As peak tourist season reaches an all-time high in South America, the best-known and most visited sites are inundated with waves of excited visitors. And why not? July, in reality, is a glorious month to travel extensively through most of the continent, with the dry climate facilitating hiking, extensive sightseeing and, of course, flight and road transfers in between fabulous destinations. For extensive and all-encompassing tours through South America – like our exceptional 27-day Big Five Explorer – you’ll find July ideal and can explore the biggest highlights in the continent in one fell and totally unforgettable swoop.
Central America is not to be overlooked this month, despite the fact that the region is in the heart of its rainy season. Yet in the tropics, a unique part of the world which actually receives a lot of rain, all year long (that’s what makes it so luscious!) rainy season simply translates to intense but short-lived downpours. There are still plenty of fantastic experiences to be had in this more exotic side of Latin America, especially if one hones in on all those dreamy seaside destinations for which it is so revered.
The very best things to see and do in Latin America in July?
Let’s find out!
Bolivia in July
As one of Latin America’s countries with the highest average altitude, Bolivia is a mountaineering dream come true. One that is best explored during the dry (but cold) months of June and July. This mountainous treasure is one of the continent’s hidden treasures, a place that brims with lofty peaks, a dreamy Altiplano and loads of incredible attractions. In the high-altitude Bolivian Andes, you should always expect cold night-time temperatures, so do pack accordingly. Yet it’s during the days, and especially at high altitude that you’ll soak up sunny crystal-clear skies, and that’s where Bolivia really comes into its splendour. Whether it’s to explore vibrant La Paz, stay at the unique salt-hotel of Salar Uyuni, stand in awe at the wind-eroded rock formations of the Altiplano or cruise the sapphire waters of Lake Titicaca, Bolivia makes for a truly rewarding destination in July. So pack an extra sweater and explore at length!
Ecuador in July
Head further north in July to enjoy an idyllic cruise of the Galapagos Island and you’ll be in the enviable position to explore more of Ecuador. Aside from the Galapagos, Ecuador boasts an impressive collection of highlights, one that is often overlooked. And considering July brings about the largest tourist crowds to Latin America…why not concentrate your trip on one of the least-visited regions? Among discerning return-visitors, Ecuador has a bit of a cult following. The country is small and compact, stretching from the Pacific Coast all the way to the high Andes, and boasting a glorious slice of the Amazon. This may not be the most virginal slice of the Amazon but it is super easy to access and still home to a flurry of wildlife, so definitely makes for a worthwhile itinerary addition. You can do more in Ecuador, in much less time, than perhaps anywhere else; and this is one of the country’s least-discovered attributes.
Start your exploits in Quito and fly to the Galapagos first. On your return, you can plan an overlanding journey that’ll blow your socks off! Travel north to Otavalo (making sure to stay for the sensationally colourful Saturday markets), soak up the UNESCO-listed cultural splendours of Cuenca, go climbing in Ecuador’s Avenue of Volcanoes, enjoy a/ spot of surfing in world-class waves and a phenomenal cruise in the Amazon Basin, all the while treating your taste buds to the delights of Ecuadorian cuisine. A varied, exciting, surprising and rewarding country to explore at length, Ecuador is Latin America’s most unsung hero. Don’t miss it!
Central America in July
Let the surfing theme continue this month, as Central America enjoys some of its most powerful swells of the year, attracting wave-chasers from every corner of the globe. Although July spells blistering hot temps inland – too high to really enjoy all the amazing archaeological and historical sites in the region – and a lot of rain (especially on the Caribbean side) there are some noteworthy seaside hubs that make for beautiful sunbathing, relaxing and surfing. The best beach destinations in Central America in July? Glad you asked! They would be the glorious Bay Islands of Honduras, the crowd-free stretch of sandy shores in Costa Rica’s Manuel Antonio and just about anywhere along the fantastic Mayan Riviera of Mexico. If you’re seeking a spot of sun, surf and sea at the end of a longer Latin American adventure, then don’t let news of ‘rain season’ in Central America put you off. Rains are short-lived here and have a wonderfully cleansing effect, so indulge in great deals and fabulous spots and come relax awhile.
The Atacama in July
Cold nights but startling clear skies in Chile’s Atacama Desert attract romantic stargazers in July, those brave enough to tackle the cold night-time temps in order to enjoy extensive daytime excursions, which can be a tad unbearable in very hot months. The Atacama is a visual spectacle like few others in the world and, in Latin America, it certainly claims one of the top spots. From salt-encrusted peaks to endless waves of sandy dunes, high-altitude geysers, flamingo-brimming lagoons, surreal rock formations and jagged mountains, all tinged in varying shades of terracotta. This is a true wonder of the world and although it’s certainly spectacular to visit at any time of year, you’ll enjoy the best night-time visual feast in July, so enjoy a stay in a luxury lodge and come feast all your senses in one of the driest and most unforgettable places on earth.
Arctic Cruises in July
The sensational wildlife of the Arctic will be coming out in droves this month, making expedition cruises to the far north utterly spectacular. July marks the warmest month in the Arctic Circle and as the ice melts considerably, you’ll be able to explore further than at any other time, crossing up to 1000km north of the Arctic Circle. The later you go during this month, the further north you can travel. In the heart of what is the northern hemisphere summer, you’ll discover the tundra covered in blossoming flowers and an ethereal sunlight that simply never ends. The enticing allure of experiencing 24 hours of sunlight in the Arctic, and all the magnificent sight and wildlife-seeing options that offers, is astronomical. If you can travel further north then trust that whales will too. Humpback whales continue to frolic in these frigid waters in July, as do narwhals, Beluga whales and polar bears. The Caribou migration reaches its peak this month and, as the Northern Passage opens unhindered for the first time this year due to large iceberg-melt, your options for seafaring and land explorations will be extensive. For magical Northern Lights adventures, you’ll have to visit the Arctic between September and March. For everything else, however, July is the unrivalled best month of all.
Whether you’re coming from the frosty winters of Australia and New Zealand, or wish to make the most of the summer holiday from Europe and North America, Latin America and the Arctic offer a world of fun, rewarding, relaxing and unforgettable adventures. Want to know what else is absolutely fabulous in July? Contact us…and we’ll share more of our insider’s tips and help you plan the journey of your life.
Author: Laura Pattara
“Laura Pattara is a modern nomad who’s been vagabonding around the world, non-stop, for the past 13 years. She’s tour guided overland trips through South America and Africa, travelled independently through the Middle East and is now in the midst of a 5-year motorbike odyssey from Germany to Australia.”