South America Travel Information



When to visit South America?

Flights to South America

Visas, Entrance Fees & Insurance

Health & Diet considerations when travelling to South America

Covid 19 Entry Requirements

Money Matters

Technology

Packing Lists – Inca Trail, Amazon, Patagonia & General

 


When to visit South America?

South America is a huge continent and weather conditions differ greatly depending on which destinations you plan to visit.  We all want different things from our holiday and the best time to go to South America for one person may be poles apart from another. For some dry weather is important, whereas for others travelling out of peak season is vital, so this summary is only intended as a brief guide covering the most popular destinations. Please contact us to discuss in more details.

Country When to Go
Argentina
  • Buenos Aires – year round. High season/summer is December to February.
  • Iguazu Falls – year round. High season/summer is December to February.
  • Patagonia & Lakes District – year round although May to September can be very cold and many places can be closed (it’s still a nice time to visit though).  December to March is peak season and can be crowded.
  • Peninsula Valdes – February to April for Killer whale sightings. June to December is the overall best season for whale, penguins, seal and sea lions sightings.
  • Salta – year round, although December to March is hot and humid and tend to have more rainfall.
Bolivia
  • Highlands (La Paz & Lake Titicaca) – year round, although the best time is from April to October. Although this season is cooler it is also the dry season.
  • Southern Altiplanico (Uyuni) – year round, although the summer rainy season is from November to March (in particular, late December until February) can cause transport problems in the highlands.
Brazil
  • Amazon– year round, however it tends to be driest in May to October. December, January, and February are the wettest, although the increased animal activity makes this a great time to visit.
  • Iguazu Falls – year round, although water levels can dwindle from April to July.
  • Pantanal – Year round, however it can be very hot in the rainy season, December through March. The driest time of the year is May through October.
  • Rio –The climate is tropical, with year round warm temperatures. The warmest months are typically between January and March and the coolest months June to August. High season lasts from the week before Christmas until Carnaval (which falls sometime in February or early March, depending on the year).
Chile
  • Northern Chile (including San Pedro Atacama) – year round.
  • Central Chile (including Santiago) – year round. Cold in winter months (June – August).
  • Patagonia & Lakes District – year round, although May to September can be very cold and many places can be closed (yet it is still a nice time to visit). December to March is peak season and can be crowded.
  • Easter Island – year round pleasant climate but the rainiest time of year is during April.
Colombia
  • Due to its location close to the Equator Colombia’s temperatures vary little by the season. Anytime is a good time to visit, although the dry season is December to March and July to September.
Ecuador
  • Andes highlands (including Quito) – year round.
  • Amazon – year round, however it tends to be driest in May to October. December, January, and February are the wettest, although the increased animal activity makes this a great time to visit.
Galapagos Islands
  • Year round with two main seasons: December to June is warm (becoming hot and humid January to March). July to November is windier, cooler, mainly dry, with some misty drizzle.
  • Animal sightings differ depending on the month. Check our Galapagos page for more information.
Peru
  • The coast (including Lima) – year round.
  • Andes – year round, although the summer rainy season is from November to March (in particular late December until February) can experience regular rainfall.
  • Amazon – year round, however it tends to be driest in May to October. December, January and February are the wettest although the increased animal activity makes this a great time to visit.
Venezuela
  • Caribbean coast (including Margarita Island and Los Roques) – generally dry all year round.
  • Gran Sabana (including Angel Falls) – dry season is November to May, but the best time to visit this area is the remainder of the year, when the rivers are full and the humidity is not yet too high.
  • Andes – year round.

 


Flights to South America

Eclipse Travel can assist with all your flight arrangements, including international flights, round- the-world flights, internal South America flights and South America air passes.

Which airlines fly to South America from Australia or NZ?

From the east coast there are 3 options for flying into South America:

  • LATAM Airlines fly from Sydney to Santiago via Auckland 7 days per week, and from Melbourne to Santiago direct 1 day per week. Qantas code share connections via Auckland can be arranged.
  • Qantas Airlines fly direct from Sydney to Santiago 3 days per week.
  • Air New Zealand fly direct from Auckland to Buenos Aires 3 days per week with good connections from Perth, Adelaide, Gold Coast, Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne.

There are also alternatives via the USA, although connections are not as good and will usually require an overnight stop.

From the west coast you can either fly via Sydney on one of the above alternatives or can consider alternatives via South Africa or the Middle East.

Can South America be incorporated into round-the-world flights?

Yes, there are many options, some of which can be good value. Or if you are simply looking to combine South and North America with the one ticket then there are other good alternatives we can discuss.

What is the baggage allowance for flights?

Baggage allowances depend on the airline, however common international flight allowance is between 20-23kgs and 15-23kgs for domestic flights. All airlines allow international limits on domestic flights when issued on the same ticket.

Some popular airline baggage allowances can be found here;

Qantas | LATAM Airlines | Aerolineas Argentinas Avianca | Skyairline

 


 

Visas, Entrance Fees & Insurance required for South America

Which visas are required?

Please note that while we make every effort to keep visa information up to date, regulations change frequently. The information provided is intended as a guide. 

Country

Australia

United States

New Zealand 

Chile

Yes* – more info

No

No

Argentina

No

No

No

Brazil

Yes+ – more info

Yes+ – more info

No

Peru

No

No

No

Bolivia

No

Yes – more info

No

Ecuador

No#

No#

No#

Colombia

No

No

No

Paraguay

Yes** – more info

Yes** – more info

Yes** – more info

Uruguay

No

No

No

NOTE: There may be Covid-19 entry requirements for all travellers, in addition to the visa requirements. 

  • * Chile: Previously Australian citizens were required to pay a US$117 reciprocity fee to enter Chile. This has now been scrapped and replaced with the E-visa system.  Along with your trip documents, Eclipse Travel will provide a step by step guide to obtaining your Chile visa before travel. Visa approval takes at least 10 business days after submission. If you have not received an update after that time we suggest you contact the Chilean consulate. More info here.

All travellers travelling to Chile must complete the SAG Declaracion Jurada form no more than 48 hours before arrival. You may be asked to present proof of completion upon checking in to your flight.

Computer:  https://djsimple.sag.gob.cl/etapas/ejecutar/13572697

Mobile / QR Code: https://www.sag.gob.cl/ambitos-de-accion/declaracion-jurada-sag-de-ingreso-chile

To get the form in English –

  1. Click ‘Siguente’ on the first page (it’s just an acknowledgment that you understand it’s a legal requirement for all adults to complete the form before entry).
  2. Click ‘Sin clava unica’ on the second page (Direct translation – without unique key or Chilean ID number)
  3. On this next page it lets you select idioma/language
  4. On completion a PDF confirmation is emailed to you to present at customs. There is free Wi-Fi at Santiago airport however we recommend you download the confirmation attachment to your phone before you arrive

Printed: If you would prefer to have a hard copy of the form, complete the form online and print the final confirmation to present to customs at the following link: http://www.sag.cl/sites/default/files/dj_2020_ed_imp.pdf

Make sure you have packed your bags and know exactly what you are carrying. Like Australia, Chile takes customs control very seriously. Their main concerns are animal and plant products. Any breaches result in heavy fines. I suggest erring on the side of caution and declaring any items about which you are unsure. Most packaged foods and treated wooden items are ok but must be declared. If an item is prohibited but was declared on the form, there are no penalties.

 

  • + Brazil: Brazil has announced their intention to resume requiring visas for Australian, Canadian and US citizens. The visa requirement will take effect on the 10th of April 2025. Any Australian, Canadian or US travellers entering Brazil before 10th April 2025 is not required to acquire a visa before travel. This new system is 100% online and will not involve posting your passport to a consulate. Details here: VFS eVisa

 

  • # Galapagos: Travellers visiting the Galapagos Islands need a Transit Control Card (US$20 per person) for the region as well as paying a National Park Entrance fee (US$100 per person until 31st July 2024 – US$200 per person from 1st August 2024)

 

  • ** Paraguay: As of July 2023 Paraguay has suspended the requirement for a visa for Australian, New Zealand and US citizens.

** For citizens who have passports from the United States of America, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, China (Taiwan), visas are enabled upon arrival at the Silvio Petirossi airport in Paraguay. This service is not available at land border crossings. If you are entering Paraguay by land you must obtain a visa before travel.

 

  • USA: If you are travelling or transiting through the USA you must obtain a visa waiver before travel.
  • New Zealand: If you are travelling or transiting through New Zealand and do not hold an Australian, British or New Zealand passport, you must apply for a NZeta permit before travel.

What additional entrance fees or taxes can I expect?

  • Galapagos: When you arrive in the Galapagos Islands, you are required to purchase a National Park Entrance Fee (US$100) and a Transit Control Card (US$20)
  • Several countries also charge international departure taxes or airport fees usually between US$20-$50 per person. Currently this charge is applied in Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela.
  • At the Chilean-Bolivian border officials charge 15 – 21 Bolivianos (around US$3) for the ‘stamp’ in your passport. The amount can also be paid in Chilean Pesos.
  • Additionally many domestic airports within South America also charge small departure taxes or airport fees usually between US$5-10 per person.
  • Tourist tax for the Nasca flight from Pisco airport or Ica airport or Nasca airport can be paid only in cash and local currency (47 soles / approx. USD 12-15 per person).
    Airport tax for the Nasca flight from Pisco airport (approx. USD 5 per person) or Ica and Nasca airport (approx. USD 10 per person).
  • Argentina Hotel Taxes: 
    • Buenos Aires Tax: If you are staying in Buenos Aires you will be required to pay a tourist tax at the time of check out from your hotel (visitors over 12 years of age). The tax amount will vary between US$0.50 to US$1.50 per person per night. The different rate to be paid will depend on the category of accommodation that you are staying in.
    • Puerto Iguazu Tax: If you are visiting Iguassu Falls, you are required to pay the Eco Municipal Tourist Tax which is around USD2,20 payable in cash at your hotel. This fee is subject to change.  If you are staying on the on the Brazillian side of the falls, you will need to pay this when entering Puerto Iguassu (Argentina). Visitors staying at hotels in Foz do Iguazu should pay the Eco Tax at the box office located on Route #12 on the way to the park.
    • Bariloche Tax: If staying in Bariloche, you will need to pay the Eco Municipal Tourist Tax: The amount will vary on hotels and range between AR$ 415 – 790 (USD 1,10 – 2,15) per person, per night with a maximum of 3 nights. Exempt: Children under 14 years old and disabled people w/certificate. If you are staying at Llao Llao Hotel Bariloche: You will need to pay USD 16 per person per night. Exempt: Children under 3 years old.
    • Lakes Crossing Port Tax: When joining the Lakes Crossing at Puerto Panuelo a port tax of AR$85.00 (US4.50) per person is required to be paid in local currency directly at time of boarding at the Pier in cash.

Machu Picchu Entrance Tickets

For detailed information about the logistics of Machu Picchu, visit our Machu Picchu – visitor information page.

Travel Insurance

We highly recommend obtaining comprehensive travel insurance when travelling to South America. Please check the terms of your policy carefully, particularly with regard to limits of cover and ensure you are familiar with the procedure for making claims. Once you have paid your deposit or full payment, certain fees will apply if you have to cancel your holiday and for this reason you should take out insurance at the time of paying your deposit, which should then protect you in such a situation. Ensure you carry the details of your travel insurance as some countries require proof of travel insurance upon entry.

 


 

Health & Diet considerations when travelling to South America

What vaccinations are required?

There are many factors that need to be considered by you and your health care professional when assessing the need for vaccines and/or medication. This information is only a guide and not a replacement for professional health advice.  Be sure to speak to your doctor or visit a travel clinic at least 6-8 weeks before you travel. The following is a list of our general recommendations:

  • Yellow Fever – The yellow fever vaccination is recommended for those travelling to the Peruvian Amazon or at certain times those visiting Iguassu Falls. Brazil does not require yellow fever vaccination from travelers, but other countries like Ecuador, Panama, and Bolivia, require yellow fever vaccination if travelers have been to Brazil. So if  you are doing a combination of countries and one of them has this restriction, make sure you are vaccinated before going to Brazil, as the yellow fever vaccine has to be taken 10 days before travel. Bolivia is now requiring you to present an international vaccination certificate (“yellow booklet”) as proof.
  • Hepatitis – Both A and B vaccination recommended
  • Typhoid – Vaccination recommended
  • Diphtheria – Vaccination recommended
  • Cholera – Vaccination recommended
  • Rabies – Vaccination recommended
  • Tetanus – Vaccination recommended
  • Malaria – risk varies by the region and season and you are most at risk in remote Amazon regions. Consult your doctor for the latest information.

What Causes Altitude Sickness?

The primary cause of altitude sickness is ascending too quickly. Many areas within South America have altitudes which have been known to induce this illness. Given time, your body can adapt to the decrease in oxygen at specific altitudes. This is known as acclimatisation and generally takes one to three nights at a given altitude.  If this is a particular concern to you, all our trips can be customised to give you more time to acclimatise.

Some general recommendations for people travelling to areas of high altitude:

The day before you travel

  • Get a proper nights sleep.
  • Eat easily digestible food.
  • Avoid alcohol.

After you arrive

  • Avoid strenuous physical activity particularly if this activity part of your normal routine.
  • Drink at least two litres of water.
  • Avoid alcohol.
  • Eat small quantities of food, preferably carbohydrates.
  • Wear warm clothing.
  • Avoid unnecessary medication like sleeping pills.

Altitude sickness may develop into a serious medical condition if its effects are not addressed promptly. If you are having difficulty breathing, feel unwell, or develop any abnormal symptoms then seek immediate medical help.  Many hotels and also most of your tour guides will have a ready supply of oxygen which will help alleviate any potential problems.

Preventative Medications(requiring prescriptions):

If you are concerned about the effects of altitude sickness, we recommend you consult your GP or a specialised travel doctor for advice before you depart. They may prescribe some preventative medicines if required.

  • Diamox (Acetazolamide) changes acid balance which allows you to increase breathing and improve oxygen intake.
  • Dexamethasone decreases brain and other swelling, helping to reverse the effects.

Dietary Requirements

Whilst we understand your dietary requirements are important and often vital to your health, sometimes due to cultural and language differences these are not always easy to convey when you are travelling. Eclipse Travel aims to alleviate these concerns and on request will prepare translations of your requirements into either Spanish or Portuguese, depending on which destinations you are travelling to.

 


 

Covid-19 Entry Requirements

PLEASE NOTE: International Covid-19 entry requirements continue to change frequently as the health situation evolves. This page is updated regularly however the information is presented as a guide and you should reconfirm your specific entry requirements before departure.

Chile

Negative PCR test Negative Rapid Antigen Test Covid-19 declaration Vaccination Certificate
Not required* Not required*  Not required* Not Required
*  Rapa Nui (Easter Island) – Additional entry requirements 

  • Completed FUI entry form
  • Round trip ticket – max 30 day stay
  • Accommodation reservation provided by Eclipse Travel
  • Travellers may be subject to a traveller monitoring protocol, by telephone or in person, within 5 days of arrival

More information – https://www.chile.travel/en/traveltochileplan/

Argentina

Negative PCR test Negative Rapid Antigen Test Covid-19 declaration Vaccination Certificate
Not required Not required Not required Not required

 

Brazil

Negative PCR test Negative Rapid Antigen Test Covid-19 declaration Vaccination Certificate
Not required Not required Not required Not Required

 

Peru

Negative PCR test Negative Rapid Antigen Test Covid-19 declaration Vaccination Certificate
Not required Not required Not required Not Required
More information https://www.peru.travel/en/useful-data/visa-and-entry-requirements

 

Bolivia

Negative PCR test Negative Rapid Antigen Test Covid-19 declaration Vaccination Certificate
Not required* Not required* Required Required*
  • All travellers must present evidence they were fully vaccinated at least 14 days before travel.
  • Completed online travel declaration to be presented to border officials.
  • You must also present a Yellowfever Certificate upon entry to Bolivia.

* If you are not vaccinated you must present a negative PCR test result with 72 hours of travel, or a negative Rapid Antigen Test within 48 hours of travel.

 

Ecuador

Negative PCR test Negative Rapid Antigen Test Covid-19 declaration Vaccination Certificate
Not required Not required Not Required Not required
 

  • Passengers do not have to show proof of vaccination on arrival.
  • Passengers do not have to fill out the Health Declaration form before or on arrival.
  • Only passengers with the following symptoms need do so: high temperature, cough, general malaise, loss of smell or taste, or cutaneous eruptions.  The form can be filled in online (https://declaracionsalud-viajero.msp.gob.ec/) or on arrival on paper.

 

Colombia

Negative PCR test Negative Rapid Antigen Test Covid-19 declaration Vaccination Certificate
Not Required Not Required Not Required Not Required

 

Paraguay

Negative PCR test Negative Rapid Antigen Test Covid-19 declaration Vaccination Certificate
Not required Not required Not required Not Required

 

Uruguay

Negative PCR test Negative Rapid Antigen Test Covid-19 declaration Vaccination Certificate
Not Required Not Required Not Required Not Required

 


Money Matters

Currency

In general we recommend using the local currency for each country within South America as you will get the most value for your money. ATMs are common in all major centres and even the smaller ones. As a backup we recommend a supply of US dollar notes in small denominations as every country in South America readily accepts these and they can be very handy on border crossings.

Travel Money Cards are also an option and work as a bank card on your travels around the continent. Traveller’s cheques are very difficult to exchange in South America so we do not recommend these.

Argentina – Unfortunately Argentina has been badly affected by high inflation rates for well over a decade. As a result, two parallel exchange rates have emerged in the country. The official rate, which is used when paying with credit cards or using ATMs to withdraw cash; and the unofficial Blue Dollar rate, for exchanging USD cash. The Blue Dollar Rate is often nearly twice the official rate, making a significant impact on your travel budget. We recommend you plan ahead and take physical US currency to exchange when you arrive in Argentina, you will be unable to obtain US notes once you arrive in Argentina. Other currencies, such as Canadian or Australian dollars or British Pounds may be accepted in rare cases, but at a far lower rate than the US Dollar. Make sure you inspect all the bills. Older style notes, or notes with rips, markings or significant wear and tear, will be rejected. Larger denominations attract a much better exchange rate.

You will receive a very bad exchange rate when trying to convert Argentinian Pesos into a foreign currency. We recommend you exchange smaller amounts throughout your stay as you need them, rather than exchanging a large sum at the beginning and having a lot of leftover pesos when you depart.

Tipping Guidelines

Unlike the United States tipping in South America is not mandatory but like anywhere is much appreciated. Expected amounts differ by the country but we have outlined some broad guidelines for you as follows:

  • If you are on a day tour or transfer then depending on the duration a small tip of US$1-5 per person is appropriate.
  • We recommend a tip of 10-15% in restaurants.
  • If you are part of a group tour or cruise for multiple days then you should consider spending a little more. We suggest US$5 per person per day for any porters, US$10 per person per day to the cook and US$10 per person per day to your guide. Most cruises will provide you with their tipping guidelines when on board.
  • In Brazilian restaurants, tips (servicios) are generally included in the bill.
  • If you are on a all inclusive Amazon or Galapagos cruise for example tipping is completely up to you but there are some guidelines depending on the trip that you are on. On most cruises in Galapagos, you will be required to pay USD cash for tipping at the end of your trip so please ensure you have enough money for this if you wish to tip. Each cruise will have different guidelines but the recommended tipping amount is usually USD10-15 per person per day to your guide and around USD20-25 per person per day for the crew. If you are joining a diving cruise, the recommended tipping amount is USD40 per person per day for guide and crew together.

 


 

Technology

Internet Access

Internet cafes are prevalent throughout all major centres in South America and are generally inexpensive to use. Additionally, most hotels offer Wi-Fi or shared computers with internet access which is often included in the cost of your hotel.

Telephone Calls

Using your mobile phone with roaming can be very expensive. We recommend using Wi-Fi in your hotels to access programs like Whatsapp, Viber or Skype to make free calls to your family and friends back home. Additionally, you may consider downloading an Airalo E-sim, giving you access to data and/or calls on your own mobile phone at low cost rates.

Electrical Outlets in Latin America

Most countries in South America use the European style outlet with 110v. Visit the below link for more information on each country.

 


 

Packing Lists

INCA TRAIL: SUGGESTED PACKING LIST

You can typically expect anything from warm and sunny to freezing cold and rainy in the day time when doing a trek in Peru. Evenings are almost always chilly and we suggest dressing in layers so you can easily adapt to the conditions. We recommend you to take the following;

  • Valid passport
  • Daypack
  • Water bottle
  • Hat
  • Towel and toilet paper
  • Snacks: biscuits, energy bars, chocolate, etc.
  • Cash (there are no ATM machines in Aguas Calientes)
  • Swimsuit (if you plan on visiting the hot springs at Aguas Calientes after the trek)
  • Walking sticks or poles (rubber covers required in order to avoid damage of the Inca Trail). Can be hired in Cusco if you require them.
  • Trekking shoes
  • Warm clothes (jacket, fleece and sweaters)
  • Light-weight shirts and T-shirts
  • Long-sleeved cotton shirts
  • Warm wind and waterproof jacket
  • Warm pants & shorts • Waterproof gloves
  • Hat, beanie, scarf, or other face protection
  • Fleece
  • Woollen socks
  • Thermal underwear
  • A bright flashlight
  • Binoculars
  • Camera with extra memory cards and extra batteries
  • Sunscreen
  • Insect repellent
  • Sunglasses (polarised, close fitting are best)
  • Plastic bags – Plastic zip-lock bags will protect your camera from the rain.
  • Medications – bring a sufficient supply of any medications you regularly take; prescription and over-the-counter including your preferred motion sickness remedy, as well as copies of your prescriptions.
  • If you wear prescription glasses or contact lenses, be sure to pack an extra pair.
  • Cash for souvenirs. Credit card to settle your bill at the end.

AMAZON: SUGGESTED PACKING LIST

  • Valid passport
  • Hat
  • Long cotton pants and shorts
  • Light-weight shirts and T-shirts
  • Rain coat or long poncho (100 % waterproof)
  • Socks
  • Long-sleeved cotton shirts
  • Water bottle
  • A pair of sneakers or hiking boots and sandals
  • Insect repellent
  • A bright flashlight
  • Binoculars
  • Camera with extra memory cards and extra batteries
  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses (polarised, close fitting are best)
  • Plastic bags – Plastic zip-lock bags will protect your camera and binoculars from the rain.
  • Daypack
  • Bathing suit
  • Converters/adapters as needed
  • Medications – bring a sufficient supply of any medications you regularly take; prescription and over-the-counter including your preferred motion sickness remedy, as well as copies of your prescriptions.
  • If you wear prescription glasses or contact lenses, be sure to pack an extra pair.

PATAGONIA: SUGGESTED PACKING LIST

  • Thermal underwear top
  • T-shirts
  • Long sleeve t-shirts
  • Polar fleece/Jumpers
  • Wind stoppers
  • Medium-weight fleece jacket
  • Breathable Waterproof jacket (Gore-Tex, sympatex or similar)
  • Breathable Waterproof pants (Gore-Tex, sympatex or similar)
  • Thermal underwear bottoms
  • Full length hiking pants
  • Lightweight cotton pants
  • Hiking Shorts
  • Gloves (Waterproof)
  • Good hiking boots (with good support for the ankle) for those who are trekking.
  • Sandals
  • Thick (hiking) socks
  • Swimsuit
  • Small towel
  • Head lamp / torch and extra batteries
  • Sun glasses
  • Water bottle
  • Camera, extra batteries, lens cleanser.
  • Binoculars
  • Walking sticks (adjustable preferred)
  • Toilet paper
  • Beanie
  • Cap for the Sun
  • Toiletries
  • Hiking Kit
  • First aid kit

GENERAL: SUGGESTED PACKING LIST

  • Passport
  • Visas
  • Travel Insurance documents
  • Itinerary and tickets
  • Cash
  • Credit card
  • Photocopies of important documents – keep in suitcase & an electronic copy on your email
  • Suitcase or backpack – most of our tours don’t require a backpack but ask if you are unsure
  • Day pack
  • Toiletries
  • Sunscreen
  • Medications (if required)
  • First aid kit
  • Clothes – jacket for cold climates, jumper, dress, shirts, t-shirts, long pants, socks, underwear, rain jacket, swimmers, hat. Smart casual clothes (if planning to eat at some nice restaurants)
  • Comfortable shoes with good grip and sandals or flip flops
  • Sunglasses
  • Phone
  • Camera & Charger
  • Laptop/tablet & charger
  • Converter/adapter