If you're looking for a vacation destination that will truly leave you with an incredible memorable experience, South America is the right choice. Wallowing in incredibly diverse cultures, phenomenal wildlife and plenty of ancient civilizations, it is the perfect spot for an all-encompassing holiday. A visit to Peru will send you to the Amazon Rainforest to meet the indigenous Quechua people and hear the stories of ancient Incan civilizations. Or, it's a perfect opportunity to explore Machu Picchu, the 15th-century ruined city that sits atop a mountain. Other cultural must-visits are the city of Cartagena in Colombia and the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador. Meanwhile, in Brazil, take a journey through the beaches and vibrant culture of Rio de Janeiro, find yourself within the breathtaking landscapes of Florianapolis and explore the Amazonian rainforest and Pantanal from Manaus. For the more adventurous traveler, Argentina could be your place with its limitless Patagonian landscapes and screeching glaciers, while a trip to Chile gives you the chance to visit and explore the mysterious ancient ruins of Easter Island. And don't forget to feast your eyes on the captivating BolivianSalt Flats. Whether you're taking a multi-country trip or just exploring one location, South America is an incredibly special destination where you will never forget the experiences you've had here.
The History of South America
South America is a vast continent that encompasses big countries and small, cultures, histories and national customs, each of them so distinctively different from the others. It is a part of the world that has been present for thousands of years and it is thanks to this incredible longevity that South America boasts one of the most fascinating and diverse cultural histories in the world.
South America began its history almost 33,000 years ago with the arrival of humans that crossed the land bridge linking Siberia and Alaska during the last ice age. They eventually populated the entire South American continent and some of their descendants were among the first peoples to even build and maintain organized settlements. Ancient civilizations sprung up in parts of Peru and Ecuador, such as the Cahitan Culture, the Olmecs, the Moche, and the Chavin cultures. By around 1,500BC, the Aztec, Inca, and Maya civilizations had come to dominate many major regions.
Spanish colonialism not only saw the destruction of the ancient civilizations in South America, but also the foundation of many unified countries. In 1511, Spanish colonisation of the continent began with Pedrarias Dávila and his conquest of Panama, followed by Francisco Pizarro taking Peru in 1532. After the War of Spanish Succession, South American territory was ceded to the Kingdom of Portugal, leading to many of the countries that still exist today, such as Brazil and Argentina.
The 19th Century saw the region fight against a slow but steady recovery from Spanish control. The 1822 Brazilian Declaration of Independence was the beginning of the process, and by the 20th century, all countries in South America were independent, barring persistent border disputes. In the latter part of the century, social and economic issues such as poverty and inequality have seen governments, civil society groups and international organisations try to tackle these problems in various ways.
If you're considering a trip, there's simply no better way to experience the vibrant history of South America then to visit the region itself and witness the wonders that have existed and flourished here for thousands of years. From ancient civilisations and colonial structures, to modern progress, there's always something new to explore in South America. Venture off the beaten path and discover why this continent has captivated and inspired generations of travelers. A visit to South America will surely leave you enamoured, and with a greater understanding of its past and present.
The Culture of South America
South America is a large, diverse continent that has vibrant cultural heritage and welcoming people. You can experience a unique and unforgettable journey with a visit to South America, as it offers both city attractions as well as natural wonders. As one of the most culturally vibrant place in the world, South America is home to unique and intriguing traditions that encapsulate its long and rich history.
South American culture can be found in its dances, music, art, food and attire. The dances in South America vary between countries, but have many stylistic similarities. The dance moves and styles that have been passed through the generations are a direct expression of the culture of their country. It is truly an immersive experience to observe and sometimes even join in the traditional dances in South America.
South American music is also just as captivating, with its mix of traditional tunes, instruments and current modern influences. Artists incorporating jazz, funk, reggae and more are common, so no matter what your music preference is, you're sure to find something that speaks to you. South American music is also heavily associated with carnivals, as it bridges the gap between generations and is truly a celebration of life.
The food in South America is also something that shouldn't be missed. You can find traditional dishes like the Brazilian feijoada, the Colombian Ajiaco and Venezuelan Pabellon. South America also has a great influence from Europe so expect to find lots of Italian, Spanish and German food as well. The cuisine varies from country to country, and exploring each is sure to be an adventure of its own.
Overall, South America offers a wide variety of unique culture and experiences, from its traditional dances to its food. Traveling to South America is sure to be a memorable experience that will provide a glimpse of the tradition and people that make up this wonderful continent. With its vibrant culture, you can expect to be immersed in an unforgettable journey that combines the best of old and modern South American culture.
The Food of South America
South America is a continent filled with a variety of cultures, environments, and people, creating a unique culinary experience. For travelers interested in unique culinary experiences, South America is an ideal destination.
The flavors of South America can be found in its cuisine. The locals' diets largely consist of staples like corn, beans, potatoes, cassava, and yucca. These are spiced with different flavors and supplemented with proteins like chicken, pork, and beef. To give dishes a bright flavor, citrus fruits like lemons, limes, and oranges are used frequently. Travelers can learn about traditional recipes during home-cooked meals offered at family restaurants, or fabulous meals prepared in fine dining establishments. Traditional dishes include mate, an infused drink made from the leaves of the South American yerba plant; asado, a BBQ meat dish; and churrasco, grilled steak.
Depending on the region, travelers can find variations of traditional dishes showcasing different local ingredients. In the Amazon region, for example, tropical fruits like guava, papaya, and starfruit are prevalent, as are wild game options like beef, duck, and partridge. In the Andean highlands, meats used in dishes tend to be more exotic. Llama, macaw, mourning dove, armadillo, and capybara are all served as popular dishes. In Peru, due to the country's diverse topography, travelers can find many types of seafood dishes, such as grilled octopus and cured salmon, in markets and restaurants.
The best way to enjoy the cuisine of South America is to explore the many regions within the continent. Travelers can sample traditional dishes while hiking through the Andes or take part in an Amazon culinary experience. They can visit coffee farms to learn about the production process of coffee beans and sample the local flavors. For travelers interested in learning more about the culture, there are lectures and cooking classes available.
The flavors of South America are bold and varied, with dishes for everyone's taste. From traditional dishes like asado and churrasco to exotic ones like llama and armadillo, travelers can explore and enjoy the flavor of South America. Whether in fine dining establishments, family restaurants, markets, or food stalls, travelers can experience the culinary diversity of South America.
What to See and Do in South America
- Climb Machu Picchu in Peru: Located in the Andes mountains of Peru, Machu Picchu is one of the most breathtaking man-made monuments in the world. Its beautiful stone structures and huge terraces were built by the Incan people hundreds of years ago. Trekking to the top of Machu Picchu will provide an experience unlike any other.
- Explore the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador: Set off the coast of Ecuador, this archipelago of volcanic islands boasts thousands of species of wildlife and plants, some of which can only be found here. A must-visit destination for any nature lover, the Galapagos Islands are sure to delight with its fascinating wildlife.
- Spend a Night in the Amazon Rainforest in Brazil: You can't just travel to South America and not experience the wonders of the Amazon. Spend a night in a lodge located in the depths of the rainforest and explore the jungle trails during a guided tour. There's no greater way to experience South American wildlife up close.
- Visit the churches of Ouro Preto in Brazil: This colonial-era city of Brazil is filled with churches like Sao Francisco de Assis and Nossa Senhora do Pilar, full of spectacular stone carvings and breathtaking ornamentations that were fashioned hundreds of years ago. Both a World Heritage Site and a popular tourist destination, this city is a must-visit for anyone traveling in South America.
- Enjoy some churrasco in Buenos Aires, Argentina: Churrasco is an Argentinian tradition of eating barbecue dishes with friends and family. While you're in Buenos Aires, head over to a restaurant and enjoy some delicious barbecue dishes with a glass of Argentinian wine. Your taste buds will thank you!
- See the Uyuni Salt Flats in Bolivia: One of South America's most breathtaking natural sites, the Uyuni Salt Flats are located near the town of Uyuni in Bolivia. Millions of years of salty water have formed an immense, dry flat surface with a striking view all around. This surreal landscape is a must-see.
- Go Sandboarding in Huacachina, Peru: Located close to the coastal city of Lima, this oasis between the Peruvian desert stands out for its tranquil lagoon, surrounded by sand dunes up to hundreds of meters high. Those who seek a little heart-pumping fun can head out to the dunes and go sandboarding with friends.
- Check out the wildlife of Pantanal in Brazil: Situated in the midwest of Brazil, the Pantanal is an expansive wetland and home to a huge variety of wildlife, including many species of birds, fish, and reptiles. You can explore this beautiful wetland on guided Tours and even camp out for the night if you choose.
- Spot a Scarlet Macaw in Costa Rica: If you go to Costa Rica, don't miss the chance to spot a Scarlet Macaw. This vibrant and beautiful bird can be spotted flying in a flock in the wild or hanging out near beaches. Keep your eyes open and you might be in luck!
- Go trekking in Torres del Paine National Park, Chile: This park, located in the extreme south of Chile, is home to lush mountain ranges and spectacular glaciers. Hikers and climbers will be in heaven here, with countless trekking and hiking routes to choose from. Make sure you have the right gear and experience before embarking on your adventure.
Why You Should Travel to South America
Travelers from all across the world are drawn to South America for its varied landscapes, diverse culture, and world-class opportunities for exploration. For many, South America is an ideal destination for an unforgettable and life-changing adventure.
This exotic destination is home to some of the most dramatic natural wonders on the planet, from tropical rainforests to snow-capped mountains. From the thundering Iguazu Falls to the majestic glaciers of Tierra del Fuego, travelers love to explore the raw beauty of South America. Many visitors also find themselves drawn to its vibrant cities, where diverse cultures, architecture and nightlife come alive. Spend the day exploring ancient ruins, like Machu Picchu or at the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, and the night out in Buenos Aires, Lima, or Santiago.
Food lovers will also find a lot to enjoy in South America, as the region is well known for a wide range of traditional dishes and culinary experiences. From succulent Argentine steak to exotic Amazonian fruits and spices, South America's unique cuisine is full of flavor and incredibly diverse.
There is no doubt that South American is an incredible destination that every traveler needs to experience. From the wild landscapes and vibrant cities to the diverse culture and culinary experiences, South America offers something for everyone. With its stunning views, amazing food, and vibrant culture, South America is a must- visit destination for every traveler looking for an unforgettable adventure.
Tips & Tricks for Traveling in South America
- Bring along a first-aid kit: When travel to South America, it's important to be prepared for any emergency situation. Bring along a fully stocked first-aid kit including antiseptic, bandages and medications for various ailments. Having your own supplies will save you the headache of finding a pharmacy or doctor in a foreign city.
- Research ATM & Currency Exchange options: Prior to arriving in South America, research ATM and currency exchange locations available in the cities you will be visiting. Knowing before hand where you can access these services will save you time and give you peace of mind when you are in unfamiliar territory.
- Learn some Spanish: Learning a few basic Spanish phrases will be incredibly helpful when navigating through South America. Most major cities have some English-speaking locals and tour guides, but having the ability to speak to the locals in their own language can make your experience much more enjoyable.
- Pack light: When traveling to South America, be sure to pack light. If you're flying, luggage fees can be expensive and if you're taking public transportation, lugging around a large suitcase can be a real pain.
- Bring a Travel Adaptor: Different countries in South America have different electrical sockets and plugs. Bring along a travel adaptor to be able to charge electronic devices.
- Pack Comfortable Shoes: When touring around South America, it's important to wear comfortable, supportive shoes. Exploring the cities by foot is one of the best ways to discover new sights and sounds, but if you don't bring the right shoes, you may find yourself with blisters, achy feet, and a less-than-enjoyable experience.
- Be Prepared for Different Altitude Levels: Many areas in South America have high altitude levels, which can affect your energy, appetite, and sleep patterns. Be sure to research the elevation level of the cities you will be visiting and bring along items such as nose spray and ibuprofen, especially if you plan on doing a lot of walking or hiking in high altitude areas.
- Get Vaccinated: Before leaving for South America, check to make sure your vaccinations are up to date and that you have the right ones for the places you are visiting. Different vaccinations are needed depending on which areas you will be visiting, so it's important to research ahead of time and make sure you are fully prepared.
- Wear Sunscreen: The climate in South America can be very hot and sunny at times, so be sure to wear sunscreen. Also, consider bringing along sunglasses and a hat to protect yourself from the sun's rays.
- Don't Drink Tap Water: It can be tempting to save money and drink tap water in the cities you'll be visiting, but it's not a good idea. Always buy bottled or filtered water for drinking and brushing your teeth, and make sure the bottles you buy are sealed.
Other Places You Might Like
- Salvador, Brazil: Located on the northeastern coast of Brazil, Salvador offers a unique blend of African, Portuguese, and indigenous culture. The city houses beautiful colonial architecture, with brightly colored buildings that line the streets, warmly inviting its visitors. Salvador is known for lively street parties, of which the most famous is Carnaval, which takes place every February. This famous event spans over five days, filled with parades, dancing, art and culture celebrations, and music that fills the city. Don't miss the remnants of Salvação, a once prosperous Afro-Brazilian neighborhood that is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- Cuzco, Peru: Cuzco is the former capital of the Incan Empire, and it is one of the most popular tourist destinations in South America. Nestled in the Andes, it offers picturesque views, an unparalleled cultural experience, and an incredibly well-preserved historic city center. Tourists can visit the incredible Sacsayhuamán ruins, the grand Plaza de armas, and some of the country's most impressive churches. Don't forget to admire the large stone structures, which made the Spanish conquistadors think the Incas used sorcery to build them!
- Buenos Aires, Argentina: Buenos Aires is known as the "Paris of South America" and it's easy to understand why. The beautiful architecture and colorful buildings are influenced by both French and Italian styles, blending seamlessly together under the same Argentinian skyline. The city offers a unique nightlife, with legendary tango clubs and impromptu street performances. Visit the picturesque Puerto Madero for some of the best steak in the city, or take a sailboat tour to the nearby Isles of the Delta.
- Valparaiso, Chile: Valparaiso is an eclectic, thriving port city located in Chile. The city is full of colorful street art, hidden alleyways, and stunning murals that bring to life the lively and unique atmosphere of Valparaiso. For those looking to enjoy nature, visit the open Savonetta beach, or take a walk around the winding streets of Cerro Concepcion, one of the city's many hills. Don't miss La Sebastiana, the house of world famous poet, Pablo Neruda.
- Quito, Ecuador: Quito is the capital of Ecuador, located in the Valley of the Volcanoes. The city is full of beautiful colonial architecture, as well as a mix of modern and traditional elements. The architecture alone is worth a visit, but the city also offers plenty of museums and galleries for culture-lovers. Take a cable car up to the top of the El Boliche volcano for a spectacular view, or explore the nearby Otavalo market, where you can find artisanal goods, fresh produce, and much more.