South America is a huge continent with much to explore. From majestic mountains to mighty rivers, sprawling jungles to vast deserts, South American boasts some of the world’s most breathtaking landscape. However, it’s difficult to cover everything in a single trip. With so many amazing sights to choose from, it can be difficult to decide your South America itinerary. In this guide, we suggest some routes to help you organise your adventures.
The Amazon jungle
Of all the amazing natural heritage within the South American continent, the Amazon rainforest is arguably the most famous. The vast jungle is one of the least explored regions of the continent, covering most of northwestern Brazil and stretching into Colombia and Peru.
The Amazon includes over 80,000 kilometers of navigable waterways. Therefore, a cruise is a great way to explore the jungle as part of your South America itinerary. If you fly into Manaus airport, you can explore the city’s bustling centre and delicious street food. Alternatively, you can set sail from the unspoilt colonial town of Belém a little further down the river. Either way, a cruise on the Río Negro section of the Amazon will be an unforgettable experience.
On a day trip or three-day cruise, you’ll get the chance to encounter macaws, herons, kingfishers, toucans, snakes, sloths, alligators and even river dolphins. If you can’t bear to part from the magic and mystery of the rainforest after three days, longer trips upstream into Peru are also available.
Colombia is one of the best countries in the world for wildlife lovers, boasting a staggering 18% of the world’s bird species. Furthermore, the country’s rich, fertile soil mean that it also features stunning plant life. It is this nourishing earth that helps to grow Colombia’s most famous export – coffee.
A trip to Colombia’s coffee country is a great way to explore on a shorter trip. The country’s capital, Bogotá is accessible direct from most major hubs. One of South America’s most underrated cites, the Colombian capital is certainly worth taking a few days to explore. From here, a short flight up to Pereira takes you to the heart of Colombia’s ‘coffee triangle’. Once you arrive, you can enjoy horse riding, coffee tasting, and wildlife spotting in the lush green landscape outside of the city.
The Inca trail
The Inca heartland of Bolivia and Peru is nestled in the dramatic landscape of the Andes. Encompassing the legendary Lake Titicaca and the ancient citadel of Machu Picchu, Inca country is a must for any explorer. Our suggested South America itinerary begins by touching down in the buzzing Bolivian capital of La Paz, where you can enjoy the nightlife, food and culture.
Buses depart from La Paz to Lake Titicaca, passing through the town of Copacabana. Day trips run from the town out to the lake, which is the highest navigable lake in the world. Furthermore, from the Peruvian side of the lake at Puno, there are boat trips out to the amazing Totora-reed islands, built by the Uros people.
Once at Puno, the vibrant city of Cuzco is easily accessible via rail, which includes spectacular views over the mountains. Once you’ve spent time enjoying Cuzco’s restaurants, bars, and excellent museums, head up to the jewel in the Inca crown – Macchu Piccu. This amazing archeological site is best enjoyed on foot, with four-day or longer hikes setting off from the Urubamba River.
Following Darwin’s footsteps
Patagonia is home to some of the world’s most breathtaking landscapes and unique wildlife. Therefore, one of the best ways to explore this region is to follow in the footsteps of renowned naturalist Charles Darwin. For instance, the voyage through the Fuegian Archipelago inspired Darwin to formulate his theory of evolution.
Eight-day round trip cruises offered by Australis depart from the Chilean city of Punta Arenas, which is easily accessible by air. From there, cruises cross the Strait of Magellan to the Tuckers Islets. The voyage then crosses Ainsworth Bay before cruising down the Beagle Channel to Glacier Alley, where you can see the dramatic Pía Glacier. The ship also calls at the historic Wulaia Bay and Cape Horn, as well as Magdalena Island, which has a lively penguin colony.
Your South America Itinerary: A world to explore
These are but a few suggestions for your South America itinerary, with so much more to explore. To discover more about Australis’s routes around Patagonia and beyond, download our brochures.