• 1 March 2023

There is no shortage of amazing things to see and do on a trip to South America! To make sure you don’t miss out, we have put together a list of 18 incredible day trips that should definitely be on your South American bucket list! Cloud forests, waterfalls, ancient ruins, coffee farms, city walks, volcano hikes and so much more!

Each trip offers a unique look into life on this vibrant continent. Let’s get started… 

1. Explore the mysteries of Machu Picchu 

The mysterious Machu Picchu found high up on the slopes of the Andes mountains draw travellers from across the world. Little is known about the origins of the Incan ruins. Some myths say that the city could have been a sacred site or even an astrological observatory! While we may never know the true origins, we can visit and explore the temples and ruins today. 

A visit to Machu Picchu is a special experience. Explore this UNESCO World Heritage Site with a knowledgeable local guide and hear all about the discovery and research into its history. This trip will include all transport, transfers and permits. It is good to note that making it to Machu Picchu is quite a journey – it involves travel by bus, train and on foot. There will be a fair amount of walking in areas of high altitude so make sure you wear comfortable shoes and clothing.

Did you know? Machu Picchu only issues a limited amount of permits a day to ensure the site stays in top condition. This makes it super important to book your day trip as far in advance as possible.

Available on these future Expat Explore tours:

Machu Picchu ruins voted as one of the new 7 wonders of the world
Machu Picchu, Peru
2. Visit Paraguay in the heart of the continent

A trip to South America is more than likely going to take you to multiple amazing countries. Add another one to your list with a day trip to Paraguay! This tiny country, nestled in between Argentina, Brazil and Bolivia, offers authentic South American experiences. Venture from Brazil, across the Friendship Bridge to Ciudad del Este in Paraguay. Join a local guide as they take you to two popular spots. First is the Itaipu Dam on the Paraná River – a huge hydroelectric structure which is the largest in the world and produces 90% of Paraguay’s electricity! Ciudad del Este is next on the list – it’s the perfect spot to stroll through markets and pick up some souvenirs and keepsakes. Please note that you may require a visa to enter Paraguay, depending on your country of origin.

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Friendship bridge over the Parana river in Paraguay
Friendship bridge over the Parana river in Paraguay
3. Witness the mighty Iguazú Falls from the Argentinian side

The Iguazú Falls flow along the border of Argentina and Brazil. Make the most of your trip to the falls by getting another perspective – from the Argentinian side! Cross the border, meet up with a local guide and venture into Argentina’s Iguazú National Park. Visit the viewpoints and wander the walkways and the upper and lower trails – keep an eye out for wildlife along the way. Don’t miss out on the Devil’s Throat section of the falls where you can enjoy a close-up view of the mighty waterfalls!

Did you know? More than 275 separate falls make up Iguazú Falls. The ominously named Devil’s Throat is the most scenic of all of these. The curved cataract features 14 falls dropping an astounding 100 meters!

Available on these future Expat Explore tours:

Iguazu Falls, Argentina - ExpatExplore
Iguazu Falls, Argentina
4. See the top local spots in Rio

There is no better way to see a foreign city than from a local’s perspective. See Rio de Janeiro’s best attractions that locals love! Feel the wind in your hair and admire the views from the top of the iconic (and adorably-named) Sugarloaf Mountain. Admire the world’s largest mural created by Kobra. Get insider tips on the best places to eat and find a spot to enjoy a tasty local lunch. Tick Samba City off your Rio bucket list and complete the day by watching the sunset at the famous Ipanema beach.

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Tourists at the Christ the Redeemer statue
Tourists at the Christ the Redeemer statue
5. Cruise around the Ballestas Islands

Take to the water and see the Paracas Peninsula on Peru’s Southern Coast. The Ballestas Islands are located just off the coast and are sure to wow the senses! Not only are they naturally beautiful, but they are home to incredible marine life. Hop aboard a boat on a guided tour and keep an eye out to see if you can spot Humboldt penguins, blue-footed boobies and even sea lions!

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Sea Lions Ballestas Islands Peru South Americah
Keep an eye out for Sea Lions on a Ballestas Island Boat Trip!
6. See the famous Nazca Lines from the sky

More Peruvian adventures await – this time in the sky! Venture to the Nazca Desert for a flight you won’t soon forget.. This spot in southern Peru is home to a top South American attraction – the Nazca Lines. This famous site is made up of over 70 mysterious geoglyphs that have been carved and etched into the desert ground. Shapes like monkeys, hummingbirds and huge spiders adorn the landscape and they are a sight to behold as you fly over them. The origin of this UNESCO World Heritage Site is not certain. We think the mystery adds to the appeal! 

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Nazca lines in Peru
Nazca lines in Peru
7. Embark on a 4X4 jeep adventure tour in Paraty

Keen to rumble through the jungle (well, technically it’s a rainforest…) in Brazil? Don’t miss out on this excursion! Paraty is a colonial town on Brazil’s coast which is surrounded by lush rainforest. Jump into a 4X4 jeep for an exciting tour filled with impressive scenery and a waterfall or two. Better yet, complete this trip with a visit to a local distillery where you’ll get to taste Brazil’s national spirit – cachaça. Rainforest adventures combined with great drinks – it’s sure to be an unforgettable day out!

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Paraty Brazil South America
Explore the rainforest surrounding Paraty in Brazil.
8. Experience Latin American food, music and dance!

Latin America is famed for being passionate and full on in many aspects of life, from food to dancing and more! You can experience the fun and flavour on a night out at the Rafain Churrascaria show which showcases traditional dance and music by performers from around Latin and South America. Plus, you get to indulge in some classic South American dishes during the fun-filled evening!

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Drummer performing in Brazil South America
Enjoy a night of music, food and dancing, Latin American style!
9. Add Uruguay to your South American travel bucket list

Add another epic South American country to your bucket list with a day trip to Uruguay. While in Buenos Aires, pop across the border for a day trip to Colonia del Sacramento. This is one of Uruguay’s oldest cities. From the historic cobblestones streets to the colourful building facades draped in flowering vines, Colonia del Sacramento simply oozes historic charm. On a day trip, you’ll get to explore the UNESCO-listed historic quarter, enjoy the views from the 19th-century lighthouse and absorb the vibe of everyday life in Uruguay. Please note that you may require a visa to enter Uruguay, depending on your country of origin.

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Colonia del Santiago, Uruguay, South America
Colonia del Santiago, Uruguay
10. Try Brazil’s national dish and drink with locals in Rio!

When travelling, it’s always a great idea to “live like the locals do” and on a night out in Rio de Janeiro, you can do just that! Sit down for dinner at a local house in Rio and try feijoada – a delicious Brazilian black bean stew which is also the national dish of Brazil. Top it all off by learning how to mix your own caipirinha – Brazil’s national cocktail. This is authentic Rio – it will be a night of great food, great drinks and great company.

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Friends cheers with drinks dinner South America
Say “cheers” with a caipirinha in Rio!
11. Witness the passion of the Argentine Tango!

Bask in the glory of one of Argentina’s most revered traditions – the Argentine Tango! Embark on a late-night journey through the many iterations of the tango while enjoying your time in Buenos Aires. Whether it is traditional street tango or Milonga, Vals or Candombe, this dance of fire and passion will have you captivated! During this excursion, you’ll also get to enjoy an included dinner. Sounds like the perfect night out in Buenos Aires to us! 

Available on this Expat Explore tour:

Tango dancers Buenos Aires Argentina
Lace up your dancing shoes in Buenos Aires!
12.  Visit a working coffee farm in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is home to incredible scenery; from its cloud forests to its coastline. The coffee farms are gorgeous too! While exploring Costa Rica, add a visit to a coffee farm to your must-do list. You’ll get to discover the history of coffee production in Costa Rica and the wider world, learn how the beans are harvested and you’ll get to sip on a cup of freshly-brewed coffee! 

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Farmers working on coffee farm in Costa Rica South America
Learn how Costa Rican coffee is made; from bean to cup!
13. Explore the idyllic San Blas Islands

A visit to the San Blas Islands seems like it is straight out of a daydream! From the turquoise waters to the long stretches of white sand beaches and untouched natural beauty, this is an idyllic destination just off the coast of Panama. This archipelago is made up of 365 islands with only a small few being inhabited. Taking a day trip to the San Blas islands is the ultimate island day trip. Be ready for an early start, jump on a boat and get ready to explore a few of the islands. Lunch will be fresh catch-of-the-day. The rest of the day is yours to embrace the full island lifestyle! Swim, snorkel or simply relax under the sun

 Available on this Expat Explore tours

The islands of San Blas
The islands of San Blas
14. Hike around Costa Rica’s Arenal Volcano

This one is for the nature lovers! Travel to Arenal Volcano National Park and see Costa Rica’s most well-known volcano. Join a guide for a half-day hike along the area’s old lava flows and volcano skirts. Arenal stands at an impressive 1,657 meters tall! In the past century, it has been known as one of the world’s most active volcanoes! While you explore the area on your hike, learn more about the volcano and its history. Arenal Volcano National Park is home to wonderful flora and fauna – see if you can spot sloths, howler monkeys, capuchin monkeys, a variety of beautiful bird species and even anteaters during your trek.

 Available on this Expat Explore tour:

Arenal vulcano hike
Arenal volcano hike
15. Explore the Costa Rican rainforest from above

Take to the treetops to get a unique perspective of the rainforest in Costa Rica. With the Arenal Volcano providing a backdrop, follow an expert local guide and cross a number of hanging bridges and venture deep into the rainforest. This is definitely a day trip for adventurers! The bridges are 5 – 10 meters (5 – 350 feet) high and wind through the trees of the forest. Listen as your guide shares insights and the history of this beautiful and unique ecosystem. The bird’s eye view allows you to see so much more of the rich diversity of animals, birds, insects and plants that call this area home! 

 Available on this Expat Explore tour:

Arenal Volcano hanging bridge
Arenal Volcano hanging bridge
16. Take a dip in the hot springs of Baldi

What’s the best way to kick back and relax after a day filled with adventure in the Costa Rican rainforest? With a long soak in the rejuvenating hot springs of Baldi! There are hot springs found in the area surrounding the base of the Arenal Volcano, with the volcano naturally heating the thermal water. Visit the Baldi springs for the ultimate evening of relaxation! Take a dip in the waters and feel the rejuvenating effects or even book a massage! Afterwards, sit down for a delicious buffet dinner. Enjoy your meal with amazing views of the Arenal volcano.  

Did you know? Hot springs and thermal waters are said to be therapeutic. This is thanks to the high level of minerals concentrated in the water. You’ll have to take a dip to see if it’s true! 

 Available on this Expat Explore tour:

Arenal hot springs
Arenal hot springs
17. Marvel at the wildlife and scenery of Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio

For unrivalled animal sightings and stunning natural scenery – visit Costa Rica’s picturesque Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio. This tiny national park – Costa Rica’s smallest at 16 square kilometres – is one of its best! Here, you will find rugged rainforests meeting pristine beaches. Wildlife enthusiasts won’t know where to look! The area is home to capuchin monkeys, iguanas, armadillos, sloths, dolphins, whales and the Grey-crowned squirrel monkey which is native to Costa Rica’s Pacific coast. During your visit, enjoy the views as well as an informative tour of the park under the guidance of a local expert!

 Available on this Expat Explore tour:

Manuel Antonio National Park
Manuel Antonio National Park
18. Visit Bocas del Toro’s famous beaches

Take full advantage of being in a tropical paradise! Bocas del Toro is an island archipelago paradise on Panama’s Caribbean coast. Cruise around the crystal clear waters on a catamaran and see the area’s top spots! Visit the incredible Bastimentos Island and Bird Island. Not to forget two of the most famous beaches: Starfish Beach and Red Frog Beach said to be some of the most beautiful in all of Panama. While you explore the islands at a leisurely pace, take a dip in the ocean, go snorkelling and wander across the beaches in this tropical paradise. Keep an eye out for sloths, capuchin monkeys, dolphins and turtles! To complete your Panamanian island experience, chat with the locals while you enjoy some of the local cuisines! 

Did you know? During the 17th century, the islands used to be a haven for pirates! They stopped here to repair and build new ships. Legend has it that they buried treasure on a number of the islands but nothing has been found yet!

 Available on this Expat Explore tour:

View some starfish on Bird island
View some starfish on Bird island

A trip to South America is sure to be amazing thanks to the continent’s beautiful natural scenery, its ancient sites and vibrant culture. Any of these 18 incredible day trips will make your South American adventure even more unforgettable! Has this list sparked your adventurous spirit? Contact us to start adding these optional excursions to your future Expat Explore South America tour!

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