From the awe-inspiring Galapagos Islands, to the world’s driest desert in Atacama, going through world heritage sites, such as Machu Picchu, and natural wonders like the Uyuni salt flats, South America has something amazing in store around every corner.
As fascinating as this unique mixture of experiences may be, traveling through South America can also be a bit overwhelming, especially if this is your first visit. But there really is no need to worry. Just follow these tips and you’ll have an ultimate South American journey!
1. Time your trip carefully
South America is huge and incredibly diverse, so there really isn’t one best time of the year to visit, but there are some general pointers. The north and rainforests have a generally warm climate. As you go further south or to the highlands, temperatures drop drastically. Seasons are the opposite as in the northern hemisphere, summers extend from December to March and winters from June to September. Beware of rain season in each country. If you are willing to stand some rain or cloudy skies, off-season can be less crowded. Get personalize advise from us on this matter!
2. Pick up some local phrases
You don’t need to fluently speak Spanish or Portuguese, but learning the basics will go a long way when trying to engage with locals and will allow you to enjoy your exploring of the destination that much more. Get a small notebook for writing down your new lingo.
3. Know immigration requirements
Each South American country has its own visa regulations depending on your nationality. Some have a nearly open borders policy, whereas others require you to acquire a visa before your trip. Let us know if you have any questions on this regard.
4. Know the local currencies and bring some US dollars
There are multiple currencies in South America. Each country has its own type and exchange rate. Try an online currency converter to get an idea before you leave home and always go to official currency exchange offices at the destination. It is also a good idea to take US dollars with you, as you will generally get a better value exchange rate and some places even take them as payment.
5. Keep a watchful eye
South America is known for petty crime and while it actually exist, you can easily stay safe by keeping your eyes open and trying not to call attention to yourself with unnecessary flashy clothing, jewelry or a chunky wallet. Be especially careful when you are out on your free time exploring the town. Avoid dark streets and marginal areas. Get your guide’s or locals’ advise on safe areas, taxi rates and companies… and you’ll be fine!
6. Bring proper clothes!
Having pretty much every type of climate all in one amazing journey, calls for a wide array of clothes. High-quality outdoors clothing might do the trick, easily adapting to different temperatures. Think in layers, summer tank tops, warm winter jackets, thin shorts, warmer trousers, windproof jackets and breathable fabrics. Also bring a pair of hiking boots and flip-flops.
7. Check electricity and plug outlets
Check your electric appliances to see if you need any converters or outlet adaptors. Electricity varies between 110 and 240 Volts. Plug outlets are diverse. You might want to get a universal adaptor to be able to charge your gadgets everywhere.
8. Stay healthy!
Try to keep up with your workout routine before traveling. A generally good health condition can go a long way when facing altitude and hard weather conditions. Also beware of where you eat during your trip. Street food can be OK (and exciting), but keep an eye for hygiene conditions. And, of course, good medical insurance is a must!
9. Be brave about local cuisine
You’re in for a treat! Food is a major highlight in South America, with many diverse things to try out. It is also a huge part of local culture, so you’ll learn a lot of the place you’re at by eating. We strongly encourage you to be open to try different things!
10. Leave some room for spontaneity
While arranging a tour in advance is a great way to make the most out of your time in the continent, also be open to spontaneous plans during your free time. South American people are very welcoming and locals often will treat you with an insiders’ tip. Also, wondering around you might stumble with some hidden gem that will make your journey so much more special.