High tourist season may well be upon us but the chances to get away from it all and enjoy the stellar highlights of South America are plentiful
Whilst skiing and snowboard adventures await adrenalin-junkies in Patagonia, the Central Andes welcome the largest number of yearly tourists in August with crisp temps, clear-blue skies and resplendent scenery. Plenty of continent-wide festivals can see you travel far and wide this month, and unique wildlife spectacles may just entice you to add the Amazon and Galapagos Islands to your South America travel itinerary.
August is simply a fantastic month to travel to South America!
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Unique highlights of South America travels in August:
- Sure, it’s high tourist season in the most popular Peru and Bolivia destinations but that’s because the climate is absolutely ideal. You’ll still find plenty of quieter hiking trails to Machu Picchu and plenty of alternative regions you can explore instead
- Consider Ecuador a superb choice for less-crowded archaeological sites and a fabulous array of high Andean destinations
- Iguazu Falls enjoy a cooler month and lower humidity right now, fantastic news if you want to hike and bike ride in the area
- The Amazon is in the midst of its dry season so wildlife is easier to spot
- Wicked road trips through Salar Uyuni and into the Atacama Desert are made easier by the drier conditions
Best City Escapes in August
Catch the Tango Festival in Buenos Aires, Argentina
Who are we kidding? No-one needs a reason to visit Buenos Aires at any time of year but hey, if one needs to be found, then a two-week-long celebration of the most romantic dance on earth is about as good as it can get. The fiesta usually starts in the middle of the month and sends the whole city into a dancing frenzy. Free performances and concerts are set up in over 40 locations throughout Buenos Aires with milongas opening their doors to the public and giving everyone a reason to join in (because free lessons!) The Tango Festival culminates in a World Championship showdown that attracts the best dancers from all over the world.
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Help Bolivians celebrate their Independence Day in Sucre
Sucre may not be at the top of everyone’s must-see list when travelling to Bolivia (although it should be, the city is beautiful) yet for Bolivian the city is a kind of a huge deal. It was right here that Bolivia declared its independence in 1825 after years of bloody struggle and right here that the country celebrates the occasion with the greatest of gusto. Make sure you’re in town on the 6th of August for the momentous occasion, marked by street parties, great food, parades and fireworks; and plan some free time to soak up the architectural splendours of this colonial-era treasure.
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Visit Medellin, Colombia, for the Flower Festival to end all flower festivals
The whole of Colombia celebrates one of its most prominent exports in August, in the 2-week Fiera de las Flores that’s as colourful and fragrant as can be. Medellin’s largest yearly festival is a cacophony of colours and inarguably one of the most photogenic cultural events in the whole continent. There are literally hundreds of events happening in the city during the second week of August (count on lots of music, food and street dancing) and given this is a fabulously sneaky month visit Colombia, since the country enjoys what’s called a ‘mini dry season’ in between the long rainy one, it just makes for absolute travel perfection.
Enjoy perfect beach conditions in Rio de Janeiro
The beautiful Brazilian city that never sleeps can get a little hot under the collar in summer which is why the middle of winter (hello, August!) is a superb time to visit. If the likes of Ipanema and Copacabana are too crowded for your liking, then do keep in mind that Rio, much like Sydney, is a city that’s defined by its MANY beaches so you’ll have plenty more to choose from. Better still, after your tour of the city is over, why not move just a few hours to the south, stay in a beachside posada and feel like you’re in a totally different world?
BTW, August is Rio’s driest month and, being among the coolest too, it means you can hike those glorious verdant hills all day long.
Best Wilderness & Wildlife Experiences in August
Choose lodge-based stays in the Amazon Rainforest
August falls right in the heart of the drier season in the Amazon which means that lodge-based stays are at their prime. When the ground is drier, jungle walks become a whole lot easier and given the receding waters all over, it also means land animals seek to satisfy their thirst on river banks and are therefore much easier to spot.
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There’s a wildlife frenzy happening in the Galapagos
Sea and air temperatures are coolest in August around the Galapagos Islands but, just between us, they’re pretty cool all year long. Mornings are usually foggy at this time of year which is an awesome sight to wake up to but what makes it so special is that, as the ocean currents cool, they bring marine life to the surface. They love nutrient-reach currents and although seas can be choppy (choose a catamaran for calmer sails) there’s a wealth of wildlife happenings now, especially in terms of birdlife. Tortoises lay their eggs around Santa Cruz this month and you’ll see Waved Albatross chicks, all fat and fluffy, wondering about their nests on Espanola. It’s also puppy season now, so expect to see lots of waddling sea lions!
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Explore the arid plateaus of Bolivia on a road trip you’ll never forget
Dry season in the Central Andes spells road-trip perfection through southern Bolivia and into northern Chile. This month, you can cross the Bolivian Altiplano and ethereal Salt Flats of Uyuni right into the border with Chile, which will see you emerge at the magnificent Atacama Desert. It only takes a few days to explore this remote region, one that becomes difficult to negotiate when rains are plentiful. So head here now, even at the height of tourist season: this place is far too expansive and spellbinding to ever feel overcrowded.
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