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South America Now: Smart Choices and Good Value

by | February 13, 2024

South America contains fascinating diversity—of cultures, landscapes, and activities ranging from wine tasting to wildlife viewing to bucket-list hiking. And while parts of the continent are once again receiving as many travelers as they did pre-Covid, those numbers are still an order of magnitude smaller than the crowds flocking to Europe’s most popular spots. While 2023 saw 35 million tourists visit Rome, for example, just 7 million visited all of Argentina. So often overlooked, and yet so rich in possibilities: You’d be wise to put South America on your 2024 travel calendar.

During our WOW Week 2024 Travel Talk on February 6, WOW List experts for South America joined Wendy and Brook to share what’s new in South America, what might surprise you, and how to ensure your trip there goes smoothly. Watch the full video, and scroll down for the top takeaways:

Top Takeaways

If your heart is set on the Galapagos, book far in advance, advises WOW Lister Allie Almario. Only 70 ships are allowed to cruise around the islands, and most carry just 20 to 48 passengers. So that your choices aren’t limited, start planning 8 to 9 months ahead—especially if you’re a family that needs multiple cabins.

Animal lovers should know about “Blue Patagonia,” says WOW Lister Maita Barrenechea. While this region is best known for mountains and hiking, its coastline is home to an abundance of marine wildlife: penguins, whales, sea lions, elephant seals, orcas, and dolphins. You’ll find the greatest concentrations of animals from October through the first week of December.

Colombia is maturing as a luxury-travel destination, reports WOW Lister Boris Seckovic. The Four Seasons will soon open its third hotel there, which will be in the Caribbean city of Cartagena. Colombia also checks a lot of boxes for families and multigenerational groups, with colonial towns, mountain ranges, rainforest, and beaches all in close proximity.

Bolivia’s Uyuni salt flat is a photographer’s dream, shares WOW Lister Marisol Mosquera. It’s equally beautiful in the rainy season (November to March)—when it turns into a lake with islands dotted by giant cacti—and in the dry season (May to October), when you can drive across the crystalline surface.

Trekking in the Andes isn’t just about the Inca Trail, says WOW Lister Tom Damon. For instance, he can arrange a glamping experience in Peru’s Sacred Valley with tents large enough to stand up in, cots fitted with mattresses and pillows, a staff to cook for you, and animals to carry your gear.

Chile’s wine regions are vastly underrated, according to WOW Lister Jordan Harvey. A few of his favorites within driving distance of Santiago are the Casablanca Valley, for soft reds like pinot noir, and the Colchagua Valley, for more robust varietals like cabernet and carménère.


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