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South America is home to the 6 of the 10 most biodiverse countries in the world. Whether you want to see orchids, birds, whales or jaguars, there is a huge range of options for you to choose from, all of which will let you see the continent’s incredible flora and fauna in its natural habitat. Our travel specialists will be able to put together the best nature and wildlife holiday for you, tailoring everything from the locations you visit, to the hotels and excursions you have! We will tailor your holiday to suit your needs and your budget, letting you see the incredible diversity of South American wildlife in the style to which you are accustomed. our team of dedicated travel specialists will be on hand to tweak your holiday as many times as you need to get it to your exact requirements. Get in touch with us today, otherwise read on and find out more about the best places to see wildlife in South America.

What are the Best Places for Seeing Wildlife in South America?

The Galapagos Islands

The Galapagos Islands are famous for their incredible variety of endemic species. The famous flora and fauna that Charles Darwin saw on his voyage, and which later inspired his book ‘On the Origin of Species’, is still visible today.

There is a certain magic to many of the animal’s ‘island tameness’, the lack of natural predators means the wildlife here has no innate fear of humans, this makes for some truly special moments as you get up close with creature that you never thought possible and create memories you will cherish for many years to come. Just some of the top animals not to miss on your trip to these islands include: The Galápagos giant tortoise, Marine iguanas, Flightless cormorants, Darwin's finches, Frigatebirds, Blue-footed boobies, Galápagos penguins and Waved albatross.

The magic isn’t just confined to the land, snorkelling and scuba diving are popular ways to get closer to the marine life that call the waters around the islands their home. The fertile waters and mixing of currents mean the waters are filled with all manner of the exciting ocean and reef fish, shark, crustaceans and rays including Galapagos sharks, hammerhead sharks, giant manta rays, whale sharks and Sally Lightfoot crabs. The Islands can be explored by land or by ship, pictured is the Silver Galapagos one of our recommended ships in the islands.

 Learn more about the Galapagos Islands

The Pantanal

The Brazilian Pantanal is among the best spots on the South American mainland to see some of the most beautiful and unique creatures in the world. Including Jaguar, Caiman, Hyacinth Macaws, Giant Ant Eaters, Tapirs and Capybara. This is the world’s largest tropical wetland stretching an enormous 75,000 square miles. It is home to more than 1,000 species of birds, 400 species of fish over 300 species of mammals, more than 480 species of reptile and 9000 species of invertebrates. Widely considered Brazil’s best-kept secret, it rivals the Amazon basin in terms of its opportunities to see wildlife. Pictured is Caiman Ecological Refuge's Jaguar conservation programme - Project Onçafari, which offers guests among the highest chances of seeing Jaguars in the wild. 

 Learn more about the Pantanal

The Amazon Rainforest

The Amazon Rainforest stretches across South America covering Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Peru, Suriname and Venezuela in rich greenery. This vast ecosystem is home to a huge variety of animals and plant life. Species include Anacondas, Caiman, Sloths, River Dolphins, Capybara, Jaguar, Macaws, Harpy Eagles, Giant Otters and Piranhas. One in ten species on the planet calls this dense jungle and river system their home. The best ways to see this incredible ecosystem is on a river cruise or by staying in a lodge in the jungle. Pictured is a harpy eagle taken at Cristalino Lodge in the Amazon rainforest.

 Learn more about the Amazon Rainforest

Andean Cloud Forest

Peru and Ecuador are home to some to one of the most incredible biomes in the world, the Andean Cloud forest. This tropical forest differs from the dense jungles of the Amazon in that it is found at a much higher altitude and has a completely different range of plants and animals adapted to live here. The variability in canopy height makes for a wider variety of vegetation, that supports some of the most enigmatic birds and animals. From spectacled bears to hummingbirds and the Andean Cock of the rock (pictured), the diversity of life in these forests is phenomenal. what’s more, this environment is also the perfect habitat for orchids;  thousands of varieties thrive in the region.

Machu Picchu is located in the heart of the Andean cloud forest, after seeing the incredible ruins of Machu Picchu, it is well worth taking the time to appreciate the incredible environs around the citadel and the phenomenal natural beauty that inspired the Incan emperor Pachacutec to build his retreat here. But, perhaps the best place to see the intact cloud forest ecosystem, is the Mindo Cloud Forest in Ecuador. Just a short journey from Quito. Here you can explore the verdant landscape and explore its winding nature trails. The above picture was taken at Mashpi Lodge in Ecuador.

 Learn more about the Mindo Cloud Forest and Machu Picchu

Patagonia and Torres del Paine

Patagonia is the name of the southernmost stretches of South America. It's most iconic national park, Torres del Paine, is known for its towering granite monoliths. The area is home to a diverse range of wildlife including Pumas, Guanaco (pictured), huemal (South Andean Deer), the Andean Condor and Rhea. Colonies of Magellanic Penguin are only a short distance away on the coast in Punta Arenas. Whether you choose to trek or go on specialist nature and wildlife tours there is plenty of wildlife to see in the wilderness of Patagonia.

A popular way to cross between Argentina and Chile is to join an Australis cruise through the fjords and channels at the southernmost tip of South America. Taking in the beautiful views of fjords and glaciers and famous nautical sights including Cape Horn, The Strait of Magellan, the Beagle Channel and the Drake Passage. The wildlife you can see here includes humpback whales, penguins and Orca. The above image was taken at Explora Patagonia.

Learn more about Torres del Paine and Patagonia

Huilo Huilo

Also in Patagonia is Huilo Hulo a pristine biological reserve in southern Chile. The ecosystem is unlike anything else in Patagonia, it has been completely isolated for thousands of years and is recognised as one of the 25 most valued ecoregions on the planet. It was declared a world biosphere reserve in 2007.This southern temperate virgin forest is home to a number of incredible species including 81 species of birds, 38 unique species of ferns and, most importantly, the endangered huemal (South Andean deer, pictured). Keep an eye out for the Monito del Monte a marsupial that is only found in Patagonia’s rainforest. One of our favourite hotels for wildlife in Huilo Huilo is Nothofagus.

Peninsula Valdes - Whale Watching

Peninsula Valdes is a beautiful part of the world that is home to a lot of different types of wildlife. The most famous in these regions you will find Whales and Orca. The season for Whale Watching runs from around July to December with frequent Whale Watching trips leaving from Puerto Piramides and Puerto Maderos.

We would highly recommend staying in one of the Estancias on Peninsula Valdes itself who each offer their own package that will include all the wildlife sights on offer in this unique part of the world.

Learn more about Peninsula Valdes

Ibera Wetlands

The Ibera wetlands nature reserve is a network of 64 lagoons, marshes and waterways occupying an impressive 1,300,000 hectares of land in Northwest Argentina. This natural paradise is home to numerous protected species such as yacaré crocodiles, capybara, marsh deer, carayá monkeys, foxes and hares, to name a few. It is also a haven for birdlife, with over 350 species, and thousands of multi-coloured butterflies.

Learn more about the Ibera Wetlands

Tierra del Fuego

Ushuaia in Tierra del Fuego is the starting point for most cruises to the Antarctic, the perfect pre-cruise activity for nature lovers is to visit the Tierra del Fuego National park. Home to the Ashy-headed goose, austral parakeet, fur seals, sea lions, Gentoo penguins and Magellanic penguins, Magellanic woodpecker. The Beagle channel extends past the port of Ushuaia and is home to all manner of Sea Lions and birds.

 Learn more about Tierra del Fuego


Although not technically part of South America, the Antarctic is easily reached from Tierra del Fuego in southern from Argentina. Where you can explore the untouched lands of Antarctica. This amazing continent offers some of the world’s most breath-taking scenery and wildlife. Some of the many highlights include walking amongst  colonies of penguins (like the Gentoos pictured), taking a zodiac boat ride through enormous ice sculptures, observing groups of lazing elephant seals and catching a glimpse of some of the biggest whales on the planet. It is a place where there truly is something to inspire everyone. Combine an Antarctic cruise with your holiday to South America or just visit Antarctica. Longer cruises venture beyond the Antarctic Peninsula and explore the Falkland Islands and South Georgia, where you can see vast colonies of hundreds of thousands of king penguins.

 Learn more about Antarctica

Are your to book your truly individual wildlife holiday to South America? Get in touch with us today by giving our friendly travel specialists a call on 0208 546 6222, alternatively you can complete our enquiry form.

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About Us
  • Our Truly Individual Holidays allow you to choose the destinations, inclusions & budget

  • Our Escorted Small Group Tours offer fantastic itineraries, travelling with like-minded people

  • Winner of 'Best Tour Operator' at the 2019 & 2018 L.A.T.A. Achievement Awards

  • Our holidays are protected by ATOL and ABTOT, for your complete peace of mind


Latin American Travel Association Achievement Awards 2019 - Tour Operator Of The Year Latin American Travel Association Achievement Awards 2018 - Tour Operator Of The Year

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Why book with Latin Routes?

  • Tailormake your holiday, including the destinations, inclusions and budget
  • From charming guesthouses to 5* luxury, we have a wide range of accommodation to suit you
  • Our Travel Specialists will help you to create your perfect holiday to Latin America

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  • You will be accompanied throughout by an experienced Latin Routes tour leader
  • Size does matter! This is why we keep our groups' maximum number to 16
  • Make Your Day Individual - Choose from 3 different experiences that are already included in the price

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  • We receive excellent reviews from our clients and have a fantastic score on Trustpilot.
  • Our holidays are protected by ATOL and ABTOT, for your complete peace of mind
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