South America is home to the world’s largest remaining rainforest, driest desert, longest river, and some of the highest waterfalls. In amongst natural splendour you’ll find large urban centres where millions live in poverty and billionaires live in walled compounds: South America is — to abuse a cliché — ripe with contrasts.

For the independent traveller, there are adventures to be had with even the popular destinations still having an element of uncertainty about them. Things tend to open and shut on their own schedule, and that’s not necessarily the one that’s hanging on the door.

While you can get by with English in the tourist zones, we highly recommend you learn some Spanish before you go (or while travelling) to really get the most out of this amazing region.

South America travel podcasts

Travel destinations in South America

Where are you headed? Check out our country pages for Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay, and Venezuela, or browse the articles below.