Best Time to Visit South America

From the misty peaks of the Andes to the sun-soaked beaches of Brazil, discover South America's diverse weather patterns to inspire your holiday to this incredible continent.

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Best time to visit

South America is a year-round destination. You’ll experience every climate, from Argentina's chilly snow-peaked mountains to the dry deserts of the Atacama and Brazil's eternal tropical warmth, this continent really does have it all. Whether you want to marvel at its extraordinary history, soak up the atmosphere of its buzzing cities or experience the wildlife of the Galapagos, we are here to guide you on the best time to visit South America season by season to get the most out of your trip.

South America’s Climate Guide

In the northern region, countries like Colombia, and Ecuador boast a tropical climate year-round, with temperatures remaining relatively consistent. Ecuador’s dry season is between June and September, while Colombia experiences two dry seasons, between December and March, and July and August, making the summer months one of the best times to travel to South America's northern countries.

Moving southward, Peru has a mix of climates, from the arid desert of the coast to the Andean highlands, and the Amazon rainforest. Peru’s rainy season is from November to March, but in most parts of the country, it only sees the odd shower, while the dry season is from April to October where you can expect sunny days and clear, blue skies.

Argentina and Chile also have very varied climates. The glaciers of Argentine Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego are best visited from November to March for milder temperatures and longer daylight hours, while the rest of the country is at its best between October and April. Central Chile, including Santiago and the wine regions, enjoys a Mediterranean-style climate, making September to February ideal for travel.

Brazil's vast expanse offers hot, tropical weather all year round, with the Amazon and Pantanal experiencing heavy rainfall from December to May, while the southern regions like Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo enjoy a more temperate climate all year round. The carnival season in February attracts crowds to Rio, but the months of September to November offer pleasant weather with fewer tourists.

South America in October and September is generally considered one of the best times to visit several countries, with the weather warming up before the most popular travel period kicks in between December and April. South America's weather in January is very hot, it's the peak summer in Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Columbia, and Uruguay, which often means locals leave the cities and you will be guaranteed hot, sunshine.

South America Seasonal Highlights

The best season to go to South America will of course depend on which country you're going to and which region within it. Summer in South America is November to February, this is the most popular time to visit beaches in Columbia and Brazil, join in Carnival and Easter celebrations or visit Patagonia when it's warmer. Spring-like weather in South America in September and October is one of the best times to visit Argentina and Chile, as well as Uruguay, or soak up Bolivia's stunning scenery. No matter what season you want to travel, there’s a destination here for you.

Best Time to Visit for Wildlife and Nature

South America is a paradise for wildlife spotting and nature photography. The continent's rich biodiversity and stunning ecosystems offer ample opportunities to encounter unique wildlife and capture breathtaking landscapes.

For those interested in the Amazon rainforest, the best time to travel to South America for wildlife spotting is between June and October. During these months, the water levels recede, making river navigation easier and allowing deeper exploration into the dense forest. This dry season also draws animals closer to the riverbanks, enhancing the likelihood of spotting elusive creatures like jaguars and vibrant macaws. This period truly highlights why it's the best time of year to visit South America to experience the Amazon's wild majesty.

The Galapagos Islands are another jewel in South America's ecological crown, with the best visiting months between December and May. These months coincide with the breeding season for many of the islands' native species, such as sea turtles and blue-footed boobies. The warmer waters and pleasant weather during this period make it ideal for snorkelling and observing the islands' unique marine life up close, presenting unmatched natural and wildlife photography opportunities.

Additionally, South America offers exceptional experiences for birdwatching enthusiasts, particularly in the cloud forests of Ecuador and Peru. The best time of year to travel to South America for birdwatching is from September to February when migratory birds enhance the local avian population. The forests resonate with colourful plumage and melodious calls, providing spectacular scenes for photographers and bird lovers alike. Whether you are a seasoned birder or a nature photographer, the continent's diverse landscapes and rich biodiversity will leave a lasting impression.

Best Time to Visit for Adventure

The best time of year to go to South America for adventures and thrills largely depends on your activities of interest.

Trekking in Patagonia is best in the summer, from December to February, while the ideal time for hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is from May to September. South America offers excellent opportunities for water sports like surfing and diving throughout the year. Destinations like Ecuador (Montañita), Peru (Máncora), and Brazil (Florianópolis) offer consistent waves year-round, with peak surfing seasons generally from December to February.

For diving, there's the Galapagos Islands, best from December to June, and Fernando de Noronha in Brazil, best from August to November.

Best Time to Visit for Cultural and Historical Highlights

If you want to join in with celebrations and see cultural traditions, one of the best times of year to travel to South America is either before or around Easter, when the famous Carnival takes place, usually in February. While Brazil is famous for going all out for Carnival, Columbia and Uruguay also mark it with great pizazz. Then there's Semana Santa (Easter), which is recognised all over South America as one of the most important festivals of the year, and marked with fabulous parades, processions, and parties on the streets. This takes place in March or April each year.

Peru has many festivals throughout the year, from honouring Inti Raymi, the Sun God, on June 24th, to the Fiesta de la Virgen de la Candelaria in February. And the Qoyllur Rit'i pilgrimage in May or June. In fact, there is one every month in Peru. Chile has its own celebration of the sun on June 24th, which is the Mapuche New Year, on the winter solstice.

Along with the many festivals, South America offers a rich tapestry of ancient ruins. The best time to visit South America to see the likes of Machu Picchu or Nazca Lines in Peru and Tiwanaku in Bolivia, is usually from May to September, during the dry season.

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Best Time to Visit South America FAQs

  • Is 2 weeks in South America enough?

    Two weeks in South America can offer a taste of the continent's diverse cultures, landscapes, and attractions, but whether it's enough depends on your priorities and the destinations you wish to visit. For a well-rounded experience, focusing on one or two countries or regions can allow you to immerse yourself more fully in the local culture and explore key attractions without feeling rushed.

  • What is the best country to visit in South America for the first time?

    This will really depend on what you’re interested in seeing. For beaches go to Brazil, for a mix of lively city life, wineries, and amazing scenery there’s Argentina or Chile, while nature lovers should go to Ecuador and Peru for their first visit to South America.

  • When is the best time to visit South America and Antarctica?

    The best time to visit South America and Antarctica is between November and March, during these summer months the wind is less intense, and you get 18-24 hours of sunlight, which allows wildlife to flourish and longer days exploring by boat.

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