01 Ruins and Rainforest
Travel on foot, and by road, boat and train from the Inca Heartland to South America’s rainforest. This Pura Adventura trip to remote corners of the Andes and Amazon offers the chance to spot wildlife and visit conservation projects working with tribes in Peru’s Manu Biosphere Reserve.
High point: The Unknown Inca Route
Visit the remote ruins of Huchuy Qosqo, above the Sacred Valley, with a challenging day’s trek along sections of paved Inca road in the Andes.
How to do it: This privately guided trip costs from £3,635 per person based on two sharing, including 15 nights’ accommodation, most meals, internal flights and guided activities.
02 Highlights of Colombia
This summer, Avianca increased its recently revived service between London and Colombian capital Bogotá to a daily, non-stop flight, making this hot South American destination even more accessible. The two-week Highlights of Colombia tour with Chameleon Worldwide combines the sights of the capital and the colonial city of Cartagena, with a stay on a coffee estate, a trek around the Chicaque Cloud Forest and a visit to Guatavita Lagoon, home of the El Dorado legend.
High Point: Caribbean cool
Stay in Santa Marta, with its wild Caribbean beaches, jungle and nearby Tayrona National Park.
How to do it: This privately-guided tour costs from £2,150 per person, based on two sharing, including flights, 12 nights’ B&B accommodation, some meals, and programmed activities.
03 Galapagos Cruise
A new ship to cruise the Galapagos’s wildlife-rich waters will be launched this October by Metropolitan Touring, the Ecuadorian pioneer of Galapagos expeditions. Santa Cruz II will sail the northern, eastern and western Galapagos on four- and five-night tours.
High Point: Personal Touch
Home to just 90 guests in 50 cabins over three large decks, sailings are accompanied by specialist guides, tailored to personal interests, with activities ranging from kayaking with sea lions to landings for nature tours.
How to do it: A five-day cruise, including two nights in Quito, costs from £4,353 per person based on two sharing, including all flights, transfers, B&B in Quito and full-board on Santa Cruz II. journeylatinamerica.co.uk
04 Coastal expedition
Sail the South American coast, from Ushuaia, Argentina to Cartagena, Colombia, on board a new expedition with G Adventures. The trip visits 21 ports in six countries — Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Panama and Peru — on an epic 38-day voyage.
High Point: Cultural extremes
The tour includes a visit to the Copiapó mine where ‘Los 33’ were trapped and rescued after 69 days in 2010, and the chance to take part in a Chilean rodeo.
How to do it: The tour departs Ushuaia on 21 March 2016 and costs £10,999 per person, based on two sharing, all-inclusive. Shorter itineraries are available. Maximum group size is around 16.
05 Amazon riverboat adventure
Take an Amazon riverboat tour with KE Adventure. Starting in the Peruvian town of Iquitos, the expedition penetrates deep into the heart of the Amazon for six nights, stopping off at Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve to spot nocturnal animals, navigate the mangroves in a dugout canoe and meet local forest settlers.
High Point: Wild life
Experience life on the river: swim with pink river dolphins, visit an Amazon shaman, and fish for piranha.
How to do it: Nine days costs £1,549 per person based on two sharing, including two nights in a hotel, six on the Amtista riverboat, most meals and guided excursions. Flights extra.
06 Backcountry Brazil
Explore the wild, beachy and beautiful north east, a lesser-known corner of Brazil, on a 14-day group tour hosted by Intrepid Travel. The trip starts in Rio de Janeiro before heading north to the Afro-Brazilian city of Salvador, then travels east for hiking in the Chapada Diamantina National Park, and on to the beach-party town of Fortaleza.
High Point: The big chill
After such a packed itinerary, this tour concludes with the chance to chill out amid the towering sand dunes of Jericoacoara, a small fishing village and mecca for windsurfers, kitesurfers and hippies.
How to do it: From £1,680 per person, based on two sharing on a B&B basis, including some lunches, transport, flights and most activities.
Published in the South America guide, distributed with the October 2015 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)