Countries covered: Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, Uruguay & Brazil
South America just may be the world’s most underrated destination. Tourism in Colombia is growing steadily as visitors finally feel comfortable exploring the country’s many attractions: colonial cities, archaeological ruins, coffee plantations, high-mountain trekking, tropical beaches and islands, scuba diving, surfing, and whale watching. Known as the microcosm of South America, Ecuador is most popular with students wishing to learn Spanish as well as with nature-lovers fascinated by the Galapagos Islands. However, both the colonial gem of a capital that is Quito and the country’s interior jungles (the Oriente) are equally impressive, despite not really being on the beaten path.
Known for hiking the historic Inca (Empire) Trail, indigenous archeological sites such as Machu Picchu, traditional folk healers (a.k.a. shaman or curanderos), once-abundant gold resources, colonial-era settlements like the architecturally gifted city of Cusco, exotic Amazonian jungle, coastal deserts, the breathtaking Andes mountains, Pisco sours (alcohol) and its seafood (especially ceviche), the gastronomic hotspot that is Peru is one of South America’s most visited destinations for good reason. Featuring a broad range of landscapes from deserts of the Andes to rainforests in the Amazon to towering volcanic peaks, boasting the largest salt flat on the planet just perfect for four-wheel driving and otherwise home to fine colonial architecture, the landlocked and highly indigenous nation that is Bolivia is surprisingly one of South America’s least visited destinations. That’s all the better, as prices are lower, problems are fewer (e.g. haggling tourists) and the overall experience is far more authentic.
Known for incredibly diverse nature, gauchos (a.k.a. cowboys), delicious meats (especially the steak), world-renowned wines, tango, soccer fanatics, and attractive people, Argentina is nothing short of amazing. The lasting impressions you are likely to have of Argentina are of its live-for-the-moment people. Argentineans are rarely quiet, often hilarious, instinctively passionate, and always fashionable. The country oozes a level of stylishness incomparable to anywhere outside of the Mediterranean. Contrary to much of the Mediterranean, however, tourists surprisingly are not arriving in Argentina by the masses-at least not yet. Home of one of the most chic resorts in all of Latin America, Uruguay is one of the continent’s most pleasant and prosperous countries. Although colonial Colonia Del Sacramento and Montevideo are great destinations for stopping over en route, ultimately Uruguay’s tourist magnet draw is the seasonally popular resort Punta del Este, often labeled as the Monte Carlo of South America.
Known for colorful and colonial architecture, festive music, an incomparable nightlife scene and a free-spirited culture that becomes most expressive during Carnival, Brazil is THE country that extends over approximately half of South America and covers much of the Amazon. This is a land of tropical scenery, of astonishing biodiversity, of seemingly endless coastline, of powdery white-sand beaches, exotic and clear waters, giant waterfalls, canyons and rivers, adventure, and excitement. Brazil is undoubtedly one of the Americas most talked-about and enchanting destinations.
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I like the way you map out a good route and a place to station yourself throughout every section of the trip. Your stories are pretty cool too. My favorite thing to do when I travel is eat, so I really appreciate you letting me know what kinds of dishes to try. You didn’t miss a thing. Excellent itinerary. Will be using it again for sure.
Traveling to all the best spots in South America requires a lot of time and a tremendous amount of planning, patience, and energy. We don’t know how you did it, Charlie, but we are glad that you did! You saved us a mountain of headaches because your itinerary was perfect. From point A to point B you always knew the best route and the best time to go. Your books are blessings.