Best Time to Travel South America: 9 Great Tips for Your Dream Trip

This just might be the best time to travel South America. If you’ve ever dreamed of exploring the rich and diverse countries that make up this incredible continent, you’re in the right place.

That’s because we’re sharing important travel tips you should know before you go to South America, especially while the world recovers from the pandemic.

Keep reading to learn what you need to know so you can make your dream vacation a reality.

machu picchu peru
Machu Picchu – Peru

CONTENTS – In this article, you will learn important tips for traveling to South America so you can plan your dream vacation, including:

Why Now Is The Best Time To Travel South America

By Damon Corkin, Founder and Travel Director, Andean Discovery

After a year and a half of staying safe at home through the pandemic, the world is opening up again.

You’ve dusted off your suitcases, gotten your vaccine, and you are ready to embark on your next new adventure. Right now is the time to book your dream trip to South America.

galapagos seal diving
Galapagos – Ecuador

Why South America?

If you’re in the US, South America is right in your backyard.

It offers amazing views, unbelievable food, and gorgeous weather. South American people are extremely friendly and proud of their home countries.

Most are excited to provide you with an amazing experience when you visit.

Why is Now the Best Time to Travel South America?

South America is a year-round destination, except for the rainy season from January to March.

If you live north of the equator, remember that South America’s seasons are the opposite of what you are used to. South American summer is November to February, and winter is June to August.

But besides the weather in South America, there’s never been a better time to visit than now.

You see, the fragile ecosystems and unique wildlife of South America have been largely undisturbed for the last 18 months.

Right now, tourist traffic is low. You can visit the rare wonders of places like the Galapagos Islands and Machu Picchu with few other travelers.

So, how do you make this dream trip happen?

Start by following these tips to make your travel dreams a reality.

Traveling in South America: Tips to Plan Your Vacation

iguazu falls argentina
Iguazu Falls – Argentina

There are new considerations to planning a South American adventure, as well as the traditional logistics of a trip to a foreign country.

Once you’ve gotten your COVID vaccine, research what sites you want to visit. Then, you are ready to start planning as there are a number of factors to address.

Before you hop on a plane, here are some tips to consider making sure your South American adventure is the trip of a lifetime:

1. Check Your Passport

Your passport must have at least six months of validity left when you embark on a trip to a foreign country.

If your passport needs to be renewed, know that processing times are longer because of backups caused by COVID restrictions. Even expedited service can take weeks longer than usual.

Don’t commit resources to a trip until you are sure you’ll have a valid passport in hand by the time you are scheduled to leave. 

2. Plan All Your Logistics Now

Comprehensive advance planning is key. Don’t leave any details to chance.

You’ll want to make sure you arrange your reservations, travel arrangements, and entrance tickets in advance. That’s because capacity is still limited in many places, so you don’t want to miss out on an experience or be left in a lurch because you didn’t book ahead.

sancho beach brazil
Sancho Beach – Brazil

3. Investigate Local COVID Protocols

 COVID protocols may differ from country to country, or even from city to city in South America. Be prepared to follow local guidelines for COVID safety.

Even as some safety protocols are easing in the US, you may find that they are still stringent in parts of South America.

For instance, many restaurants, shops, and other public spaces require mandatory temperature checks and the use of hand sanitizer before you enter.

Some restaurants have implemented an ozone tunnel to fully disinfect the exterior of all guests before being seated.

Shoe disinfection is also common with certain businesses and restaurants.

Waring masks may still be required in many places, so bring a facemask that is effective and comfortable.

The key here is to do your homework so you understand and can follow these local guidelines.

angel falls boliver venezuela
Angel Falls – Boliver, Venezuela

4. Learn Entry Requirements for Each Country You Plan to Visit

South America comprises 14 incredible countries you can visit on this dream vacation:

  • Argentina
  • Bolivia
  • Brazil
  • Chile
  • Colombia
  • Ecuador
  • Falkland Islands (UK)
  • French Guiana (FR)
  • Guyana
  • Paraguay
  • Peru
  • Suriname
  • Uruguay
  • Venezuela

Even though you may be vaccinated, you will still have to abide by local entry requirements of any country you visit. You will likely encounter additional paperwork, sometimes available only in Spanish. (Hint: spend some time learning the language.)

You may also need to present a negative COVID-PCR or Antigen test results before checking in at the airport.

And, additional documentation may be required upon arrival, as well.

uyuni salt flats bolivia
Uyuni Salt Flats – Bolivia

5. Leave Time for COVID Testing If You Have a Multi-Country Itinerary

Does your South American adventure includes stops in several countries?

Then, you must leave time to get tested for COVID and receive the results between each stop.

For example, if you decide to create an itinerary that includes both Galapagos and Machu Picchu, you will need to include an extra day in order to secure COVID testing in Ecuador prior to departing for Peru.

So, factor in these testing days to your South American travel itinerary so you give yourself enough time to see everything you want.

6. Check Business Hours (Especially on Sundays)

In many parts of South America, businesses close on Sundays.

This is important for you to remember, especially if you need COVID testing prior to traveling from one country to another. Note that a Sunday lab closure may delay your ability to get a test or receive the results.

cotopaxi ecuador
Cotopaxi – Ecuador

7. Plan Required COVID Testing in Advance

You will find that COVID test turnaround times vary. Therefore, plan your required COVID testing in advance as much as possible.

This will allow you to determine turnaround times for test results.

Then, plan when to get tested accordingly so you know when you will receive the results.  

8. Find a Reliable Source of Local Information

Many travelers love using Airbnb or other such rental services for accommodations. That’s because it can provide you with a different experience than a hotel stay. It may help save you money in some cases, too.

One distinct advantage of a hotel, though, is that a concierge can be an invaluable source of information. This is especially true regarding any recent changes to local COVID protocols, curfews, or restrictions.

For example, it’s still common to enforce curfews that do not allow people to be out of their homes, hotels, or residences between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.

At the time of this publication, vaccination rates are low in most South American countries. So, expect that additional restrictions are possible when you visit.

If you decide to go the Airbnb route, try to find a source of local information you can go to for updates and questions.

christ the redeemer brazil
Christ the Redeemer – Rio de Janiero, Brazil

9. Purchase Trip Insurance

Don’t let your own COVID vaccination status make you feel overconfident. Consider purchasing trip insurance to cover you for unforeseen events or mishaps.

Even before COVID, it was advisable to purchase trip insurance to protect you against the need to cancel the trip.

Insurance can also protect you during the trip if there is an interruption due to:

  • Illness
  • A cancelled flight
  • An emergency medical situation
  • Trip evacuation

Coverage may vary from carrier to carrier, so be sure to ask questions and read the fine print of your policy.

Final Thoughts on Best Time to Travel South America

torres del paine natl park chile
Torres del Paine National Park – Chile

Your dream vacation awaits in South America.

Even with the restrictions and hoops travelers need to go through, visiting South America now will be an amazing experience.

You can easily plan your trip yourself. Or, hire an experienced travel professional who can:

  • Help you plan a flawless trip
  • Navigate COVID-related regulations
  • Anticipate any potential disruptions

This is your chance to have a once-in-a-lifetime experience in South America, and take in the unique beauty, breathtaking landscapes, and enchanting cultures of our neighbors to the south.

Don’t forget to save this article for later on Pinterest.

South America travel pin

Photos courtesy of Canva Pro.

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