South America Travel Guide

Map of South America

Overview

Capital City: No Capital
Language Spoken: The majority of South America speaks either Portuguese or Spanish.
Climate: The climate varies a bit throughout the continent but for the most part, you can expect a tropical climate throughout.
Safety Rating: 7/10 - While there may be some places and situations that are dangerous, using good common sense, you can avoid those places/situations and have a safe and enjoyable trip.
Transportation: Airplanes, buses, taxis, Ubers, trains, helicopters, rental cars, shuttles, and rental bicycles.
Currency: Varies by country
Expensiveness: Varies by country
Cost of Exit/Entry: Varies by country
Visa Required: Varies by country
Vaccinations Required: Varies by country

A city street in Buenos Aires Buenos Aires: This is the large capital city of Argentina and the most visited city in South America (second most in Latin America behind Mexico). It is well known for its beautiful Spanish/European architecture, its blend of cultures, its amazing art scene, and tremendous food.

The skyline of Rio De Janeiro Rio De Janeiro: This is a large city located on the coast of Brazil that is known for hosting the Olympics in 2016, its amazing beaches, the 38m Christ the Redeemer statue atop Mount Corcovado, and for Sugarloaf Mountain.

An overview of the city of Santiago Santiago: Chile's capital city has a lot to offer. With its museums, events, theaters, restaurants, bars and other entertainment venues, it is the cultural center of Chile and has plenty of things to keep you occupied during your stay.

A city square in the middle of Cartagena Cartagena: This is a port city located along the coast of Colombia. This town is filled with large churches, open plazas, cobblestone alleys, and a strong culture.

A cathedral in Quito Quito: This is the capital city of Ecuador and is set at an elevation of 9,000+ feet above sea level. It is the highest official capital city in the entire world. One of the main tourist attractions of this beautiful city is the largely untouched historical town center.

The coast line of Lima Lima: This is the capital city of Peru and is located right along the Pacific Ocean. It is filled with history everywhere you go and has one of the best food scenes in all of Peru.

Things To Do

A bridge in the middle of the Amazon jungle Journey Through the Amazon Rainforest: The Amazon Rainforest if the world's largest rainforest and has a huge number of different plants and animals. Lonely Planet put together a great guide on planning your trip to the Amazon Rainforest which you can read here.

A picture at the top of Machu Pichu Hike to Machu Picchu: Machu Picchu is an Incan citadel that is located high in the Andes Mountains in Peru. There are dozens of tour options to choose from starting from around $115.

The coast line of the Galapagos Islands Explore the Galapagos Islands: The Galapagos Islands are a set of islands off of the northwest coast of South America. It is best know for its wide array of wildlife and beautiful landscapes.

The statues on Easter Island Check Out the Statues of Easter Island: Easter Island is located in Chile and is famous for its 887 monumental statues. It is truly an amazing sight to see. Day trips vary but I found some for as low as $100 for full day trips and cheaper for half day trips.

Food/Drinks To Try

Empanadas: A stuffed bread or pastry that is baked or fried. The stuffing typically includes meat, cheese, and/or huitlacoche.

Milanesa: This meal is made with beef, chicken, veal, pork, eggplants, tempeh or soy. Each slice is then dipped into beaten eggs, seasoned, and dipped in bread crumbs and oil.

Paila Marina: This hearty stew is made with corn, beans, and potato or pumpkin.

Causa: This meal is made with potatoes that are blended with oil, lime juice and ají amarillo, and then topped with fillings like fish, shredded chicken, tomatoes, avocado, hard boiled eggs, beets, and corn.

Ceviche: This dish is traditionally made from fresh raw fish spayed with lemon or lime, and spiced with ají or chili peppers.

Chipas: This is a small, baked, cheese flavoured roll that makes for a great snack.

Tamales: Made of masa that is steamed in a corn husk or banana leaf. The wrap of the tamale is removed before eating. Tamales can be filled with meats, cheese, fruits, vegetables, and chilies.

Chorizo: A fermented, cured, and smoked pork sausage

Tips

  • Check into the political and economic situation of the countries that you're planning on visiting. It is not best to travel when there is a large amount of political/economic turmoil.
  • Eat locally as much as you can. The food is pretty cheap and it is delicious throughout the continent.
  • Learn the languages of the countries that you're going to. Luckily both Portuguese and Spanish are kind of similar, so learning one will help you with the other.
  • Embrace bus travel. It is the cheapest and often times, easiest way to get around.