret, so maybe that’s a destination to add to your travel bucket list. Lima is another place that is on everybody’s lips as is Ecuador with its incredible wildlife.