South America is a huge continent with a little something for every traveler. If you like pristine beaches, exotic islands, and rainforests, then these tropical South American destinations are perfect for you. From north to south, check out our picks for the best tropical vacations in South America, and get inspired to plan your own South America vacations!
Angel Falls: Venezuela
At nearly 1000 meters (more than 3200 feet), Angel Falls is the world’s highest uninterrupted waterfall. The falls are located deep in the jungle, so it’s a long trip, but totally worth it for this view!
Amazon Rainforest & Amazon River: Peru, Colombia, Brazil & Ecuador
The Amazon Rainforest is one of the most biodiverse regions in the world, and it is also the world’s largest tropical rainforest. The Amazon River, which actually begins outside of the rainforest, is the world’s largest river. Nature lovers will feel right at home in this incredible destination for tropical vacations.
Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
The Galapagos Islands are home to a number of species that are found nowhere else in the world. The islands were made famous by the scientist Charles Darwin, and today they are a popular tourist destination. However, access to the island is restricted to protect the wildlife, so make sure to plan your trip far in advance!
Fernando de Noronha, Brazil
Fernando de Noronha is another ideal destination for wildlife lovers. Located off the coast of Brazil, it is home to a number of unique species. It is also famous for its warm, clear ocean waters and pristine beaches. These islands aren’t as well-known as our other top destinations for tropical vacations in South America. However, you’ll still need to plan for this one in advance. Access to the islands is even more heavily restricted here than in the Galapagos.
Machu Picchu, Peru
These ruins were unheard of by the outside world until the early 1900s. Today, Machu Picchu is an extremely popular destination for South American tropical vacations. Thousands of travelers visit the ruins every day, and they are truly a sight to behold. The only thing that compares to the ruins themselves is the imposing view of the Andes mountains in the background.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
If you’re looking for the perfect mix of beaches and city life, then a trip to Rio de Janeiro is just what you need! Spend your days exploring the quintessential sights of Rio (Christ Redeemer Statue, Sugarloaf Mountain, Copacabana Beach, the list goes on…). Spend your nights sipping a caipirinha on the beach on the best of all South American tropical vacations!
Iguazu Falls, Argentina & Brazil
Made up of more than 200 falls, the Iguazu Falls are collectively make up one of the world’s largest waterfalls. The falls are split between Brazil and Argentina. When you travel to Iguazu Falls, we recommend visiting both sides: the Brazilian side offers impressive panoramic views while the Argentine side gives you the chance to cross over the falls on raised bridges or underneath them on a boat. Two short days are enough to see these falls, but they make for one of the most impressive tropical vacations on our list!
If you’re feeling inspired to start planning your own South America vacations, check out this Best of South America trip. For information on vacations to the rest of South America, check out our post, Top South America Destinations: Patagonia & Beyond.
Written by Michelle Lenze