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How to Plan a Trip to South America: Frequently Asked Questions

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Woman in traditional costume in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia

Cartagena, Colombia

Your interest in a trip to South America can elicit interesting questions and this list of those frequently asked can help you get started on creating your unforgettable trip.

South America is an immersion into nature’s wonder and vibrant cultures, bustling metropolises to hidden Andean villages. Whether visiting a single country or multiple destinations, you can find incredible cuisine, remarkable wines, and traditions connected to the land and sea.

From stunning vineyards to glistening glaciers, untouched tropical islands to the winding waters of the Amazon River, with traditional heritage and contemporary culture, South America is always an enticing adventure.

Overview

  1. When is the best time to visit South America?
  2. How far in advance should I plan a trip to South America?
  3. Should I go to one country or travel to several?
  4. What should I do on my trip to South America?
  5. How many days is enough to see South America?
  6. How can I enjoy food and wine in South America?
  7. What are the best destinations for art & history in South America?
  8. What are the best destinations for nature and wildlife in South America?
  9. What can we do in South America with our children?
  10. Is there any advice for senior travel to South America?
  11. Is South America a good destination for romantic trips or honeymoons?
  12. How can I travel around South America?
  13. Is South America safe for travel?
  14. What are the best airports to fly in and out of South America?
  15. Can Zicasso help me with flights?
  16. Does Zicasso assist with travel insurance?
  17. Ready to plan your South America trip?

When is the best time to visit South America?

Caribbean beach in San Juan de la Guia en Colombia

San Juan de la Guia, Colombia

The best time to visit South America is from April to May or September to November. These months represent the fall and spring seasons in the Southern Hemisphere. The continent is vast, with an incredible number of microclimates and geographical regions that result in very different weather patterns and changing temperatures throughout the year.

By visiting in fall or spring you have the best opportunity to enjoy comfortable temperatures, whether you are traveling the Inca Trail in Peru, looking for the perfect beach in Colombia, or hoping for fewer crowds in Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro.

The summer months of December to February are popular for visiting coastal destinations across South America, but can result in larger crowds, hot weather, and high humidity, while winter can be very cold across the southern and mountainous countries, especially when considering destinations like Patagonia. Autumn and spring are considered shoulder seasons across South America, making it more comfortable for any type of trip.

Learn more: South America Tours & Vacations

How far in advance should I plan a trip to South America?

Carnival parade in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

To ensure you enjoy your time in the cities you wish to visit and the accommodations you prefer, you should plan your South America trip between eight and 12 months in advance.

If you plan to travel during the high season from December to February, the Southern Hemisphere summer, you should consider planning your trip between 12 and 14 months in advance.

With high demand for unique experiences and the possibility of limited accommodations, planning this far ahead will help ensure you can enjoy the travel style you prefer. It is also important to book well in advance if you wish to travel to destinations known for certain festivals, such as Brazil during Carnival, Argentina during San Antonio de Areco, or Inti Raymi in Peru.

Should I go to one country or travel to several?

Peruvian food

Lima, Peru

Whether to visit a single country or multiple countries during your visit to South America will depend on many factors, including how much time you have and the type of travel experience you desire. South America is a very large continent and countries are spread out.

Your immersion into a culture, local activities, and restaurants will coincide with your timeline and while a visit to multiple neighboring countries is possible, one country in South America is a much more accommodating experience.

Working with a South America travel specialist can help you manage your expectations of time, experiences, and destinations to find the preferences that matter most for your trip.

What should I do on my trip to South America?

Statue in front of Botero museum in Medellin, Colombia

Medellin, Colombia

Whether interested in Incan history across the Andes or a culinary tour of Argentina, the art of Colombia or the wildlife of the Galapagos Islands, a customized Zicasso tour organizes your excursions, activities, and experiences around your travel preferences and goals, while adhering to your timeline.

A Zicasso South America travel specialist can help you choose the best country or combination of experiences to satisfy your interests.

Learn more: Seven Patagonia Sample Trips for 2022

How many days is enough to see South America?

The Great Inca City of Machu Picchu in Peru

Machu Picchu, Peru

Fourteen days is the perfect amount of time for any trip to South America. While spending three weeks would give you more time to explore the great diversity of regional cultures and exceptional landscapes, two weeks gives you plenty of time to explore the popular highlights, while also indulging in a number of hidden destinations that can take you off the beaten path.

Most travelers from the United States spend approximately 12 days in South America on a single-country trip. Depending on your destinations, 10 days is often a great amount of time to enjoy a deep dive into cultural history across two or three cities in a single country.

When visiting South America for the first time it can be difficult to narrow down the exact experiences you wish to have during your trip based on what you would like to see. A Zicasso travel specialist is here to help you find the right balance between your expectations and new discoveries based on your interests and preferred travel style.

Learn more: Seven Itineraries to Latin America for a First-Timer

How can I enjoy food and wine in South America?

Argentinian food and wine

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Zicasso travel specialists can organize private tastings or design exclusive experiences for food and wine enthusiasts across the famous and hidden regions of South America. You can enjoy private cooking classes at a secluded estancia or sample internationally celebrated wines at a quiet vineyard. You can also learn more about how the local terrier informs the unique flavors of South America’s notable varietals, while discovering the wine history, production, and regional specialties from a local sommelier.

Countries across South America celebrate their unique traditions as a combination of cultures, demonstrated with established recipes that capture the spirit of heritage, family traditions, and the evolution of local and national flavors. From a multi-course meal that pairs wines with specific dishes to a private market tour with a local chef, a Zicasso travel specialist can guide you to the best experiences for you.

Learn more: Food & Wine Travel Guide

What are the best destinations for art & history in South America?

Moais of Ahu Tongariki on Easter Island in Chile

Easter Island, Chile

The best destinations for art and history in South America are Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. South America is an exciting continent that exudes unique culture, distinctive art, and millennia of remarkable history. Sensational ruins across the continent reflect past empires and museum galleries possess works of local, indigenous, and colonial mastery that can challenge past perspectives or embrace the modern aesthetic.

Whether interested in prehistoric artistry protected by remote caves or eager to view the renowned Rapa Nui on Easter Island, South America embraces distinct heritage that can date back more than 5,000 years. From Botero’s sculptures to Spanish colonial towns, a history of gauchos to the poem of Pablo Neruda, the countries of South America proudly display and treasure their masterpieces, whether art or artifacts.

What are the best destinations for nature and wildlife in South America?

Wildlife in the Chilean Patagonia

Magallanes Region, Chile

The best destinations for nature and wildlife in South America are Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. With rich ecological history that embodies the spirit of evolution in real-time, you can experience the world’s greatest rivers and wind through the marvels of the tropical rainforest.

Whether looking for volcanic islands rumbling with the footsteps of blue-footed boobies and giant tortoises, eager to find toucans and spider monkeys in the Amazon, or interested in uncovering signs of jaguar and capybaras in the world’s largest wetlands, South America is a wonder of untamed wilderness that demonstrates the thrilling experiences you can have when immersed in the natural world.

What can we do in South America with our children?

Aerial view of the Iguazu Falls

Iguazu, Argentina

Family culture is important across the countries that create the continent and your children will be warmly welcomed, whether in a large city or in a secluded village. When working with a Zicasso travel specialist you will always have a family-friendly experience shaped by the outline of your overall trip and guides who understand how to balance exciting activities with educational and cultural experiences for tours that engage children of all ages.

From wilderness walks in search of scarlet macaws to legends that explain the ruins of Machu Picchu, witnessing the thundering cascades of Iguazu Falls to learning about indeginous art with locals, there is plenty you can enjoy in South America with your children.

Is there any advice for senior travel to South America?

Senior hiker enjoying the view in Pumalin Park, Chile

Region de los Lagos, Chile

Seniors, those with mobility issues, or travelers with particular needs must consider that walking on cobblestone streets or winding through the high altitudes of the Andes for long periods of time may affect your South America trip.

An expert Zicasso travel specialist will minimize any challenges or stamina considerations you may have by ensuring a custom trip tailored to your desires and specific needs, further supported by local guides who can organize the flexibility of your tour according to your readiness each day.

Learn more: Senior Travel Guide

Is South America a good destination for romantic trips or honeymoons?

Couple at he beach in Brazil

Copacabana, Brazil

South America is a continent of passion that culminates in an unforgettable ambiance of fierce romance and fiery spirit.

Whether eager to find a secluded white-sand beach on the Brazilian Fernando de Noronha archipelago or dance in the embrace of a seductive tango, find charm in the preserved architecture of a Spanish colonial town, or indulge in a pristine panorama sweeping across Patagonia, your travel specialist will understand the right destinations for you.

Each new place will offer fresh experiences for couples who wish to combine exploration, passion, and activity. Coupled with the breathtaking romance of unique properties, exciting outdoor excursions, and the luxuries of private tours, you can carry with you the intimate and meaningful memories that you create.

How can I travel around South America?

Santa Rosa de Cabal Hot Springs in Colombia

Santa Rosa de Cabal, Colombia

The best way to see South America in 14 days is with a combination of flights and private transfers.

The majority of countries on the continent are known for having luxury night buses that travel long distances, but when working with a travel specialist you can enjoy the comforts of transfers that consider your travel preferences and preferred style, in addition to your timeline.

Whether on a single-country trip or visiting two countries on the same tour, your Zicasso travel specialist will ensure your flights and private transfers are quick, easy, and comfortable ways to reach new places for a stress-free South America tour.

Is South America safe for travel?

Quito at night with Cotopaxi volcano in the back in Ecuador

Quito, Ecuador

While often stigmatized, South America is very safe for travelers. When visiting large cities or popular tourist destinations petty theft such as pickpocketing can occur, but as long as you remain attentive, your safety is never in question.

Using common sense, such as not visiting a Brazilian Favela on your own, not wandering into the Andean plateau without a guide, or by keeping your bags close to you at all times, will help ensure your safety and that of your valuables.

What are the best airports to fly in and out of South America?

An aerial view of São Paulo, Brazil

São Paulo, Brazil

The best airport to fly in and out of when visiting South America depends on the country or countries you wish to visit during your trip. São Paulo Guarulhos Airport in Brazil (GRU) is the largest airport in South America and serves as a hub for major international airlines traveling in and around Brazil. The facilities are clean and the airport offers easy accessibility for US travelers.

El Dorado International Airport (BOG) is also a great airport when flying in and out of South America. As one of the busiest on the continent, it is easy to reach and often rated as one of the most efficient, clean, and friendly airports in South America.

Whether flying over the pampas of Argentina, the Amazon in Peru, or the Andes of Ecuador, you can enjoy the remarkable scenery during your flight as you glide to one of the busiest airports in South America:

  • São Paulo Guarulhos Airport (GRU)
  • El Dorado International Airport, Bogota (BOG)
  • Lima Jorge Chavez Airport (LIM)
  • Arturo Merino Benitez International Airport, Santiago (SCL)
  • Pistarini International Airport, Buenos Aires (EZE)

Can Zicasso help me with flights?

Cartagena at sunset in Colombia

Cartagena, Colombia

Zicasso Flights is an international air-ticketing service that eliminates the stress of finding and booking the right flights for your upcoming vacation. By employing the same personalized service you can expect from planning a trip with Zicasso, our competitive flight pricing, 24x7 service and support, and complimentary consultation of routing vs. pricing with an expert flight specialist make finding the perfect flight for your trip effortless.

Does Zicasso assist with travel insurance?

Colonial architecture in Cartagenas, Colombia

Cartagena, Colombia

You’ve booked your dream vacation, now protect it with travel insurance. A wide range of factors can leave your vacation in limbo. Medical emergencies, inclement weather, and unexpected cancellations can cause turmoil for your trip, so in the unlikely event of a disaster, get travel insurance coverage that provides peace of mind. To get a quote, visit our travel insurance page.

Ready to plan your South America trip?

Torres del Paine in Southern Chile

Magallanes Region, Chile

South America defies a single image, instead promising wild wonders in the jungle, pristine beaches, the volcanic islands of the Galapagos, Incan treasures, vast vineyards, and the untamed expanses of Patagonia.

Whether eager to engage with colonial history or secluded indigenous tradition, sample award-winning wines or discover the perfect vista, you can find inspiration for your next trip with sample itineraries from our South America Tours & Vacations. Speak with a South America travel expert to plan your custom trip by calling our team at 1-888-265-9707 or completing a Trip Request.

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