You’re not going to be able to see all of South America in 2 weeks –  but we’ve got everything you need to plan your travels with our pick of two week South America Itineraries. Inspiration for your next Latin American adventure.

By Sophie Ritchie and Julianna Barnaby

Going to South America? Read my step-by-step South America guide. Everything you need to know to plan your trip.

South America is such a large continent that it can be difficult to know where to start and how much to see on a shorter trip. Into beaches, jungle or mind-blowing landscapes? 

Whichever way, there’s an itinerary for you.

Routes Featured in This Guide

  • Explore Patagonia: El Chaltén, Perito Moreno Glacier, El Chalten, Torres del Paine
  • Exploring the Incan Empire and Lake Titicaca: La Paz, Lake Titicaca, Cusco, Inca Trail, Machu Picchu
  • Incredible Landscapes in the Altiplano: Atacama Desert, Bolivian Altiplano, Salar de Uyuni
  • An Amazon Adventure: Manaus, Tabatinga, Leticia, Iquitos
  • Beach Hopping Break in Brazil: Ilhabela, Paraty, Ilha Grande, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, Fernando de NoronhaIt’s little wonder that the vast landscape of the Salar de Uyuni (Bolivia Salt Flats) is a bucket list spot. Plan your trip with this guide.
  • Explore Ecuador and the Galapagos: Quito, Cloud Forest of Mindo, Otavalo & Cotacachi, Antisana Reserve, Avenue of the Volcanoes, Galapagos Islands inc. Darwin Bay

Exploring South America’s Crazy Landscapes

Destinations: Santiago, Atacama Desert, Bolivian Altiplano, Salar de Uyuni.

Countries: Bolivia and Chile


Two weeks in South America is not enough time to see everything that the continent has to offer.

This trip will take you to the very best of the continent’s incredible landscapes so you can decide on your own personal favourite.

Make sure you have a trusty travel camera for this one… you’re going to need it.

Day 1: Santiago

Cable Car Chile

Where better to arrive than in Santiago, Chile’s capital city. Santiago rivals La Paz for its dramatic setting: it sits in a valley surrounded by the towering Andes mountains.

It’s a cool city,  with lots of options for sightseeing, restaurants, nightlife and lots of accommodation. If you have a bit more time, spend a couple of days exploring Santiago, but you can see a reasonable chunk of the city in one day

I recommend hiking to the top of Cerro San Cristobal for epic views over the city, as well as visiting the impressive Templo Bahai and spending a morning wandering around Bicentenary Park.

You also cannot visit Santiago without admiring the old colonial architecture – Cerro Santa Lucia, in particular, is stunning.

Suggested Stay: The Singular Santiago

Day 2: San Pedro de Atacama

Caracoles, San Pedro de Atacama, Chile

Fly to Calama, and journey to San Pedro de Atacama, where you will lodge for the night. San Pedro is pretty tiny and congested (to be honest, it’s not our favourite place) but it makes a good base for exploring the Atacama Desert by taking tours.

If you want a completely unique experience, hire a campervan or a car to explore the Atacama at your own pace.

If you have the money, another (much pricier but also fabulous) alternative to staying in San Pedro is basing yourself in one of the high-end lodges dotted around the area such as Explora Atacama and Nayara Alto Atacama.

Perfect if you’re looking for a touch of luxe for the trip.

Days 3-7: The Atacama Desert

Salar de Tara, Atacama Desert
(c) Julianna Barnaby

Spend a few days taking tours or driving yourself around the Atacama Desert.

Be sure to see the highlights such as El Tatio Geyser Field and the Valle de la Luna. The Laguna Cejar, where you can float in the salt water, is another must-see.

Get off the beaten track in the Atacama Desert and you’ll be well rewarded… High altitude lakes such as the Salar de Quisquiro and Salar de Capur look like they’re straight off of another planet.

Don’t forget to bring your binoculars – the Atacama has some of the clearest night skies in the world and the stargazing is unrivalled.

Days 8-12: The Bolivian Altiplano

Laguna Colorada
(c) Julianna Barnaby

Hop over the border to Bolivia to the small Bolivian town of Tupiza to start a four-day adventure across the Bolivian Altiplano.

Visitors tend to take tours along this route, though it is possible to drive a rental vehicle (this will need to be a 4×4 – the terrain is very rough).

Either way, you’ll see thrilling Bolivian landscapes such as the Laguna Verde (Green Lake), the Quebrada de Palala and the surreal Laguna Colorada (Red Lake).

Day 13: The Salar de Uyuni

3-Days Tour to the Uyuni Salt Flat and Coloured Lagoons and Sunset

Carry on to explore the Salar to Uyuni (Bolivian Salt Flats), the world’s largest salt flat (a place we love so much, we’ve written a whole guide on it: when to visit the Bolivian salt flats).

Having met with the locals at the village of San Cristobal, walk up the Valle de las Rocas, and see unparalleled views of the Ollagües Stratovolcano and the flamingo-lined Hedionda shores.

Spend the night at the luxurious Salt Palace, the world’s first salt hotel.

Day 14: Calama and Home

Your two weeks in South America are almost over.

The last day of this South America itinerary consists of walking along the never-ending salt-flats, and stopping at Incahuasi Island to see the remains of the once-submerged volcano.

You’ll return to Calama and then take a flight to Santiago for your journey home.

2 Weeks in Patagonia

Destinations: El Chaltén, Mount Fitzroy, Lago Argentino, Perito Moreno Glacier, El Calafate, Puerto Natales, Torres del Paine

Countries: Chile and Argentina

Overlooking Lago Grey Torres del Paine
Overlooking Lago Grey Torres del Paine

Patagonia needs no introduction –  tucked away in the southernmost region of South America, its vast landscapes and barren seascapes are like something out of your imagination. Except this is definitely real life and you can go there.  

Once, Patagonia was only inhabited by glaciers and wildlife – something that’s difficult to forget when you look out at empty sceneries and wide-open views.

You could reasonably spend a lot longer in Patagonia but we’ve created the perfect Patagonia 2 week itinerary to showcase the region’s highlights.

Day 1: El Chaltén

Kick off your South America two week itinerary in Patagonia in the small but thriving backpacking town of El Chaltén in Argentina.

This tiny hamlet has expanded over recent years and now boasts some good hotels and cool restaurants and bars – make sure to check out La Tapera and Mathilda.

Travel to El Chalten and recover from your journey: you’ll need your energy for tomorrow.

Days 2 + 3: Mount Fitz Roy

El Chalten

Time to roll out the big hiking legs to head on a two-day trip to Mount Fitz Roy, which takes about 4 hours hiking each way, setting camp at Campamento Poincenot overnight.

Mount Fitz Roy is on the border between Argentina and Chile and was first climbed in 1952 by Frenchmen Lionel Terray and Guido Magnone. 

Expect to see stunning rocky outcrops giving way to gorgeous blue covered lagoons and snow-capped peaks in the near distance. 

After your camp, you’ll head back to El Chaltén for another night before you move on.

Days 4 + 5: Lago Argentino

Glacier Perito Moreno - Best Things to Do in Argentina - 2
(c) Julianna Barnaby

Stunning as El Chalten and its surroundings are, you’ve barely scratched the surface. It’s time to transfer to Lago Argentino, partly via Ruta 40, Argentina’s most famous highway. Once there, keep driving to the Lago Roca campsite (in the Parque Nacional Glaciares) on Route 15 for the night.

The next day you will then hike to the breathtaking Perito Moreno Glacier, one of the most beautiful glaciers in the world, before heading to Puerto Bandera for a boat ride to the glacier’s edge.

Have your cameras at the ready as you’ll see sights you’ve never seen before on this incredible cruise.

Day 6: El Calafate

El Calafate

Take a road trip to El Calafate, 51 km east of Puerto Bandera. El Calafate is well connected – making it the perfect overnight stop.

The town also has a range of accommodation, from luxury hotels such as Esplendor El Calafate, to more budget hostels and campsites depending on your budget (Hostel America Del Sur is a fabulous choice and puts on an incredible Asado feast once every few days).

While you’re in town, take some time to walk out to the spectacular Reserva Natural Laguna Nimez – it’s a great place for spotting flamingos and other birdlife.

Day 7: Puerto Natales

Hop on a minibus across to the Chile border at Rio Turbio and stop in the lively port city of Puerto Natales, where you will stay overnight.

Hostel-wise The Singing Lamb gets our vote – if you’re looking for something a little more upmarket, go to Hotel Indigo or The Singular for a high-end option.

There’s not a huge amount to do in Puerto Natales – it’s a relatively quiet spot with a nice atmosphere. If you get there early enough, the talk at Erratic Rock about the W Trek is worth attending as they’ll talk you through the conditions in Torres Del Paine and what to expect on the hike.

Otherwise, attractions such as the Municipal Historical Museum lie in the city, which displays artefacts from the region’s indigenous population.

Days 8-13: W Trek, Torres del Paine National Park

Julianna Barnaby at Torres del Paine
Made it to the Torres

Eep – if you’ve always dreamt of hiking in Torres del Paine National Park, today’s the day that dream becomes a reality. Take a transfer to the park, where you will then take on the 5 day hike on the W Circuit.

The hike is often quoted as one of South America’s best, thanks to a range of mountain, glacier and lake views, ending with the spectacular Torres del Paine themselves.

If you have a little more than two weeks in South America, you can do the 8-day O Trek, which extends the route to a quieter section of the park.

You can camp or book the basic but pleasant refugios on the W Trek, if you opt for the O, you’ll have to camp.

Read Next

Either way, you’ll want to check out this Torres del Paine packing list

Day 14: El Calafate

Glacier Perito Moreno El Calafate Argentina-2

On the last day of your two weeks in Patagonia, head back to El Calafate to have a rest and perhaps a night in a luxury hotel to unwind and relax (with some steak, of course) before going back to reality.

Exploring the Incan Empire and Lake Titicaca

Destinations: La Paz, Copacabana, Lake Titicaca, Puno, Cuzco, Inca Trail, Machu Picchu

Countries: Peru and Bolivia

Machu Picchu

Our second itinerary for two weeks in South America takes you through the inner parts of the Incan Empire, witnessing the relics of the Quechua and Aymara nations of Bolivia and Peru.

This route not only gives you an insight into the culture of the Incan peoples, but also some incredible landscapes including Machu Picchu and Lake Titicaca, neither of which should be missed.

Days 1 + 2: La Paz

La Paz Bolivia

Arrive in La Paz, your base for the next 2 nights of your South America trip itinerary. La Paz sits on top of the Andes’ Altiplano plateau, more than 3,500m above sea level, and boasts Mount Illimani as its dramatic backdrop. 

It is also home to the world’s longest and highest cable car system, named the ‘Subway in the Sky’. With fabulous local cuisine, Andean music, and a range of accommodation, La Paz is a great place to stop before you begin your big adventure.

Day 3: Copacabana, Lake Titicaca

Lake Titicaca is one of the best places to visit in Bolivia. Here's why
Lake Titicaca © Studioloco / Adobe Stock

From La Paz, hop on a bus trip to Lake Titicaca, which passes through Copacabana, a lakeside resort where you will stay for the night.

Take a day trip out on the lake, which also happens to be the highest navigable body of water recorded on Earth, to the Isla del Sol, which inhabits many pre-Columbian ruins.

Interestingly, Lake Titicaca is said to be home to the birthplace of the Incas and there are plenty of ruins to explore, as well as Titicaca National Reserve which protects rare aquatic wildlife, including giant frogs.

Day 4: Puno, Lake Titicaca

Take a boat ride to Puno. From here, you can take boat trips to the totora-reed islands, man-made islands built by the indigenous Uros using totora reeds.

Then head back to Puno to see the sights; we recommend the beautiful Cathedral Basilica of St. Charles Borromeo. If you’re lucky and in town at the right time, you can enjoy one of the city’s traditional festivals featuring Peruvian music and dancing to celebrate its label as Peru’s “folk capital.”

Days 5 + 6: Cusco

Views of Cusco

Puno to Cusco! Known for its architecture and history, and named Inca’s ‘navel of the world’, Cusco is home to the region’s best hotels, along with exciting bars, restaurants and museums.

We think that staying here for two nights is best, as there’s a lot to see. Check out our pick of the best things to do in Cusco.

You’ll be 4,000 metres above sea level here, so don’t be surprised if you feel a little out of breath at first. It takes a little while to fully acclimatise to the altitude.

Days 7-10: The Inca Trail

Machu Picchu at Sunrise

You will be picked up from your hotel early in the morning, and taken on a 3 hour trip to Kilometre 82, the start of the 4-day Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. Rated one of the 5 best treks in the world, this is a 100% must for your bucket list.

The Inca Trail trek has to be booked well in advance – if you don’t nab a space, alternative treks such as Salkantay and Lares are worth looking into.

If you don’t fancy those, explore more of Cusco and its surrounds before heading to Machu Picchu Pueblo (also called Aguas Calientes) to go directly to Machu Picchu.

Day 10: Aguas Calientes/Machu Picchu Pueblo

Inkaterra Hotel, Machu Picchu Pueblo

After having explored Machu Picchu, hike down to Aguas Calientes, where there are a number of hotels to wind down at for the night.

Aguas Calientes isn’t the most relaxing of towns, so unless you have a burning desire to head out and sample the nightlife, take some time to decompress and relax after your strenuous hike.

Day 11: Poroy to Lima

Take a train from Aguas Calientes to Poroy, marvelling at the Sacred Valley on the Vistadome Train or the more luxurious Hiram Bingham train. After a 25 minute transfer, you’re back in Cusco. Fly to Lima.

Days 12-14: Lima + Home

Take a whirlwind tour around Lima, the Peruvian capital. Stroll along the Malecon, visit the old town with its majestic cathedral and the striking Monasterio de San Francisco.

Street art lovers should head to Barranco – the centrepoint of Lima’s street art scene.  

Don’t forget to try a few pisco sours and hunt out the best ceviche in Lima along the way.

Amazon Adventure  

Destinations: Manaus, Tabatinga, Leticia, Iquitos

Countries: Brazil, Colombia, Peru

Amazon Rainforest South America Itinerary

In my humble opinion, this is the best South American itinerary. People visit the Amazon for the mosaic of different plants and wildlife that can’t be seen anywhere else.

This two week South America itinerary gives you time to explore the world’s most famous rainforest and plenty of time to relax on slow boats as the time and the views pass by.

Bring plenty of insect repellent, you’ll regret it if you don’t.

Days 1-2 Manaus


Start in the opulent city of Manaus, the capital of the Amazonas state.

The city was built at the height of the rubber boom at the end of the 19th century and is a testament to the riches the industry brought to the region at that time.

Broad roads, spacious piazzas and the famous Teatro Amazonas opera house are just a few of the relics dating back to that time.  We highly recommend taking a one day river trip on the Amazon to spot some wildlife and the meeting of the waters.  

Other brilliant things to do in Manaus include learning about the history of the region at the  Palácio Rio Negro, and visiting the CIG Zoo to spot Harpy Eagles and Jaguars, before picking up traditional, hand-crafted souvenirs in Taberna do Chef Procópio market.

Days 3-7 Boat journey from Manaus to Tabatinga

Amazon River Travel Itinerary

Book yourself onto the mammoth seven-day journey up the Amazon river to Tabatinga at the Brazilian/ Colombian/ Peruvian border. You can either book to sleep in a hammock on deck, or reserve a private cabin.

Take some time to relax, catch up on your travel reading and generally marvel as you float through the jungle.

Make sure you have your cameras at the ready, you’ll find yourself wanting to take plenty of photos as you cruise of the local wildlife and scenery.

Days 7-9 Leticia and surrounds

Boats from Manaus generally terminate at Tabatinga, a slightly shabby border town. Leticia is just over on the Colombian side and a better choice of base for the next few days.

Take a jungle tour to the Parque Nacional Amacayacu where you can spy pink river dolphins and over 500 species of bird among many other things.

We’d recommend spending the night in a hammock in the parque before returning to Leticia for your onward journey – this is where your insect repellent will come in extra-handy.

Days 10-13 Slow boat from Leticia to Iquitos

Sunset over the Amazon Rainforest

Time for the second slow boat, this time from Leticia to Iquitos in Peru.

You could take a speedboat, which will do the journey in 12 hours – but where’s the fun in that?  

Instead, book a space on one of the barges that crawl their way along the Peruvian Amazon to the large city of Iquitos. Lay back, relax, and once again, drink in the astonishing views of this world-famous waterways at a leisurely pace that will help you relax.

Day 14 Iquitos and Home

Iquitos, Peru

Disembark at Iquitos, another city that benefited hugely from the late 19th century rubber boom.

Check out the elegant architecture and intricate decor in buildings such as The Casa de Fierro, Iglesia Matriz and Casa Khan.

Decompress in one of the laid-back bars and savour the excellent local cuisine before heading home. You can’t leave without trying the Sopa de Motelo (turtle soup) or Tecina con Tacacho (salted pork with mashed fried green banana).

You can also explore the Ecuadorian  Amazon – read one traveller’s account of his Ecuador Amazon tour.

Beach Lovers’ Itinerary 

Destinations – Santos, Guarujá, Ilhabela, Ubatuba, Catuçuba, Paraty, Ilha Grande, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, Fernando de Noronha, Recife

Countries: Brazil

Brazil beach travel itinerary - South America

Calling all beach lovers! You think you’ve seen it all? Well, you’re in for a big shock. Just wait until you see the beautiful beaches of Brazil.

You’ll spend two weeks exploring the best beaches in a country that certainly isn’t lacking in sandy spots to flop and drop.

Day 1: Santos

Arrive in Santos, Southern Brazil, home to Brazil’s biggest port. 

Spend your first night in Guarujá, a coastal town near São Paolo, and travel on the old latin-style street cars before settling down with shrimp in pumpkin sauce and a refreshing dip in the sea. 

Best beach: Iporanga Beach, 25km from the city centre. If you want to extend your trip, there are plenty of things to do in Sao Paolo.

Day 2: Ilhabela


Travel up to the BR101 by car, and take a ferry to the island of Ilhabela, where you’ll spend the night. Portuguese for ‘beautiful island’, Ilhabela is a city 4km off the coast.

It boasts the perfect combination of untouched tropical jungle (protected by UNESCO) and pristine beaches where the young and beautiful are known to party. 

Best beach: Bonete.

Days 3 + 4: Paraty

Praia do Cepilho - Paraty

Take the ferry back, and drive up to Ubatuba, where the road climbs up through the mountains of the Serra do Mar to Catuçuba. You’ll be able to grab some stunning shots here for your Insta feed.

Relax at the local ranch, and even horse-ride in the hills if you fancy. Before it gets dark, carry on your drive to Paraty, where you’ll stay 2 nights.

Paraty is Southern Brazil’s most picturesque city, with a quaint colonial centre combined with beautiful beaches. There’s none of the modern high-rise architecture that you’ll find in Rio or Sao Paulo, instead this UNESCO city centre remains a step back in time to a quieter age.

Head to one of the local distilleries and try Cachaca, a distilled spirit made from fermented sugarcane juice, island hop through some of the 62 islands and 200 beaches around the city, or simply just sit back and chill on Lula or Vermelha beach with a good book.

The hotels and dining are also terrific. 

Best beaches: Lula beach and Vermelha beach.

Day 5: Ilha Grande

Ilha Grande

Drive to Angra dos Reis, and catch a ferry to Ilha Grande, a lush green island full of beautiful beaches and forests.

Beach hop or hike around the island; we love Parrot Peak, a hike in the forest that leads to the top of a parrot-shaped rock formation – it’s tough but well worth it for the views.

Best beach: Lopes Mendes.

Days 6 + 7: Rio de Janeiro

Brazil - Rio de Janeiro Sunset - 2 Week South America itinerary. Read more.
(c) Julianna Barnaby

Make your way to Rio de Janeiro. Having arrived in Rio, head to the stunning beaches on its coast. Our favourites are Copacabana, the true city beach, and Ipanema.

We recommend spending 2 nights in Rio to visit both of these beaches and explore the rest of the city.

For something a little different, the stunning beaches of the Barra da Tijuca neighbourhood wind their way along miles and miles of coastline, fringed with some of the city’s most upmarket bars and restaurants.

If you want to get out of the city, head to Buzios, a Riviera-esque beach only a day trip from Rio, which has been famed for its St Tropez chic ever since a bikini-clad Brigitte Bardot visited here in 1964.

Days 8 + 9: Salvador

Catch a flight to Salvador, and spend a day exploring Bahia’s vibrant and exciting capital.

While Salvador’s beaches aren’t the best in Bahia, take the two hour boat ride to the island of Morro de São Paulo for a slice of the beach life.

There are so many things to do in Salvador, from exploring the Museum of Modern Art which highlights Salvador’s history through modern artwork to scoffing pupusas in the main bustling market in town (delicious fried pancakes filled with meat, cheese, or beans and served with cabbage).

The island’s enchanting beaches and laid-back attitude captures the heart of many a traveller – we wouldn’t blame you if you spent an extra few days here.

Days 10 – 13 Fernando de Noronha

Fernando de Noronha

Return to Salvador and fly up to Recife, further north. From Recife, take a flight to Fernando de Noronha, a small island archipelago that’s often named as home to Brazil’s best beaches.

If you’re feeling active, take some time to explore the rich underwater life surrounding the islands – the diving is first-class. Alternatively, take a Catamaran tour around the archipelago and see some of the stunning sea life without getting wet.  

Sample the nightlife at Vila dos Remedios and the Forst Nossa Senhora dos Remedios to capture some of the most stunning sunsets you’ll find anywhere. 

Day 14: Recife and Home

Recife, Pernambuco, Brazil

Return to Recife. If you have a few extra days, make your way to the UNESCO Heritage town of Olinda, one of the prettiest in the country. 

Olinda is known as an artist’s town, and so it’s no surprise it boasts plenty of tiny art galleries and gorgeous buildings. Make sure to check out the Saint Benedict Church and its magnificent (that’s truly the only word to describe it) main altar.

Otherwise, it’s time to go home.

Ecuador & The Galapagos

Destinations: Quito, Mindo, Otavalo, Cotopaxi, Santa Cruz Island, Darwin Bay, Santiago Island, Fernandina Island, Isabela Island

Countries: Ecuador

Ecuador is one of the most underrated jewels in the South American crown, often overlooked, yet, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful and interesting countries in South America.

This cool 2 week itinerary allows you to spend a week exploring the mainland before heading out to sea and explore the incomparable natural climes of the Galapagos Islands. Come away truly understanding why this incredible archipelago so wowed Charles Darwin, just as it will wow you.

Days 1 & 2: Quito


Arrive in Quito, the Ecuadorian capital and spend a couple of days exploring this beautiful city. 

Independence Square is home to the city’s Cathedral, yet it’s the Church of San Francisco dating back to the 16th century and its stunning golden interior that will really charm you, while the 17th-century chapel of La Iglesia de El Sagrario is a more muted, but equally beautiful spot.

Be sure to check out the awesome street art dotted around the city, and experience a walking tour complete with culinary highlights.

Day 3: Mindo

Mindo, Ecuador

Make your way out to the western slopes of the Andes to visit the eco-diversity of Mindo, home to thousands of plants and animals.

Although it’s only a couple of hours out of Quito, you’ll feel as though you’ve been dropped in the middle of a tropical jungle paradise, with flora, fauna, and birds of all conceivable colours.

Head to the stunning Cloud Forest to get the best of the natural surroundings, and make sure you grab a glass of the spicy boozy drink Canelazo while you’re in town.

Day 4: Otavalo


Otavalo is the next stop, a few hours north of Quito and near the active Cotacachi volcano. If you can wangle it to visit here on a Saturday, you can enjoy the sights, sounds, and colours of the Otavalo market which is an unmissable cultural experience.

Then, spend a couple of hours visiting the stunning Cuicocha Lake, which sits in a crater of the Cotacachi volcano. This gorgeous natural spot is sacred to locals and there are annual celebrations of traditional rituals taking place here every year.

Days 5 & 6: Cotopaxi and the Avenue of the Volcanoes


Heading south towards the Cotopaxi province, stop off at the Antisana Ecological Reserve. This enormous protected area spans a whopping 460 square miles and is home to a diverse range of awesome wildlife.

In addition, you can marvel at, and photograph the wonderful landscape around the Antisana volcano and beautiful Mica Lake. 

Then, head 12,000 feet above sea level to Cotopaxi for your overnight stay ahead of the treats that lay ahead.

On day six, head to the Avenue of the Volcanoes, home to some of the most diverse scenery you’ll meet on this itinerary, with wild grasses intermingling with volcanoes, including the world’s highest active volcano, Cotopaxi. Trust me, this is the experience of a lifetime, especially if you’re on horseback!

Day 7: Santa Cruz Island

Santa Cruz Island

Fly out to Baltra, around 150 metres from the northern part of Santa Cruz Island and take the ferry across the small channel. If you’re lucky, you may end up travelling aboard The Beagle, named after Darwin’s famous ship.

Here, you’ll meet your first of the famous animals of the Galapagos, with flamingos, iguanas and the famous bright red Sally light-foot crabs. Take some time to relax on the gorgeous white-sandy beaches ahead of your island-hopping adventures.

Day 8: Darwin Bay

 Darwin Bay

Take a day trip across to Genovesa Island and head to Prince Philip’s steps. Try and get up as early as you can to make the most of the visit, since you can see a stunning array of birds as you walk here, from black frigate birds recognisable with their inflated bright red pouches, to short-eared owls.

If you enjoy going underwater, take a snorkel trip where you may come face to face with dolphins and sharks, before heading to Darwin Bay after lunch when the local wildlife is at its most plentiful. 

Day 9: Santiago Island

Santiago Island

Santiago Island is the next stop on this island-hopping part of the itinerary. Originally called James Island in honour of King James II of England, the island’s name has changed, but one of its main attractions, James Bay, hasn’t.

This black-sand beach forced from volcanic ash has some incredible tidal pools to witness, along with a plethora of sea birds and jet black iguanas the like of which I’ve never seen before. This is the best spot to watch sea lions as well, just a few yards from where you stand – yet another awesome addition to your Insta feed.

Day 10: Fernandina Island

Fernandina Island

Leave your Santiago Island base to head across to the island of Fernandina Island and its lava-based landscape that’s dotted with marine iguanas in their dozens. You may have to squint to see them as they blend in nicely with the ground, suntanning themselves.

Then go climbing over the gorgeous lava flows at Punta Moreno to go birdwatching.

Once you’re ready to leave, head to Isabela Island, your base for the next few days.

Day 11 to 13: Isabela Island

Isabela Island

You have three full days to explore the glorious surroundings of Isabela Island, and believe us, you’ll need every minute.

Punta Vincente Roca are stunning rocky outcrops home to penguins, seals, and the blue-footed booby, then head out for a snorkel to see the sea lions and penguins too. Then wander and check out graffiti left by whalers, pirates, and other explorers.

Then check out the giant tortoise breeding centre that preserves some of the most famous residents in the Galapagos before visiting the Sierra Negra volcano, and the second largest volcanic crater in the world.

The town of Puerto Ayora is a great spot to go souvenir shopping and experience some excellent Galapagos food.

Day 14: Quito and home

Quito, Ecuador

On your final day, head back to Quito and spend time ticking off anything you missed out on from your first couple of days on this itinerary before travelling to the airport and returning home.

Which is your favourite 2 week South America itinerary?

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  1. Amazing itineraries for South America. I still haven’t been anywhere yet in SA so this will be super helpful when I finally get there! I think the Patagonia trip may be towards the top of my list! Thanks for taking the time to write these.

    1. Thanks Mike. Just can’t get enough of South America – you’ll be totally blown away by Patagonia. Always happy to help with tips and advice!

  2. I have only visited Chile on the list but I absolutely fell in love and I can’t wait to visit the other countries on your list. What was your favorite?

  3. I can’t wait to see South America! Has always been a passion of mine (and I’ve never even been there haha!)
    Thanks for the awesome tips and plans, your photos are amazing!

  4. Amazing itineraries! I would love to visit Brazil soon, will definitely reach out the next time I plan a South American trip — you know your stuff! x

  5. These pictures are giving me some serious wanderlust! I’ve never been to South America but some of these places have been on my radar for ages e.g. Patagonia. Loved these sample itineraries, great post!

  6. Incredible photos! I will be travelling to South America for the first time in early 2018 so this is a great resource! Bookmarked for later 🙂

    1. Thanks Melissa – you are going to have such a great time – I’ve been so many times and can’t stop going back. Shout up if you have any questions or need tips – plus we’ve written loads of South America articles too.

  7. Great post! I love how you have group different areas according to specific interests. South America is such and vast and rich continent that sometimes it’s hard to choose where to go first. In my case, I still have not been to the Amazon; so that would definitely be my next adventure.

    1. Thanks – I’ve always found it really difficult to pick where to go on shorter trips so thought doing it that way would help people out! Always more adventures to have.

  8. Thank you, Julianna! My husband and I would love to visit Patagonia, Machu Picchu, and have a couple of beach and historic city days. I’d love your thoughts to see if that could be doable in 2.5 weeks, while still being relaxing?

    1. Hi Kate – really glad that you liked the article. You’re going to have such a great time! I would say that 2.5 weeks is going to be relatively tight to head to Patagonia, Machu Picchu, explore both and still have time to head to the beach (are you thinking a beach in Chile/ Peru?) and any city other than Cusco. You can do it if you take flights, but I don’t think that it will be that relaxing. Perhaps you could spend a week and a half exploring Patagonia, fly up to Cusco and spend a few days there before going to Machu Picchu on the train (spending a night in Machu Pichu Pueblo)? I’m actually starting to do one-off custom itineraries for South America – drop me an email on [email protected] if you’re interested.

  9. Julianna,

    I read your 2 week itinerary article and loved so many of your suggestions. You had mentioned that you are now doing one-off for a custom plan. I would be interested in this!
    My son will be in Buenos Aires attending school and I plan to meet him on July 10th. We will then travel for the next 2 1/2 weeks. I have been studying our options but honestly on overload with all the choices and the distances. I am really what to make the most of out time.

    We love nature, hiking, kayaking, beaching, adventure and sight seeing. For sure…. I would like to include Machu Picchu and the Galapagos….and possibly the Iguarza falls.

    Please let me know if you are available? Where are you located? I am in Dallas Texas.

    Carol Stone

    1. Hi Carol,
      Thanks for getting in touch – very glad to hear that you found the itineraries useful. Unfortunately, I’m no longer doing custom South America itineraries but here are a few tips to help you along the way. I think most importantly, you want to focus on a few destinations that preferably are quite easy to travel between – the distances are far and even when you fly, it can take a lot of transit time getting from a to b (Machu Picchu being the perfect example). I’d say if you go to Machu Picchu and the Galapagos you will probably have to skip Iguazu and instead focus on Peru/ Ecuador. The first time I travelled in South America, I tried to cram way too much into a short period and ended up spending a lot of time in transit – I’d always recommend going to fewer places and seeing more in each of them.
      I hope that you have a wonderful trip.
      All the best,


  10. In 2011 I visited Colombia with my two children. We enjoyed visiting the Caribbean coastline and old town of Cartagena. Then in 2012 we went back to South America for a longer trip. We had time in Argentina, Chile, Brazil and Uruguay. One of the best things was seeing the tropical birds.

    1. So glad to hear it Maxine – there’s so much biodiversity across the continent – absolutely incredible to see.

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