Your South America itinerary: 7 ideas for exploring the continent

Rough Guides Editors

written by
Rough Guides Editors

updated 17.01.2019

You can’t expect to fit everything South America has to offer into one trip – or two or three or four, to be fair – and we don’t suggest you try. For those taking a big, extended trip around the continent you could join a few together, but remember that the distances you’ll be covering can be vast. Plus, there's lots to discover off the beaten track.

Here, we've compiled 7 options for your South America itinerary from The Rough Guide to South America on a Budget. For more detailed maps, expert advice on transport, destinations, accommodation, safety and more, buy the full guide here.

1. Southern Brazil: from Rio's beaches to Serra Gaúcha's mountain bases

Start in Rio (1), where beaches and samba bars will kick off your trip in style. Head south to Costa Verde (2), backed by forested mountain peaks and brimming with hidden gems like colonial Paraty and the breath-taking beaches of Ilha Grande. Then turn inland towards the historic towns of Minas Gerals (3).

Check out Brazil's capital, Brasília (4), in all its retro-futuristic glory, before experiencing the huge array of wildlife in the vast wetlands of the Pantanal (5) – a great alternative to the Galápagos if you're pressed for time.

Lounge in Ilha de Santa Catarina (6), home to some of Brazil's best beaches, before wrapping up with crashing waterfalls and intense hikes and climbs in the verdant mountain bases of Canela (7) and Gramado in Serra Gaúcha.

2. Northern Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay

Begin in the most cosmopolitan of all South American cities:

(6): a wine-lovers sophisticated paradise. The tallest mountain in the western hemisphere,

(8) and the wildlife-rich regions of chilled-out Mérida (9). Ciudad Bolívar (10) is Venezuela’s most lovely colonial town, and your gateway to the towering Angel Falls (11). Don’t miss the mind-blowing jungles of the Orinoco Delta (12) before you end this itinerary in conveniently located Parque Nacional Henri Pittier (13) – close well connected Caracas.

7. Northern Brazil and the Amazon

Commence in Brazil's canyon-filled Chapada Diamantina (1) national park, and onward to quality surf, diving and beaching in Salvador (2).

You’ll be pressed to find a prettier city than Olinda (3) anywhere in the north, but won’t regret having left it once you’re browsing the stalls of Fortaleza’s (4) central market. The world-class restaurants and bars of Belém (5) are worth writing home about, as is the fine street food in bustling Manaus (6).

Then set course for the Amazon (7), where a river trip down the Rio Negro will be an experience that stays with you for the rest of your life. If you can’t bring yourself to leave, consider floating all the way to Iquitos in Peru.

Rough Guides Editors

written by
Rough Guides Editors

updated 17.01.2019

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