Latin America’s Best Destinations for Winter Sun
Published on: October 3rd, 2017
Last modified: November 16th, 2023
December, January and February promise clear skies, sun-soaked beaches and spectacular nature across Latin America. The Mayan Riviera boasts an inviting average daytime temperature of 28°C during this period. In Rio de Janeiro, the streets come alive with the rhythms of the annual Carnival. Meanwhile, the Galápagos Islands teem with abundant wildlife.
1. Lake District – Argentina
Among all of Argentina’s varied landscapes, the Lake District may be the most idyllic. Peppered with forests, snowy peaks and rushing rivers, it’s an ideal place to travel during the country’s spring and summer (October to February). Enjoy the great outdoors by hiking, biking, horse riding, kayaking or boating across stunning glacial lakes.
Stay at the family-run Estancia Peuma Hue to be fully immersed in the surroundings, or the elegant Las Balsas beside Lake Huapi. You can even head further south to Patagonia, which is also best enjoyed during the warmer months; when temperatures peak at around 15ºC (59ºF) in Ushuaia and 22ºC (72ºF) in Bariloche.
2. Ambergris Caye – Belize
The best time to visit Belize is during the dry season (late December–May), but to avoid the hottest temperatures, visit between January and March. This is an especially good time to go to Ambergris Caye, with favourable conditions for snorkelling, diving and helicopter rides above the Great Blue Hole.
3. Osa Peninsula & Corcovado – Costa Rica
The months of December, January, February and March all fall within Costa Rica’s dry season. This is when the country sees minimal rainfall and comfortably warm temperatures. With less dense foliage and water sources being more concentrated, spotting animals becomes easier. Visit the Osa Peninsula, where you’ll find Corcovado National Park and its abundance of rare wildlife species including colourful birds, monkeys and elusive big cats.
You can stay right in the middle of the national park at Lapa Rios, a rainforest lodge that’s particularly great for families. The Pacific Ocean is just a short walk away – and this time of year is ideal for spotting dolphins and whales.
4. Mayan Riviera – Mexico
Mexico is in the Northern Hemisphere, so December to February is winter here – but its southern regions are close enough to the equator to ensure warm temperatures year round. This period is the best time to visit the Mayan Riviera, which encompasses the Caribbean coastline of the Yucatán Peninsula from Cancún to Tulum.
In this part of Latin America, the winters are mild and less humid, creating ideal conditions for outdoor activities. Our travel designers particularly recommend you stay at the exquisite Belmond Maroma, a place that celebrates every nuance of Mexican culture.
5. Galápagos Islands – Ecuador
The Galápagos Islands are a destination unlike any other, boasting exceptional wildlife and scenery. January to March are the warmest months here, which makes them great for snorkelling, diving and cruising. You’ll have a good chance of spotting sea turtles in January, iguanas in February and penguins in March (along with countless other animals).
6. Atacama Desert – Chile
Located at the northern end of Chile, the Atacama Desert is a dramatic expanse of arid plains, dunes and volcanoes. Visit in December or January to avoid the frigid nighttime temperatures of winter (June to September), but keep in mind that February sometimes brings heavy rain.This period not only offers milder temperatures but also presents an excellent opportunity for stargazing in Chile and on the nearby Easter Island.
For an immersive experience in the desert’s otherworldly landscape, consider spending a few nights at Tierra Atacama. With views of volcanoes and the Andes mountains, it’s a truly incredible place to wake up.
7. Rio de Janeiro – Brazil
There are plenty of irresistible reasons to visit Brazil in any month, but February has a special appeal. Rio de Janeiro’s annual Carnival celebration is the largest on earth, and experiencing it firsthand is something you’ll never forget. Beyond Carnival, the city is also bursting with fascinating culture, excellent cuisine and sensational beaches.
8. Coffee Triangle – Colombia
Like many South American destinations, Colombia is driest from December to March. It’s a wonderful time to visit the country’s Coffee Triangle, wedged in between the cities of Bogotá, Medellín and Cali. This perpetually warm region boasts lush green hills and volcanic soil, and is dotted with local villages and coffee plantations.
The climate is also good for growing cacao, ginger and plantains – and you’ll find all of these at Hacienda Bambusa. This traditional farm has just eight cosy guest rooms in its main house, giving you an intimate and authentic glimpse into Colombian culture.
9. Lake Atitlan – Guatemala
Guatemala is an incredibly scenic country, offering everything from jungles and volcanoes to colonial cities and indigenous heritage. The winter months here are drier and slightly cooler, although it’s pleasantly warm all year round. This is a great time to visit Lake Atitlan, which is surrounded by volcanic slopes, Mayan villages and coffee plantations.
Base yourself at Casa Palopo – with just 15 rooms and some unbeatable views. Take advantage of the mild weather to go hiking, kayaking, horse riding or zip lining through the breathtaking nature that surrounds it.
Our Team's Favourite Trips to Latin America
Where to Stay in Latin America
Casa PalopoThe stunning hotel provides guests with splendid views of three magnificent volcanoes. Casa Palopo is also the only Relais & Chateaux hotel in Guatemala. Casa Palopo stands as one of the most beautifully designed luxury hotels in the country; each of the 15 rooms are spacious and reflect the country’s unique décor and design, with each suite being different from the next. 12 of the rooms are located in the main hotel, while the luxurious villa boasts three rooms. Half of the rooms in the main hotel were added in 2018 and feature a more contemporary style, though they are still very Guatemalan in their design. Guests can enjoy the spacious lounge areas inside and out and exquisite food and wines are served in the hotel’s top restaurant, where guests can enjoy their meals in elegant and sophisticated surroundings with spectacular views. This is the perfect base for exploring the Guatemalan highlands, visiting the traditional and authentic villages to learn about Mayan culture, or hiking up the heights of one of the volcanoes (Toliman, Atitlan, and San Pedro), with a local guide.
Hacienda BambusaSurrounded by the verdant forest, meandering rivers and with the Central Andes Range in the distance, the Hacienda Bambusa is a traditional farm that raises cattle and grows cocoa, ginger, plantain, bananas and tangerines. The main house, built in the vernacular style with bamboo guadua and clay tiles, has just eight rooms. Each has a private bathroom, balcony, a small sitting area and a hammock for lazy afternoons listening to the birds before dinner is served. In the kitchen, chef Vanessa Quintana cooks up delectable Colombian tasting menus making the most of this fertile region’s produce. Days can be spent exploring the hacienda and beyond with a range of activities and excursions such as hiking, horse riding, trips to cacao and coffee plantations, hot air ballooning or tours of beautiful local towns and nearby Los Nevados National Natural Park.
Galapagos Safari CampA truly unique way to enjoy the wonderful nature of the Galápagos islands. Set in 55-hectare grounds in a remote corner of Santa Cruz island, the GSC camp has just nine large and very well appointed safari style tents. Each is appointed with private bathroom with a hot water shower. The tents are spaced well and have a large double bed and private balcony from which to enjoy the views. The new family suite has three bedrooms suite (master and two twins), and its location next to the main lodge makes it an ideal option for families who favour more private and cohesive lodging. All the tents surround the main and very elegant contemporary lodge complete with restored antiques and furnishings installed by its well-travelled owners. There is a large main communal area where meals are served and a lounge to relax in. The hotel also boasts an infinity pool from which to admire the landscape. A variety of activities to explore the island and surrounds are possible from the camp. The camp is also renowned for its sustainable and positive impact efforts, including projects aimed at reforestation and protection of endemic flora.
Lapa RiosLocated in one of the most diverse primary rainforests in the world, the Corcovado National Park, this ethically-responsible hotel does all it can to blend inconspicuously into its delicate surroundings and to create as little disturbance to the environment as possible. Guests enjoy exceptional intimacy with nature in authentic comfort.
Estancia Peuma HueEstancia Puema Hue is a beautiful lodge nestled in the heart of Nahuel Huapa National Park – the country’s first and largest national park. This really is one of our absolute favorite properties in all of Argentina. The lodge is set within 500 acres of wilderness at the southern end of Lake Gutlerrez. The landscape is one of rolling hills, pristine forest, valleys, waterfalls and creeks. Estancia Peuma Hue means ‘house of dreams’ in local Mapuche language and we certainly think it’s a very special place. There are 14 rooms spread across five houses, all with views of the lake. Decor throughout the lodge is very traditional with wooden floors and beams, local textiles and warm colours. There are even fireplaces in the living rooms of each house. Poplar House is the main house of the estancia and as well as having rooms, it is also where meals are served. Food is a real treat here with many of the ingredients grown in their own kitchen garden and orchard. Alternatively, choose to stay in one of their luxury yurts. These canvas yurts are 16ft in diameter and are set on rasied decks. They feature king-sized beds and en-suite bathrooms, and are a wonderful way to really immerse yourself in the natural surroundings. There is so much to do during your stay at Estancia Puema Hue, from hiking, horse riding and kayaking to fishing, birdwatching and yoga. Children are very welcome here so this is a wonderful choice for active families.