Nestling between the Caribbean, the South Atlantic and the South Pacific, the continent of South America prides in being the wilder of the Americas, while also being home to the world’s biggest rainforest and the largest river basin (Amazon), along with beautiful, remote islands, breathtaking beaches and several other natural attractions.
The best time to visit South America is any time other than the rainy season which generally takes place between the months of January and March. Other than this season, South America is a year round destination, where summer falls from November up to the month of February.
So, to help you make your trip to South America, go through this list of the top 10 places to visit in South America during the summer months and what attractions these places have in store for you.
1. Machu Picchu, Peru
The site of ancient Incas, Machu Picchu in Peru is the most popular and the most recognizable tourist spot. Located at an elevation of 2400 m, Machu Picchu is not only a famous tourist attraction, but also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The beautiful landscapes of Peru make it one of the best countries to visit in South America.
Apart from that, it is a beautiful Incan citadel that has an elaborate dry-stone wall structure and enchanting, panoramic views. It is suggested to live in lodges instead of going for hotels and one should be open to trying out new cuisines and different routes of reaching the top and enjoying the magnificent view of sunrise.
What to do in Machu Picchu:
- Hiking up to Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu via the Inca Trail
- Visit the Temple of the Sun, The Torreon and experience the exquisite Incan masonry
- Visit the Intihuatana, a carved stone having religious importance, which was also used as an astronomical device by the Inca civilization.
Where to stay in Machu Picchu:
- The Belmond Sanctuary Lodge, located right at the entrance of Machu Picchu
- The Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel in riverside location about half an hour away from the Machu Picchu entrance in Aguas Calientes
- The Sumaq Machu Picchu Hotel, at the foot of the mountain, close to the Vilacanota River, to avoided crowd and bustle at Machu Picchu
2. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Rio de Janeiro in Brazil is one of the top places to visit in South America during summer, especially from December through March. It is a lively and delightful tourist place that gives you a variety of experiences from visiting the exotic beaches such as Copacabana and Ipanema beaches, enjoying bohemian culture is the streets of Lapa or seeing the famous icon of Rio, the Christ the Redeemer statue atop the Corcovado Mountain.
It is also a great place for those who love experiencing natural beauty in lush botanical gardens or even those who enjoy city life and architectural masterpieces such as the Museum of Modern Art.
What to do in Rio de Janeiro:
- Visit the Christ the Redeemer statue, which is also one of the seven wonders of the world
- Assuage the soccer fan inside of you by visiting the Maracana Stadium, one of the biggest soccer stadiums in the world
- Enjoying natural beauty in the Tijuca National Park
Where to stay in Rio de Janeiro:
- Vila Santa Teresa, located in the upper class urban area
- Augusto’s Copacabana Hotel with close proximity to the Copacabana beach
3. Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
Home to an incredible variety of biodiversity and a rich historical background, the Galapagos Islands is an archipelago in the Pacific Ocean and is considered one of the most popular destinations in the world for wildlife viewing. This set of islands and small islets off Ecuador’s coast is a World Heritage Site, which also served as an inspiration for Charles Darwin and his Theory of Evolution. The numerous islands and their unique landscapes showcase a myriad range of barren, volcanic rocks, stretches of white sand beaches and sparkling blue waters.
What to do in Galapagos:
- Beaches and sightseeing in Santa Cruz Island
- Snorkelling and diving
- Bird watching in Galapagos island
Where to stay in Galapagos:
- Finch Bay Galapagos, a luxury hotel with great sea views on Santa Cruz Island
- Hostal Terito, a homely hostel on San Cristobal island that is budget friendly, with nice and cozy rooms
- The Isabela Beach House on the Isabela Island, a luxury beach house on a private beach
4. Bogota, Colombia
The capital city of Colombia, home to 8 million people and a hotspot for several thousand tourists every year is also a cosmopolitan centre of activities from all fields of life, from business to fashion and politics to entertainment. It is a great destination with its exciting nightlife, numerous museums, lifestyle culture and superb cuisines and dining.
Colombia is also greatly known for the Coffee Triangle or the ‘Zona Cafetera’ which has great lush green valleys, pleasant climate and eye catching wildlife.
What to do in Bogota:
- Bike tour of Bogota
- The Bogota food experience that gives you the chance to enjoy cuisines from 7 different regions in Colombia
- Bogota Museums and City tour
Where to stay in Bogota:
- W Bogota, a luxury hotel in the countryside town of Usaquen
- Salvio Parque 93 in the urban feel region of Chico
5. Iguassu Falls, Argentina/Brazil
Iguassu or Igauzu, meaning ‘big water’ in English are waterfalls on the river Iguazu shared by the border provinces of Argentina and Brazil, collectively making up one of the largest waterfalls in the world. It is a common destination for day outs and excursions and is an attraction that you must just have to see to believe.
What to do in Iguassu Falls:
- Visit the ‘Devil’s Throat’ that marks the border of Argentina and Brazil
- A full day tour of the Brazil side and Macuco trail
- Iguazu Forest adventure in the heart of nature
- Helicopter ride to witness one of nature’s greatest marvels
Where to stay in Iguassu falls:
- Sheraton Hotel on the Argentinean side of the fall
- Hotel Las Cataratas on the Brazil side
6.Bolivian Salt Flats, Bolivia
Salar de Uyuni, commonly known as the Uyuni Salt Flats is the world’s largest salts flat, a prehistoric lake that went dry, leaving behind a breathtaking landscape white salt formations and islands. It is easily accessible by taking a bus, train or plane to Uyuni. The best time to visit starts from the month of January, when it starts to rain a little and the salt flat plains make a beautiful mirror image, reflecting on the accumulated water.
What to do in the Salt Flats:
- Planting your country flag in the heart of Salar de Uyuni
- Enjoy the beautiful sunset over the stretch of white salt plains
- Visiting the Dakar monument
Where to stay in the Salt Flats:
- Casa de Sal, Salt Hotel which is great for families and is in close proximity
- Hotel Boutique Atipax, a luxury hotel which is also suitable for couples
7. Easter Island, Chile
The Easter Island, natively known as Rapa Nui is another famous archaeological site which is famous for its stone structures, including about 900 monumental statues created by inhabitants up till the 16th century. The island is about 1900 km off the coast of Chile and is known to have volcanic origin and formation. It is a great spot for anyone who’s fascinated by monuments, culture, history and also, of course, natural beauty. It is easily accessible through running flights under Latin American Airlines which take not more than six hours for transportation.
What to do in Easter Island:
- Visit the UNESCO recognized Rapa Nui National Park
- Meet the stone people; the two best sites are Ahu Tongariki and Rano Raraku
- Outdoor activities such as horseback riding and hiking
Where to stay in Easter Island:
- Easter Island Eco Lodge, only 8 km away from the monument and 10 min drive away from the airport
- Cabanas Rapa Nui Orito, a simple guesthouse with simple rooms and local tour offers
8. Patagonia, Argentina/Chile
The Patagonia region of South America is shared by Argentina and Chile is best known for its rare wildlife and biodiversity, such as the puma, the red Culpeo fox, along with a massive variety of birds such as flamingos, wading birds, Rhea and also birds of prey such as the Andean condor. The best time to visit and experience the bountiful wildlife and natural beauty is during the spring and summer months from November, through February. It’s a great place for one to meet like-minded travel enthusiasts and connect with the warm and welcoming locals of the place.
What to do in Patagonia:
- Visit the Los Glaciares and Torres del Paine National Parks
- Visiting Puerto San Julian, the place where the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan made a landfall
Where to stay in Patagonia:
- Monte Dinero, one of the few working sheep farms in the region which is open to visitors and tourists
- El Gualicho hostel, Puerto Madryn, a bright hostel in close proximity from the sea
9. The Amazon River Basin and Rainforest
The Amazon River is the largest river in the world and is the heart of the Amazon rainforest, which is also the largest rainforest in the world. It can be easily accessed from different parts of Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Guyana, and of course, most importantly, Brazil. It is better to book a tour of the Amazon before hand to reduce the hassle and also go for a boat or cruise trip of the river. It is advised to carry mosquito repellents and walking shoes, irrespective of the month you are planning to visit in as it is going to be warm, humid and rainy.
What to do in the Amazon River:
- Jungle walks through the rainforest, exploring the flora and fauna biodiversity
- River cruises to access more remote areas
- Rafting, canoeing and swimming in the river
Where to stay in the Amazon River:
- Jungle lodges across different regions
10. El Chalten, Argentina
The Monte Fitz Roy is a mountain located in the town of El Chalten, on the border between Chile and Argentina and is a popular choice of visit among hikers, mountaineers and travel enthusiasts. It has a wide range of activities available for the tourists, from trekking to visiting beautiful, scenic lakes and viewpoints for natural beauty and even boating.
What to do in El Chalten:
- Hiking up to the Glacier top
- Boating trips on the glacial lake to look at the Viedma Glacier on the Viedma lake
- Enjoy locally brewed craft beer in La Cerveceria after trekking
- River rafting in the De Las Vueltas River Canyon
Where to stay in El Chalten:
- Andino Aparts which is close to many restaurants and also to the hiking sites and glacial lake
- Hotel Alma de Patagonia, which has elegant rooms with beautiful views
In conclusion of the article and our list of top countries to visit in South America, it is safe to say that the continent of South America is a must visit, whether you love nature and outdoor activities or urban markets, bohemian cultures, beaches and meeting lovely, cordial people.
The different countries have their own cultural and historical importance, the most important one of which is the fact that the continent was home to the well known Inca civilization and several locations have been recognized and preserved by the UNESCO as World Heritage sites. The countries are known to be usually warm and humid through the months of November to February, which is the best time to explore the continent of South America. It is also home to a great variety of flora and fauna which also is a great attraction for tourists.
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