South America – Travel Guide, Sightseeing & Insider Tips

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South America is spectacular. It is home to the world’s biggest rainforest and greatest natural wonder the Amazon, the Andes which are one of the highest and spectacular mountain ranges in the world, truly amazing beaches in Brazil plus you can see the world’s tallest waterfall at Angel Falls. There isn’t just natural beauty though; in many countries you can explore the ruins of ancient civilizations such as those at Machu Picchu. There are also many vibrant metropolises such as São Paulo, Buenos Aires, Caracas, Santiago, Lima and the unforgettable and iconic Rio de Janeiro.

Weather & Climate

The South America climate is predominantly wet and hot but of course the sheer size of the continent means that each geographical area has its own distinct climate. The Amazon rainforest if you haven’t already guessed is either hot and wet, or wet and hot. The Andes, on the other hand, are pretty cold throughout the entire year. The deserts of Chile are the driest part of South America and Columbia is one of the wettest. It’s always worth researching the weather in the country and region you are visiting due to the sheer variety of climates and weather conditions.

History & Culture

South America is home to some of the oldest and richest civilizations in human history. Agriculture developed in South America around 5000 BC and 2500 BC in present-day Peru. From these early beginnings major civilizations, such as the Inca Empire, developed. These civilizations built some of the most spectacular and enduring architecture the world has ever seen. Portugal and Spain both staked a claim for the land in the 15th Century and went on to shape much of the continent into what it is today. Now South America is a vibrant and dynamic place, with rich and diverse cultures. You can go from the famous food and samba lifestyle in Brazil, to native tribes relatively untouched by the modern world.

Interesting Facts

  • Brazil is, by far, the largest country in South America, encompassing around half of the continent’s land area and population.
  • The world’s longest mountain chain, the Andes, runs 7,250 km down the western edge of South America.
  • The driest place on Earth is located in South America, which is the Atacama Desert in Chile.
  • South America actually contains over 40% of the world’s plants and animals species and all of this is in an area smaller than 15% of the earth’s land surface.

Insider Tip

If you are feeling up to the challenge then the Inca Trail is one of the most iconic tourist activities you can ever take part in and a life changing experience for many who do. Trekking for four days takes you through the Sacred Rock to Machu Picchu. The best time to visit is May through to September as this is the dry season. Remember to make your reservation at least a couple of months in advance to avoid disappointment and be aware that the trail is closed in February.