Travelling to South America offers a soulful experience. A beloved holiday ground of dizzying sights and cultural siestas, this is a hotbed of rich, irresistible diversity just waiting to be explored. South America is a landmass riddled with countless continental attractions and it’s not hard to see why – scenic snow-capped mountainscapes, dense tropical rainforests and romantic sunny beaches, there’s just no better place on the planet for a taste of exotic adventure and idyllic beauty rolled into one delicious scoop.
And whether you want to trek into the heart of the Amazon rainforest, bask in the surreal Chile eclipse at Elqui Valley or just kickback on the golden velvety shores of the Galapagos islands, South America is where you can experience a little bit of everything.
Exploring such a massive landmass in the most effective way can be nearly impossible. You might want to see it all, but it’s important to be insightful when making your plans. Here are four top tips for planning an unforgettable trip to South America.
1. Browse tours before settling
Don’t book the very first tour you see. Tour itineraries and their pricing can change wildly among tour operators, which is why you need to spend time looking for the best deals available. Also, don’t book tours offered by your hotel until you check and compare prices with other available operators. This is because while many hotels actually do offer competitive rates, others may simply try to profit off you when you could easily go with cheaper travel agents.
There are countless tour agencies that provide tours to travellers in South America and the majority of them speak English, which makes the booking process smoother. Make sure to go through online reviews before confirming your booking. If there are more bad reviews than good ones, you might be better off with a different tour operator. You can also try to negotiate the price, especially if you plan to travel in a group.
2. Travel out of season
If you’re looking to avoid annoying crowds and save a wad of cash while you’re at it, visiting South America out of peak season can be a good choice. Travelling out of season means you have access to a vast array of quality accommodation while being able to snatch up better deals for the most popular tours on the continent.
Peak season can change depending on the area of South America you hope to explore, so make sure to do a bit of research in advance and confirm that the weather will not cause major disruptions to your trip. For instance, some world-class attractions like Machu Picchu are actually best visited during peak season when the weather is perfect, and the views are at their best.
3. Pick up some local language
Learning a little of South America’s local language can save you many headaches during your trip. Most of the countries here speak Spanish, and just mastering the most basic sentences can actually make a valuable difference to your journey. Even if you’re not an avid speaker, knowing your way around a few words can help you have useful conversations with locals, many of whom are always up for a beer and a good travel story.
Locals can let you in on some of their town’s best secrets, from where to try the most delicious street food to the best local pubs and attractions in the area. There are many apps that can help you learn Spanish – you’ll find them useful even if you don’t plan to stay for long here.
4. Research visa expenses
It’s important to always research visas before entering a country in South America. This is because the amount you pay for a visa can depend on which type of passport you hold. This means you should account for visa costs when deciding your travel budget for your chosen travel routes in South America.
Another thing to know is that some countries here can charge extra accommodation taxes that change with the duration of your stay there. You can talk to your accommodation provider to find out what taxes you are obligated to pay. This information can also sometimes be mentioned in the fine print of their websites.