49 days in Central America & South America Itinerary

49 days in Central America & South America Itinerary

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Route & dates

49 days in Central America & South America Itinerary

Start: San Jose, Costa Rica
1
San Jose, Costa Rica
— 2 nights
2
Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, Costa Rica
— 3 nights
Drive + ferry:  1​h 45​min
3
Bocas Town, Panama
— 2 nights
Fly + shuttle:  4​h 15​min
4
San Blas Islands, Panama
— 4 nights
Drive + Fly:  7​h
5
Cartagena, Colombia
— 3 nights
Fly:  4​h
6
Medellin, Colombia
— 2 nights
Fly:  1​h 15​min
7
Bogota, Colombia
— 2 nights
Fly:  3​h 30​min
8
Lima, Peru
— 1 night
Fly + Drive:  12​h
9
Machu Picchu, Peru
— 7 nights
Drive:  15​h 15​min
10
La Paz, Bolivia
— 4 nights
Fly + taxi:  3​h 45​min
11
Uyuni, Bolivia
— 2 nights
Drive + bus:  11​h 15​min
12
San Pedro de Atacama, Chile
— 2 nights
shuttle + Fly:  4​h 30​min
13
La Serena, Chile
— 2 nights
Fly + shuttle:  4​h 15​min
14
Valparaiso, Chile
— 3 nights
bus:  1​h 30​min
15
Santiago, Chile
— 5 nights
Fly:  17​h 45​min
End: Melbourne, Australia

2
nights
San Jose, Costa Rica

A trip to San Jose, the capital, commercial center, and cultural hub of Costa Rica, gives you a chance to experience the lively atmosphere and rich cultural past of this vibrant country.
Venture out of the city with trips to Jardins da Cachoeira de La Paz (in Vara Blanca) and Poas Volcano (in Poas Volcano National Park). There's much more to do: relax and float downstream with a rafting and tubing tour, get a taste of the local shopping with Galeria Namu, get engrossed in the history at Jade Museum, and see the interesting displays at Pre-Columbian Gold Museum.

To find maps, more things to do, reviews, and more tourist information, use the San Jose trip maker tool .

If you are flying in from Australia, the closest major airports are Tobias Bolanos International Airport, Juan Santamaria International Airport and Limon International Airport. In November in San Jose, expect temperatures between 30°C during the day and 22°C at night. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 2nd (Mon) early enough to take a bus to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca.

Things to do in San Jose

Nature Parks Museums

Side Trips

Jardins da Cachoeira de La Paz, Poas Volcano
Find places to stay Nov 30 — Dec 2:
Highlights from your plan
River Rafting & Tubing
Poas Volcano
Poas Volcano
Galeria Namu ©
Galeria Namu

3
nights
Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, Costa Rica

Puerto Viejo de Talamanca ©
Puerto Viejo de Talamanca offers a wealth of entertainment by the sea, attracting a lively international crowd of revelers while maintaining a bright and breezy coastal charm with a local feel.
On the 3rd (Tue), explore the wealth of natural beauty at Cahuita National Park and then kick back and relax at Playa Cocles. Here are some ideas for day two: stop by Caribeans Coffee & Chocolate and then enjoy the sand and surf at Punta Uva Beach.

To see maps, other places to visit, and other tourist information, read Puerto Viejo de Talamanca attractions planner.

Getting from San Jose to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca by bus takes about 3.5 hours. Other options: drive; or take a shuttle. Wrap up your sightseeing by early afternoon on the 5th (Thu) to allow enough time to travel to Bocas Town.

Things to do in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca

Parks Beaches Shopping

Side Trip

Cahuita National Park
Find places to stay Dec 2 — 5:
Highlights from your plan
Cahuita National Park ©
Cahuita National Park
Punta Uva Beach ©
Punta Uva Beach
Playa Cocles ©
Playa Cocles

2
nights
Bocas Town, Panama

Bocas Town ©
The colorful and relaxed Bocas Town has a welcoming atmosphere, with the modestly sized urban area showcasing typical Caribbean clapboard houses and home to a mixed community from across the world.
On your second day here, make a trip to Playa Bluff, then take in nature's colorful creations at Finca Los Monos Botanical Garden, and then get interesting insight from Tours.

To see reviews, maps, photos, and other tourist information, you can read our Bocas Town trip planner.

Traveling by combination of car and ferry from Puerto Viejo de Talamanca to Bocas Town takes 2 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of bus and ferry. Traveling from Puerto Viejo de Talamanca to Bocas Town, you'll lose 1 hour due to the time zone difference. Expect a daytime high around 30°C in December, and nighttime lows around 30°C. Cap off your sightseeing on the 7th (Sat) early enough to travel to San Blas Islands.

Things to do in Bocas Town

Outdoors Parks Beaches

Side Trips

Finca Los Monos Botanical Garden, Playa Bluff
Find places to stay Dec 5 — 7:
Highlights from your plan
Finca Los Monos Botanical Garden ©
Finca Los Monos Botanical Garden
Scuba & Snorkeling
Playa Bluff ©
Playa Bluff

4
nights
San Blas Islands, Panama

San Blas Islands ©
San Blas Islands represent the offshore area of the indigenous province of Guna Yala.
San Blas Islands is known for nature, spas, and adventure. Your plan includes some of its best attractions: enjoy the sand and surf at Isla Perro and step off the mainland to explore Isla Chichime.

To see traveler tips, maps, where to stay, and other tourist information, read San Blas Islands holiday planner .

Traveling by combination of flight and shuttle from Bocas Town to San Blas Islands takes 4.5 hours. Alternatively, you can fly; or do a combination of ferry and bus. Expect somewhat warmer weather when traveling from Bocas Town in December: highs in San Blas Islands hover around 37°C, while lows dip to 27°C. You will leave for Cartagena on the 11th (Wed).

Things to do in San Blas Islands

Nature Parks Beaches
Find places to stay Dec 7 — 11:
Highlights from your plan
Isla Perro ©
Isla Perro

3
nights
Cartagena, Colombia

Cartagena ©
The site of the continent's first Spanish colony, Cartagena retains much of its colonial flavor thanks to a World Heritage-listed old town, encircled by old walls and protected by imposing fortresses.
Take a break from Cartagena with a short trip to Playa Blanca in Isla Baru, about 1h 05 min away. There's still lots to do: steep yourself in history at Walled City of Cartagena, don't miss a visit to Plaza Bolivar, take in the spiritual surroundings of Convent of Santa Cruz de la Popa, and gain insight at Plaza Santo Domingo.

To see reviews, traveler tips, photos, and tourist information, read our Cartagena trip itinerary planner .

Explore your travel options from San Blas Islands to Cartagena with the Route module. In December, daytime highs in Cartagena are 37°C, while nighttime lows are 28°C. Finish your sightseeing early on the 14th (Sat) so you can travel to Medellin.

Things to do in Cartagena

Historic Sites Beaches Outdoors

Side Trip

Playa Blanca
Find places to stay Dec 11 — 14:
Highlights from your plan
Walled City of Cartagena ©
Walled City of Cartagena
Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas ©
Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas
Plaza Santo Domingo ©
Plaza Santo Domingo

2
nights
Medellin, Colombia

Medellin ©
Nestled between rising hills in a narrow valley, Medellin serves as an energetic melting pot of people from all socio-economic classes.
On the 15th (Sun), observe the fascinating underwater world at Parque Explora, then get the lay of the land with Walking tours, and then let little ones run wild at Parque Lleras. On the 16th (Mon), you'll have a packed day of sightseeing: identify plant and animal life at Parque Arvi, contemplate the long history of Pueblito Paisa, and then make a trip to Plaza Botero.

To find traveler tips, other places to visit, photos, and more tourist information, refer to the Medellin trip itinerary maker .

Fly from Cartagena to Medellin in 4 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of bus and flight; or drive. Expect a bit cooler temperatures when traveling from Cartagena in December; daily highs in Medellin reach 32°C and lows reach 20°C. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 16th (Mon) to allow time to travel to Bogota.

Things to do in Medellin

Parks Tours Outdoors
Find places to stay Dec 14 — 16:
Highlights from your plan
Parque Explora ©
Parque Explora
Walking tours
Parque Arvi ©
Parque Arvi

2
nights
Bogota, Colombia

Bogota ©
Colombia's heart and soul, Bogota has earned the nickname "Athens of South America" thanks to its abundance of universities, libraries, and lower-level schools.
Kick off your visit on the 17th (Tue): tour the pleasant surroundings at Monserrate, then see the interesting displays at Gold Museum (Museo del Oro), and then contemplate the long history of Bolivar plaza.

To see maps, ratings, and other tourist information, go to the Bogota route planner.

Traveling by flight from Medellin to Bogota takes 1.5 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of shuttle and flight; or drive. Prepare for slightly colder weather when traveling from Medellin in December: high temperatures in Bogota hover around 22°C and lows are around 9°C. On the 18th (Wed), wrap the sightseeing up by early afternoon so you can travel to Lima.

Things to do in Bogota

Museums Nature Parks
Find places to stay Dec 16 — 18:
Highlights from your plan
Gold Museum (Museo del Oro) ©
Gold Museum (Museo del Oro)
Monserrate ©
Monserrate
Bolivar plaza ©
Bolivar plaza

1
night
Lima, Peru

Lima ©
Founded in 1535 by Spanish explorer Francisco Pizarro, Lima represents an interesting blend of modern attractions and preserved colonial architecture, much of it clustered in the World Heritage-listed city center.
On the 18th (Wed), stroll around Parque Kennedy - Parque Central de Miraflores.

For more things to do, other places to visit, ratings, and tourist information, you can read our Lima online day trip planner .

You can fly from Bogota to Lima in 3.5 hours. Alternatively, you can drive; or take a bus. Traveling from Bogota in December, things will get somewhat warmer in Lima: highs are around 28°C and lows about 22°C. Finish your sightseeing early on the 19th (Thu) so you can travel to Machu Picchu.

Things to do in Lima

Museums Historic Sites Parks
Find places to stay Dec 18 — 19:
Highlights from your plan
Museo Larco ©
Museo Larco
Plaza de Armas (Plaza Mayor) ©
Plaza de Armas (Plaza Mayor)
Iglesia y Convento de San Francisco ©

7
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.
Venture out of the city with trips to Ollantaytambo (Choco Museo & Archaeological Park Ollantaytambo), Zipline (in Santa Teresa) and Maras (Moray & Salinas de Maras). The adventure continues: steep yourself in history at Santuario Historico de Machu Picchu, learn about wildlife with up-close encounters at Mariposario de Machupicchu, delve into the distant past at Winay Wayna, and take in the awesome beauty at Phutuq K'usi.

Quickly create a custom-made itinerary for Machu Picchu using our trip planner.

Do a combination of flight and car from Lima to Machu Picchu in 12 hours. Alternatively, you can drive; or do a combination of bus and taxi. Finish your sightseeing early on the 27th (Fri) to allow enough time to drive to La Paz.

Things to do in Machu Picchu

Historic Sites Parks Nature

Side Trips

Maras, Ollantaytambo, Santa Teresa, Sacred Valley of the Incas, Choquequirao Archeological Park
Find places to stay Dec 19 — 27:
Highlights from your plan
Santuario Historico de Machu Picchu ©
Sacred Valley of the Incas ©
Sacred Valley of the Incas
Salinas de Maras ©
Salinas de Maras

4
nights
La Paz, Bolivia

La Paz ©
Take a moment to catch your breath as you commence your holiday in La Paz.
Spend the 29th (Sun) exploring the striking scenery along WMDR Yungas Road. Next up on the itinerary: steep yourself in history at Tiwanaku, take in the awesome beauty at Huayna Potosi, take in the dramatic natural features at Valley of the Moon, and contemplate in the serene atmosphere at Iglesia de San Francisco.

For where to stay, photos, maps, and other tourist information, refer to the La Paz travel route planning app .

Traveling by car from Machu Picchu to La Paz takes 15.5 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of train and bus; or take a bus. Due to the time zone difference, you'll lose 1 hour traveling from Machu Picchu to La Paz. Expect a daytime high around 18°C in December, and nighttime lows around 3°C. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 1st (Wed) early enough to travel to Uyuni.

Things to do in La Paz

Outdoors Nature Scenic Drive
Find places to stay Dec 28 — Jan 1:
Highlights from your plan
Urban Rush Bolivia ©
Urban Rush Bolivia
Tiwanaku ©
Tiwanaku
WMDR Yungas Road ©
WMDR Yungas Road

2
nights
Uyuni, Bolivia

Uyuni ©
Emptiness surrounds the desert outpost of Uyuni, the gateway to the world's largest salt flats.
Start off your visit on the 2nd (Thu): step off the mainland to explore Isla Incahuasi and then take in the dramatic natural features at Salar de Uyuni. Get ready for a full day of sightseeing on the 3rd (Fri): get a new perspective on nature at Museo Arquecologia y Antropologico de los Andes Meridionales and then examine the collection at Train Cemetery.

To find maps, photos, traveler tips, and other tourist information, use the Uyuni trip itinerary planner .

You can do a combination of flight and taxi from La Paz to Uyuni in 4 hours. Alternatively, you can drive; or do a combination of bus and taxi. Traveling from La Paz in January, you can expect nighttime temperatures to be somewhat warmer in Uyuni, with lows of 13°C. Finish your sightseeing early on the 3rd (Fri) to allow enough time to travel to San Pedro de Atacama.

Things to do in Uyuni

Nature Parks Museums
Find places to stay Jan 1 — 3:
Highlights from your plan
Salar de Uyuni ©
Salar de Uyuni
Isla Incahuasi ©
Isla Incahuasi
Train Cemetery ©
Train Cemetery

2
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, don't miss a visit to Mirador de Kari, Piedra del Coyote, witness a stunning natural landmark at Geyser del Tatio, and explore the activities along Lagunas Miscanti y Miniques.

To see photos, reviews, traveler tips, and other tourist information, you can read our San Pedro de Atacama online itinerary planner .

Do a combination of car and bus from Uyuni to San Pedro de Atacama in 11.5 hours. Alternatively, you can drive; or do a combination of car, train, and bus. Traveling from Uyuni in January, you will find days in San Pedro de Atacama are much hotter (29°C), and nights are a bit cooler (8°C). Finish up your sightseeing early on the 6th (Mon) so you can travel to La Serena.

Things to do in San Pedro de Atacama

Parks Nature Wildlife
Find places to stay Jan 3 — 6:
Highlights from your plan
Valle De La Luna ©
Valle De La Luna
Geyser del Tatio ©
Geyser del Tatio
Salar de Tara ©
Salar de Tara

2
nights
La Serena, Chile

La Serena ©
Packed with old stone churches in a unique urban landscape, La Serena represents one of Chile's oldest settlements, equally popular with architecture buffs and beachgoers.
Start off your visit on the 7th (Tue): admire the verdant scenery at Valle del Elqui, then don't miss a visit to Avenida del Mar, and then admire the natural beauty at Jardin del Corazon. On the 8th (Wed), you'll have a packed day of sightseeing: make a trip to Plaza de Armas, hunt for treasures at La Recova Municipal Market, and then take in the spiritual surroundings of Cruz Del Tercer Milenio.

To find more things to do, reviews, photos, and other tourist information, you can read our La Serena online tour planner .

You can do a combination of shuttle and flight from San Pedro de Atacama to La Serena in 4.5 hours. Other options are to do a combination of bus and flight; or drive. Traveling from San Pedro de Atacama in January, expect nights in La Serena to be somewhat warmer, around 17°C, while days are a bit cooler, around 25°C. On the 8th (Wed), wrap the sightseeing up by early afternoon so you can travel to Valparaiso.

Things to do in La Serena

Parks Beaches Outdoors

Side Trip

Cruz Del Tercer Milenio
Find places to stay Jan 6 — 8:
Highlights from your plan
Valle del Elqui ©
Valle del Elqui
Jardin del Corazon ©
Jardin del Corazon
Avenida del Mar
Avenida del Mar

3
nights
Valparaiso, Chile

Valparaiso ©
Navigating through a maze of colorful streets winding up and down steep hills remains an integral part of any Valparaiso tour.
Change things up with a short trip to Casa de Isla Negra in Isla Negra (about 1h 10 min away). There's lots more to do: see the interesting displays at La Sebastiana, kick back and relax at Reñaca, get the lay of the land with Walking tours, and take a stroll through Paseo Dimalow.

To find more things to do, where to stay, and other tourist information, use the Valparaiso trip planner .

Traveling by combination of flight and shuttle from La Serena to Valparaiso takes 4.5 hours. Alternatively, you can drive; or take a bus. In January in Valparaiso, expect temperatures between 26°C during the day and 17°C at night. Wrap up your sightseeing by early afternoon on the 11th (Sat) to allow time for the bus ride to Santiago.

Things to do in Valparaiso

Museums Tours Beaches

Side Trips

Vina del Mar, Casa de Isla Negra
Find places to stay Jan 8 — 11:
Highlights from your plan
La Sebastiana ©
La Sebastiana
Casa de Isla Negra ©
Casa de Isla Negra
Walking tours

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.
Change things up with a short trip to Valle Nevado - Ski Resort Chile in Valle Nevado (about 1h 35 min away). There's still lots to do: take your sightseeing to a higher altitude at San Cristóbal Hill, enjoy breathtaking views from Sky Costanera, contemplate the long history of Centro Cultural Palacio de la Moneda y Plaza de la Ciudadania, and don't miss a visit to Plaza de Armas.

To see maps, other places to visit, and more tourist information, read Santiago travel itinerary planner.

Take a bus from Valparaiso to Santiago in 1.5 hours. Alternatively, you can drive. You will have some time to spend on the 16th (Thu) before leaving for home.

Things to do in Santiago

Museums Parks Winter Sports

Side Trip

Valle Nevado - Ski Resort Chile
Find places to stay Jan 11 — 16:
Highlights from your plan
La Chascona ©
La Chascona
San Cristóbal Hill ©
San Cristóbal Hill
Santa Lucia Hill ©
Santa Lucia Hill

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