South America is the place for anyone that likes the "mañana mañana" way of life. The entire continent exudes a relaxed, laid-back atmosphere, whilst simultaneously offering one fantastic natural or cultural wonder after another. Seasoned with exciting, sprawling cities and wonderful, welcoming people. Travel to South America with KILROY!
South America stretches from the border with Panama in the north all the way down to the Tierra Del Fuego (the "Land of Fire"). The continent's most southerly point, Cape Horn, faces out towards Antarctica. It's therefore not so strange to imagine, that there is, quite literally, something for everyone here. It is a truly wild and wonderful continent, and a journey to South America is an absolute must for every adventure-seeking backpacker.
Brazil and the Amazon
Brazil is South America's largest country and definitely worth a visit, thanks not least to its fantastic beaches. The entire length of the huge coastline of this beautiful country is dotted with inviting beaches, and one never gets tired of hopping from one to the next. Many of these beautiful beaches offer comfy hammocks in the cool shade of a palm tree, which for a modest sum could be yours!
The Amazon: The world's largest rainforest
Should you, against all odds, tire of Brazils' beaches you could of course pay a visit to the Amazon, the world's largest rainforest, which extends over large parts of Brazil, Venezuela, Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Colombia. With its exciting animal and plant life, it is one of the highlights of South America. The experience is not, though, served up on a silver platter. A trip around Amazonia is hot, humid, grimy, tough, long, primitive and at times very very demanding - ingredients that make it even more exciting and fascinating. The chance of seeing alligators, parrots, monkeys, hippos etc in their natural environment makes the experience even more special. A trip by riverboat down the Amazon River is truly an unforgettable experience - just remember to check out the stars in the night sky, you won't believe your eyes!
The Andes Mountains
The Andes Mountains are the backbone and quite literally the "high point" of South America! The mountain range stretches the entire length of the continent, so there are loads of fantastic places to visit. Machu Picchu in Peru, one of the most incredible and impressive places in South America, is an absolute must see. The experience of trekking along the famous Inca Trails and being able to watch the fabulous sun rise over the ruins of this ancient city is in another class. The Andes has many other world class sights to offer in Peru, Ecuador, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Venezuela and Bolivia. The World's highest lake, Titicaca, lies at the border of Peru and Bolivia and is well worth the trip. For those of a more energetic disposition there are also adrenalin filled activities such as white water rafting, climbing, and mountain biking.
Southern South America: Attractive Argentina
Make sure your trip to South America includes a visit to Argentina, a country that is a little more sophisticated and a little more European than the rest of South America. In the capital, Buenos Aires, you can experience the famous tango "live", watch a game of football, and eat some of the biggest steaks you'll ever find, all whilst being charmed by the city's totally unique and romantic atmosphere. The nightlife here is also fantastic.
In the northern part of Argentina, close to the borders of Brazil and Paraguay, lie the Iguaçu Falls, one of the World's greatest natural "watery" wonders. The system of waterfalls greatly exceeds all expectations. The area is literally "flooded" with streams of bubbling, foaming water; huge rainbows form where the cascading water meets the suns rays. Butterflies the size of your hand flutter about. It is a good idea to use at least two days to fully explore and appreciate the magnificence of the area.
Galapagos Islands: possibly the worlds' most fantastic wildlife experience!
Even though they are a little more expensive than most of the other attractions in South America, your trip ought to include a visit to the Galapagos Islands. The islands are part of Ecuador but lie around 1000km from the mainland in the Pacific Ocean. The animal and plant life here is both unique and totally incredible. Who knows what the future holds for the islands or the wildlife above and below the surface - so hurry and you may still get to samba underwater with one of the playful sea lions that await you….
South America is also everything that one wouldn't necessarily connect with the continent at first glance. Take for example the unspoiled islands of Los Roques in Venezuela, or the island paradise of Fernando de Noronha in Brazil. Good skiing can be found in the Andes Mountains either close to Santiago in Chile or the Mendoza ski parks - Las Lenas, Los Penitentes, Bariloche and Portillo in Argentina. Bariloche in Argentina is worth both a mention, and a visit at anytime of the year thanks to its untamed natural beauty, turquoise lakes, evergreen pine forests, colossal glaciers, beautiful mountain peaks and charming villages.
The above is just a very small selection of some of South America's finest attractions. One should not forget Chiles impressive Torres del Paine National Park, the Atacama Desert or the beautiful fjords and glaciers. Nor should one overlook Bolivia's surreal salt flats of Salar de Uyuni or the Pantanal tropical wetlands of Brazil. Venezuela is home to some of the finest tepui or tabletop mountains. Peru's Nazca Lines in the desert; and well…..the list goes on and on. If you are looking to experience something different alltogether, we recommend you to visit some of the countries in the northern end of South America: Guyana, French Guiana, or Suriname. They are less frequented by tourists, but offer their own unique vibe.
Travelling to and around South America
The most common arrival points in South America are Buenos Aires in Argentina and Sao Paolo or Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. KILROY can also regularly offer cheap flights to Quito in Ecuador and Lima in Peru as an alternative. It can however be expensive to buy flight tickets in South America, so if you are thinking of travelling to a number of different places on this large continent, it's a really good idea to put together a travel plan which allows a number stops, or purchase a flight pass before you leave home. Ask your KILROY travel consultant for more info.
The best way of both getting around, and getting the best out of South America is to book an adventure tour through KILROY. The continent can feel huge and unmanageable, with many areas that seem almost unreachable. Adventure tours are the best way of getting to places few other people will see. If you'd rather explore the continent for yourself, then buses are by far the most wide reaching form of transport. The bus ride can often be an experience in itself, being full of cheerful, interesting people from the local area. KILROY sells flexible hop-on/hop off bus passes in South America.
Accommodation in South America
Hostels in all price classes can be found all over South America, especially in the areas popular with backpackers and the larger cities. We recommend our start pack, which includes transport from your arrival airport to your first hotel/hostel. As one moves away from the beaten track, it's possible to find some really delightful bed & breakfasts and the possibility of staying with a local family. If you can speak a little Spanish or Portuguese, you'll get so much more out of this type of accommodation.
Price levels in South America
South America is generally cheap relative to European standards. In many places, it's possible to find hostel-accommodation for as little as €7 Euro per night, and a decent meal from €3-4 upwards depending on the type of food.
When to travel?
The world famous Rio Carnival in Brazil is held in February each year making it high season for travel to Brazil. So if you want to experience this amazing event you'll need to book early.
For other areas of South America the best times to travel are:
The Amazon: June to December
Inca Trail: May to October
Skiing: July and August
Chile and Argentina are best during the summer from November to March (it gets cold in the winter and is best avoided)
As for the rest of South America you can travel pretty much anytime you like!