Top South America Experiences
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.
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.
Top South America AttractionsView More
Must See South America Attractions
1. Machu Picchu
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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).
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.
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
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.
2,119 South America Tour Reviews - Summary
Great trip for 3 generations of family November 20185.0
Operator Andean Discovery
Caminos del inka hasta machupichu October 20185.0
Operator Inka Rainbow
Fabulous time with a wonderful guide, Jorge. October 20185.0
Operator Peregrine Adventures
Viaje Al Fin Del Mundo August 20185.0
Across South America Company Reviews
I found Across Argentina Travel Agency from internet and a young hard working man Sebastian Southwell worked very hard to fix an itinerary. He offered me a different payment plan that made me pay easily. When I arrived at Buenos Aires, Ms Carolina Simonian took care of me and she always got in touch with me during my 16 days of travel all over Patagonia.
Regarding my trip, I was highly satisfied with the selection of Point of Interest, hotels selected were very comfortable and all showed me a high degree of hospitality. Local tours I participated were selected carefully, but I like to point out one point regarding with local tours, guides were good but they were giving information in Spanish longer than English then English speaking guests needed to ask questions to clarify subjects, this to be corrected.
As a final words Across Argentina and their talented employees, Carolina and Sebastian made this trip ONCE IN A LIFETIME. I would like to thank Across Argentina and employees so much Read more
Operator Across South America
Amazing South America Honeymoon July 20185.0
It was our first time travelling overseas for a significant amount of time and in countries that don’t speak English, and I was a little anxious about what to expect. But I didn’t need to worry about a single thing!
Our entire holiday, travelling from city to city and across countries was seamless, allowing us to sit back and enjoy ourselves and take in the spectacular culture and scenery. One example, instead of us having to lug around our suitcases, Tucan arranged for us to leave our big suitcases at our hotel in Cusco (Andean Wings Boutique Hotel) so that we could travel to Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu) with only an overnight bag. When we arrived back to Cusco, our suitcases were waiting for us safe and sound. This was all done so smoothly and professionally, I was very impressed. The local guides helped us with the border crossings (where to line up, and looking after our bags). I felt safe the whole trip with Tucan – coming from someone that worries easily, this is saying something!
For the local tours, we had wonderful informative tour guides who would collect us from our hotel (and return us) for fantastic and awe-inspiring experiences. The hotel staff and local guides gave the best restaurant recommendations and the included breakfasts where we were staying made getting up early to make the most of our day easy. The hotels were all in the perfect position, right in the best parts of the cities so we could walk to local restaurants and attractions in our spare time and really make the most of every minute we were spending in these amazing countries. In Rio, our hotel was right on the beach front at Copacabana, central to the beach parties and may blocos! Most of the hotels gave us little surprises for our honeymoon (complimentary pisco sour, rose petals, chocolates, desserts). We were astounded at this special touch and it really made our Honeymoon unforgettable!
I highly recommend the Tucan Rio Beach Carnival Package – I think it is the best and only way to experience Carnival. At our hotel we were staying with a great group of fellow Tucan travellers who had booked the same package. It was fantastic being able to enjoy the blocos, Sambadrome and beach parties with a group. Our Tucan guide Scott showed us how to use the Rio metro and gave us lots of tips, especially for avoiding pick pockets. The Carnival package was a definite highlight of the trip - it was a wonderful week full of both relaxing on the beach, and drinking at night with some great people. I will definitely be travelling with Tucan again!