When Is the Best Time to Travel to South America?

Written by Peter Lauffer
December 22, 2022

Were you looking to visit South America? When it comes to climate and temperature considerations, you can't go wrong when visiting South America. South America has some of the world’s most varied and diverse climates, and you always find a part where the weather is excellent for traveling. Knowing when to go can make all the difference in your experience. From dry and rainy seasons to hurricane season and school holidays, there's plenty to consider before you book your tickets. With this guide, you can find the best time to travel to get the most out of your visit.

Climate and Temperature Considerations.

Generally speaking, the climate in South America varies greatly depending on which region you're visiting. Some areas have mild temperatures year-round, while others experience sweltering summers and relatively cold winters. It's essential to research ahead of time to choose the best time of year to visit your desired destination.

Tropic of Capricorn

South America boasts some of the world's most diverse climates. North of the Tropic of Capricorn (which encompasses the northern portion of Chile, the northernmost region of Argentina, Paraguay, Bolivia, Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, and the Guayanas) experiences temperate weather conditions all year round. Altitudes above 4000 meters above sea level can be icy all year round. The local people in this area may use the term "winter" when referencing the wet season. The “wet season” is quite hot and humid, and you can get short but hefty rainfalls. Landslides and flooding can occur at any time, especially in the Andes; travelers should remain flexible during the rainy season. However, the upside of the rainy season is that the scenery is very lush and full of blooms, and there is usually less of a crowd. Additionally, it is unlikely to rain for extended periods, as is common in the Northern Hemisphere.

Machu Picchu by Rain

Between December and April, the Amazon experiences plentiful precipitation. In Brazil, the wet season is from December to March, while Peru, Ecuador, and Colombia near the Andes see the most rain between February and April.

The ideal time to dip in the Pacific Ocean is during the rainy season between February to May when the hot “El Niño” current moves along the Pacific Coast from Colombia to Ecuador, ending at Peru's very northern coastal region of Tumbes. Conversely, the Pacific Coast of Peru and Chile is affected by the icy Humboldt stream from Antarctica, which persists in being cold throughout the year.

The area situated below the Tropic of Capricorn is affected by changing seasons. During the northern hemisphere's Winter and Summer, the same phases of the year are experienced in the south, only in reverse. Argentina and the central and lower parts of Chile experience Spring and Summer from October to March, Autumn, and Winter from April to September. Skiing in Patagonia begins in June and continues until the end of September. The touristic infrastructure of the Chilean and Argentinean Patagonia might be closed during the winter months. Some public bus lines and ferries also work only during the summer months.

Tropic of Capricorn at the Quebrada de Humahuaca, Northern Argentina

Seasonal Events and Festivals to Consider.

If you are looking at activities and culture during your trip, another thing to consider is when holidays are celebrated. Since South America has many countries with diverse cultures, many festive occasions occur throughout the year. Research ahead to determine which events occur in the areas you plan to visit.

For example, Carnival is a significant celebration that occurs at the end of February or the beginning of March in numerous South American countries. The most famous is the one in Brazil; however, there are other vibrant ones in Bolivia, Peru, and Ecuador. Since many residents travel during Carnaval, airline tickets and hotels are expensive, so it is prudent to make reservations beforehand.

Inti Raymi Celebration, Quito, Ecuador

The Into Raymi is a traditional celebration of the Andean indigenous people. This festival takes place on the winter solstice in the southern hemisphere, usually around the 21st of June. The most popular ones for visitors to attend are those held in Cusco/Peru; however, other celebrations occur in Ecuador, Bolivia, Colombia, northern Argentina, and Chile. During this time, travel and accommodation prices tend to be higher, especially in the Peruvian Andes.

Peak Tourist Times in South America.

The peak tourist season in South America varies from country to country. Some of the most popular destination countries like Argentina, Peru, and Brazil experience tourism throughout the year. However, winter (June to August) is famous as travelers take advantage of these countries’ dry and mild weather. Additionally, some Latin American countries have extended school holidays during this period resulting in a spike in tourists. It is also worth noting that peak travel months can affect hotel rates and flight prices due to increased demand.

When mapping out a journey to South America, it is essential to use your time wisely to plan the best trip. Do your research and consider the right season for visiting and any festivals or events during your stay. Also, becoming familiar with the local customs can give you a unique understanding of the area and help you find some amazing treasures from the locals.

La Boca - Buenos Aires, Argentina
La Boca - Buenos Aires, Argentina

Best time to visit Argentina

Argentina is one of the largest and climatically most diverse countries on our planet. The climate in Argentina differs dramatically from region to region. Argentineans say, “vestite como una cebolla”: dress like an onion.

If you plan a trip to Patagonia, be ready for changeable, windy weather. During the summer months, from December to March, temperatures reach 15-20°C (59-68°F) and the rainfall is at its lowest, making this the best time to visit Patagonia. In the winter months, from June to August, the temperature drops below freezing, and many visitor attractions and hotels close during the wintertime.

In the northern regions of Argentina, it can be boiling hot and dry during the day but drop below freezing at night. In the summer, from December to March, temperatures can reach above 30°C (86°F), and it can be uncomfortably humid. The best time to visit the Andes is during September to March when the warmest weather averages 20°C (68° F).

Santiago de Chile
Santiago de Chile

Best time to visit Chile

The best time to travel to Chile is during spring and early summer, from October to mid-December. Another good time is during autumn and early winter, from April to mid-June. From Christmas to the end of February, Chileans take their holidays. During this time, visitor sites can get crowded, and accommodation can become expensive.

It is winter in Chile from June to August, during which time the temperature can oscillate between 0-10°C (32-50°F). Touring Patagonia in the winter can be challenging because many hotels and tourist attractions close down for the season. Nonetheless, in the north of Chile at this time the weather is drier and mostly pleasantly warm at 15-20°C (59-68°F). At night, however, it can drop below freezing in the higher areas.

Cable Car to the Sugar Loaf Mountain - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Cable Car to the Sugar Loaf Mountain - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Best time to visit Brazil

The Brazilian winter lasts from June to August and the Brazilian summer from January to February. There are only minimal temperature differences between winter and summer in Brazil.

Due to the tremendous distance between the northern and southern regions of the country, Brazil spans several climate zones. The northern part of Brazil, including the Amazon, lies in the perpetually hot tropical belt, complete with rainy seasons. The southern part generally has a temperate climate offering a range of seasons. However, other differences in climate depend on the particular travel region.

Brazil's tropical north in the Amazon region is hot year round with very high humidity. In this region, the temperature ranges from 25-35°C (77-95°F).

Brazil's northeast region around the coast has a tropical climate with slightly lower temperatures. This region is, therefore, particularly suitable for a year-round beach holiday. The differences between rainy and dry seasons are more pronounced there, and the dry seasons become drier the farther north one goes.

The southeastern portion of Brazil has a subtropical climate with a hot and humid summer and a relatively mild winter.

The far south of Brazil has a subtropical climate with hot and humid summers and temperatures ranging between 22-30°C (72-86°F). The winters are cool and dry, with the temperature oscillating between 12-24°C (54-75°F). The seasons there are more pronounced.

Brazil's central (midwest) region is tropical and hot all year round, with temperatures from 20-28°C (61-80°F). This area experiences no fresh breeze from the Atlantic; therefore, only in the Brazilian winter (July and August) does it become a little cooler.

Teleferico in la Paz, Bolivia
Teleferico in la Paz, Bolivia

Best time to visit Bolivia

Bolivia can be visited all year round. However, the most pleasant travel time generally is during winter from May to October.

The best time to visit the Altiplano, the Andean plateau, is between May and October, when the weather is dry and clear and the air is warm during the day and cold at night. The maximum daytime temperatures are between 15-20°C (59-68°F), and the air cools down quickly after sunset to just above 0° C (32°F). At Lake Titicaca, cold, strong winds often blow during these months, especially in the afternoon.

From November to March, heavy rainfall can occur at the Uyuni Salt Lake. Unique reflections on the lake's surface can be seen during these months, but areas of the lake far from shore are not accessible during this time.

The central lowlands between the eastern side of the Andes and the border with Brazil feature both humid and dry climates. Between October and April the weather can be hot and humid with temperature highs of more than 30°C (86°F). During this time, be prepared for heavy tropical rainfall. In contrast, during the dry season between May and September there are only small amounts of rain, and temperatures range between 25-29°C (77-84°F). Sunny days and clear nights characterize the dry season.

Citadel of Machu Picchu, Peru
Citadel of Machu Picchu, Peru

Best time to visit Peru

The best time to travel to Peru is the so-called Peruvian winter, the dry season from June to September. The Peruvian summer from December to March is the rainy season.

Coastal Region (Costa)

The bare and arid coastal region stretches from Ecuador to Chile between the Pacific Ocean and the Andes. Fog hangs over Lima from May to September with temperatures between 15-22°C (59-72°F). During this time, Lima is often without any sunshine for entire days. It can be hot and humid in Lima from October to May, with temperatures from 18-25°C (65-77°F).

Andean Region (Sierra

The Peruvian winter extends from May to October and is the best time to travel to the Andes region. Temperatures at that time range from 3-20°C (38-59°F), and it rarely rains during this period. In the rainy season between December and March, there are sometimes heavy rains with similar temperatures. In February, the Inca Trail is closed, and the trains to Machu Picchu run only from Pachar to Aguas Calientes.

Rainforest (Selva)

During the dry season between April and October, temperatures often rise to over 35°C (95°F). In the rainy season, from November to March, it rains heavily at least once a day. The jungle is very humid all year round.

Cotopaxi with Chagras
Cotopaxi with Chagras

Best time to visit Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands

Determining the best time to travel to Ecuador is not easy because the weather is so unpredictable that finding the right time to travel is practically a matter of luck. This is why, generally speaking, you can travel to Ecuador at any time of the year. All you have to do is wisely choose the regions you wish to visit.

Ecuador's overall climate consists of just two main seasons: the rainy season and the dry season. Those looking to travel to the Andes can do so at any time of the year. October and November is the best time to visit the Amazon, and June to August is best for the Galapagos Islands.

Galapagos and Amazon

October and November are particularly suitable for trips to the Ecuadorian Amazon, which has temperatures between 16-27°C (61-81°F). For traveling to the Galapagos Islands, any month is ideal except for May and June, when it is very hot there. In Galapagos, the temperature generally fluctuates between 19-27°C (66-81°F)

Andean Region

Any season is suitable for visiting the Andes, as the weather is nearly always moderate in this part of the country and Ecuador's Andean region is famous for having a spring-like climate all year round. Temperatures vary between 7-20°C (45-59°F). The months with the best chance for clear views are from August to mid-October.

Coastal Region

The perfect time to visit the coastal area bordering the Pacific Ocean is from May to December. Temperatures on the coast range from 20-30°C (68-86°F). The impressive humpback whales can be observed from June to September.

Teleferico to Monserate Mountain
Teleferico to Monserate Mountain

Best time to visit Colombia

Because the Equator runs through Colombia, the country lies within the tropical climate zone and shows only minor temperature fluctuations. However, due to the different altitudes, a distinction is made between four climate regions:

Andean Region

The best time to travel to Colombia's Andean region is from December to March and from July to August. Both periods fall within the region’s dry seasons. During the rainy seasons from April to June and from September to November, heavy rainfalls can occur. Temperatures in the Andean region reach between 6-30°C (43-86°F), depending on where you go. Cali and Medellin can be hot; Bogota is milder.

Amazonas Region

Anyone who has always wanted to discover the exotic flora and fauna of the Amazon rainforest should arrive between July and September. During this time, the sun shines the longest, the rain the least, and the temperature is constant between 21-30°C (70-86°F).

Caribbean Coast

Since the weather is almost always fantastic in this region of the country, one can travel to Colombia's Caribbean coast at any time of year. The temperature hovers constantly around 30°C (86°F), and the sun shines tirelessly. Laze on one of the paradisical Caribbean beaches and relax under the Colombian sun whenever you want.

Pacific Coast

The months of June and September are the best time to travel to Colombia's Pacific coast because it rains less during this time than the rest of the year. Humpback whales can be seen surfacing from July to November. Temperatures are between 25-30°C (77-86°F).

Skyline of Panama City
Skyline of Panama City

Best time to visit Panama

Panama can be enjoyed year round. Everyone who hates rain should, however, come in the dry season between mid-December and mid-April. Apart from that, pick whatever travel schedule works best for you. The average temperatures in Panama oscillate between 24-29°C (75-85°F).

Get inspired by some photos of this amazing trip:
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