When is the Best Time to Visit South America?

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Written by
Charles Kronsten

Published on: May 3rd, 2024

Last modified: May 3rd, 2024

For many, the best time to visit South American destinations will be the warm summer months of December to March. These months offer the perfect weather conditions for hiking in Patagonia, snorkelling off the Galápagos Islands and sightseeing in Buenos Aires. For others, the clear and chilly winter months of June to September are best for exploring Machu Picchu and the Atacama Desert.

South America is a massive geographical area with many diverse landscapes and climates. The continent offers year-round opportunities for exciting and luxurious travel from Colombia’s Caribbean coast to the tip of Argentina, stopping off at rainforests, wetlands, the Andean peaks of Bolivia, Peru and Chile – and almost everywhere in between.

Choosing when to visit South America for your adventure will depend on the climate in the places you want to go to, and what you want to do when you’re there. With this in mind, we’ve asked our experts to collate a climate guide that covers the entire region, explaining not only the climate but also geographical distinctions and the best activities.

Month-by-Month Climate Guide for South America


To help you choose the best months to visit South America, we’ve compiled a month-by-month climate guide, highlighting the different weather conditions in some of our favourite locations. It’s important to remember that climate differs greatly across the region, often affected by other factors such as altitude and coastal winds, and proximity to the tropics or the polar continent of Antarctica.

January in South America

Best for hiking in Patagonia

January is a peak summer month in the southern hemisphere, boasting warm temperatures and minimal rainfall. Destinations such as Patagonia, the Chilean Wine Country and Uruguay offer ideal conditions for outdoor pursuits. Average temperatures range from 20°C to 30°C (68°F to 86°F) – perfect for hiking, vineyard visits and exploring the lakes of Argentina and Chile.

Chile, Patagonia, Tierra

February in South America

Best for Rio Carnival

February in South America is a warm summer month with plenty of sunshine – perhaps best enjoyed at the world-famous outdoor street party that’s Rio de Janeiro Carnival. Average temperatures are similar to January, ranging from 25°C to 30°C (77°F to 86°F). It’s worth remembering that the high Andean regions do experience rain in the summer, so it’s best to avoid visiting Machu Picchu in February.

Scenes of Samba festival

March in South America

Best for harvest festivals in Mendoza

March is a transitional month which can mean fewer visitors at popular places like Torres del Paine National Park as the high season (December to March) is just drawing to a close. The start of autumn is a great time to visit both Mendoza and the Chilean wine region for harvest festivities and to taste delicious wine. Expect daytime temperatures of 20°C to 25°C (68°F to 77°F).

Mendoza harvest

April in South America

Best for lush green landscapes after the rains

April signifies the beginning of the dry season in many parts of South America, offering mild temperatures and decreasing rainfall. Central American countries such as Costa Rica, Guatemala and Belize are lush after the rains, framing ancient Mayan ruins and sandy beaches in spectacular fashion. Here, average temperatures hover between 20°C to 30°C (68°F to 86°F) – great for wildlife expeditions and walking tours of archaeological sites.


lush green landscapes

May in South America

Best time to visit the Andes Mountain Range

May marks the start of the dry season in the Andes, so it’s a good month to explore Ecuador, Bolivia, and Machu Picchu in Peru – which can get very busy come July and August. Temperatures will average 15°C to 25°C (59°F to 77°F), comfortable for walking city tours in Quito and Cusco. Visiting the Galápagos Islands in May means catching the last of the warm waters. The warm water season, which starts in December, is the best time to spend longer in the water on snorkelling wildlife excursions. 

Sacred Valley, Andes Mountains, Peru

June in South America

Best for the start of high-water season in the Amazon

Temperatures begin to drop in June, particularly in Patagonia and specifically further south into Tierra del Fuego and Ushuaia. There’s beautiful sunshine to be found around Machu Picchu, although it can feel chilly in the mornings. June is the start of the high-water season in the Amazon, which is the best time for cruising and canoe trips. High water means it’s easier access to the narrow waterways that run deep into the forest interior.

Amazon Peru

July in South America

Best for visiting Iguassu Falls

July is one of the best months to visit South America’s tropical regions such as Missiones, where you’ll find Iguassu Falls, as humidity is low and temperatures are not too intense. As you travel north into Central America, expect some wet weather as the rainy season runs from May to October. It’s worth remembering that there will still be plenty of sunny spells and opportunities for activities across Costa Rica, Panama, Belize and Guatemala.

Iguazu Falls

August in South America

Best time to visit Ecuador for clear skies

Come August most of Belize, Guatemala and southern Mexico are preparing for their rainiest months. Down in the far south, Patagonian temperatures are now at their lowest and some lodges will close. With continued low rainfall and clear skies, Ecuador and Peru are great South American destinations to visit in August with average midday temperatures ranging from 15°C to 25°C (59°F to 77°F).

Ecuador, city view

September in South America

Best time to see whales in Argentina

September is officially the start of spring in South America but is mostly seen as a transitional month. Patagonia will still feel quite cold with daytime temperatures only reaching around 8°C (46°F). September is a great month to go whale watching in Peninsula Valdes in Argentina as it’s calving season. The whale watching season itself typically runs from June to December as the southern right whales leave Antarctica, seeking warm waters and feeding opportunities.

Southern Right Whale, Peninsula Valdes, Patagonia

October in South America

Best for spring flowers in Patagonia

Spring starts to make an impact in the south of the continent in October. Expect beautiful displays of spring flowers all over the undulating plains of Torres del Paine National Park. In Mexico, Day of the Dead celebrations make October a great time to learn about the meaningful rituals and practices associated with the festival. October is one of the dry season months for the Amazon, which runs from July to December. This is the best time to visit for nature walks on the forest floor.

Lupin spring flower in Patagonia

November in South America

Best for quieter travel as the rains begin

November moves from a dry season to a rainy season in many regions of South America, offering spells of pleasant weather and fewer crowds. In Central America, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Belize and Panama should remain moderately dry and quieter than the busy month of December. Temperatures in Central America at this time range from 20°C to 30°C (68°F to 86°F), with some showers still possible.

Aerial View of Espadilla Beach in Costa Rica

December in South America

Best for enjoying buzzing cities

December heralds the beginning of summer, ushering in warm temperatures ranging from  25°C to 35°C (77°F to 95°F) in many areas with plenty of sunshine. This can be a great month to visit the continent’s exciting cities such as Buenos Aires, Santiago, Rio de Janeiro and Cartagena, where cafes and bars spill onto the streets and tango, samba and salsa beats fill the night air.

City of Buenos Aires at night

The best things to do in South America by Season


Latin America offers a plethora of cultural, adventure and wildlife experiences. Choosing the best time to visit will often depend on what you want to experience. These are our favourite things to do, tried-and-tested by our travel designers and concierges, and the best time to do them.



Hike the Inca Trail, Peru

Hiking the Inca trail to the breathtaking ruins of Machu Picchu is a challenging and incredibly rewarding experience. The best time to tackle the route through cloud forests and pretty valleys, and up startling granite peaks is the dry season, between May to September. At this time rainfall is minimal, pathways are dry and temperatures are comfortable for hiking.


Exploring the Amazon Rainforest, Peru

Both the Peruvian and Brazilian Amazon can be visited year-round, the climate is not particularly changeable. The main difference in conditions are the water levels. The low water season lasts from June to November and the high water season from December through to May. If you want to go on nature walks, explore the forest floor and look for wildlife, then the best time to visit is during the low water season, June to September. High-water season can be a great time to take a luxurious cruise.


Snorkelling in the Galápagos Islands, Ecuador

Discovering the marine wonders and incredible biodiversity of the Galápagos Islands is without doubt a year-round activity – it’s always incredible. The best time for snorkelling in the Galápagos is from December to May when water temperatures are warmer and visibility is at its best. Dive into crystal-clear waters teeming with colourful fish, sea turtles, playful sea lions and much more.


Experiencing the mirror effect on the Uyuni Salt Flats, Bolivia

The best time to witness the mesmerising mirror effect on the Uyuni Salt Flats is during the rainy season, from November to April. This period, especially after heavy rainfall between January and March, creates a thin layer of water on the salt flats, transforming them into a stunning natural mirror. The calm water reflects the sky, offering surreal and breathtaking views.


Whale spotting at Peninsula Valdes, Argentina

In Argentina, the best time to spot whales is from June to December along the Peninsula Valdes coastline. Southern right whales visit at this time to mate and give birth, offering remarkable opportunities for whale watching. Venturing out of South America, north to Mexico along the Pacific coast of Mexico, the best time for whale-watching is from mid-December to April. During this time, majestic grey whales migrate south from their feeding grounds in Alaska to calf in the warmer waters.


Visiting Iguazu Falls, Argentina and Brazil

Iguazu Falls are at their fullest between December and February, however it can be very hot and busy at this time. As the waterfalls are spectacular all year round, the best time to visit Iguazu Falls is often in the autumn (March to May) when the weather is generally mild and the water levels just right.


Go Stargazing in the Atacama Desert, Chile

The high altitude and remote location of the Atacama Desert has made this area famous for its dark skies and unmatched stargazing experiences – it's one of the best destinations to experience the night sky on the planet. For the ultimate stargazing adventure, plan your visit during the dry season, running from late March to early November. During this time you can expect clear skies with hardly any clouds.


Hiking in Patagonia, Argentina and Chile

The best time to go hiking in Patagonia is during the summer months from November to March when temperatures are milder, and daylight hours are longer. These conditions are great for hikes around Torres del Paine National Park, the El Chalten region and the Lake Districts of Chile and Argentina. On the trails look out for guanacos, pumas and Andean condors.

Trip Inpsiration

Get inspired with our South America example trips and then get in touch to plan your own adventure

Where to Stay

There are many incredible places to stay in South America Here are some of our favourites, handpicked by our travel designers:

Ready to plan your adventure?
Whatever you want from your Latin American adventure, our team of expert travel designers are ready to help.