It’s difficult to describe South America in just a few words as it is so diverse, untamed and contradictive. One side shows you cities, sophistication and cosmopolitan living. The other shows you wild mountain ranges, lush green rainforests, staggering coastlines and tremendous waterfalls.
Argentina kicks us off with the main port of call being Buenos Aires. Here you will be whisked away in a world where everything moves fast. Colour flashes everywhere and seductive music plays from street cafes. This is the home of the Tango after all, the dance of passion. Argentina stirs your soul like no other place on earth.
Lima is the capital of Peru, and one of the largest cities in South America. Local customs include bartering at the markets and taking a tipple of Pisco, the country’s national drink. After one or two of those, you’ll be ready for anything, including sightseeing in a range of museums and Monasteries. When the day comes to a close, Parque Del Amor, the most romantic setting in the city overlooks the Pacific and is the place to be at sunset.
Columbia’s port of call is Cartagena, a picturesque Spanish port surrounded by a fortress wall. Named after the famous port on the coast of Spain, Cartagena grew as the main point of departure for South Americans. It has a mix of Spanish, Indigenous, African and Caribbean influences, making it a melting pot of cultures. Beautiful leather crafts can be bought in the shopping areas, the most popular being Pierino Gallo Mall. For people watching, Plaza de Bolivar is the place to be.
Cozumel in Mexico is our next stop, although better known for being the gem of the Mexican Caribbean than South American. Located just off the Yucatan Peninsula, diving and snorkeling are the most popular past times here due to the exquisite coral reefs. However, when you’re not swimming with the fish amongst the coral, there are gold and silver jewels to be bought in San Miguel, plus bars and restaurants galore. Sounds like heaven!
Chile is yet another land of contrasts. Turn one way and see snowcapped mountains, turn the other and see the giant pacific ocean. At the tip of the Americas, Chile is also home to fjords and glaciers, rich vineyards and vast plains. You have to see it for yourself to believe it. Sailing around Cape Horn is possibly one of the most sought-after experiences, with the Tierra Del Fuego National Park attracting most visitors for its wildlife.
Brazil, the carnival capital of the world has so much to offer. Rio de Janeiro is the most well-known port of call, with the world-famous Christ The Redeemer standing tall above the city. You can’t walk far without a parade sweeping you along into their dance, a perfect chance to let your hair down and be one of the crowd.
Montevideo in Uruguay presents you with European architecture mixed with South American cowboy style living. Even more confusing is the long white sandy beach in one hand, and cafes, museums and theatres in the other. Montevideo is Uruguay’s only major city, and the locals often travel out to Buenos Aires or San Paulo for big city life but it offers a real insight into life and culture of Uruguay, and is a must see for any cruiser.
Possibly one of the most sought after cruise destinations, The Panama Canal is a once in a lifetime experience. Completed 100 years ago, its history is rich, with stories of human tragedy and engineering triumphs. Taking in both Caribbean islands and Mexican resorts, the canal is not quite what you would expect at first sight. The season for cruising spreads from September to April but most travelers prefer to avoid the rainy season in November.