South America

South America is a region of geographic and climatic extremes.  It includes the world’s largest freshwater and tropical forest systems, in the Amazon basin.  It also includes the world’s longest and second highest mountain range, the Andes.  Its climates vary from year-round hot-and-humid, in its jungle regions, to arctic, in its southern extremes not far from Antarctica.  And it is a world center for animal and plant biodiversity.

South America is also home to several rich historical traditions that can be experienced today, including archeological sites with the Inca Empire’s leading monuments and lost cities and art from the pre-Inca cultures.  Scattered around the continent, mostly on the coast or in the mountains, are some of the world’s finest examples of Spanish colonial architecture, including a number of historic city centers that are World Heritage Sites.

Travel Update: With its political situation now stabilized, Colombia is becoming a newly popular travel country that still remains off the radar for most travelers.  Its neighbor to the east, Venezuala, has been moving in the opposite direction, with considerable instability at present, primarily in its capital and main city, Caracas.  This has has little effect on travel in most of Venezuala, or in Colombia.    To read the U.S. State Department current travel advice on Venezula, click here.

 

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South America (photo by Skimsta)

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Countries in this region:

Combination Atmosphere destinations combine elements of both cultural and natural destinations, where this combination is itself essential to the travel experience. Common examples are Archaeological Sites (where culture is usually experienced outdoors), Scenic Local Markets (where indigenous cultures interact outdoors), Hotsprings and Vineyard Areas (where nature provides the raw materials but humans create the surroundings), and Unique Cultural Landscapes (where humans and nature interact in innovative ways, as in the elaborate rice terracing systems of Asia).

Combination Interests typically fall somewhere in the middle of the three types of primary interests in terms of
(a) how climate-dependent they are
(b) how accessible and physically demanding they are.

Argentina

Atmosphere: Combination    
Best Weather: February, March, April, October, November, December

 ArgentinaArgentina is South America’s second largest country. Because of its elongated vertical orientation, Argentina varies greatly in its characteristics as one travels north to south. The northern region includes both tropical forests in the east and highland mountains and deserts in the west, the central region includes the vast rich plain (La Pampa), while southern Argentina is the land of Patagonia.
 
A Natural Atmosphere includes a diverse range of destinations with outdoor-oriented features, including both water-based (beaches, rivers, lakes, etc) and land-based (mountains, forests, deserts, etc). It also includes specific outdoor activities, ranging from water adventuring (eg, kayaking, sailing) to land adventuring (eg, hiking, biking).

Natural Interests tend to be:
(a) outdoors-oriented, and therefore more dependent on weather conditions
(b) less easily accessible and more physically demanding than other destination categories.

In some cases (eg, rafting and climbing), this includes a significantly increased degree of adventure (or danger, depending on one's viewpoint).

Bolivia

Atmosphere: Nature    
Best Weather: May, June, July, August, September, October

 BoliviaBolivia is a landlocked country in west-central South America. The Bolivian population, estimated at 10 million, is multiethnic, including Amerindians, Mestizos, Europeans, Asians and Africans. This diversity has contributed greatly to Bolivia’s rich art, cuisine, literature, and music. Its geography varies from the peaks of the Andes in the West, to the Eastern Lowlands, situated within the Amazon Basin.
 
 
Combination Atmosphere destinations combine elements of both cultural and natural destinations, where this combination is itself essential to the travel experience. Common examples are Archaeological Sites (where culture is usually experienced outdoors), Scenic Local Markets (where indigenous cultures interact outdoors), Hotsprings and Vineyard Areas (where nature provides the raw materials but humans create the surroundings), and Unique Cultural Landscapes (where humans and nature interact in innovative ways, as in the elaborate rice terracing systems of Asia).

Combination Interests typically fall somewhere in the middle of the three types of primary interests in terms of
(a) how climate-dependent they are
(b) how accessible and physically demanding they are.

Brazil

Atmosphere: Combination    
Best Weather: January, February, March, April, May, November, December

 BrazilBrazil is the largest country in both South America and the Latin American region and the world's fifth largest country. It is a country of great diversity, both culturally and geographically. Travelers typically start from one of Brazil’s bustling urban mosaics, including Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, and Brasilia. Beyond that are to world-class natural landmarks such as Iguaçu Falls and the vast Amazon River basin.
 
A Natural Atmosphere includes a diverse range of destinations with outdoor-oriented features, including both water-based (beaches, rivers, lakes, etc) and land-based (mountains, forests, deserts, etc). It also includes specific outdoor activities, ranging from water adventuring (eg, kayaking, sailing) to land adventuring (eg, hiking, biking).

Natural Interests tend to be:
(a) outdoors-oriented, and therefore more dependent on weather conditions
(b) less easily accessible and more physically demanding than other destination categories.

In some cases (eg, rafting and climbing), this includes a significantly increased degree of adventure (or danger, depending on one's viewpoint).

Chile

Atmosphere: Nature    
Best Weather: January, February, March, April, November, December

 ChileChile is a long, narrow strip of land that covers the entire southern half of the west coast of South America. It ranges from the arid Atacama Desert in the north to a labyrinth of fjords, inlets, canals, twisting peninsulas, and islands in the south. Central Chile is the economic, and political heart of Chile. It is the home of Santiago, the capital, with vineyards in one direction and alpine mountains in the other.
 
 
Combination Atmosphere destinations combine elements of both cultural and natural destinations, where this combination is itself essential to the travel experience. Common examples are Archaeological Sites (where culture is usually experienced outdoors), Scenic Local Markets (where indigenous cultures interact outdoors), Hotsprings and Vineyard Areas (where nature provides the raw materials but humans create the surroundings), and Unique Cultural Landscapes (where humans and nature interact in innovative ways, as in the elaborate rice terracing systems of Asia).

Combination Interests typically fall somewhere in the middle of the three types of primary interests in terms of
(a) how climate-dependent they are
(b) how accessible and physically demanding they are.

Colombia

Atmosphere: Combination    
Best Weather: January, February, March, April, December

 ColombiaColombia is the junction point between North and South America. It is the only country in South America with coastlines on both the North Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea. Colombia contains an extraordinary diversity of cultures and natural features. Its terrain ranges from flat coastal lowlands, through central highlands that include extensive coffee plantations and national parks, into the high Andes mountains in its central interior.
 
A Natural Atmosphere includes a diverse range of destinations with outdoor-oriented features, including both water-based (beaches, rivers, lakes, etc) and land-based (mountains, forests, deserts, etc). It also includes specific outdoor activities, ranging from water adventuring (eg, kayaking, sailing) to land adventuring (eg, hiking, biking).

Natural Interests tend to be:
(a) outdoors-oriented, and therefore more dependent on weather conditions
(b) less easily accessible and more physically demanding than other destination categories.

In some cases (eg, rafting and climbing), this includes a significantly increased degree of adventure (or danger, depending on one's viewpoint).

Ecuador

Atmosphere: Nature    
Best Weather: January, February, March, June, July, August

 EcuadorEcuador is home to unusually large number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites for a country so small, topped off by the Galapagos Islands. It is home to a variety of indigenous groups that were gradually incorporated into the Inca Empire during the fifteenth century. Most of its people being mestizos, followed by large minorities of European, Amerindian, and African descendants. Ecuador is equally rich in natural heritage and despite its small size is one of seventeen “megadiverse” countries.
 
 
Combination Atmosphere destinations combine elements of both cultural and natural destinations, where this combination is itself essential to the travel experience. Common examples are Archaeological Sites (where culture is usually experienced outdoors), Scenic Local Markets (where indigenous cultures interact outdoors), Hotsprings and Vineyard Areas (where nature provides the raw materials but humans create the surroundings), and Unique Cultural Landscapes (where humans and nature interact in innovative ways, as in the elaborate rice terracing systems of Asia).

Combination Interests typically fall somewhere in the middle of the three types of primary interests in terms of
(a) how climate-dependent they are
(b) how accessible and physically demanding they are.

French Guiana

Atmosphere: Combination    
Best Weather: August, September, October, November, December

 French GuianaFrench Guiana is a department of France located on the northeast corner of South America. It is the smallest of the “countries” of South America. Today, a large part of its economy derives from the presence of the Guiana Space Centre, the European Space Agency's primary launch site near the equator. Its landscape is marked by low-lying coastal plains that rise to hill plateaus and the Tumuc-humac mountains, with most of the interior covered in rainforests.
 
A Natural Atmosphere includes a diverse range of destinations with outdoor-oriented features, including both water-based (beaches, rivers, lakes, etc) and land-based (mountains, forests, deserts, etc). It also includes specific outdoor activities, ranging from water adventuring (eg, kayaking, sailing) to land adventuring (eg, hiking, biking).

Natural Interests tend to be:
(a) outdoors-oriented, and therefore more dependent on weather conditions
(b) less easily accessible and more physically demanding than other destination categories.

In some cases (eg, rafting and climbing), this includes a significantly increased degree of adventure (or danger, depending on one's viewpoint).

Guyana

Atmosphere: Nature    
Best Weather: January, February, March, April, November, December

 GuyanaGuyana, located in northeast South America, comprises the large shield landmass north of the Amazon River and east of the Orinoco River (known as the "Land of Many Waters"). It includes rainforests, low coastal plains, savannas, and a tepui mountainous area. It is the only South American nation in which English is the official language.
 
 
Combination Atmosphere destinations combine elements of both cultural and natural destinations, where this combination is itself essential to the travel experience. Common examples are Archaeological Sites (where culture is usually experienced outdoors), Scenic Local Markets (where indigenous cultures interact outdoors), Hotsprings and Vineyard Areas (where nature provides the raw materials but humans create the surroundings), and Unique Cultural Landscapes (where humans and nature interact in innovative ways, as in the elaborate rice terracing systems of Asia).

Combination Interests typically fall somewhere in the middle of the three types of primary interests in terms of
(a) how climate-dependent they are
(b) how accessible and physically demanding they are.

Paraguay

Atmosphere: Combination    
Best Weather: May, June, July, August, September

 ParaguayParaguay is a landlocked country located in the heart of in central South America, on the banks of the Paraguay River, which runs through the center of the country. In contrast to most Latin American nations, Paraguay's indigenous language and culture, Guaraní, remains highly influential. It has an abundance of natural resources, including the world’s biggest hydroelectric producer (Itaipú Dam, on its border with Brazil), but remains one of the poorest countries in South America.
 
Combination Atmosphere destinations combine elements of both cultural and natural destinations, where this combination is itself essential to the travel experience. Common examples are Archaeological Sites (where culture is usually experienced outdoors), Scenic Local Markets (where indigenous cultures interact outdoors), Hotsprings and Vineyard Areas (where nature provides the raw materials but humans create the surroundings), and Unique Cultural Landscapes (where humans and nature interact in innovative ways, as in the elaborate rice terracing systems of Asia).

Combination Interests typically fall somewhere in the middle of the three types of primary interests in terms of
(a) how climate-dependent they are
(b) how accessible and physically demanding they are.

Peru

Atmosphere: Combination    
Best Weather: May, June, July, August, September, October

 PeruPeru, situated on the western side of South America, holds many travel attractions, including an an archaeological patrimony of pre-Columbian cultures and as the hub of the Inca empire, its gastronomy, its colonial architecture (with imposing colonial landmarks and historic city centers), and its overall geographic diversity and splendor. Peru is an extremely biodiverse country, ranging from Pacific coast to Andes mountains to Amazon rainforest.
 
 
A Natural Atmosphere includes a diverse range of destinations with outdoor-oriented features, including both water-based (beaches, rivers, lakes, etc) and land-based (mountains, forests, deserts, etc). It also includes specific outdoor activities, ranging from water adventuring (eg, kayaking, sailing) to land adventuring (eg, hiking, biking).

Natural Interests tend to be:
(a) outdoors-oriented, and therefore more dependent on weather conditions
(b) less easily accessible and more physically demanding than other destination categories.

In some cases (eg, rafting and climbing), this includes a significantly increased degree of adventure (or danger, depending on one's viewpoint).

Suriname

Atmosphere: Nature    
Best Weather: February, March, April, September, October, November

 SurinameSuriname is the smallest independent country on the South American continent. It is a Dutch-speaking country with Sranang, an English-based creole language, as the widely used lingua franca. The land is mostly rolling hills and tropical rainforests, with a narrow coastal plain of mangrove swamps. It is home to great diversity of flora and fauna, and much of the landscape remains intact.
 
Combination Atmosphere destinations combine elements of both cultural and natural destinations, where this combination is itself essential to the travel experience. Common examples are Archaeological Sites (where culture is usually experienced outdoors), Scenic Local Markets (where indigenous cultures interact outdoors), Hotsprings and Vineyard Areas (where nature provides the raw materials but humans create the surroundings), and Unique Cultural Landscapes (where humans and nature interact in innovative ways, as in the elaborate rice terracing systems of Asia).

Combination Interests typically fall somewhere in the middle of the three types of primary interests in terms of
(a) how climate-dependent they are
(b) how accessible and physically demanding they are.

Uruguay

Atmosphere: Combination    
Best Weather: January, February, March, October, November, December

 UruguayUruguay is the second smallest country in South America geographically. It is a high income country by the UN -- the only one in Latin America. It is also widely regarded as the most liberal country socially in the region, with legalized same-sex marriage, abortion, and legalized cannabis among its signature social policies. It has a mostly low-lying landscape, with extensive beaches and seascapes, with the area around Punta del Este especially popular.
 
 
A Natural Atmosphere includes a diverse range of destinations with outdoor-oriented features, including both water-based (beaches, rivers, lakes, etc) and land-based (mountains, forests, deserts, etc). It also includes specific outdoor activities, ranging from water adventuring (eg, kayaking, sailing) to land adventuring (eg, hiking, biking).

Natural Interests tend to be:
(a) outdoors-oriented, and therefore more dependent on weather conditions
(b) less easily accessible and more physically demanding than other destination categories.

In some cases (eg, rafting and climbing), this includes a significantly increased degree of adventure (or danger, depending on one's viewpoint).

Venezuela

Atmosphere: Nature    
Best Weather: January, February, March, April, November, December

 VenezuelaVenezuela, located on the northern coast of South America, is among the most urbanized countries in Latin America with the vast majority of Venezuelans living in the cities of the north. Its terrain ranges from the Andes Mountains and Maracaibo Lowlands in northwest to the vast central plains and wetlands region (Llanos) to the Guiana Highlands in southeast and Amazon Basin rainforest in the south.