South America is a massive continent, offering adventure-seeking travellers loads to see and do. There’s a mix of culture, natural beauty, and many lessons to learn while travelling this extensive destination. This can make planning a trip quite overwhelming, but trust us when we tell you that travelling South America is easier than you think! To get you started on your itinerary planning, we’ve put together the ultimate South America bucket list. Have a look at which of these catch your eye, and then find your ideal South America group tour package.
If you go nowhere else in South America, you should at least visit the Sacred Valley, and take a tour to the famous Machu Picchu. Voted one of the Seven Wonders of the World, Machu Picchu is a popular excursion for all of our Peru tours.
Visit one of South America’s most diverse cloud forests, and take the opportunity to view the many species of wildlife – including all six species of the cat family. Located just 3 hours from San Jose, the Monteverde Cloud Forest is the perfect spot to enjoy a day trip. A must-do in South America.
The Panama Canals are a true testimony to humankind’s ingenious. Originally built to ease transportation from one side of North America to the next, they are now also a popular tourist attraction. Visit these canals from Panama and learn how they were built, then take a Panama canal cruise to enjoy them!
Try out a delicious meal at a Brazilian-style steakhouse, called a Churrascaria. These restaurants serve up the most delicious food. Expect a variety of grilled meats, salads and authentic Brazilian side dishes like rice, beans and bread. Find these restaurants all over Brazil, and enjoy them in an all-you-can-eat fashion.
If you’re looking for fun things to do in South America, try a cruise down the Iguaza river to the magnificent Iguazu Falls. Travel down the river, enjoying the scenery as you go, and end right at the foot of these majestic drops. These falls make up the largest waterfall system in the world and are truly a natural wonder. This is a must for any trip to South America, and one of Expat Explore’s favourite optional excursions.
An archipelago of 9 main islands, 52 cays and thousands of tiny islets, the Bocas Islands along the Caribbean coast of Panama offers some of the more thrilling things to do in South America. Island hop and enjoy zip lining, hiking, and horse riding. Or simply don your swimsuit and enjoy some tanning on the beach.
The Colombian coffee Region is responsible for most of Colombia’s coffee growth. The coffee farms here produce the most divine coffee, and a trip to any of these means a good dose of caffeine perk. Visit one of these farms to enjoy the taste of this finely crafted drink, while taking in the breathtaking views of the coffee valleys.
Mendoza is Argentina’s most famous wine region, and for good reason. The region accounts for nearly two-thirds of Argentina’s entire wine production. See for yourself why this wine is so popular by attending a wine tasting tour while visiting.
Made from a half a pound of Mortadella sausage, Provolone cheese, mayonnaise and Dijon mustard, all stuffed inside a generous helping of sourdough bread. The Mortadella sandwich is well-known and much loved in Brazil. The best place to find one of these is at the Mercadão market – a sprawling food market in São Paulo.
Explore the highest navigable lake in the world, and the largest lake in South America. Take a boat ride on the water and discover the many different islands that hold a myriad of cultures along the lake. The lake goes through both Peru and Bolivia and holds many treasures along its shores.
La Paz is found over 3,600 meters (11,800 feet) above sea level and is the highest city in Bolivia and the world. This city offers just a few of the best things to do in South America, including city walking tours, museum visits, and traditional dance lessons. It’s also the ideal spot to base yourself while exploring Bolivia.
An obvious choice for any South America bucket list, and an experience not to be missed! This captivating statue overlooking Rio de Janeiro is an iconic landmark and a popular tourist attraction. Take the opportunity to stand at its feet and fully take in the magnificence of the statue.
Pay a visit to the large protected Tayrona National Park and see the splendid biodiversity of the area. Hike through the rainforests, sit and watch the many species of amphibians and birds pass by, or take a trip to the Pueblito ruins – located in the heart of the park.
Travel to the driest place on earth and prepare for a breathtaking experience. Take a tour through Chile’s Atacama desert, view salt flats and navigate through the dry, rocky terrain, and then enjoy a splendid sunset over the gorgeous Moon Valley. Definitely one of the top things to do in South America!
Whether you believe you have two left feet or not, nothing compares to learning traditional dances while in South America. Try the Tango in Argentina, the passionate Samba in Brazil or take a vigorous Salsa Lesson in Cartagena, Colombia. For those who prefer to watch, catch a Ginga Tropical show while you’re in Brazil.
Become a real-life gaucho (cowboy) for the day and visit an estancia (guest ranch). Spend your day on a working cattle farm and immerse yourself in the ranch culture. Enjoy the hearty food, and take part in a rancher’s folk dance party.
Learn about the life and death of one of Colombia’s most notorious drug lords, Pablo Escobar. Take a guided tour through Medellin, where Pablo spent a good portion of his criminal life. Visit the house that he died in, the cemetery that he was buried in, and other buildings that were a part of his criminal career.
A highlight on all trips to South America, and a destination found on most travel bucket lists, the Uyuni Salt Flats attract many visitors each year. The flats are great to take a 4×4 adventure Jeep ride across and view the small villages and oases that can be spotted across the vast open spaces.
The Kogui people are the longest-surviving civilisation since the pre-Columbian era. They live in tight-knit villages, protected by the wilderness of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta region. These tribes are more in touch with nature than other civilisations, and they hold on to their ancient belief systems.
The dramatic chain of mountains along the western side of South America is quite a sight to behold! This mountain range offers unrivalled views and is home to the most magnificent creatures. A trip through Peru’s part of the mountain range gives you the chance to see the highest point in South America and chat with an alpaca!
And there you have it! The complete South America adventure for anyone wanting to experience the best of the continent. If this hasn’t captured your interest and given you inspiration for a multicultural vacation, we’re sure nothing will!
Lucky for you, we have 15 exciting Latin and South America tours! So you can tick off your bucket list with us as we travel this magnificent continent. Have a look at our tours, or contact us so we can help you find the best package for you!