As a rule of thumb, the best time to visit South America is during the summer between November and February, while certain parts of the continent, including the Galapagos Islands, have different seasons because of their location below the equator. Galapagos Islands are calm and dry in June, while the Amazon is hot and humid at 30°C. However, snow and ice restrict much of southern Patagonia, which is best visited between November and February, when the weather is ideal.
South America Weather and Seasons
The seasons of South America's southern hemisphere (Argentina, Chile, and Patagonia) are the opposite of those in North America, with the warmest months occurring between November and February and the coldest months being between June and August. Northern South America (Ecuador, northern Brazil, and Colombia) more closely resembles North America in terms of seasonal fluctuations.
Weather changes in South America are more likely to be regional than seasonal. The further south you travel, the more distinct the seasons get. The higher you get in elevation, the colder it becomes. Summer is the greatest time to explore the continent's southernmost regions (such as Patagonia). The shoulder seasons of Spring and Autumn are the most affordable periods to visit South America.
Spring in South America (September – November)
The appearance of magnificent wildflowers and newborn animals and the departure of winter visitors mark the beginning of spring. Salar de Uyuni and the Amazon Rainforest's dry season are in full swing during this time (June to November). In the off-season, the trails and resorts are less congested. Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro will be less crowded at this time of year, making it a great opportunity to tour the cities. Wildlife activity is at its peak in the Galapagos during spring, and calm weather makes it a perfect time for a cruise. Galapagos Cruise is an all-year-round activity, however, spring is the best season to see wildlife and calm weather conditions.
Summer in South America (December – February)
Summer in South America occurs between December and February. This is the hottest, but also the wettest, season of the year. The summer rains are rarely experienced in Patagonia. During the summer months in South America, the beaches of Colombia come alive as well. Carnival season begins at the end of the summer, and the Rio Carnival, one of the best parties on the planet, takes over the streets of Rio de Janeiro. In Antarctica, it's also peak season, with adventure cruises running full schedules during the warmer months.
Autumn in South America (March-May)
If you want to visit South America's cities, autumn is the best time to do so. Fewer crowds and cooler temperatures make for a more pleasant vacation experience. Patagonia is a great place to visit at this time of year, as it's just after the peak tourist season but before the winter chill sets in, and accommodations are more affordable. It's a terrific time to go on a wine-tasting trip in the Argentinian wine region of Mendoza in the fall.
Winter in South America (June – August)
From June to August, temperatures can fall below freezing in South America's southwestern regions. This is the best time to visit South America's top destination, Machu Picchu. You may look forward to a beautiful sky and little rain now that the rainy season is over. During these months, skiers from all over the world head to the Patagonia region in southern Chile and Argentina to enjoy the excellent powder skiing conditions. Winter is the driest season in South America, and the temperature drops significantly.
Best Time to Visit Argentina
The best time to go to Argentina is from September to November when the weather is favorable throughout the country and both people and visitors are out and about following the winter months. The Gualeguaychú Festival is one of the country’s biggest celebrations with elaborate costumes, dancing, music, and big parades that rival Carnival in Rio de Janeiro. The event starts in early January and lasts until the middle of March with parties held every weekend.
Best Time to Travel to Bolivia
The dry season in Bolivia is between May and December, when sunny skies bring great opportunities for hiking and biking in the Cordillera Real and the Yungas Valley, this is the best time to visit Bolivia. For culture lovers, the Oruro Carnival takes place during the weekend before Ash Wednesday in February. One of the most important events in South America is this festival, which blends pre-Columbian rituals and dances with Catholic traditions.
Best Time to Go to Brazil
July through October is the best time to go to the jungle in Brazil as it is the dry season when rains recede and the wildlife comes out of the canopy foraging for food and water. For those that want to visit the green coast, June and July provide the best of both worlds with warm days and cooling afternoon showers that keep the heat at bay. The Pantanal’s dry season is from April to September when it rains less and there is a better chance of seeing a greater variety of wildlife. Rio de Janeiro’s Carnival in February brings people from all over the world for a spectacle of dance, music, parades, and parties that are well worth the journey, despite the higher prices and need for reservations months in advance.
Best Time to Visit Chile
November to the beginning of March is summer in Chile and when most people choose to visit. The shoulder seasons of March-May and September-November have pleasant temperatures and the advantage of fewer crowds, specifically for destinations like Easter Island and the highly traveled region of Patagonia. As an alternative to Carnival in February, the Tapati Festival on Easter Island is a celebration of the Rapa Nui culture with dancing, sporting events, and music that highlights the traditions of the people on the island.
Best Time to Travel to Colombia
Colombia is a country that you can visit year-round as the temperate climate is welcoming to travelers from all over the world, especially during the winter months in North America and Europe. In the mountains, the dry season is from July to August and December to March, while on the coast the migration of humpback whales starts in July and lasts until October. The driest months in the Amazon are December and February. If you’re interested in visiting the Coffee Region, the Yipao Festival is held every year in June where the locals parade through the streets of Calarca in jeeps doing tricks, while celebrating the traditions of the area.
Best Time to Go to Ecuador
June until September in Ecuador’s Andes are the driest months, but there can still be refreshing afternoon showers and cool nights. On the coast, December to April sees the best weather with sunny skies and cooling showers. It rains year-round in the jungle, but the driest months are between August and September and December and January- these months are the best time to visit the jungle.
Best Time to Travel to Galapagos
January through June is considered the wet season in the Galapagos Islands, where the short daily showers are balanced by warmer waters and sunny days. July through December is the dry season when the cooler waters of the Humboldt Current bring a vibrant collection of marine life to the Galapagos, including whales and dolphins. Either time is a good time to visit, but it’s recommended that you travel to the Galapagos in the dry season for the extra marine life and lack of rain.
Best Time to Cruise to the Falkland Islands
The best time to visit the Falkland Islands is over the Southern Hemisphere’s summer and fall between November and April when the days are longer, the wildlife is active, and more of the archipelago is accessible for travelers.
Best Time to Go to Guyana
August to November and February to April are the best times to visit Guyana as these months are between the two wet seasons and offer better chances of seeing wildlife in the jungle and more sunny days on the coast.
Best Time to Visit Peru
Peru’s rainy season runs from November through April when big storms make climbing more than an endurance sport and certain areas of the country are difficult to reach. May through October bring warmer weather and less rain in most of the country, including the jungle. For sun lovers, the high season on the coast is between December and March when the waters and the weather are warm.
The Inti Rami Festival in Cusco is one of the country’s celebrated events at the end of June. This festival is a celebration centered around the Incan winter solstice and features dancing, music, pageants, and a gathering of indigenous communities from around the Andes.
Best Time to Travel to Uruguay
The high season in Uruguay is between October and March when warm weather and sunny skies bring people to the coast for low-key holidays, stays in historic estancias, and days exploring historic cities.
For more information about the active adventures, cultural highlights, historic sites, and exotic destinations that you can experience in South America, contact one of our travel experts.