“Best places in South America” is a pushy title, but now that we’re half way between our last visit and our next, we’re reminiscing and beginning to dream about what’s to come.
South America really is a varied continent: not just in terms of its geography, but in terms of its cultural and political make-up as well. Although colonial European influences are heavily felt, there’s still a fascinating indigenous culture surviving, and in some cases thriving, in modern South America.
We loved: Santiago, Valparaiso, Chiloe, the Lake district, beer tasting in Valdivia, and the San Pedro de Atacama astronomy tour.
We didn’t like: With a few exceptions, Craig didn’t like the food too much. Linda’s a total Chile fan!
We would return and: go wild in Patagonia, explore more of the northern desert, taste wine near Santiago.
Read more about travel in Chile.
We loved: Craig’s “northern three” of Trujillo, Chiclayo and Chachapoyas; eating guinea pig; time in Arequipa — we wish we had spent more time there than in Cusco.
We didn’t like: Being pick-pocketed several times, the rich/slums division of some towns – especially Cusco, the city-space of Lima, having to bribe our way out across the border.
We would return and: hike the Cordillera Blanca, spend more time in Chachapoyas and more time at the beach around Huacachina.
Read more about travel in Peru
We loved: the food and wine, Salta, new friends met in Cafayate and visited in La Plata, Bicentennary celebrations in Buenos Aires, the Iguacu Falls.
We didn’t like: Not much: Argentina was Craig’s favourite country visited in South America.
We would return and: head further south, visiting Patagonia and maybe trying our hands at some snow-sports.
We loved: the food and wine, relaxing at a friends lake house (where much food and wine was consumed), wandering Montevideo, chilling in beautiful Colonia.
We didn’t like: The prices — which were fair but higher than the rest of the continent — so no complaints there.
We would return and: Visit wineries, learn to surf on the east coast, visit some of the many places we missed.
We loved: Touring the Saltar de Uyuni (Uyuni Salt Flats), hiking around Copacabana, the people we couchsurfed with in La Paz.
We didn’t like: La Paz where we were constantly singled out by gangs of thieves, the roughest roads and least secure public transport we experienced.
We would return and: Get off the altiplano and into the forest, do some kind of river adventure, visit the wine region of the south east.
Read more about travel in Bolivia.
We loved: the Iguacu falls (the only piece of Brazil we’ve visited). We visited the fall from both the Argentinian and Brazilian side and, although we weren’t expecting much, were overwhelmed. One of the natural wonders of the continent, approximately 1,746 cubic meters per second flows over the 270-odd falls. Expect to get wet — no matter which side you visit. Food and amenities are better on the Argentinian side, but both provide good value for money.
The bird park a few minutes walk from the Brazilian entrance is also fantastic, but beware open-toed shoes and the curious toucans!
We’re looking forward to: exploring much more of the huge country! But it won’t be this year. We’re hoping to return and see much more of Brazil, hopefully over a year, one day.
We haven’t yet visited the following countries, but we’re looking forward to seeing them this year:
We’re looking forward to: travelling through Ecuador from south to north.
We’re looking forward to: visiting friends all over the country, then setting up somewhere for a month or two. Our sights are set on Medillin — where do you think we should stop for a while?
We’re not recommending
For various reasons, from the cost of visas to the difficulty of access to the apparently higher risk of violent crime, we’re not heading to these countries this year. We know little about them, and because of that can’t really recommend them. If you’ve visited, please leave your thoughts in the comments below.
Read more about travel in South America.