The weather in South America is as diverse as its landscapes. The best time to tour in South America depends heavily on the region you are visiting. If you are planning to go on a more extended tour, you will have to prepare for a wide variety of weather conditions. Keep in mind that a large part of South America is in the southern hemisphere; therefore, the seasons south of the Equator (in Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Bolivia, Argentina, and parts of Brazil) are opposite to those in North America or Europe.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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:
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.
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).
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.
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).
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).