Our Favorite South American Shore Excursions

Our Favorite South American Shore Excursions

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There's something magical about South America. The lust for life every local has, the diverse landscapes that range from windswept deserts to sun-soaked beaches, the cities that could be plucked straight from Europe — it's all incredibly captivating.

So what's the best way to experience this beautiful place? We think it's on one of our immersive voyages, many of which can take you from one coast of the continent to the other. But to really dive into all South America has to offer, you've got to go beyond the shore. With over 150 shore excursions, we've got all the outdoor, cultural, and culinary adventures you need. Plus with our incredible Land Programs, you can make the most of your time pre-, post-, or in-between cruising!

With so many on-shore experiences to choose from, we thought we'd get you started with a few of our favorites for each of the South American countries we call on.


Plaza de Armas Square and Santiago Metropolitan Cathedral in Chile at night

Running along the western spine of the continent, Chile's landscapes range from verdant valleys and ancient volcanoes to stark deserts and awe-inspiring fjords to cosmopolitan, colonial cities. We all know wine reigns supreme around here (and we have plenty of shore excursions devoted to it), but there's a local spirit you must try: Pisco. Developed by Spanish settlers in the 16th century as a replacement for the brandy they drank in their home country, this grape juice-based liquor is beloved in Chile.

On our All About Pisco in the Elqui Valley shore excursion, you can go from novice to mixologist in mere hours. In a small group, you'll journey through the heart of a lush valley draped by sand-colored mountains to The Capel Distillery and start your spirit-ual education. Learn the process that transforms different types of grapes into Pisco, then try your hand at mixing six local cocktails under some of the clearest skies in the world.

Death Valley at the Salt Mountain Range in the Atacama Desert, Chile

Thinking of a more adventurous experience when you visit Chile? How about a 3-Night Atacama Desert Expedition? Fly from Santiago to Calama and arrive at Alto Atacama Desert Lodge & Spa—the definition of desert luxury. This place is all about authentic Chilean style, and is designed to seamlessly blend into the Salt Mountains it sits at the base of. Plus, its elevated service and amenities make it the perfect spot to retreat after a day of adventure around the Catarpe Valley. Hike, bike or drive through otherworldly landscapes (including seven-foot-tall cacti) with experienced guides, and make sure you bring an extra memory card for your camera. Did we mention they have one of the 10 best spas in Latin America?


Sunrise at Puerto Madero, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Let's hop over to the Atlantic side of South America for our favorite Argentinian shore excursions. If you've never been to Buenos Aires, we've got the perfect outing for you to revel in the nostalgic glamor of the city known as the "Paris of South America". On our Rojo Tango Dinner Show by Antique Car shore excursion, you'll explore the city in style and take in a mesmerizing tango performance by some of the city's finest dancers. From the pier, you'll be whisked away in a vintage car (not the Mustang you had in high school, more like a Model T) for a 40-minute panoramic drive that really puts the city in perspective as you tour its winding streets. At the opulent Faena Hotel, a live orchestra plays the sultry sounds of tango music while dancers captivate the audience. You'll also be treated to dinner featuring authentic Argentinian cuisine and a steady supply of local wine and cocktails. 

King Cormorant colony in the Beagle Channel with sea lions

From Argentina's epicenter of culture, to the "End of the World" in Ushuaia, a nature lover's dream awaits at Tierra del Fuego National Park. It's home to native birds, beavers, seals and sea lions, and some seriously awe-inspiring scenes, including Antarctic forests, towering peaks, waterfalls, and glaciers. However you feel like exploring this edge-of-the-Earth wonder, we've got a shore excursion that is perfect for you. Ride the southernmost railway in the world through the park on our End of the World Train & Ensenada Bay excursion, set out on a guided nature walk through "cold forests" of twisted trees, or take a horseback ride that traces the steps of the nomadic Yamana people.


Iguazu Waterfalls in Foz Do Iguazu, Brazil with a rainbow

When it comes to once-in-a-lifetime travel moments, you should spend your time enjoying every minute, not worrying about the small details. With our immersive Iguazu Falls to/from Brazil Land Program, we'll fly you from Rio to one of the great natural wonders of the world, take you to the brink of breathtaking beauty, and make reservations for five-star dining at iconic hotels. If the Iguazu Falls are on your bucket list, this Land Program is a must. Starting at the top, you'll walk a mile of catwalks that let you peer over the top of the towering falls. Then, you'll take a thrilling speed boat ride to Devil's Throat — the most impressive fall of them all. Afterwards, a visit to a local Guarani tribe's village will show you a way of life far removed from the pulse of Rio and will put you in touch with our natural world when you take a rainforest tour with a village elder. Brazil doesn't get much better than this.

Sunset in Buzios. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Shore excursions don't always have to be jam packed with activity. Sometimes the day calls for sun, sand, and not much else! When in Brazil, the beaches are spectacular, but popular spots are often crowded with sunseekers. Luckily, we will take you to those off-the-beaten-path pieces of paradise that create the ultimate escape on your South American cruise. In Buzios, our Buzios Beach Club outing delivers exclusive access to the crystal clear waters and silky sands of Geribá Beach. Complimentary lounge chairs and chilled caipirinhas (Brazil's answer to the mojito) will keep you in beachy bliss all afternoon. In Ilhabela, the best beach is a picture-perfect sailboat ride away. Sail the São Sebastião Channel and learn about Ilhabela's pirate history, then stick your toes in the sand at Jabaquara Beach.


Antique iron pool of the main square of Lima, Peru.

If Peru hasn't been on your cruise radar, it should be. With its varied landscapes that range from the rocky Andes to tropical ecosystems, to more than 1,400 miles of beaches, there are so many hidden gems to discover. You've got to start in Lima, where colonial architecture and a food-obsessed culture make this city of over nine million people an endless joy to explore. Gourmands can't go wrong with our Culinary Experience in Barranco shore excursion, where Chef Penélope Alzamora will take you on a journey to discover Lima's history, culture, and cuisine through a local lens. Starting at a traditional market, you'll get an introduction to local ingredients like chirimoya and aguaymanto fruits, and some of the over 300 types of chilies found in Peru. Then, head to Penélope's home where you'll learn to make Pisco Sour cocktails and Peru's national dish: ceviche.

Machu Picchu, Peru

If you have your heart set on Machu Picchu, our Land Programs ensure you can experience every corner of this fantastic site. Or, if you want to do some really exhilarating "flightseeing," we'll take you to the Nazca Lines. From Pisco, board an aircraft designed to give you the best views of these animal and human figures carved into the earth that were only discovered in the 1920s when commercial airlines started flying over the area. Are they ancient irrigation systems? The remnants of an extraterrestrial encounter? We might never know, but we do know they're absolutely amazing to see from the air.


Twilight view of the Pocitos Coast on the River Plate, Montevideo, Uruguay

One of the continent's smallest countries packs a big punch. Uruguay has a rich wine country, an electric Carnaval, and rich cultural heritage like its other South American counterparts, but with a distinctly laid-back vibe. Most consider Montevideo "the world's chilled-out capital." Maybe it's the sprawling beachside promenade, or the close proximity to the farms and ranches of the countryside that make it so appealing, and so worth taking our Local Ranch and Barbeque Lunch shore excursion. Start with a narrated drive through the city, stopping at iconic landmarks, then leave urban life behind and learn what life is like on a working ranch, or estancia. Ride in a wagon along the shores of the Rio de la Plata, and you'll be immersed in the gaucho (cowboy) way of life. Next is arguably the best part: barbeque! There are no frills or fancy linens here, just tasty beef and chicken, local wine, and an authentic farmhand dessert.

Casapueblo in Punta del Esta, Uruguay. A resort built by the famous Carlos Paez Vilaró.

If Buenos Aires is the Paris of South America, Punta del Este is its Saint-Tropez. With a beachy, glitzy atmosphere and eye-catching contemporary art everywhere you turn, it's pure vacation bliss. For an exclusive on-shore experience only available to select groups, set out on our shore excursion to live the luxe life at Carlos Paez Vilaro's Atelier in Casapueblo. Tour the glamorous residential neighborhoods of San Rafael, Cantegrill, La Barra, and Beverly Hills (not that one, but still as stylish), then it's on to Casapueblo. Part home, part atelier, this is renowned artist Carlos Paez Vilaro's mazelike masterpiece. Wander the winding corridors and admire his vibrant abstract pieces and you'll see how Casapueblo's architecture echoes his work. To top it off, champagne and charcuterie are served on a private terrace overlooking the sea.     

These are just some of the on-shore experiences we offer in South America, but we've got so many more in store when you cruise with us. Discover them all here and create your ideal Azamara experience.

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