March brings about the first major change of season in Latin America for the new year and as the summer sizzle comes to an end, you’ll reap the rewards in a multitude of ways, no matter where you go. As high-tourist-season declines considerably, you’ll enjoy sightseeing with smaller crowds and lower prices all-round, as well as much more bearable temps in the hottest destinations. In the southern region of Patagonia, where sizzling temps aren’t exactly an issue, March does bring a mesmerizing change in colour, serving up a bevy of breathtaking sights. And in Central America, the last month of the dry season offers superb visibility at sea – for all those idyllic snorkelling trips – and extensive hiking opportunities in the remotest jungles.
Planning a March adventure in Latin America? Lucky you!
Here are the bits you shouldn’t miss.
Bariloche in March
Whilst the Autumn colour palette will not yet be at its richest in Argentina’s region of Bariloche, temperatures will only drop slightly in (and, primarily, only in the evening) making it an ideal month for active adventures. There’s literally a ton of really cool stuff to do in Bariloche, and we don’t mean just different ways of overdosing on hand-made chocolates from Rapanui! Actual (slightly) physically-demanding stuff that will turn a guilty chocolate-splurge into a guilt-free reward!
From sensational hikes over snow-capped peaks to exhilarating white-water rafting tours, horseback riding tours through pristine forests and blissful kayaking excursions along crystal-clear rivers and lakes. Cerro Campanario offers relaxing hiking and an amazing vantage point atop the peak over the national park and surrounding lakes. You could always cheat a little by ascending the mountain via gondola, which takes 10 leisurely minutes and is immensely enjoyable. We won’t tell! A quaint mountaintop café, open all year long, offers snacks and delicious hot chocolates so bring some bring some pesos.
For hard core trekkers, the climb up to Refugio Frey is absolutely unmissable, with a trail that winds through a sensational corner of the pristine reserve before opening to endless horizons of jagged granite peaks drenched in snow. March is about the last month of the year where you’ll find the trail free of ice. Start your hike from the car park of the ski village of Catedral and plan on a return hiking time of between 5 and 7 hours. This is a fabulous chance to acclimatise to high-altitude climbing if you’re planning to continue onwards to El Chalten, to climb Mt Fitzroy. Check out our brilliant 4-day Bariloche experience that helps you soak up all the best bits in just a few days.
Nicaragua in March
Volcanic and immensely fertile in nature, Nicaragua is one of the most picturesque countries in the whole continent, home to a fantastic array of animals. Given the country’s painful and sketchy history, however, mainstream tourism has been kept widely at bay here so Nicaragua offers some of the most unique, rewarding and least-touristy experiences of all. With two sensational yet very diverse stretches of coastline – one on the Pacific and the other on the Caribbean – Honduras offers a mind-boggling array of topography, activities and travel experiences. The Caribbean side is one of the least developed and the main way to get around here is by boat. An intoxicating mix of native Miskito, Caribbean and Nicaraguan ethnic groups makes this a very fascinating cultural destination, aside a spectacularly idyllic one. Over on the Pacific side, you’ll find arguably the most breathtaking landscapes of all, where a maze of imposing volcanoes frame long stretches of gorgeous and remote surfing beaches. Hiking here is exceptional. Eco-tourism vacations based on horseriding, kayaking, horseriding, fishing and photographic safaris are becoming the backbone of the tentative tourism scene in Boca de Sabalos, the capital of the El Castillo province, in the far south of the country.
So why visit Nicaragua in March, you ask? Because by then the height of summer has come to pass in Central America’s top highlights and you’ll find Nicaragua in the midst of its best wildlife-spotting month of the whole year. Milder temperatures and little to no rain means that visibility is great for snorkelling and climate ideal for historic town sightseeing (in Leon and Granada), as well as volcano hiking. Central America’s largest country is also its least populated and boasts an impressive natural biodiversity that would have to rate as one of the most overlooked treasures in all of Latin America.
Our Nicaragua Highlights tour gives you a taste of all this fascinating country has to offer in a short-and-sweet, weeklong adventure.
Santiago in March
From one of the least-known treasures in Latin America to one of the most celebrated: March really does bring out the best in Latin America! March marks the start of the grape harvest season in Santiago and never will you find a more rewarding (ie. ridiculously delicious) time to visit the Chilean capital.
Santiago’s wine valleys burst into life in March as grape harvest festivals celebrate the most exciting time of the year in these picturesque regions. For locals, so-called vendimias are deeply cultural and religious affairs and usually include the blessing of the first grapes, as well as celebrations with folkloric performances, gastronomic delights, and endless wine tasting, naturally. During the past few years, Santiago proper has hosted a few harvest festivals of its own accord and if the trend continues it would mean that even those who are short on time need not miss out. Overall, there are at least half a dozen festivals held in each of Chile’s 13 wine-producing areas.
In the midst of the harvest season, you could have DOZENS of festivals to choose from within easy day-drive distance from the city. The only catch? Harvest is, as you may appreciate, quite the fickle affair. Dates for the start of harvest season are not set in stone until just a month or so beforehand, so keep your eyes peeled for news and let your trusty travel agent know that this is on your must-see list and they’ll make sure to make any last-minute changes so you don’t miss a second of this exciting Santiago experience.
Antarctica in March
As the Antarctica cruising season nears its tail-end for another year, you’ll find exceptional value-for-money deals on offer. Yet that’s not the only reason Antarctica is such a fabulous place to visit this month.
The last wildlife ‘hoorah’ takes place in Antarctica in March, so you’ll encounter larger-than-usual pods of whales off the coast of the peninsula, as well as the largest colonies of King Emperor Penguins on South Georgia Island.
The lack of obstructive ice, at the end of the summer, also means your cruise can explore further than at any other time, so now would be an ideal time to choose a small ship cruise above a large cruise liner experience. You really don’t want the gargantuan size of your vessel to be the only impediment to extensive explorations.
Nesting Wandering Albatrosses are the absolute highlight on Prion Island this month, as are the adolescent seal pups which roam around curiously (right up to your feet!) whilst waiting for their parents to return with dinner. Another truly amazing highlight of March is the incredibly sultry sunsets, a visual spectacle which high-season visitors miss out on. If you’re interested in an epic Polar Circle voyage then do note that March is the last month of the year they’re on offer. Check out our Antarctica wildlife guide for all the magical encounters you can expect in March.
Ready to plan a crazy, unforgettable and totally WILD March adventure in Latin America? We’re ready to help! Contact us for itinerary ideas and advice on these, and more, sensational destinations
Author: Laura Pattara
“Laura Pattara is a modern nomad who’s been vagabonding around the world, non-stop, for the past 15 years. She’s tour-guided overland trips through South America and Africa, travelled independently through the Middle East and has completed a 6-year motorbike trip from Europe to Australia. What ticks her fancy most? Animal encounters in remote wilderness, authentic experiences off the beaten trail and spectacular Autumn colours in Patagonia.”