South America: An Unrivalled Classic
South America remains one of the best destinations for backpackers and adventurers. Thrill-seekers, culture aficionados, and beach enthusiasts alike will fall in love with South America. In the 12 countries that make up the continent, you will find a wealth of culture, history, and gastronomy.
The history of South America extends for thousands of years and consists of several impressive civilizations including the Marajoara in the Amazon, the Muisca in Colombia, and the Inca in Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Chile.
South America is known for its diversity. Discover the beautiful landscape that awaits you: the Andes Mountains, the Amazon Rainforest, Machu Picchu, and the Galapagos Islands.
When to Visit South America
South America is a huge continent that offers a rich variety of landscapes including impressive mountain ranges, white sand beaches, and lush ancient. Before choosing a destination, you should carefully consider the climate. As it is such a large continent, the temperature and climate vary widely depending on the country. The northern region of South America is situated along the equator, so temperatures mostly do not fluctuate. As you venture further south, the climate grows much colder.
Keep in mind that most of South America is in the southern hemisphere, so the seasons are reversed – with summer from November to February and winter from June to August. The rainy season for most countries in South America is during the summer and the dry season is during the winter.
Peru is close to the equator, so the temperature does not fluctuate much between seasons. The dry season is April – November, so this is the best time to visit for Machu Picchu.
Argentina, Chile, and southern Brazil are at their warmest in November through March, perfect for hitting the beach and exploring the coastal towns. This is the best time to visit Patagonia, which is easily accessible during these warm months. From June to September, Patagonia is closed to tourists due to the heavy snow.
Overall, the spring season (October and November) is the best time to visit South America. The temperatures are warming up, it’s not quite into the rainy season yet, and wildflowers are blooming.
Be sure to check the specific climate of the region you are planning to visit on your trip to South America. Some areas may be blocked by rain or snow, so you need to know what to expect before you arrive.
The two primary languages in South America are Spanish and Portuguese. A few countries speak English, Dutch, and French. Indigenous languages are still present in rural areas, but they are slowly fading out.
The 12 countries in South America are Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay, and Venezuela.
Formalities: Visas and Vaccines
For most South American countries, travelers from the USA, UK, EU, and Australia do not need a visa as long as the visit is less than three months. If you plan to stay longer than three months, then you will need to arrange this in advance. Visit the government website to find the rules and regulations.
You should also always check in advance whether you are up to date on the universal vaccines, regardless of destination. A number of vaccinations in South America are recommended depending upon the type of trip or location including rabies, yellow fever, hepatitis A and B.
Things to Do in South America
South America is home to some of the most impressive landscapes and monuments in the world. So where do you start? Below are some of the real highlights and must-see sights in South America.
Machu Picchu - One of the most well-known sights in South America, and with good reason. The ancient ruins are breathtaking. It’s like visiting a civilization in the heavens. Plan a visit to take at least 1-3 days, but it is so worth it. There are multiple ways to hike Machu Picchu depending on your preference and schedule.
Easter Island – This Polynesian Island in the Pacific Ocean is Chilean territory. The island is known for the enormous stone statues, called moai, built by the Rapa Nui people. There are over 900 figures, each with an oversized head resting on a massive stone base. The statues keep watch over the crops and the sacred island.
Galapagos Islands – This archipelago lays near Ecuador in the Atlantic Ocean. The islands are known for their unique flora and fauna. This is due to the climate and the fact that the island rests on an underground volcano.
Ushuaia – Nicknamed the “end of the world,” Ushuaia is the most southern city in the world. It’s a colorful town nestled in the Andes Mountains at the very tip of Argentina.