The most famous pre-Columbian civilisation in South American was the Incas who flourished between 1438 and 1533. Other peoples include the Norte Chico, the Valdivia in Ecuador and the Cambeba in Brazil. The Portuguese and the Spanish began to exploit the region’s natural resources and made colonial claims over the land from the sixteenth century. Independence from the European powers was obtained by most South American countries early in the nineteenth century. Today South America is a vibrant, free-spirited destination that reaffirms ones sense of life, being and self.
With such a vast continent, the climate varies from region to region. The area on your itinerary and your planned activities in that region will determine the best time of year to visit. Hiking in Patagonia is best done in summer, while peak season for the Inca Trail is winter when it’s driest. On the other hand Rio de Janeiro remains relatively constant year round with temperatures hovering between 25 and 39 degrees.
South America hosts iconic festivals including the internationally-renowned Carnaval in Rio de Janeiro, the Tango World Championship in Buenos Aires and the National Rodeo Championships in Chile. Inti Raymi is a major festival in Peru celebrating Inca culture, while Barranquilla's Carnival is a parade in Northern Colombia.
From Australia there are direct flights to Buenos Aires, Argentina and Santiago, Chile. Airlines that fly directly from Australia to South America include:
The flight from Australia to Buenos Aires takes just over 13 hours, while Australia to Santiago takes around 16 hours.
The major South American cities all boast luxury accommodation options with the associated levels of comfort. Many of the smaller towns offer boutique hotels for an intimate place to stay.
To find out more about the range of holiday accommodation available with Travel Associates call 1800 017 849 or enquire online.
Sights to See
The big ticket attractions of South America include hiking the Inca Trail to the sacred Machu Picchu in Peru, cruising the serene Galapagos Islands off the Ecuadorian coast, admiring the Uyuni Salt Flats in southern Bolivia and getting drenched under the Iguazu Falls that border Argentina and Brazil.
For city-based exploration, consider strolling through the romantic streets of Carthenga on Colombia’s Caribbean coast, become mesmerised by the beat of the tango in Buenos Aires, relax on iconic Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro or check out the central piazza in Santiago, Chile.
Nature enthusiasts will appreciate hiking through Patagonia in southern Argentina and Chile including the Torres del Paine National Park, the picturesque mountains around El Chaltén and the national parks near Ushuaia. A visit to the Amazon basin is also considered a must do for South America.
Don't leave home without...
Sunscreen and insect repellent are available through the region, however they may be more expensive than bringing them from Australia. Items left behind in Australia can generally be replaced if needed in the larger cities, however once on the road, it may be more difficult.
Modern South America blends ancient indigenous cultures, colonial Spanish and Portuguese influences and arguably succumbs to the influence from North America. Bullfighting is enjoyed throughout the continent, Inca festivals are observed and fast food chains are slowly getting a food hold.
Things to be careful of…
It’s best to stay clear of all drugs while travelling through South America.
By and large, most visitors enjoy their South American experience without significant incident and hassle. However, it’s best to exercise common sense. Don’t wave cash around, don’t wear unnecessary bling and don’t attract attention to yourself.
In general tap water isn’t safe to drink so sick to bottled water or use purification tablets.
Before departures, consult your GP to ensure you’re vaccinations are current.