48 days in South America & Central America Itinerary

48 days in South America & Central America Itinerary

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Route & dates

48 days in South America & Central America Itinerary

Start: Sydney, Australia
Fly + Drive:  34​h
1
El Chalten, Argentina
— 1 night
bus:  3​h
2
El Calafate, Argentina
— 3 nights
bus:  2​h
3
Los Glaciares National Park, Argentina
— 3 nights
+2
Fly + taxi + bus:  5​h 45​min
4
Puerto Madryn, Argentina
— 2 nights
Fly:  3​h 30​min
5
Buenos Aires, Argentina
— 5 nights
Fly:  3​h 30​min
6
Iguazu National Park, Argentina
— 3 nights
Fly:  11​h 15​min
7
Panama City, Panama
— 4 nights
Fly:  6​h 30​min
8
Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica
— 3 nights
Drive:  4​h 15​min
9
La Fortuna de San Carlos, Costa Rica
— 6 nights
+2
Drive + Fly + Drive:  20​h 15​min
10
Machu Picchu, Peru
— 2 nights
+2
train + foot + bus:  3​h 15​min
11
Cusco, Peru
— 4 nights
Fly + shuttle:  8​h 15​min
12
San Pedro de Atacama, Chile
— 3 nights
shuttle + Fly:  5​h
13
Santiago, Chile
— 5 nights
Fly:  17​h 15​min
End: Sydney, Australia

1
night
El Chalten, Argentina

El Chalten ©
Nestled up against the hills of the Los Glaciares National Park, El Chalten serves as one of the nation's most bustling hubs for hikers and backpackers heading out into the wild landscape of southern Patagonia.
On the 2nd (Thu), look for gifts at Marcopolo Bookstore and then look for all kinds of wild species at Laguna Torre. Get ready for a full day of sightseeing on the 3rd (Fri): take some stellar pictures from El Mirador De Los Condores and then take in the awesome beauty at Fitz Roy.

For ratings, reviews, photos, and other tourist information, refer to the El Chalten day trip planner.

Sydney, Australia to El Chalten is an approximately 34-hour combination of flight and car. Traveling from Sydney to El Chalten, you'll gain 13 hours due to the time zone difference. Finish your sightseeing early on the 3rd (Fri) to allow enough time to take a bus to El Calafate.

Things to do in El Chalten

Parks Nature Trails
Highlights from your plan
Fitz Roy ©
Fitz Roy
Laguna Torre ©
Laguna Torre
El Mirador De Los Condores ©
El Mirador De Los Condores

3
nights
El Calafate, Argentina

El Calafate ©
El Calafate tourism thrives mostly thanks to the city's proximity to a World Heritage-listed national park, famed for containing over 40 large glaciers.
Spend the 4th (Sat) exploring nature at Parque Nacional Los Glaciares. The adventure continues: get outside with Enjoy!, explore the activities along Lago Argentino, explore the striking landscape at Estacionamiento Pasarelas Glaciar Perito Moreno, and stop by La Despensa Espacio de Sabores.

To find maps, where to stay, photos, and other tourist information, use the El Calafate trip planner .

Traveling by bus from El Chalten to El Calafate takes 3 hours. Alternatively, you can drive. Expect a daytime high around 17°C in January, and nighttime lows around 15°C. Finish your sightseeing early on the 6th (Mon) to allow enough time to take a bus to Los Glaciares National Park.

Things to do in El Calafate

Parks Nature Outdoors
Highlights from your plan
Parque Nacional Los Glaciares ©
Parque Nacional Los Glaciares
Lago Argentino
Lago Argentino

3
nights
Los Glaciares National Park, Argentina

Los Glaciares National Park ©
A World Heritage Site, Los Glaciares National Park contains a giant ice cap that feeds 47 vast glaciers.
Los Glaciares National Park is known for nature and trails. Your plan includes some of its best attractions: take in the dramatic natural features at Perito Moreno Glacier and hike along Laguna de los Tres.

For photos, reviews, and more tourist information, refer to the Los Glaciares National Park visit website .

Take a bus from El Calafate to Los Glaciares National Park in 2 hours. In January, plan for daily highs up to 17°C, and evening lows to 15°C. Wrap up your sightseeing by early afternoon on the 9th (Thu) to allow enough time to travel to Puerto Madryn.

Things to do in Los Glaciares National Park

Parks Nature Trails
Highlights from your plan
Perito Moreno Glacier ©
Perito Moreno Glacier
Glaciar Spegazzini ©
Glaciar Spegazzini
Glaciar Seco ©
Glaciar Seco

2
nights
Puerto Madryn, Argentina

Puerto Madryn ©
Whales and penguins frolic in the waters of Puerto Madryn, one of Argentine Patagonia's most important port cities.
On the 10th (Fri), look for all kinds of wild species at Peninsula Valdes. Keep things going the next day: identify plant and animal life at Punta Tombo.

For maps, more things to do, where to stay, and more tourist information, you can read our Puerto Madryn trip planning app .

You can do a combination of flight and bus from Los Glaciares National Park to Puerto Madryn in 6 hours. Alternatively, you can take a bus. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 11th (Sat) to allow time to travel to Buenos Aires.

Things to do in Puerto Madryn

Wildlife Parks Nature

Side Trip

Punta Tombo
Highlights from your plan
Peninsula Valdes ©
Peninsula Valdes
Punta Tombo ©
Punta Tombo

5
nights
Buenos Aires, Argentina

Buenos Aires ©
Cultural capital of South America, Buenos Aires remains one of the largest cities on the continent, serving as a point of departure for exploring the rest of the country.
Buenos Aires is known for nightlife, museums, parks, historic sites, and shopping. Your plan includes some of its best attractions: make a trip to Cemiterio de Recoleta, admire the architecture and history at Plaza de Mayo, explore the world behind art at Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires, and take in nature's colorful creations at Parque 3 de Febrero.

To find maps, photos, ratings, and tourist information, you can read our Buenos Aires travel itinerary planner.

Fly from Puerto Madryn to Buenos Aires in 3.5 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of bus and flight; or drive. In January in Buenos Aires, expect temperatures between 33°C during the day and 24°C at night. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 16th (Thu) so you can travel to Iguazu National Park.

Things to do in Buenos Aires

Neighborhoods Historic Sites Shopping
Highlights from your plan
Puerto Madero ©
Puerto Madero
Cemiterio de Recoleta ©
Cemiterio de Recoleta
Parque 3 de Febrero ©
Parque 3 de Febrero

3
nights
Iguazu National Park, Argentina

Iguazu National Park ©
Iguazu National Park contains 672 sq km (259 sq mi) of fertile subtropical forests, but its main attraction is the majestic Iguazu Falls.
Start off your visit on the 17th (Fri): take in the dramatic scenery at Salto San Martin and then admire the sheer force of Iguazu Falls. Get ready for a full day of sightseeing on the next day: head off the coast to Isla San Martin and then take in the dramatic scenery at Salto Bernabe Mendez.

For where to stay, traveler tips, maps, and other tourist information, refer to the Iguazu National Park online driving holiday planner .

Getting from Buenos Aires to Iguazu National Park by flight takes about 3.5 hours. Other options: drive; or take a bus. When traveling from Buenos Aires in January, plan for somewhat warmer days and about the same nights in Iguazu National Park: temperatures range from 37°C by day to 24°C at night. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 19th (Sun) to allow time to travel to Panama City.

Things to do in Iguazu National Park

Parks Nature Wildlife
Highlights from your plan
Iguazu Falls ©
Iguazu Falls
Salto San Martin ©
Salto San Martin
Salto Bernabe Mendez ©
Salto Bernabe Mendez

4
nights
Panama City, Panama

Panama City ©
Arguably the most modern of Central American cities, Panama City boasts a shimmering skyline of glass skyscrapers.
Explore the numerous day-trip ideas around Panama City: Gatun Locks (in Colon) and Portobelo (Museo de La Real Aduana de Portobelo & Scuba & Snorkeling). There's lots more to do: make a trip to Panama Canal, get engrossed in the history at Museo del Canal Interoceanico de Panama, explore the striking landscape of Metropolitan National Park, and explore the activities along Gatun Lake.

To see other places to visit, maps, reviews, and more tourist information, read Panama City trip planner .

Getting from Iguazu National Park to Panama City by flight takes about 11.5 hours. Other options: do a combination of bus and flight; or do a combination of car and flight. The time zone difference when traveling from Iguazu National Park to Panama City is minus 2 hours. Expect a bit warmer evenings in Panama City when traveling from Iguazu National Park in January, with lows around 28°C. Finish your sightseeing early on the 23rd (Thu) to allow enough time to travel to Manuel Antonio.

Things to do in Panama City

Parks Nature Neighborhoods

Side Trips

Portobelo, Gatun Locks
Highlights from your plan
Soberania National Park ©
Soberania National Park
Panama Canal ©
Panama Canal
Casco Viejo ©
Casco Viejo

3
nights
Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica

The rainforest meets the sea at Manuel Antonio National Park, a small but scenic natural preserve on the west coast of Costa Rica.
Explore Manuel Antonio's surroundings by going to Parque Nacional Marino Ballena (in Uvita) and Dominical (Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary & Parasailing & Paragliding). Next up on the itinerary: kick back and relax at Playa Manuel Antonio, get a dose of the wild on a nature and wildlife tour, and let the river carry you with a rafting and tubing tour.

To see more things to do, traveler tips, other places to visit, and more tourist information, use the Manuel Antonio tour itinerary planner .

You can fly from Panama City to Manuel Antonio in 6.5 hours. Other options are to do a combination of flight and bus; or drive. Due to the time zone difference, you'll gain 1 hour traveling from Panama City to Manuel Antonio. Finish your sightseeing early on the 26th (Sun) so you can drive to La Fortuna de San Carlos.

Things to do in Manuel Antonio

Outdoors Parks Wildlife

Side Trips

Dominical, Parque Nacional Marino Ballena, River Rafting & Tubing
Highlights from your plan
River Rafting & Tubing
Playa Manuel Antonio ©
Playa Manuel Antonio
Nature & Wildlife Tours

6
nights
La Fortuna de San Carlos, Costa Rica

Set against the backdrop of the imposing Arenal Volcano, La Fortuna de San Carlos offers visitors a chance to explore diverse natural landscapes and sample some delicious local produce.
Step out of La Fortuna de San Carlos to go to Vara Blanca and see Jardins da Cachoeira de La Paz, which is approximately 1h 50 min away. There's much more to do: witness a stunning natural landmark at Tabacon Hot Springs, head outdoors with Salto, stop by Galeria Aguas Verdes, and scramble along the landscape with a canyoning and rapelling tour.

For other places to visit, more things to do, reviews, and other tourist information, go to the La Fortuna de San Carlos trip planner .

Traveling by car from Manuel Antonio to La Fortuna de San Carlos takes 4.5 hours. Alternatively, you can take a shuttle; or take a bus. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 1st (Sat) early enough to travel to Machu Picchu.

Things to do in La Fortuna de San Carlos

Parks Nature Outdoors

Side Trips

Jardins da Cachoeira de La Paz, Arenal Volcano
Highlights from your plan
River Rafting & Tubing
Tabacon Hot Springs ©
Tabacon Hot Springs
Arenal Volcano
Arenal Volcano

2
nights
Machu Picchu, Peru

Machu Picchu ©
A symbol of the Incan civilization, the abandoned city of Machu Picchu represents a must-see on a Peru vacation.
Start off your visit on the 2nd (Sun): delve into the distant past at Intipuncu and then steep yourself in history at Santuario Historico de Machu Picchu. Get ready for a full day of sightseeing on the next day: witness a stunning natural landmark at Banos Termales de Cocalmayo and then delve into the distant past at Winay Wayna.

To find maps, more things to do, traveler tips, and other tourist information, you can read our Machu Picchu trip planner .

The Route module can help you plan travel from La Fortuna de San Carlos to Machu Picchu. You'll lose 1 hour traveling from La Fortuna de San Carlos to Machu Picchu due to the time zone difference. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 3rd (Mon) early enough to travel to Cusco.

Things to do in Machu Picchu

Historic Sites Parks Nature

Side Trip

Banos Termales de Cocalmayo
Highlights from your plan
Santuario Historico de Machu Picchu ©
Winay Wayna ©
Winay Wayna
Intipuncu ©
Intipuncu

4
nights
Cusco, Peru

Cusco ©
Capital of the Inca Empire for three centuries, World Heritage-listed Cusco is now a major tourist destination, drawing nearly 2 million annual tourists with its well-preserved colonial architecture and proximity to Machu Picchu.
Take a break from Cusco with a short trip to Salinas de Maras in Maras, about 1h 15 min away. There's still lots to do: steep yourself in history at Sacsayhuaman, explore the ancient world of Tambomachay, explore the world behind art at Museo de Arte Precolombino, and wander the streets of San Blas.

To find photos, traveler tips, more things to do, and tourist information, use the Cusco vacation builder site .

Getting from Machu Picchu to Cusco by combination of train and bus takes about 3.5 hours. Other options: take a train; or drive. Expect a daytime high around 23°C in February, and nighttime lows around 9°C. Finish your sightseeing early on the 7th (Fri) to allow enough time to travel to San Pedro de Atacama.

Things to do in Cusco

Historic Sites Museums Parks

Side Trips

Salinas de Maras, Sacred Valley of the Incas
Highlights from your plan
exploor ©
exploor
Sacsayhuaman ©
Sacsayhuaman
Sacred Valley of the Incas ©
Sacred Valley of the Incas

3
nights
San Pedro de Atacama, Chile

San Pedro de Atacama ©
Major archeological sites and a renowned museum remain the big draws in San Pedro de Atacama tourism, appealing to visitors interested in learning more about South America's pre-Columbian cultures.
San Pedro de Atacama is known for nature, wildlife, historic sites, nightlife, and childrens museums. Your plan includes some of its best attractions: take in the dramatic natural features at Valle De La Luna, make a trip to Aldea de Tulor, take in the natural beauty of Geyser del Tatio, and contemplate the waterfront views at Lagunas Miscanti y Miniques.

To see photos, where to stay, reviews, and tourist information, use the San Pedro de Atacama online driving holiday planner .

Traveling by combination of flight and shuttle from Cusco to San Pedro de Atacama takes 8.5 hours. Alternatively, you can drive; or take a bus. Traveling from Cusco to San Pedro de Atacama, you'll lose 1 hour due to the time zone difference. While traveling from Cusco, expect a bit warmer days and about the same nights in San Pedro de Atacama, ranging from highs of 28°C to lows of 8°C. Finish your sightseeing early on the 11th (Tue) to allow enough time to travel to Santiago.

Things to do in San Pedro de Atacama

Parks Nature Wildlife

Side Trip

Atacama Desert
Highlights from your plan
Atacama Desert ©
Atacama Desert
Valle De La Luna ©
Valle De La Luna
Geyser del Tatio ©
Geyser del Tatio

5
nights
Santiago, Chile

Santiago ©
Santiago tourism thrives largely thanks to the city's big selection of cultural and entertainment options, including museums, theaters, restaurants, bars, and giant malls.
Venture out of the city with trips to La Sebastiana (in Valparaiso) and River Rafting & Tubing (in San Jose de Maipo). There's much more to do: get great views at San Cristóbal Hill, admire the striking features of Metropolitan Cathedral (Catedral Metropolitana), make a trip to Patio Bellavista, and enjoy breathtaking views from Sky Costanera.

To see reviews, traveler tips, where to stay, and tourist information, read Santiago trip itinerary planning tool .

Getting from San Pedro de Atacama to Santiago by combination of shuttle and flight takes about 5 hours. Other options: drive; or take a bus. Finish your sightseeing early on the 16th (Sun) to allow enough time to travel back home.

Things to do in Santiago

Museums Parks Tours

Side Trips

River Rafting & Tubing, La Sebastiana
Highlights from your plan
La Chascona ©
La Chascona
San Cristóbal Hill ©
San Cristóbal Hill
Cerro Santa Lucia ©
Cerro Santa Lucia

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