When it comes to sightseeing, it’s hard to compete with the grandeur and splendor of South America. The continent is blessed with an unparalleled diversity and is the ultimate destination for all types of travelers. From the backpackers, the business travelers, the honeymooners or the vacationers – South America will cater to your needs.
With the juxtaposition of adventurous experiences, the interwoven indigenous and colonial cultures and the great food – South America is one of those places you have to visit to experience.
Whether you’re exploring snow-capped peaks, zip lining next to volcanoes, exploring mysterious Incan empires, surfing, or getting lost in lush forests, you are bounded to have a good time.
It’s hard to surpass South America’s cities with their incredible wonders and UNESCO World Heritage Sites. And once you think you’ve experienced it all, the continent will still manage to surprise you! In this article I will provide a “how to visit” guide to the best destinations in South America.
This list can help you prepare for your trip to South America. I am well aware that packing may be nerve-wrecking to a lot of people, and therefore, here’s a list of the essential things you will need!
The Travel Bag and Packing
You should first figure out whether you want to be back-packing or not. You might need to choose between a backpack and a larger travel bag.
In all cases, you will need packing cubes, specifically if you’ll be traveling for longer periods of time. They will essentially help you pack a lot more items, while staying organized on the go and will take much less space. If you’re going to be traveling to multiple destinations, the packing cubes will serve as your on-the-go wardrobes.
As I’ve reviewed on my blog www.pretravels.com, there are different types available with different prices in accordance to their quality, along with different benefits for each.
A few notes
- Comfort, comfort, comfort! That should be your main priority. You will be walking a lot, so make sure you get comfortable pants and shoes. No one wants to be hiking in skinny jeans!
- Make sure your shoes are durable.
- Always layer up – whether or not you’re going in winter, you need to bring a few layers with you. There are altitude differences, humidity and the weather may drop at night, specially if you’ll be camping.
The amount of clothes you bring completely depends on how long you’re staying. However, as a general rule of thumb – bring one week’s supply of clothes so you’re comfortable when it comes to laundry. It also depends on when you’re visiting.
Don’t forget to bring:
- Hiking Socks
- Normal pants and hiking pants.
- Waterproof jackets.
- Beach cover-ups.
- All your medications.
- A first aid kit.
- Altitude pills are very important, especially if you’re visiting Machu Picchu.
- Bug spray.
Tips And Tricks
You can essentially find tips and tricks when it comes to packing almost everywhere on the Internet. You’ll find infographics with packing lists, glimpses on different destinations and videos that help you all over Youtube.. Here are my top tips:
- Bring all your needed electronics.
- Get plastic bag for wet clothes.
- Don’t forget power adapters.
- Photocopy all your important documents including passports and ID’s.
- Bring some of the local currency in cash.
Where to Go
Fiery, feisty and passionate – Mexico City is a wonderfully enjoyable destination. With UNESCO World Heritage Sites, an unparalleled gastronomic experience, labyrinths of gorgeous streets, and some of the best museums in the world, the city is teeming with things to do.
There’s a plethora of options – from exploring buzzing downtown areas, getting cultured at museums or absorbing the city’s electric energy, you will be spoilt for choice. It’s lively, large and the culture scene is unlike any other.
Embrace the chaotic vibes of Mexico City with those things to do:
- Explore the city’s historic downtown.
- Learn about the history of the world in the Museum of Archeology.
- Get lost in El Templo de Mayor.
- Get spiritual at the Mexico City cathedral.
The contrasting European grandeur with the passion of the Latin countries is a sight to behold in Buenos Aires. The city is beautiful, is brimming with magnificent architecture, and is the perfect balance of glamorous and gritty. Streets peppered with Italian-style palaces, back-alleys with quirky cafes, local barrios rushing with life, and French edifices – Buenos Aires is intoxicating.
The eclectic, seductive energy that moves through Buenos Aires is mesmerizing and gives the city its distinct vibe. You’ll spend your days exploring theatres, going to bars, and dancing the tango in the streets – Buenos Aires is sizzling!
Here are some of the things you can do:
- Explore the pedestrianized Plaza Mayor
- Experience the beauty of the Recoleta cemetery and museums.
- Take picture-perfect snaps at La Boca.
- Catch a show at the Colon Theatre.
Havana…Oh Havana. The epitome of creativity – this historic, elegant town is brimming with gorgeous facades and a compelling history. Cuba is full of life, and the city of Havana is contagious with an almost untamable vibe. The city of Havana is considered a barrage to the senses, with fiestas in every country and the rumba music echoing through every barrio.
- Old Havana is a great place to start with over 200 years of history perched in the square. The buildings are breathing with life and you can check out the Cathedral, or Plaza Vieja. For a more eccentric experience, head over to the camera obscura for panoramic vistas of the city.
- Soak up the beauty of the city as you walk down the The Malecon with the ocean on one site and the edifices of Havana on the other.
- Get a history lesson at the Castillo de los Tres Reyes del Morro.
- Watch art that spans from the Egyptian times up until the modern times in the Palacio de Bellas Artes.
Nothing compares to being in the same place that served as the inspiration for Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. The Galapagos Islands are brimming with all types of eccentric wildlife that have evolved due to the weird natural conditions. There are absolutely no natural predators, thus making most of the wildlife roam freely around. From sea lions, large tortoises and plans that have not been touched for millions of years – this will be the best biology lesson you’ll ever get.
The creatures are fearless, the adventures are endless and the journeys are extraordinary!
Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail
A trip to South America would not be complete without going to Machu Picchu. Nestled in the heart of the Andes of Peru, Machu Picchu looks like something straight out of a Lord of the Rings movie. Mist-covered mountains are dotted with gorgeous structures, history is vibrating at every corner of the Machu Picchu, and dark green forests are lush and beautiful.
You will be exploring all the remnants of the Incan Empire, and then you will experience the beautiful spirituality around, the rushing rivers, and the painting-like pictures all around.
The Inca Trail is also one of the most rewarding hiking experiences, and walking amongst ancient ruins, jungles and misty clouds is wonderful, albeit not an easy one.
With all the options in South America, it will be hard choosing just one place to go. You have wonder after wonder waiting for you, promising you with incredible adventures. There really isn’t another place on earth with so much variety – so choose where you want to go, pack your bag and let’s go!