South America Ultimate Travel Guide

How could a South America ultimate travel guide help you? You will not get stuck in making a silly plan. Take it easy and kick off your journey. 

South America is a vivid and interesting region to discover in the history, outdoor activities, colonial architecture, and stunning sightseeing on earth. The list goes on the extra mile with any adventurous traveler.

If you are deciding to travel to South America, it could be frightening and confusing. This is because there are many things to take into account and come across in a huge continent. The good news is that you can follow a quick South America Ultimate travel guide below.

About South America

Located in the South of North and Central America, South America reclined from the Caribbean to the waters off Antarctica. The region has 12 countries. South America is one of the most massive areas in the world. 

When it comes to sightseeing and culture, you could discover how rich it is. Ancient ruins, diverse history, rich rainforest, and glaciers might make you amazed at all.

Heavy Amazonian rainforest, heroic trails (Machu Picchu, Inca, Galapagos Islands), alluring waterfalls, and wildlife are real dreams for any adventurer. Patagonia is distinctly prominent for trails and hiking. It even covers up Argentina and Chile. 

Apart from wildlife, South America provides a hustle-and-bustle city life. Backpacking is also a popular place in this continent.

Time zone 

  • UTC-6: Easter Island (Chile), and Galapagos (Ecuador)
  • UTC -5: Brazil (some places), Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru
  • UTC -4.5: Venezuela
  • UTC -4: Bolivia, Brazil (some places), Chile, and Paraguay
  • UTC-3: Argentina, Brazil (some places), and Uruguay
  • UTC -2: Fernando de Noronha and other Brazilian islands


Currency in this region varies from country to country. For visitors, you can pay by cash or credit cards.


Hot, cool, humid, cloudy, etc. – there is no shortage of climate range across South America. They could be steaming-hot in rainforests in the North to arid land in desert, as well as volatile weather in the mountains. Thus, you should research everything about the destination, including the climate in your next destination.  

Local language

Spanish and Portuguese are local dialects in this continent. As a traveler, you can use English because it is widely spoken across the region. 

Etiquette tips

Avoid throwing trash on the land or ocean. Locals are friendly, so you can ask them for help at any time. However, remember that treat locals with respect and charming. Furthermore, identify local customs and formalities. 

SIM cards

An unlocked smartphone is easy to add a local SIM card on arrival in most South American airports. It enables you to access databases like you are using at home. An alternative SIM card is also available in many countries. 

Things to visit for tourists 

From foggy rainforests to ancient archaeological spots, South America increases an array of destinations formidable to all tourists. Selecting a vacation site from all of the fabulous options could be challenging.  

Patagonia, Argentine

Patagonia lies down in the Andes Mountains. Patagonia is so extensive that Charles Darwin once described this area as a boundless land. Cobalt lakes, enchanting glaciers, lush trees, and sapphire skies create Patagonia captivating. 

This continent provides mountain, marine, and wildlife at the same time with a wide range of landscapes. You can discover emerald villages and snowy-mountain peaks in Argentina’s Lake District, for instance. 

Come to the East and you probably see whales through Peninsula Valdes marine life. In Southern Patagonia, a lot of deserts broaden estancias and melt glaciers. In a nutshell, the beauty of Patagonia does not have bounds.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Rio de Janeiro is known as Cidade Maravilhosa (Marvelous City), it is lied down at a bay harbor. Covered up white-sand beaches, green rainforests, and mountains; the city has natural life with fresh air. 

Moreover, the city also gives fantastic views from any angle. On the slopes of Corcovado Mountain, you can applaud the striking Christ the Redeemer in 125 feet with pristine beaches. 

San Francisco de Quito, Ecuador

San Francisco de Quito is the capital of Ecuador with 2 million in population. Why is Quito famous globally? This is because it is the home of the historic quarter in South America.

Quito was known as the pre-Hispanic and post-Hispanic religious hub of South America, the city has plenty of churches and cathedrals. This is the major spot of Quito that you could find in any block in the downtown area.

On the other hand, the city is flanked by sky-scraping mountains. Another great point is that you ought to explore many arresting volcanos lining the horizon on a bright day.

Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

Galapagos Islands are a part of Ecuador. Many of you will be amazed at prevailing wildlife and fearless animals, without the presence of human beings. Thus, this is a handful of tremendous spots to attract travelers around the world.

-> Read more: Ecuador Travel Guide

Due to careful strides in preservation attempts and tourist regulations, Galapagos National Park still becomes a careless zoo. All animals can stroll in a leisurely way. They even feel peaceful in the presence of a human. The variable terrains of the Galapagos Islands are gigantic, awe-inspiring, and spiritual.

Bogota, Columbia

Bogota is the capital of Columbia with 8 million in population. It is also a cosmopolitan city and epicenter of business and entertainment in Columbia.

In recent decades, Bogota has been transformed into an amazing destination such as dynamic nightlife, rich museums, shopping centers, and culture. Thanks to its privileged location, the city becomes an easy and convenient point for travelers to transfer. 

Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

Located in the Southwest of Bolivia, Salr de Uyuni is the most widespread destination and the largest salt flat in the world. Spanning nearly 11,000 square kilometers, all salt flats have different looks in the year. The salt season is also the wet period (from January to April). 

How could you reach a salt flat? Think of public transportation! There is no shortage of daily buses departing to Salar de Uyuni. Nonetheless, some of them are often delayed. To reduce your hurried feeling during the delayed time, you need to bring good books or pre-loading podcasts initially. 


Fitz Roy Mountain, Argentina

Fitz Roy Mount is located in Patagonia, Argentina, and on the border between Chile and Argentina (near El Chalten).

For mountaineers and hikers, this is the best place to challenge when traveling to South America. It is said that Fitz Roy Mount is the second most common hiking trail on the globe (after Torres del Paine).

Machu Picchu, Peru

Have you ever heard “the lost city of the Incas in the 15th-century”? If you would like to spot this story, you will need to visit Machu Picchu in Peru. In the past, Machu Picchu was a citadel of the Inca people.

Nevertheless, they abandoned it in the mid-15th century. It was found again by people in 1911. These days, the Inca ruins are a must-see destination with thousands of visitors from country to country. To visit there, you can choose a bus or hiking (from Aguas Caliente). You will spend 5 or 7 days hiking on the trails.

Pantanal, Brazil

The Amazon jungle is always a famous destination for those who love natural life, especially wildlife. It inherits huge biodiversity with massive species and other plants. If you want to learn about unique animals in the world, you should come to this continent. It is Pantanal located in Brazil.

Pantanal is a wetland system with several open areas, so seeing diverse animals are piece of cake. For example, it enables you to reach plenty of toucans, caimans, piranhas, etc. You even take snapshots of some rare animals such as anacondas and jaguars.

Angel Falls, Venezuela

Angel Falls is located in Canaima National Park, Venezuela. Known as the highest waterfall in the world, it creates a distinctive image of an uninterrupted waterfall on the planet (3,211 feet in height).

In Canaima National Park, catching Angel Falls is like a mission in your life. It comes across the middle of the Venezuelan jungle in small grassland, so you probably spend 4 hours coming by canoe. Thereafter, it takes one hour to hike on a jungle trail. Well, floating in a natural pool and looking down is a truly spectacular 

San Pedro de Atacama, Chile

San Pedro de Atacama is the hottest and driest place on the planet because it is a desert in Chile. However, this is a special dessert letting us come and discover.

Ranging from salt lakes, caves, canyons, manifold mountains, to hot springs; there is a variety of stunning things to study and save in your mind. Keep in mind that the spectacular night sky is worth admiring.

Rent a bicycle and look up the fabulous rock formations of Valle de la Luna and Atacama in a couple of days. You never feel regret! Walking and camping at the same time are also perfect for keeping authentic experiences.

Cusco, Peru

Cusco is a city in Peruvian Andes. It was the capital of the Inca Empire. Today, this is a famous site for archaeological ruins and colonial architecture. 

Located at over 3000 meters, the city has a solid base for exploring around Andes Mountains and Inca remains. 

For those who love trekking, find Ausangate, Choquequirao, and Salkantay. To have a deep study about Inca ruins, Sacred Valley is a good idea.

Punta del Este, Uruguay

Punta del Este is a beach town in Uruguay. It is also known as a fishing village and a resort town.

Some people assume that Punta del Este is the Los Dedos beach sculpture at Playa Brava. It is named after a famous artist – Mario Irarrazabal. In summer, this is an excellent destination for surfing.

Las Lajas Sanctuary, Colombia

Las Lajas Cathedral is constructed on a magnificent stone bridge, extending over the canyon of Guaitara River (between the border of Colombia and Ecuador). Las Lajas Sanctuary is near Ipiales city.

Starting in 1916, the cathedral is a well-constructed building and it took nearly 33 years to complete.   

When is the best time to travel to South America

Autumn and summer are the best times to travel to South America. Most of the countries have good weather from April to June. The temperatures have decreased a little bit. In some cities, the wine route (in Mendoza), and hiking trails (in Patagonia) are less crowded. 

If you cannot travel to two of these periods, winter is also fine. Between December and March, this is the high peak for several attractions in South America. The hiking trail in Machu Picchu is also the greatest time to see the wildlife (from September to November). It is the low water season to take snapshots.

Small tips to prepare before visiting 

How much time could you start the journey?

It depends on your plan. If you have only two weeks to get to South America, it would be impossible to reach all of the countries. In two weeks, you can visit one nation, Colombia, for instance. To catch all of the continents in South America, spend a few months. You even take many years to complete your trip.

Do you need to get a visa?

It depends on your country and where you want to visit. Most of the time, tourists do not have to prepare visas in advance. They can do visas at the border or upon arriving in South America. Of course, the custom will issue a tourist visa and a stamp on your passport.

Do locals have festivals?

Of course, they have a lot. Cities and towns often provide local cultural events and carnivals. Rio’s carnival in Brazil is the most prominent festival in the globe, appealing to millions of people each year. Besides, Semana Sana or Holy Week is also an indispensable cultural week of the year in this region. It takes place in the last week (before Easter).

Every country often celebrates its national days. Locals also have food and beverage festivals, cultural events throughout the year. South America becomes a wonderful prospect to travel and relax whenever you arrive.  

Final Words

With so many destinations and various activities, it would become a big mistake to set a plan randomly. Additionally, it would be ambitious to add all itineraries to your short trip. Therefore, it is a smart choice to study the South America ultimate travel guide in advance. Then, you are able to return and check something different promptly