Top South America Experiences

Hiking the Inca Trail in Peru and getting your first glimpse of ancient Machu Picchu high in the Peruvian Andes.

Walking in Darwin’s footsteps in the Galápagos Islands’ observing some of the world’s most amazing wildlife – from blue-footed boobies to frigate birds, sea lions to giant tortoises.

Trekking along the Chilean Coast

Sampling the vintages in Chile’s beautiful wine country.

Wandering around the vibrant city of Buenos Aires

Taking a river cruise on the Amazon, keeping an eye (and ear) out for howler monkeys, sloths and pink dolphins.

Exploring the Atacama Desert 

Reveling in the power of Argentina and Brazil’s Iguazu Falls, which ranks with Africa’s Victoria Falls as one of the two greatest waterfalls on earth.

Visiting the city of Cartagena, touring the old fortress, and Spanish colonial inspired city. 

Surveying a panorama of Rio de Janeiro from atop Corcovado mountain.

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Top South America Attractions

Machu Picchu in Peru

Iguazu Falls in Argentina

Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Easter Island off the coast of Chile

Amazon Rainforest

Galapagos Islands

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Must See South America Attractions

1. Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu, Peru

Machu Picchu is arguably the most recognizable and most well known attraction in South America. The ancient city hidden in the clouds of Andes in Peru has attracted travelers for years. This amazing site can be visited in a number of different ways, from day trips to challenging multi-day hikes to luxury train rides. However you choose to visit Machu Picchu is sure to leave you speechless.  

2. Inca Trail

Inca Trail in Peru

One of the most popular ways to get to Machu Picchu is via the Inca Trail. This ancient trek is a challenge, but generally doable if you are in basically good shape. Though it is ill-advised to attempt the Inca Trail after zero training. Make sure you have at least a few months of hiking or stairmaster under your belt! Ideally practicing in an area of high altitude.

The Inca Trail is a spectacular experience as you literally tread in the footsteps of the ancient Inca. Typically Inca Trail tours take between 3-4 days. It’s important to note that traffic along the trail is heavily restricted and highly regulated. Only 500 people a day are permitted on the Inca Trail - this includes porters and guides - leaving room for roughly 300 tourists.

3. Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro

Rio is a top “must see” destination for many traveling to South America. Known for the recognizable “Christ the Redeemer” statue at the top of Corcovado Mountain, as well as the famous “carnaval” festivities, Rio is widely considered as somewhere that the party doesn’t stop. Still dangerous in some neighborhoods, it’s definitely a place best visited on a tour. Nearby are the musically immortalized Copacabana and Ipanema beaches - heavily touristed yet still a fun outing.

4. Galapagos Islands

Blue Footed Booby in Galapagos

When one thinks of South America’s top attractions, one may only consider the mainland continent. But one should reconsider. The Galapagos are without a doubt one of the most fascinating destinations on earth. Home to incredible biodiversity, as well as historically significant, the Galapagos are best visited via small ship cruise.

The wildlife here has never had cause to fear humans, and have thrived for centuries - meaning that they literally roam about without ceremony (like they might if they had been trained). If wildlife photography is your thing, you couldn’t ask for a better situation.

5. Patagonia

Patagonia South America

Patagonia has grown rapidly in popularity among travelers. Serious hikers are going to enjoy traveling here the most - many South America travel companies offer (or even specialize in) intense camping journeys through Patagonia’s Torres del Paine National Park. Patagonia as a region covers Argentina and Chile, and is notable for stunning formations of and bright blue ice. Yet another attraction in South America that needs to be seen to be believed.

6. Amazon River

Green parrot in the Amazon

The enigmatic Amazon, with its miles upon miles of dense jungle, hidden tribes, and diverse wildlife, is a sight to behold. Often visited via river cruise, the Amazon rainforest is perfect for those travelers who are interested in nature, conservation, eco friendly travel, and of course wildlife.

You can visit The Amazon any time of year, but the wet season vs the dry season will make a difference in what you see. The wet season means more byways are open for your river cruise vessel to traverse, but conversely some hiking opportunities may not be available because the ground is too wet.

7. Cartagena

Cartagena Colombia South America

Like many cities in South America, Cartagena Colombia once held a reputation for being unsafe for travelers. Today the city has shaken it’s ugly past and is an extremely popular attraction in South America. Heavily influenced by Spanish colonialism, the Old Town of Cartagena is a small walled city with a distinctly European feel, right down to the cobblestones.

Shops, churches, restaurants and cafes mean you could spend your whole tour within these walls, but there’s so much more to see. Take a boat ride to the white sand beaches for an afternoon of bliss or venture outside the tourist district for a glimpse at local Colombian life (it is not advisable to do this without your guide).

8. Iguassu Falls

Iguassu Falls South America

Eleanor Roosevelt expressed her awe at seeing Iguassu by saying “poor Niagara!” That should tell you something! This incredible waterfall is actually claimed by both Argentina and Brazil as it actually spans the border. Many walkways surround the falls offering many different vantage points for that perfect photograph. A common excursion for multi day tours in South America, this is one of those attractions you just have to see to believe.

9. Bolivian Salt Flats

Bolivia Salt Flats South America

You’ve seen the images. A sheer reflective surface flat and stretching to the horizon, reflecting the sky such that people appear to be walking on air...literally. This optical illusion also allows for countless forced perspective shots - and they can get pretty creative! The Bolivian salt flats are famous for their photographic potential, but are also great fun for jeep rides across the expansive empty landscape.

10. Easter Island

Easter Island South America

Another enigmatic archaeological site in South America, Easter Island has puzzled historians for centuries. Recent discoveries have revealed that the large stone heads rising out the ground, on an island off the coast of Chile, were even larger than previously thought. Tours to Easter Island are generally one or two day excursions, often part of a larger tours that include Patagonia and Chile.

South America Tour Reviews - Summary
98% Recommend

4.7 out of 5
Excellent 2,126 Great 657 Average 55 Disappointing 14 Terrible 2
4.7 Guide
4.7 Activities
4.7 Lodging
4.7 Transportation
4.7 Meals



I really love this tours April 2018


Mindo Cloud Forest | Adventure & Nature

I’ve just arrived from a mindo tour and it was the best tour I’ve ever had in my whole trip thanks Latin adventures for giving me this wonderful experience

Operator Latin Adventures



Trip of a lifetime! April 2018


Discover Patagonia

Magnificent mountain peaks, stunning glaciers and picture-perfect lakes. The twelve-person tour was well organized and well paced. Our guide, Romi, was fun and competent. She took good care of us and made sure we had a good time.

Half a dozen local guides joined us along the way, contributing new knowledge and their own perspectives.

Note that there were many more optional activities than were listed on the website, including a day in Bariloche of rafting or horseback riding with gauchos. We also enjoyed a couple of home visits, one featuring a meal prepared in a traditional pot made from a plow disk. And then there was that sweet trip to the dulce de leche tasting shop... So many pleasures, big and small, in an incredibly beautiful land!

My advice: Go a day early so you can take in Buenos Aires’ San Telmo Feria, a ten-block street market that is only held on Sundays.
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Operator G Adventures



Excellent value and great service! February 2018


Best of Peru

This is the third time that my wife and I travel with Indus and we always have a great experience! Not only you get great value but the tours and guides are excellent. Our tour to Peru with Indus is still an amazing memory for us because of all that we did, see and eat. Peru is a must-visit destination! Read more

Operator Indus Travels



Great experience with this company February 2018


Best of Peru

I recently booked the best of Peru with Indus and had a fabulous time! It was our first time in South America so I was unsure but our Indus consultant told us great things about Peru and oh! was she right! Me and my friend both loved Miraflores in Lima- it felt very safe to walk around the city. But my favorite part of the trip was Sacred Valley where we got to stay in a very peaceful hotel with a stunning view of the mountains- simply incredible! Although at first I though the itinerary will be hectic, the tour was actually very pleasant with some time to visit on your own or relax- needed with the bit of jetlag! I came back very happy with both Indus service and the tour and I would recommend you 100% to book your tour with Indus- I am looking already at my next holiday with them. I have not taken Peru, Argentina and Brazil but if it is half as good as our Peruvian tour then you are bound to have a great trip!

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Operator Indus Travels



now this gets personal.... December 2017


Southern Peru Journey- 13 Days/ 12 Nights

FSJourneys offers a travel experience like no other. The focus is personal growth and reflection. Small groups make traveling intimate, and connecting with others easy. I traveled by myself on this trip and met others who did the same. Kristie works hard to bring people together, yet allows for the personal space we all may also need when engaging in a meditative yoga retreat. There are opportunities to enjoy things in such an intimate setting. I even had a private driver for a hike others opted out of. The value for the price is very high, and you don't realize this until you get there. We stayed in a variety of places, each accomodation offering something unique. Sometimes luxury, sometimes home stay or lack of heat. We ate so healthy, I lost 10#s without even trying. Healthy foods and walking in the Andes is the perfect way to feel in shape and like you are doing something good for your body.
One must be flexible when traveling in Peru, and there were some activities which were changed or canceled due to circumstances both inside the group, and out, but it's part of the experience when traveling to areas that are more remote. Don't get upset if the wifi doesn't really work. ;-) It's okay.... there is so much beauty all around, you will want to keep your attention at 100% in the present moment!
PachaMama is Mother Earth. You will learn much about local customs, and participate in amazing ceremonies in an intimate setting. After this trip, I imagine other tours "small group" settings may feel overwhelming.
Kristie connects to her clients, and in my experience... it became a tour of traveling friends.... what a great experience.
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Operator Flowing Spirit Journeys

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