South America is the world’s fourth largest continent in terms of landmass and fifth in population. Home to twelve distinctly different sovereign states - Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, Brazil, Colombia, Paraguay, Uruguay, Guyana, Suriname, Bolivia, Argentina and Chile - it also encompasses French Guiana, the Falklands Islands, the Lesser Antilles as well as Trinidad and Tobago.
As a traveller to this vast and varied continent you are spoilt for choice, with a huge range of natural wonders, historical sights, astounding wildlife and pulsating local life to fit into your itinerary. Many start with the better known destinations - Peru, Argentina, Ecuador or Brazil – but can’t resist coming back for more, with visits to lesser known countries such as Colombia, Venezuela, Bolivia or Guyana.
Combining extraordinary wildlife, impressive mountain landscapes, colonial cities and beautiful coastline, Ecuador with its off-shore islands, the Galapagos, perhaps best sum up all the continent has to offer.
Brazil is sometimes described as a continent within one country, with immense swathes of rainforest, some of the best beaches in the world, vibrant local cultures with markets and festivals which you can easily immerse yourself into, along with the astounding wildlife of the Amazon and the Pantanal. The Iguazu Falls, separating Brazil from Argentina, are widely agreed to be the most spectacular waterfalls in the world.
Peru has long been a favourite for travellers with Explore: over the years thousands have trekked the four day Inca Trail to the ruined mountaintop city of Machu Picchu, one of the iconic ancient sites not just of South America, but of the world.
Far away in the south you can experience the stark beauty and blue-ice glaciers of Patagonia. Straddling both Chile and Argentina, this region is one of our planet’s most magnificent wilderness areas.
Every traveller has to visit South America at least once, but your main challenge is to decide where to begin: with so much choice on offer it’s not easy to pick which country to explore first.