If you are thinking of planning a South America vacation and are not sure where to start, here are some ideas to get you started. South America is huge, with 19 countries covering an area of 17,840,000 square kilometers and lying between latitude 15 degrees north and 60 degrees south. It has unparalleled diversity in landscapes, people and nature; no wonder that the great amount of choice of what to do and see can leave many people baffled.
On many people’s ‘must see’ lists are Machu Picchu and the Galapagos islands – these two top destinations are linked by a short flight. This combination is an amazing mixture of culture and wildlife.
Iguassu Falls are one of the natural wonders of the world. These massive waterfalls lie on the border of Brazil and Argentina so it would be easy to combine a trip to Iguazu with the exciting cities of Buenos Aires or Rio de Janeiro.
Culture and History
Peru and Bolivia used to be one country and share many similarities today especially in the highlands. It is easy to go overland between La Paz and Lima and it’s a great way to get a feel for the countries rather than fly everywhere.
Ecuador has a lot more to it than the Galapagos. Quito and Cuenca are rich with colonial history, and in the Avenue of the Volcanoes you can get to some of the highest places on earth; and find out how people live there.
The Amazon rain forest is one of the most bio diverse places on the planet. It covers 5.5 million square kilometers, with Brazil having the lion’s share. If you are visiting Brazil for the first time then the Amazon is an obvious choice.
To get to the jungle, though, you don’t need to go to Brazil. Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador are also excellent places to get deep into the Amazon. In Peru it is only 45 minute flight from Cusco to Puerto Maldonado, the gateway to the Amazon.
A 4 day / 3 night stay in a comfortable lodge with expert local guides is ideal for giving you an insight into this very special environment and can be added onto a Machu Picchu visit.
With such geographical diversity it is no wonder that there are endless opportunities in South America for hiking, biking, rafting and other outdoor pursuits.
The Inca Trail is maybe one of the most famous treks in Peru but there are many more. Trekking and any of the above activities can be done alongside visiting the usual historic sites in the area around Cusco. From November to April you can get into the wilderness in Patagonia. This huge area covers the south of Argentina and Chile; here there are glacial lakes, ice fields, green forest and a huge wealth of outdoor activities.