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Top 10 tourist destinations for Aussie Expats in South America

top tourist destinations for aussie expats in south america

Living for Aussie expats in South America can certainly have its challenges, but the rewards can be boundless with some amazing places to visit for those with the travel bug.

The region is gigantic and incredibly diverse. It can be overwhelming to try to decide what to see on one trip, and as it’s so far from Australia it can seem like a once in a lifetime opportunity. But Aussie expats in South America have a base from which to take shorter trips and cover various different areas. You’ll likely still find yourself spoiled for choice – mountains, jungle, desert, ancient ruins, beaches and world-class cities are all options.

To whittle down your list a bit, we have put together our list of the top ten must-see destinations for Aussie expats in South America.

1. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Rio de Janeiro is likely the first city that comes to mind when most people think of South America. Its glamour, its stunning mountainous landscape, its beautiful beaches, and its famously vibrant culture all add up to make it one of South America’s most exciting destinations. In Brazil it is sometimes known as a cidade maravilhosa (the marvellous city), and it’s easy to see why. Rio has an energy unlike anywhere else, and is often thought of as one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Each year before Lent it holds its explosive Carnaval, essentially the world’s biggest party. Be aware that if you would like to visit during Carnaval or Réveillon, the festive white party on Copacabana Beach for New Years Eve, you will need to plan ahead and book accommodation several months in advance. Accommodation will likely also be around three times the normal price during these busy times.

2. Machu Picchu, Peru

Remnants of the ancient Inca civilisation are scattered over Peru and Ecuador, but the most famous of all is Machu Picchu, the mountainous ruin of an Inca city about eighty kilometres from Cusco in Peru. You have the option to either do a multi-day hike, the most popular of which is the Inca Trail, or take a short train trip to arrive at the site. Whichever route you choose, the view is one of the most famous in the world. This is another experience which may need to be booked in advance, as there is a limit to the number of people who can visit the site each day. If you are planning to catch the train, you might like to purchase your entrance ticket online in advance. If you’re hiking the Inca Trail, you will need to plan even further in advance and book your permit months ahead.

top tourist destinations for Aussie expats in South America

3. Galápagos Islands, Ecuador

The Galápagos Islands are home to some of the most unique landscapes in the world. A series of volcanic islands off the coast of Ecuador, the Galápagos offer unrivalled opportunities to see nature up close. The islands are home to a number of species that aren’t found anywhere else in the world, including giant iguanas, tortoises, and sea lions. You can choose between basing yourself at a hotel on one of the islands and going on day tours to different places, or booking a cruise that will take you to various different islands.

4. Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

Salar de Uyuni is the world’s largest salt flat, located in Southwest Bolivia. The huge, flat, reflective expanse is an awe-inspiring place. The surreal perspective given by its mirror-like surface also makes it an incredibly popular spot for taking creative photos. Most travellers take day tours to the salt flat from Uyuni, the closest town.

tourist destinations for Aussie expats in South America

5. Amazonas, Colombia

The Amazon is most commonly associated with Brazil, and it is true that the bulk of the Amazon lies within Brazil’s borders. But in reality there are entry points to the Amazon in several other countries, too: Peru, Ecuador and Colombia. The small city of Leticia in Colombia is a great base from which to explore the Amazon. You will also be very close to the borders with both Brazil and Peru. The opportunities for spotting wildlife are practically endless: pink dolphins, sloths, monkeys, tarantulas, piranhas and more. Be sure to come prepared with tropical strength insect repellent, a dry bag for your valuables, and long sleeve shirts and pants. You can choose to stay in Leticia and do day trips from there, stay in a smaller village nearby such as Puerto Nariño, or stay in a jungle lodge.

6. Patagonia, Argentina and Chile

Patagonia is the very Southern tip of South America, and is shared between Argentina and Chile. It is a vast, cold area filled with imposing mountains, huge glaciers, and quaint towns. It is popular with hikers for fantastic multi-day treks with incredible views, such as the W circuit in Torres del Paine, Chile. But even if you’re not into hiking, there’s plenty to do. You can go whale watching in the Valdes Peninsula, see the gigantic Perito Moreno glacier, or just peruse the many chocolate shops of Bariloche.

top tourist destinations for Aussie expats in South America

7. Easter Island, Chile

Easter Island is a Chilean island in Polynesia, and one of the most remote places in the world. It is famous for the huge moai statues of human faces of which the island has nearly nine hundred. It’s a mystery how the Rapa Nui people, who created the statues, transported the heavy sculptures for where they were carved to where they now stand upright. Even those with the most casual interest in ancient ruins will be fascinated by Easter Island. Flights leave daily from Santiago, Chile’s capital, and can be quite pricey, but it’s an investment in a completely unique experience.

8. Pantanal, Brazil

The Pantanal is the world’s largest wetland and an excellent place to spot wildlife. It is primarily located in Brazil, although some sections also come within the borders of Bolivia and Paraguay. While the Amazon is much more famous, the Pantanal is actually a much better place to observe animals in their natural habitat, owing to the openness of the environment. Most travellers stay at local fazendas (farms) and do day tours on foot or by boat.

9. Iguazu Falls, Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay

Spanning nearly three kilometres as well as three countries, and encompassing hundreds of waterfalls, Iguazu Falls is one of the world’s most impressive waterfalls. Most people choose to visit the Argentinian and Brazilian sides, which will take two or three days. The Argentinean side offers a very close-up experience, with extensive walkways and the opportunity for a boat ride under the falls allowing you to fully appreciate the sound and power of the falls. On the Brazilian side, the views are more panoramic, so you can see just how far the falls stretch.

top tourist destinations for Aussie Expats in South America

10. Fernando de Noronha, Brazil

This relatively unknown archipelago in Northeast Brazil is the definition of paradise. Fernando de Noronha is recognised as one of the most beautiful places in Brazil and is well-protected, so it’s not the easiest place to visit. There is a limit to the number of tourists who can visit each day, and you will need to pay a tax that goes towards environmental preservation for each day of your stay. But it will all be worth it once you see the pristine, secluded beaches and clear turquoise waters of Fernando de Noronha. You can fly to Fernando de Noronha from Recife or Natal, two of the bigger cities in Northeastern Brazil.


South America is packed with so many travel highlights suited to all different tastes that it’s very difficult to highlight which ones you can see. As an Aussie expat in South America you’ll be in a much better position to see more, as the vast distances and time involved in traversing the continent won’t be such a problem when you have a home base and can take various shorter trips. And don’t worry, this top ten is just the tip of the iceberg!

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