Bucket List on a Budget: South America

Vivian Vassos | June 13th, 2017

Ecuador's Galapagos Islands

Looking to get the best value for your travel buck? Here, six surprising facts about the continent that will make you want to visit — including the fact that it’s a great deal for Canadians.

It may be winter in South America, but with many of the best countries situated closer to the Equator, the temperatures in South America’s winter (our summer) are much more comfortable than they would be at the height of our winters.

Plus, according to our contacts at the global hotel search and booking engine Booking.com, the world-class architecture, sophisticated culture and Michelin-star dining are just three factors that makes this spot hot with their customers searching for places to go this summer. The company adds that, “You can find all of this in the diverse cities of South America, each with something unique to offer travellers. From majestic waterfalls and Amazonian jungles, to unparalleled cuisine and historical sites, these cities are just begging to be explored.”

And, at a fraction of the cost it would take to do a similar trip to Europe. For example (at time of publishing), $1CDN buys 2.42 Brazilian Real, and about 2,100 Colombian Pesos.

As a side note, Air Canada is recognizing the growing popularity of Colombia as a destination, for when our summers turn to winter. “It is never too early to start planning an escape from the Canadian winter, and Air Canada is pleased to give customers more options to consider with the launch of a new Air Canada Rouge route to Cartagena. This nearly 500-year-old city on Colombia’s Caribbean coast offers visitors prime urban, beach and adventure tourism,” said Benjamin Smith, President, Passenger Airlines at Air Canada. “With this new route, along with our year-round Toronto-Bogota increasing to five- from four-times weekly this winter, Air Canada will offer the best coverage of the Canada-Colombia market, with the most seats and frequency.”

The new, non-stop Toronto-Cartagena flights will operate with a 136-seat Air Canada Rouge Airbus A319 aircraft offering two cabins of service, Premium Rouge and Economy. Flights will depart Toronto each Monday starting December 18, 2017 until April 9, 2018, says Air Canada. www.aircanada.com

Click through for few more fun facts from our friends at Booking.com and reasons why you might consider a South American adventure.


  1. Did you know there’s a World Cup for Tango and it’s in Buenos Aires, Argentina?

Every August Buenos Aires holds the world’s largest festival dedicated to the passionate dance where elite dancers come to compete. Spanning two weeks, performances, dance classes, art exhibitions and milongas (dance parties) showcase the sensuality of the Argentine people (And its completely free!) The classic architecture of Buenos Aires provides a beautiful backdrop to the celebrations and makes it a fantastic city to just get lost in.

Where to stay: At the centre of all the action is the appropriately named Tango De Mayo Hotel (above)  Although set within a building that dates from the 1910s, check out the property’s modern interior and rooftop terrace.

  1. You probably won’t believe that street art is legal in Bogotá, Colombia

There aren’t many places in the world where street art is legal, let alone encouraged! In Bogota, local businesses and even the government openly support the work that graffiti artists do. This has resulted in a thriving street art scene and the city is now recognized as one of the top places to see quality street art in the world. Bogota is covered in colourful and meaningful artwork that is constantly changing and completely free.

Where to Stay: The lounge at the modern W Hotel Bogotá, above, was designed by street artists and the hotel has a state of the art spa, making this hotel the perfect place to rest your feet after pounding the pavement in search of the latest masterpieces throughout the city.

  1. Attention Foodies: Lima, Peru is the food capital of South America

Lima is the international gateway to Peru and often recognized for being the first stop for adventurers travelling on to Machu Pichu. However, Lima has established itself as a major player in the international culinary community and is now known as the foodie capitol of Latin America.

Highly acclaimed restaurants like Maido and Astrid y Gastón have helped put the city on the map along with the growing food Festival, Mistura, which showcases the best the city has to offer. Taking place at the end of the summer, Mistura 2017 promises to be the festival’s biggest year yet making it the perfect excuse to experience Lima for the first time.

Where to stay: The stylish Lot Boutique Hotel (above) suits its trendy neighbourhood of Miraflores perfectly. This area of Lima is home to the world-famous Michelin star restaurant Central, designer shopping and is walking distance to the beach.

  1. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil has a thriving contemporary art scene

Rio De Janeiro is best known for its iconic beaches and vibrant Carnival Festival but there is a lot more to discover. Rio is filled with quirky museums, from the Niterói Contemporary Art Museum that’s shaped like a UFO to the futuristic looking Museum of Tomorrow dedicated to climate change and sustainability. You can even take a day trip from the city to Inhotim, an outdoor contemporary art museum built by an eccentric millionaire and surrounded by botanical gardens.

Where to stay: One of the most exciting hotel openings in Rio De Janeiro for 2017 is The Gran Meliá Nacional Rio de Janeiro. Designed by the award winning modernist architect, Oscar Neimeyer, the property has touches of the old and new with restored original art pieces, including a huge sculpture of a mermaid, above, and contemporary designs throughout.

  1. You can see the Milky Way from Copacabana, Bolivia

Copacabana is technically a town but it’s easily accessible from Bolivia’s capitol city La Paz and well worth the journey. Copacabana is the perfect base for exploring the sites of Lake Titicaca where on a clear night you can see the Milky Way with the naked eye. If this experience isn’t already on your bucket list, it should be.

Where to stay: In between stargazing, relax at the Hotel Rosario Lago Titicaca. You’ll be able to fully immerse yourself in the culture thanks to the colonial architecture of this hotel, which has impressive views over the Lake (above).

  1. Penguins, swimming lizards, and over 400 species of fish call Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands home.

Visiting Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands is like stepping into a National Geographic documentary. Each island offers something unique and ranges from barren black volcanic rock to white sand beaches surrounded by gemstone-blue waters. For wildlife lovers, as those shown above, there’s plenty to see including penguins, fur seals, giant tortoises, marine iguanas, blue-footed boobies, hawks—the list is endless. Hikers can explore the volcanoes while aquatic enthusiasts can swim with the tropical fish. Finally, history buffs can visit the Charles Darwin Research Station and learn why this cluster of islands served as the inspiration for his Theory of Evolution.

Where to stay: The award-winning Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel on the island of Santa Cruze is ideally located in the middle of the Galapagos. Set on a private beach the property offers Cordon Bleu gastronomy, beach front living and a hammock in each room.