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Top Trip Memories

  • Hiking the final stretches of the Inca Trail to experience your first glimpse of ancient Machu Picchu, nestled high in the Peruvian Andes.
  • Walking in Darwin’s footsteps in the Galapagos as you amble within feet -- or inches -- of some of the world’s most amazing wildlife – from blue-footed boobies to penguins and frigate birds, sea lions to iguanas and giant tortoises.
  • Landing at Cape Horn at the tip of the continent on your small-ship expedition vessel, winds and weather permitting, to be greeted by the lone Chilean sentry stationed there.
  • Surveying a panorama of Rio de Janeiro, one of the most spectacularly situated cities anywhere, from atop Corcovado mountain.
  • Sampling the vintages in Chile’s beautiful wine country south of Santiago, while reminiscing over your stay in one of the country’s remarkable desert or mountain national parks.
  • Reveling in the power of Argentina and Brazil’s Iguazu Falls, which ranks with Africa’s Victoria Falls as one of the two greatest cascades on earth.
  • Cruising the Amazon on a small river vessel, keeping an eye (and ear) out for howler monkeys, sloths and pink dolphins.
  • Discovering one of the many colorful neighborhoods of Buenos Aires, the vibrant Argentine capital, while sipping a cappuccino at a chic cafe.
  • Journeying across the Pacific to visit remote Easter Island, home to the legendary multi-ton carved stone moai (statues), pondering the mystery of how they were moved across the island hundreds of years ago.
  • Immersing yourself in Spanish colonial history in Ecuador’s splendid high-altitude Andean cities of Quito and Cuenca.
  • Escaping the cold of a North American winter to soak up some sun in South America’s Southern Hemisphere summer.
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Tour Tips

  • Consider tours that take in more than one major site: combining trips to the Galapagos Islands with Machu Picchu, or an Amazon river cruise with Rio de Janeiro.
  • For touring the Amazon, look for travel providers that employ indigenous people among the guides – they’ll know the rainforests, local customs and folkways like no one else.
  • For Machu Picchu, keep in mind that there are tours for all levels of exertion and roughing it, ranging from short guided lodge-based hiking or train trips to multi-day camping trips.
  • If you like diversity, consider Ecuador – a small country that may pack more punch for its size than any other in the world: the Andes, Amazon, the Pacific, colonial cities, and the Galapagos.
  • Some Galapagos tours travel by small ship around the islands, while others are mostly land-based; boat trips will visit more islands.
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South America Travel Reviews & Ratings

4.7 out of 5

99%

recommend

2,436 Reviews

  • Excellent 1,773
  • Great 611
  • Average 43
  • Disappointing 8
  • Terrible 1

Rating Details

  • Value
    4.7
  • Guide
    4.7
  • Activities
    4.7
  • Lodging
    4.7
  • Transportation
    4.7
  • Meals
    4.7

Tour Reviews

Great experience

Enchanting Peru

5.0
January 2017
SmarTours
Recommend: Yes
The guides were all excellent and very friendly, funny. I just wish we could have spent longer at Peru.

Impeccable trip with Allie's handling.

Classic Galapagos: Cruising Darwin’s Enchanted Islands

5.0
December 2016
SmarTours
Recommend: Yes
Even with the minor hiccups, this entire adventure was impeccable and that is an understatement.

Enchanted Peru

Enchanting Peru

5.0
December 2016
SmarTours
Recommend: Yes
We just returned from our Tour in Peru, unfortunately it was riddled with strikes by the Transportation Department. HOWEVER!!! we must say that Smartours went beyond what was normal. We were treated like Royalty, additional nights at the hotel, flight upgrades. We were able to see everything we came for. Some other Tour Groups we shared our hotel with were not that lucky and they ended up stranded. Also I like to say that our Tour Guide in Peru (Enrique) was funny, very knowledgeable and just overall a super nice person, we never felt like that we were a burden or "just a job". Too bad he wasn't able to come to Lima, we really missed him there. Overall our group was amazing and fun, we had a wonderful time. This was one of our many trips with Smartours and I am looking to see where we will go next. Thank you for all your effort. I will email some pictures ;-)
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The trail itself was amazing, in addition to that our tour guides Alexandro and OD made it unforgettable.

The Inca Trail

4.0
December 2016
SmarTours
Recommend: No
One of the most challenging but most amazing experiences of my life. The Inca trail by the G adventures team allowed me to focus on overcoming my fears of heights and enjoy the thrill, by being there with me every step of the way. Our guides Alexandro and OD were truly amazing and the porters who made our trip beyond comfortable were the true heroes! Thank you for making a trip of a lifetime simply wonderful.

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It was a fabulous vacation! I'm planning my 50th birthday celebration and I'm sure it will involve a trip with G Adventures.

End of the Earth

5.0
December 2016
SmarTours
Recommend: No
This was by far the best vacation I have ever taken. It was so well-organized. Kris, our CEO was delightful to work with. More about Kris later, I hope. I've traveled with other groups before and I must say that even while I was in Patagonia, I was planning my next trip with G Adventures. I will be your most ardent ambassador. I just have one comment about your booking process and again, hopefully, I'll have a chance to share that later in the survey. Much improvement is needed there.

I want to go back tomorrow! I want to take another trip with G Adventures. I want to tell all of my friends about G Adventures. If I could buy stock in G Adventures I would. I don't know what more to say.
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Top Tour Operators and Travel Companies


South America Trips & Tour Advice

While much of South America may speak Spanish or Portuguese, the continent is remarkably diverse – possessing world-class cities, vast areas of rainforest, beach-laden coastlines, fascinating indigenous cultures, rich stores of wildlife, archaeological and historical treasures, and some of the world’s most intriguing islands.

All this is in a continent just two-thirds the size of North America, with 12 independent countries. Travel providers focus primarily on Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, Chile, Argentina, and, more recently, Colombia, though Bolivia, Venezuela, Uruguay and Paraguay are also home to considerable natural and cultural attractions.

Brazil's Riches 

Brazil alone is nearly half the size of the entire continent, so between visits to the Amazon region, including the city of Manaus – where you’ll find a 19th century-era opera house that rivaled the finest in Italy – as well as Rio de Janeiro, the Spanish-African fusion city of Salvador de Bahia, and Iguazu Falls, it can easily fill a two-week or more tour by itself. A river cruise on the Amazon and a visit to the cosmopolitan city of Rio make for an almost perfect combination -- and contrast – of isolation and urbanity.

Ecuador, Peru, Chile and Argentina can also easily be destinations unto themselves, or can be combined with each other on longer tours. Ecuador, about the size of Colorado, features not just the Andes Mountains, but exotic jungle lodges in Amazon headwaters, the Pacific coast, the splendid Spanish colonial cities of Quito and Cuenca, the market town of Otavalo, and – far out into the ocean – the Galapagos Islands.

Peru, just south of Ecuador, is best known for Machu Picchu, the ancient Incan city, and Cusco, the Incan capital, but also is the source of the Amazon and shares Lake Titicaca, known for its artificial islands, with Bolivia. Both Ecuador and Peru have rich indigenous cultures, and combined Galapagos and Machu Picchu tours allow you to experience both a natural and man-made world wonder in the same bucketlist-filling trip.

Surprising Chile

Chile proves one of South America’s greatest surprises. While it receives less publicity than some of its neighbors, it also offers some of the most remarkable landscapes on earth. The world’s driest desert, the Atacama, is here, as is a lovely lake country and remote, mountainous Patagonia, where you can trace Charles Darwin’s voyages aboard a small expedition-style ship and perhaps even land on Cape Horn.

Argentina is best known for trendy Buenos Aires, one of the great South American capitals, but also shares Patagonia with Chile and has its own wine regions. Ushaia, at the southern tip of the country, is a key embarkation point for expeditions to Antarctica, and the Falkland Islands, off the Argentine coast, are frequent stops on small-ship expeditions.

Still not sure where to go or how to get there? Let Stride help you sort it all out. You’ll find travel operators who offer all degrees of luxury (or roughing it), price level, group size, itinerary and more. And soon you’ll be saying hola! or ola! to your next South American adventure.

Related Guides 

Countries: 

EcuadorPeruBrazilChileColombiaGuyanaArgentinaPatagoniaBolivia, Venezuela, Uruguay

Attractions: 

Galapagos Island, Ecuador; Amazon River, Brazil; Amazon Rainforest, Brazil; Machu Picchu, Peru; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Cusco, Peru; Cartagena, Colombia; Iguazu Falls, Brazil & Many More

Top Activities: 

Wildlife SightseeingNature SightseeingRuins & Archaeology SightseeingHiking

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