Head to South America for its epic landscapes, cultural gems and once-in-a-lifetime World Wonders (hello, Machu Picchu). From the peaks of Patagonia to the streets of Cartagena, there is an adventure for every type of traveler on this vast continent.
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South America travel tips
Peru consistently tops traveler's bucket lists for a South American vacation, and for good reason. Home to the fantastical Incan ruins of Machu Picchu, Peru beckons travelers to its lush natural beauty and cultural meccas (including the city of Cusco, which is referred to as the Florence of the Western Hemisphere). Brazil and Argentina are also standout places to visit in South America, with their majestic landscapes – Brazil’s Amazon Rainforest, for one – and extraordinary cities like Rio and Buenos Aires. Outdoor adventurers covet the region of Patagonia in Chile and Argentina, for its otherworldly scenery, while the Galapagos Islands are popular for safari enthusiasts (and fantastic expedition cruises are offered in the area). Cartagena is a favorite for foodies and culture hounds.
We’ll be the first to admit that, due to the continent’s sheer size, South America travel can be intimidating. For instance, many areas are sparsely inhabited or very rural, meaning extra travel days are required to reach remote areas (like the Bolivia Salt Flats, for instance). And, as with many cities in the world, safety is a concern in some urban areas like Rio or Buenos Aires. While rates fluctuate, there are reports of petty crimes against tourists. Be sure not to bite off more than you can chew during your South America vacation. Work with your Fora advisor — who will be well-versed in your chosen South American destination — to plan the perfect trip for you.
If we must simplify it, we’d say that late winter and springtime is your best bet — but that’s only a small piece of the puzzle when it comes to South America travel. Plus, in many destinations, factors like altitude and distance from the Equator dictate the weather more than the seasons do. So, the best months to visit South America really depend on your destination. For instance, if you’re looking for a warm-weather urban getaway to Cartagena or BA, go during their summertime, which is November through March. Likewise, Patagonia endures cold and wet winters through the months of June, July and August, so it’s best to visit during our winter as well. Be sure to consult with your Fora advisor as you choose your destination and when to go. They can steer you towards the best time of year for your South America trip — and tell you which months to avoid (because no one wants to be stuck in a snowstorm in ‘summer’!).
Each country in South America has its own set of entry and exit requirements. US-based travelers to Peru, Argentina and Chile are required to present a negative COVID test to enter the country, regardless of vaccination status, and Brazil requires two negative PCR tests. Many countries also require you to sign up for a specific mobile app or other form of verification before entry. Your Fora advisor will alert you to your destination’s specific entry and exit requirements, and you can check out the official government websites for more information.