Best Countries in South America for First-time Visitors

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Best Countries in South America for First-time Visitors

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Exploring South America is definitely in the bucket list of a lot of travelers. It’s a huge continent, full of ancient monuments and ruins, natural wonders, indigenous culture, and of course, cheap booze, parties, and a lot of passion. Except for flights, going around South America can be cheap, too, so your dollar will definitely go a long way.

Like any destination you’re going to for the first time, however, South America also requires a lot of research prior to your trip. After all, there are still countries there that are facing political unrest, while others have a bad reputation for kidnappings. While these sound bad from the comforts of your home, the fact is that using your common sense (as well as observing most safety tips for travelers), will get you safely across most countries in South America.

If you would really rather not go to those countries, no worries. The continent is huge and there are a lot of places with stable political situation and good reputation for travelers, especially first time visitors to South America. Here are three countries that are highly recommended for that.

Chile

Spanning the lower half of South America’s west coast, Chile is a beautiful, geographically diverse country with plenty to offer tourists. It is also politically stable, making it one of the safest countries to visit in South America.

From the volcanic peaks of the Andes Mountains, picturesque river valleys, and dense forests to vast canyons and desolate desert ranges, Chile definitely offers a variety of places to explore.

If you’re a wine lover, you would also love Chile for the vineyard and wine experience, as it is a large attraction in this South American country. For even more diversity, a visit to Chile’s Juan Fernandez Islands and Easter Island will give you a look into the country’s rich landscapes and culture.

Accommodations in Chile range from extremely affordable hostels to dapper chain hotels, and everything in between. It is extremely important to book accommodations early in Chile, especially from December-March which are considered the high season. Venturing to Chile during these times can be an amazing experience with various large national events and celebrations, but also quite costly.

Uruguay

Uruguay has been described as a “miniature Tuscany” by several tourists. You may also have heard it being referred to as the “Switzerland” of South America due to its democratic stability and excellent social benefits. Beautiful green family-run vineyards, rolling country hillsides, sandy beaches, and a pleasant atmosphere make this country another great pick for first time visitors to South America.

In a place like Uruguay, where cows outnumber people by three to one, you can expect to find some excellent beef, and a lot of rolling pastureland for cattle to graze. Many Uruguay restaurants boast a meat-centered menu due to the large regional supply of quality meats, fed by rich grass and kept happy by the stable subtropical climate.

A great perk of visiting Uruguay is that, even though summer is from December to February, visiting in the cooler seasons will not only save you money, but also allow you to visit a beautiful destination with warm temperatures, as it stays fairly warm in this country year-round.

Peru

If there is one quintessential image of South America, it would be Machu Picchu and the other Incan ruins. Peru is highly recommended as it has so many famous cultural attractions. However, there’s also so much more to Peru than its ancestors’ legacy.

You can enjoy the beauty of the Andes, for example, if you’re in Peru. You can go hiking there, or surfing and hang-gliding in other parts of the country, as well as sandboarding in the sand dunes of Huacachina. An Amazon River cruise also comes recommended; the Amazon, one of the longest rivers in the world, passes by Peru. Among others, you will get to appreciate the beauty of the Amazon Rainforest, one of the last true frontiers in the world.

The best thing about Peru is that despite its popularity with tourists, the prices remain low. Getting around the country is also cheap and easy, and views are wonderful.

From ancient monuments and ruins to its variety of natural wonders—the salt flats in Bolivia, the glaciers of Patagonia, and the Amazon jungle—South America certainly deserves the superlative of being the ultimate destination to explore. If you’re traveling there for the first time, take it slow and don’t rush around. Enjoy all the little things South America offers you, and you will never forget its beauty.

Photo Credit: Eduardo Amorim via photopin cc

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