Introducing South America
Andean peaks, Amazonian rainforest, Patagonian glaciers, Incan ruins, colonial towns, white-sand beaches and vertiginous nightlife: the wonders of South America set the stage for incredible adventures.
Setting for Big Adventures
From the snow-capped peaks of the Andes to the undulating waterways of the Amazon, South America spreads a dazzling array of natural wonders. This is a continent of lush rainforests, towering volcanoes, misty cloud forests, bone-dry deserts, red-rock canyons, ice-blue glaciers and sun-kissed beaches. As landscapes go, there aren't many other places on earth that offer so much range – or so many opportunities for adventure.
You can hike past ancient temples first laid down by the Incas, contemplate the awe-inspiring power of Iguazú Falls or spend the day watching wildlife from a dugout canoe on one of the Amazon's countless igarapés (narrow waterways). You can barrel down Andean roads by mountain bike, go white-water rafting on class-five rivers and surf amazing breaks off both coasts. And once you think you've experienced it all, head to the dramatic landscapes in Tierra del Fuego, go eye-to-eye with extraordinary creatures in the Galápagos, and scramble up tableland mountains in the Gran Sabana for a panorama that seems straight out of the Mesozoic era.
South America's great diversity doesn't end with geography. Across the continent you'll find magnificent colonial towns where cobblestone streets lead past gilded churches and stately plazas – a scene little changed since the 18th century. Elsewhere, you can haggle over colorful textiles at indigenous markets, share meals with traditional dwellers of the rainforest and follow the pounding rhythms laid down by Afro-Brazilian drums corps. South America is home to an astounding variety of living and ancient cultures, and experiencing it all first-hand is as easy as showing up.
La Vida Musical
Welcome to one of the world's great music destinations. Colombian salsa, Brazilian samba, Argentine tango and Andean folk music all receive airtime across the globe, but nothing quite compares to hearing those rhythms in the place where they were born. Sultry milongas (tango clubs) in Buenos Aires, simmering garrafeiras (dance halls) in Rio, salsotecas (salsa clubs) in Quito – all great places to chase the heart of Saturday night. Yet this is only the beginning of a great musical odyssey that encompasses poetic Peruvian trovas, soulful Ecuadorian passillos, fast-stepping Brazilian forró, whirling Venezuelan merengue, steel-pan Guyanese drumming, Paraguayan harp music and scores of other regional styles. The best way to experience it is to simply plunge in – though you might want to take a dance class along the way!
Best places to stay in South America
South America on a Shoestring - Plan your trip (Chapter)
Your journey to South America starts here. You’ll find the tools to plan your adventure: where to go and when, how much to budget.
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Ancient ruins of South America
South America's best festivals
Need to know
South America on a Shoestring - Survival Guide (Chapter)
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Come for Carnaval. Stay for passion, pristine rainforests and caipirinhas.
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South America's best beaches
Argentina - Salta & the Andean Northwest (Chapter)
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The Inca Trail
One of our most popular trips in the region for those looking to combine the cultural highlights of the Sacred Valley with the challenge of one of the world’s best known hikes. The four-day Inca Trail trek will reward you with a stunning combination of the region’s ruins, mountainscapes, and cloud forests.
Inca Trail Adventure
Explore the fabulous Sacred Valley of the Incas before trekking along the legendary Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
Driving through the wilderness on Chile's Carretera Austral
The Carretera Austral begins where Chile’s Lakes District ends, snaking south for 1240km into a land of dense forests, snow-tipped mountains, glacial streams, islands and swift-flowing rivers. When you hear the term 'Southern Highway', you might imagine an orderly, well-paved route through the wilderness. You'd be wrong...
Fast Talk Latin American Spanish
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South America's best hikes
South America's best music and dance experiences
South America's top colonial cities
South America's best ecolodges
Wildlife-watching destinations in South America
Sights in South America
Activities in South America
Tours in South America
Restaurants in South America
Budget hotels & hostels
Guesthouses and B&Bs
Start free associating on the word ‘Argentina,’ and it’s quickly apparent why the country has long held travelers in awe: tango, beef, gauchos, fútbol, Patagonia, the Andes. The classics alone make a formidable wanderlust cocktail. City Life Just wait till you get here. Arriving in Buenos Aires is like jumping aboard a moving train.