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South America is a continent of extremes. Dense, tropical wetlands give way to rolling grasslands and rugged mountains. Waves quietly lap the pristine beaches of Uruguay’s resort towns while the rhythms of Samba rattle windows in Rio. In Chile alone, you’ll find snow-capped mountains and the world’s driest desert. You can party in Paraty one day and hike through a remote rainforest the next. Do you adore the chic atmosphere of the Cote d’Azur? Then you should visit South America. Do you love the rugged, adventurous spirit of Australia? Then you should visit South America. Do you long for the nightlife, music, and dance of the Iberian Peninsula? Then you should visit South America.
When you cruise to South America with us, expect a unique, immersive travel experience. From our carefully curated shore excursions to our out-of-this-world Land Programs, we’ll help you discover the cities and cultures that make South America a special place. There are countless reasons why traveling to the continent should be on your radar. These are seven of them:
1. EXPERIENCE THE MUSIC AND DANCE OF SOUTH AMERICA
Rhythm, dance, and music are all synonymous with South America, so you simply have to take in a few live performances during your visit.
In Buenos Aires, Argentina, it’s all about the sultry art of tango. You can watch the pros at milongas (dance halls), catch a more casual performance on the street, or take lessons yourself. And for a truly unforgettable experience, travel by antique car through the streets of Buenos Aires to the Faena Hotel, where you’ll take in the legendary Rojo Tango Dinner Show.
In Rio de Janeiro, it’s all about that Samba. Want to know more about how Samba evolved in Brazil, and its significance within the celebrations of Carnaval? You’re in luck! We happen to have an article on the history of, and insider tips for attending, Rio’s Carnaval.
2. CHECK ONE OF THE SEVEN WONDERS OF THE NEW WORLD OFF YOUR BUCKET LIST
Sprawling, spectacular, and unlike anywhere else on Earth, Machu Picchu is the type of legendary location you could probably conjure up in your mind without having ever stepped foot in Peru. It’s practically engraved in our collective consciousness, but trust us, nothing you could imagine does this Wonder of the New World justice. The 15th-Century Incan Citadel is located high above the Sacred Valley in the Cusco Region of Peru. Laying virtually untouched until the early 20th century, you can now travel to this sacred site by train with us. The trip includes two days to explore Machu Picchu and four unique local experiences.
3. EAT YOUR WAY ACROSS SOUTH AMERICA
South America is a foodie’s dream, with each country serving up its own specific cuisine and traditions — and we love them all. One of the joys of cruising in South America is being able to indulge in authentic, delicious meals in each port of call.
Chilean cuisine, for example, is full of Spanish influence mixed with traditions from the Indigenous Mapuche culture. Over the years, Chilean food has also been influenced by a variety of European cultures, including Germany, Italy, and France. Variety is king here, and it’s easy to understand why. The sheer diversity of geography and climate in Chile means you’ll find a wide range of produce, fruits, and vegetables growing throughout the country. While you’re here, be sure to try empanadas, humitas, and Porotos Granados. And you can’t leave without digging into a Completo — Chile’s signature street food.
Further north in Peru, you can dine on what noted food critic Eric Asimov calls an “Exemplar of fusion cuisine.” When colonizers and immigrants arrived in Peru from all around the world (including Europe, Asia, and Africa), they brought their food traditions with them, but without familiar ingredients, they had to improvise. The resulting cuisine has evolved into a flavorful feast you won’t want to miss. Ceviche, Peru’s national dish, should undoubtedly be on your menu when you visit here. This dish is highlighted by cooked fish served cold, marinated in lime juice, onion, salt, and hot chilies.
One of the best ways to explore local cuisine is by joining us on shore excursion. You can visit local farms in Patagonia, enjoy a delicious meal at Casa de Aliaga in Peru, take a cooking class in Uruguay, and more.
4. TAKE IN RIO’S FAMED NIGHTLIFE SCENE
For many of South America’s iconic cities, if you haven’t seen them at night, then you haven’t seen them at all. A city like Rio de Janeiro, for example, comes alive when the sun goes down.
If you’re dreaming of sipping caipirinha cocktails and shaking your hips to the sounds of Samba, a trip to Rio’s Lapa neighborhood is what you need. It’s known as the “cradle of carioca Bohemia” (carioca is Brazilian slang for locals) and is packed with trendy bars, nightclubs, and restaurants. The famous Rio Scenarium nightclub has three floors of dance space, and it’s easy to visit on shore excursion with us.
5. WITNESS THE MAJESTY OF IGUAZU FALLS
Part of The Iguazu Falls seen from the Argentinian National Park
Roughly translated, Iguazu means “Big Water” — an incredibly apt name for the breathtaking Iguazu Falls on the border of Argentina and Brazil. Consisting of 275 falls along 1.67 miles of the Iguazu River, this is the most extensive waterfall system in the world. The Devil’s Throat is the most impressive of all the individual falls – a U-shaped, 82 meters high, 150-meters wide waterfall.
It’s often said that, when it comes to Iguazu Falls, Argentina provides the show, while Brazil enjoys the view. Luckily, you can take in the spectacle of these incredible waterfalls from both countries when you visit with us. You’ll spend one day exploring the falls by boat from the Argentine side. The next day, you can compare the view as you approach by boat from the Brazilian side.
Punta del Este’s Brava Beach
6. RELAX ON SOME OF THE WORLD’S MOST BEAUTIFUL BEACHES
One of the best things about a South American cruise is getting to experience the many incredible beaches the continent has to offer.
Punta del Este’s Brava Beach is famous for the Mano de Punta del Este, or, “The Hand”. The sculpture is an award-winning work by Chilean artist Mario Irarrázabal and makes for a great photo op. The beach is also lined with fantastic restaurants and boutiques.
Ilhabela means “Beautiful Island”, and this Brazilian port lives up to its name. Visitors love the luscious jungles, state park trails, stunning waterfalls and, of course, the breathtaking beaches. One of our favorites is Curral Beach, renowned for its natural beauty and warm waters.
Rio’s Copacabana Beach in Brazil is perhaps the most famous in the world. At 4km long, the beach is perfect for surfing, sunbathing and people-watching. And the parties here are absolutely legendary, especially the world-renowned New Year’s Eve celebrations!
7. SAMPLE SOME OF THE WORLD’S BEST WINE
South America is home to some of the world’s greatest wine regions — from the well-known to the hidden gems. Argentina, of course, is renowned for its Malbec wines. And Chile is no viticulture slouch either, producing excellent Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Sauvignon Blanc wines. Flying a little more under the radar, though, is Uruguay. Uruguayan wines may not be as famous as some other South American varietals, but their red wines made from Tannat grapes are particularly beloved locally. Sip them while you can, as they’re hard to come by overseas.
In Valparaíso, Chile, explore Chilean wines during a blind tasting. You just might discover a new favorite! In Montevideo, Uruguay, you can visit a family-owned winery in the Cuchilla Pereira region to sample their offerings and learn all about the winemaking process.