36 days in South America Itinerary

36 days in South America Itinerary

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Route & dates

36 days in South America Itinerary

Start: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
+4
Fly + taxi + bus + foot + train:  17​h 15​min
1
Machu Picchu, Peru
— 7 nights
Drive + Fly:  22​h 30​min
2
Cartagena, Colombia
— 7 nights
Fly:  11​h 30​min
3
Santiago, Chile
— 10 nights
4
Buenos Aires, Argentina
— 7 nights
Fly:  6​h 45​min
End: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

7
nights
Machu Picchu, Peru

Machu Picchu ©
A symbol of the Incan civilization, the abandoned city of Machu Picchu represents a must-see on a Peru vacation.
Satisfy your inner culture vulture at Sacred Valley of the Incas and Intipuncu. Get in touch with nature at Santuario Historico de Machu Picchu and Banos Termales de Cocalmayo. Explore Machu Picchu's surroundings by going to Siete Tinajas (in Quillabamba), Zipline (in Santa Teresa) and Maras (Moray & Salinas de Maras). The adventure continues: delve into the distant past at Ruinas de Choquequirao, take in nature's colorful creations at Los Jardines de Mandor, admire the sheer force of Cascadas Allcamayo, and appreciate the views at Perolniyoq Waterfall.

For maps, photos, reviews, and other tourist information, refer to the Machu Picchu online attractions planner .

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to Machu Picchu is an approximately 17.5-hour combination of flight, bus, and train. You can also drive; or do a combination of bus and train. Due to the time zone difference, you'll gain 2 hours traveling from Rio de Janeiro to Machu Picchu. Wrap up your sightseeing by early afternoon on the 12th (Thu) to allow enough time to travel to Cartagena.

Things to do in Machu Picchu

Historic Sites Parks Nature

Side Trips

Ollantaytambo, Santa Teresa, Maras, Choquequirao Archeological Park, Ruinas de Choquequirao
Find places to stay Dec 5 — 12:
Highlights from your plan
Santuario Historico de Machu Picchu ©
Sacred Valley of the Incas ©
Sacred Valley of the Incas
Intipuncu ©
Intipuncu

7
nights
Cartagena, Colombia

The site of the continent's first Spanish colony, Cartagena retains much of its colonial flavor thanks to a World Heritage-listed old town, encircled by old walls and protected by imposing fortresses.
Visiting Miramar Beach Club and Scuba & Snorkeling will get you outdoors. Eschew the tourist crowds and head to Plaza Santo Domingo and Plaza Bolivar. You'll find plenty of places to visit near Cartagena: Isla Baru (Aviario Nacional de Colombia & Playa Blanca). On the 20th (Fri), spend a thrilling day on the water with a speed boat tour. There's lots more to do: steep yourself in history at Torre del Reloj, examine the collection at Caribe Jewelry and Emerald Museum, take in the architecture and atmosphere at Sanctuary of Saint Peter Claver, and take a stroll through Bairro Getsemani.

To find ratings, traveler tips, other places to visit, and more tourist information, read our Cartagena trip planner .

Do a combination of car and flight from Machu Picchu to Cartagena in 22.5 hours. Alternatively, you can drive; or do a combination of taxi and bus. In December, plan for daily highs up to 37°C, and evening lows to 28°C. Cap off your sightseeing on the 20th (Fri) early enough to travel to Santiago.

Things to do in Cartagena

Outdoors Tours Historic Sites

Side Trip

Isla Baru
Find places to stay Dec 13 — 20:
Highlights from your plan
Scuba & Snorkeling
Aviario Nacional de Colombia ©
Aviario Nacional de Colombia
Plaza Santo Domingo ©
Plaza Santo Domingo

10
nights
Santiago, Chile

Santiago tourism thrives largely thanks to the city's big selection of cultural and entertainment options, including museums, theaters, restaurants, bars, and giant malls.
Your cultural itinerary includes sights like Museo de la Memoria y los Derechos Humanos and Santa Rita Winery. Take a break from the city and head to River Rafting & Tubing and San Cristóbal Hill. Change things up with these side-trips from Santiago: San Jose de Maipo (El Ingenio, Plaza de Armas in San José de Maipo, & more), Jardin Botanico Nacional (in Vina del Mar) and Rancagua (Parroquia del Sagrario & Hacienda Picarquin). Spend the 25th (Wed) exploring nature at Parque Quebrada de Macul. The adventure continues: do a tasting at Vina Casas del Bosque, make a trip to Santa Lucia Hill, walk around Parque Bicentenario, and steep yourself in history at Sewell.

For traveler tips, ratings, photos, and other tourist information, refer to the Santiago road trip planning tool .

You can fly from Cartagena to Santiago in 11.5 hours. Alternatively, you can drive; or take a bus. Traveling from Cartagena to Santiago, you'll lose 1 hour due to the time zone difference. Finish your sightseeing early on the 31st (Tue) to allow enough time to travel to Buenos Aires.

Things to do in Santiago

Parks Nature Wineries

Side Trips

Casablanca, San Jose de Maipo, Rancagua, Machali, Valle Nevado - Ski Resort Chile
Find places to stay Dec 21 — 31:
Highlights from your plan
River Rafting & Tubing
Valle Nevado - Ski Resort Chile ©
Valle Nevado - Ski Resort Chile
Vina Santa Rita ©
Vina Santa Rita

7
nights
Buenos Aires, Argentina

Buenos Aires ©
Cultural capital of South America, Buenos Aires remains one of the largest cities on the continent, serving as a point of departure for exploring the rest of the country.
Do some cultural sightseeing at Parque 3 de Febrero and Catedral Metropolitana. Explore hidden gems such as Catedral de la Plata and Museo de La Plata. Change things up with these side-trips from Buenos Aires: Lujan (Museos & Cripta Basilica Nuestra Senora De Lujan & Basilica de Lujan), Iglesia San Patricio (in Mercedes) and Iglesia Nuestra Senora Del Carmen (in Lobos). Next up on the itinerary: shop like a local with Puerto Madero, admire the masterpieces at Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, snap pictures at Puente de la Mujer, and get the lay of the land with Walking tours.

To see ratings, other places to visit, photos, and more tourist information, go to the Buenos Aires tour itinerary site .

Fly from Santiago to Buenos Aires in 5.5 hours. Alternatively, you can drive; or take a bus. The time zone difference when traveling from Santiago to Buenos Aires is 1 hour. In January, daytime highs in Buenos Aires are 33°C, while nighttime lows are 24°C. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 8th (Wed) to allow time to travel back home.

Things to do in Buenos Aires

Historic Sites Neighborhoods Museums

Side Trips

Lujan, La Plata, Delta El Tigre, Temaiken Biopark, Racing Club
Find places to stay Dec 31 — Jan 8:
Highlights from your plan
Catedral de la Plata ©
Catedral de la Plata
Parque 3 de Febrero ©
Parque 3 de Febrero
Palermo Soho ©
Palermo Soho

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