South America offers an incredible mix of ancient civilisations, unique islands, colonial history, dramatic fjords and mountains, vibrant cities and tropical rivers and also rainforest. Cruises in this region fall into many categories – cruises travelling south from North America down the west coast to Santiago in Chile, Glapagos Islands cruises, Santiago to Buenos Aires around Cape Horn, Argentinian and Brazilian cities and, of course, exploring the Amazon River.
Inca Coast and Galapagos Islands
As part of a World or Circle South America cruise or a relocation cruise, voyages will depart from Los Angeles, Miami or even the UK. They will call at Manta for Quito, the high Andes capital of Ecuador, and Salaverry and Calloao (Lima) to visit the remains of pre-Inca and Inca civilisations. From Arica or Iquique you can visit the deserts of northern Chile before eventually arriving at Valparaiso for Santiago. It is also possible to fly to the Galapagos Islands from Quito and take a 7 night cruise visiting all the major islands to view some of the most extraordinary wildlife on earth.
Chilean Fjordland and Straits of Magellan
Travelling back and forth between Santiago and Buenos Aires, voyages call at Puerto Montt, gateway to the Chilean Lake District and cruise the Chilean Fjords and Straits of Magellan before arriving at Punta Arenas in Chile and then Ushuaia in Argentina. Rounding Cape Horn some ships will call at the Falkland Islands before calling at Puerto Madryn in Patagonia.
Brazil and the Amazon
Cruise from Buenos Aires northwards to Rio de Janeiro, calling at Montevideo or start in Rio and visit baroque Salvador, colonial Fortaleza or Recife (historic Olinda) in Brazil before entering the Amazon River. Some ships will by-pass the river and call at Devil’s island before entering the Caribbean. Amazon cruises are either part of these voyages or dedicated cruises starting and returning to the Caribbean or even the UK. Most cruise ships will take you 1000 miles upstream to Manaus, capital of the Amazon, calling at Belem at the mouth of the 150 mile wide Delta, the trading port of Santarem and Alter do Chao to swim from an Amazon beach. You will get the rare opportunity to explore a South American rain forest that contains more species of flora and fauna than any other ecosystem.
When to Visit?
The cruise season is from October to April. In southern regions the temperatures will be in the 50/60F range and temperatures will increase as you go north. The Amazon will be hot and humid.