With captivating landscapes of the snowcapped Andean peaks and the Iguazu Falls’ rushing waters, as well as a history that is as varied as it is ancient, there’s no wonder almost 570,000 people visited South America on a cruise last year!
Stretching a massive 17.84 million kilometres, this continent isn’t a place you can see in just one cruise. With highlights including the untouched islands of the Galápagos and the infectious rhythms of Rio de Janeiro’s carnival, here are some of the popular places to explore as we shine the
spotlight on South America.
Home to one of South America’s most iconic landmarks – Machu Picchu – Peru is one of the region’s most intricate countries. Many flock to visit the wonder of the famous Incan citadel, even taking part in the iconic Inca Trail to catch a glimpse of the Lost City. But this site isn’t the only part of Peru worth visiting.
History awaits at Nazca’s geoglyphs, or by exploring the largest pre-Columbian ruins in the Americas at Chan Chan. Meanwhile, dinner serves up dishes of delicious grilled anticuchos (beef skewers) and novoandina (rich Peruvian cuisine) that you can enjoy on street corners. Or why not celebrate as Peru’s heritage truly comes to life with a streetside festival. Whether it’s rejoicing in mythical beliefs or blessing past pilgrims who climbed mountains under the moonlight – the tunes of the region’s history are positively unforgettable.
Built upon postcard-pretty city centres and Amazonian rainforest, then surrounded by white-sand beaches and bordered with the spectacular Andes – Ecuador is a patchwork quilt of breath-taking landscapes.
Historic hubs include Cuenca – a place of cobblestone streets and charming cathedrals – and UNESCO-listed Quito – sporting architectural treasures and multi-cultural eateries. Beyond these cities is the chance to discover Ecuador’s many stunning backdrops.
Small Andean villages offer the chance to sample fresh seafood or meet with shamans as they follow the ways of their ancestors.
The Galápagos Islands are as untouched as they were back when Darwin first theorised here, with the chance to get up close to huge tortoises, endemic marine iguanas, sea lions, and cartoonish blue-footed boobies.
The cloud forest of Mindo is a paradise for bird lovers, with more than 1,600 species. While the Amazon Rainforest is a league of its own.
As a country blessed with one of the worlds best-known carnivals and the greatest and most diverse ecosystem, it can be hard to decide where to begin with Brazil. If you’re visiting during the carnival season (mid-February to early March) then you’re sure to experience hip-shaking sambas, dazzling costumes and parties that last days.
But that doesn’t mean any other time of year is peaceful – Brazilian festas (festivals) occur throughout the year and showcase the diversity of this amazing region. It goes without saying that no matter where you visit in Brazil, there will always be music, dancing, and those infectious rhythms which strike up a carefree love for life in all of us.
For all the big sounds Brazil offers, it’s also home to big sights with adventures available for all. The biodiversity of Brazil is legendary, with the Amazon Rainforest boasting the greatest collection of plant and animal species found anywhere on earth. Walk a trail through the Amazonian trees or visit colonial towns which have been frozen in time.
You can head to the top of Corcovado Mountain to gaze upon the statue of Christ the Redeemer. This post from Conversant Traveller explains how to get to the top. Or, simply walk along Copacabana Beach with a caipirinha in hand – sipping the country’s national cocktail as you take in a unique atmosphere that can only be experienced in Brazil.
Streetside tango, the thundering Iguazu Falls, and plenty of parrillas (grill houses) – it can only be Argentina. Culturally, the country is thanked for its contribution to the steamy dance of tango.
A passion Argentina shares with fútbol (football). Locals are devoted to the sport and fans looking to visit should definitely not pass up the opportunity to join the chants and stomps in the stadium.
The country is equally as proud of its natural wonders. The Iguazu Falls are mighty as they are magnificent, as is the thunderous Glaciar Perito Moreno. Argentina is home to the highest peaks of the Andes, as well as vivid wildlife that calls for its own colour palette – think penguins, flamingos, whales and giant anteaters!
Tie this all together with the distinctive Argentinian take on cinema, literature, music and the arts and you have the perfect recipe for a destination to fall in love with.
From the sultry tones of tango to the rugged landscapes of Patagonia, Chile is South America’s border for its south west coastline.
Stretching from the southern regions of Peru and Bolivia, along Argentina’s west boundary, then meeting the tip of Antarctica in the south, Chile is a one-of-a-kind region to explore.
One of its main draws is the sense of adventure, as the region is varied in landscapes.
The Atacama Desert is the driest in the world, with salt flats, active geysers and intense blue lagoons. It’s also an excellent place to stargaze due to the climate and minuscule amount of light pollution – take a trip to the Alma Observatory for a chance to see the largest astronomical project on the planet.
From dry deserts to endless glacial fields, Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park is one of the most impressive parks across Patagonia. With mountains, glaciers, rivers, valleys and an abundance of wildlife the park covers 227,298 hectares of the UNESCO World Heritage Site with spectacular sights not to be missed.
Visit South America on a cruise
The continent’s diversity and sense of discovery make it a fantastic cruise destination. South America is an iconic region to explore and not one you can do in just a single trip. With so many experiences, tours, and sights to see during a visit here – it can be hard to pick which part of South America to set sail to first!
For more information about South America cruise or to make a booking, call our Cruise Concierge team on 0808 202 6105, who will be happy to help with any questions or to find your perfect cruise itinerary.