Top 10 Things to Do on a Trip to South America

by South America3 comments

Hey there, globe-trotters! Welcome to South America — one of the most diverse and fascinating continents on Earth — and a favorite for backpackers.

Are you ready to dive into the vibrant culture and utterly breathtaking landscapes of South America? After all, this place is a treasure trove of natural wonders, historical sites, and cultural festivals that will leave you spellbound.

But before you grab your backpack, make sure you got everything you need — a valid passport, any necessary vaccinations, and, of course, your travel documents.

Don’t forget you might need a visa, a travel authorization, a disembarkation card, or a combination of these for any of the countries you visit on your trip. Whether it’s a Colombia Check-Mig or an Argentina visa, make sure you apply in good time before your trip.

So are you all sorted? You got everything? Then let’s embark on a journey to discover the top 10 things to do on a trip to South America. Trust me, you don’t want to miss out on these experiences!

1. Witness the Majesty of Machu Picchu, Peru

South America: Macchu Picchu

Let’s kick things off with the iconic Machu Picchu. Nestled high in the Andes, this Incan city and UNESCO World Heritage Site is on many people’s bucket lists for good reason.

Few experiences are as atmospheric as wandering around the long-abandoned site, with its ancient buildings, silent tombs, and stone terraces. It is truly a masterpiece of architecture and engineering.

For the things you can do, you can hike the Inca Trail at dawn, and be rewarded with a sunrise view that’s nothing short of magical. It’s not just a tourist spot; it’s a journey back in time.

2. Explore the Salt Flats of Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

Salt Flats of Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

Next up, we have the surreal landscapes of Salar de Uyuni. The world’s largest salt flat transforms into a giant mirror during the rainy season, reflecting the sky in a way that’s hard to believe is real. You feel almost like you’re walking on clouds!

It’s a photographer’s dream, and you’re sure to get a snapshot to remember from this unique experience.

3. Dance the Tango in Buenos Aires, Argentina

Tango in Buenos Aires, Argentina

Argentina beckons with the seductive rhythms of Tango. Buenos Aires, the birthplace of this passionate dance, offers countless milongas (tango clubs) where you can either watch mesmerizing performances or dare to step onto the dance floor yourself. It’s an experience that embodies the soul of Argentine culture.

4. Marvel at Iguazu Falls, Brazil and Argentina

South America: Marvel at Iguazu Falls, Brazil and Argentina

Straddling the border between Brazil and Argentina, Iguazu Falls is a spectacle of nature. This dramatic collection of cascades makes up the world’s biggest waterfall system. It completely dwarfs the likes of Niagara Falls.

Walk the trails around these thunderous falls, feel the mist on your face, and understand why the indigenous Guarani people named it “Big Water.”

5. Journey Through the Amazon Rainforest

Amazon Rainforest : South America

Embark on an adventure into the heart of the Amazon Rainforest. Known as one of the largest rainforests in the world, the Amazon is famous for its unparalleled biodiversity. From exotic monkeys, sleepy sloths, and colorful birds to the deadly beauty of the jaguar and the massive anaconda, this forest is home to creatures that aren’t found anywhere else on Earth.

The rainforest is so massive it takes up parts of Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Peru, Suriname, and Venezuela. You can make your adventure into the Amazon in any one of these nations.

Canoe down its rivers, spot exotic wildlife and even meet indigenous communities. Thousands of indigenous people live in the Amazon and it is possible to visit some of these villages.

This miraculous jungle is a living, breathing reminder of the wonders of our planet.

6. Discover the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

Discover the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

For wildlife enthusiasts, the Galapagos Islands are a must-visit. This archipelago is a living museum of evolutionary changes, with a diversity of animal species you won’t find anywhere else. Indeed, it was a visit to these islands that inspired Darwin’s theory of evolution.

Swim with sea lions, marvel at the giant tortoises, and walk among iguanas that seem to have wandered out of prehistory.

7. Bask on the Beaches of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Beaches of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Rio de Janeiro is synonymous with its iconic beaches, Copacabana and Ipanema. Sunbathe on golden sands, sip caipirinhas, and soak in the vibrant atmosphere of this city. Then there’s the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue watching over the city from atop Corcovado Mountain — the perfect spot for a selfie!

8. Trek the Colca Canyon, Peru

South America: Colca Canyon, Peru

Not as famous as Machu Picchu but equally breathtaking, the Colca Canyon offers some of the best trekking in South America. It’s twice as deep as the Grand Canyon!

Watch majestic Andean condors soar against a backdrop of rugged landscapes and traditional villages.

9. Savor the Wines of Chile’s Central Valley

Chile’s Central Valley

Chile’s Central Valley is a haven for wine lovers. Tour the vineyards, learn about the wine-making process, and, of course, sample some of the world’s best wines.

The stunning scenery of rolling hills and vineyards adds to the intoxicating experience.

10. Experience the Heart and Soul of Colombia

Colombia Palenquara Women

Ah, Colombia! This country has transformed and emerged as a jewel of South America. From the colorful streets of Cartagena to the lush coffee plantations in the Zona Cafetera, Colombia is bursting with life.

Dive into the Culture of Bogotá
Start your Colombian adventure in Bogotá. The high-altitude capital blends modernity with centuries-old plazas. Visit the Gold Museum to see pre-Hispanic gold work that will leave you awestruck.

Wander Through Cartagena’s Old Town
Cartagena’s Old Town is like stepping into a time machine. The well-preserved colonial architecture, cobblestone streets, and the warmth of the Caribbean Sea make it a romantic escape. The ancient walls once protected the city from pirates. Nowadays, they are the perfect place to take in the sunset.

Get Lost in the Coffee Triangle
Coffee lovers, rejoice! Colombia’s Zona Cafetera offers you the chance to see how your favorite morning brew is made. Take a tour of a coffee plantation, learn about the process from bean to cup, and enjoy the freshest coffee you’ll ever taste.

— Dance the Night Away in Medellín
Medellín, once notorious, is now known for its innovation and culture. The city comes alive at night with salsa clubs that will have you dancing till dawn. The transformation of Medellín is a testament to the resilience and spirit of the Colombian people.

• • •

Top 10 Things to Do on a Trip to South America

Vámonos Muchachos!

South America is a continent of endless adventure, culture, and natural beauty. From the peaks of the Andes to the depths of the Amazon, each country offers its own unique treasures.

Whether you’re dancing tango in Buenos Aires, marveling at the wildlife in the Galapagos, or sipping coffee in Colombia, you’re sure to leave with unforgettable memories. So, what are you waiting for? South America is calling your name!

Now, go ahead and tick these experiences off your bucket list. And remember, wherever your travels take you, keep your heart open to the endless possibilities that await. Happy travels, amigos!

• • •

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  1. Claudia

    I have never been to South America, but I have always wanted to go. Great article and great tips!

    • Aileen Adalid

      Hope this helps!

  2. Mani Venkat

    Nice blog!!! Thanks for sharing


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