August marks the height of the northern hemisphere summer season, attracting more visitors to Latin America than at any other time of year. As this coincides with the dry season in the Andes Mountains, it turns the best highlights of Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Chile into absolute hives of tourist activity. Yes, the crowds in big-name attractions here are huge in August, but the climate is also idyllic and ideal for extensive touring, hiking and sightseeing. August is also an exceptional month for animal-lovers looking for unforgettable experiences in the most revered wildlife destinations in the whole continent. Both the Brazilian Pantanal and the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador offer a wealth of phenomenal wildlife moments this month, with conditions making both prime destinations.
On the opposite end of the globe, Arctic cruises can explore further north than at any other month of year, thanks to August marking the height of ice melt up the top end. With the Northwest Passage now welcoming cruise passengers with abandon, this is a brilliant month for really extensive polar explorations.
Keen to take on the very best of Latin America and the Arctic in August? Then the following are the very best places to be.
Machu Picchu & Peru in August
Mild days and chilli nights make extensive hiking in the Andes possible in August, a time when you need not fear disruption to travel due to rain and potential mudslides. Layer up with locally-bought alpaca wool sweaters, beanies and gloves, and enjoy the crisp air and crystal clear skies that dominate over the high Peruvian Andes at this time of year. From hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu to extensive trekking trips on the Cordillera Blanca, as well as visits to Lake Titicaca and high-altitude cities like Cusco and Arequipa, August simply spells fantastic adventures through the clear, frosty – but most importantly dry – Peruvian Andes.
Check out our extensive Peru tour ideas!
Salar Uyuni & Bolivian Altiplano in August
Much like Peru, the Bolivian Altiplano and mesmerizing Uyuni Salt Flats are great to explore in August, which falls right in the heart of dry season. In a country whose infrastructure still leaves something to be desired (it’ll get there, we know it!) the benefits of travel in dry season are too many to mention. In August, you will get cold nights (nothing that a woolly poncho can’t fix) but in return, you’ll have clear skies and blissfully sunny days (the best for photographing the Salt Flats), easier road travel and far fewer risks of being stuck – quite literally – in the middle of nowhere due to flash flooding. Only have a couple of weeks up your sleeve? Then choose to visit Bolivia in August: climate wise, it is the safest and most predictable time of year, especially if you dream of extensive overland travel through the country. Starting from La Paz you can visit beautiful Sucre, the interesting mining town of Potosi, entrancing Uyuni and then past the multi-hued lagoons and Dali-esque plateau of the Altiplano before crossing the Salt Flats and ending your journey in the charming Atacama Desert town of San Pedro, in Chile. This is Bolivia’s ‘ultimate road trip’ and August, the ultimate month in which to tackle it.
Come see all the fun stuff you can do in Bolivia!
Pantanal in August
Brazil’s premier wildlife viewing destination, the unrivalled Pantanal, is also enjoying the height of its dry season right now. Yet this being a tropical wetland and all, it means that rains are simply far fewer than usual. As consequence, animals must compete for water and are easily lured out of their hiding dens in search of a refreshing drink, so what you get is the very best animal-watching chances, in the best animal-watching destination of all. Winter in the Pantanal sees little rain and cool nights, quite the ideal combo when you’re still dealing with daytime temps in the high-20s. As with the high Andes, you’ll need to dress in layers when visiting the Pantanal in August, as temperature differences between night and day can be considerable. Other than that, Pantanal tours are not hindered by heavy rains at this time of year, make your daily excursions chock-full of incredible wildlife encounters.
Discover our exhilarating trips to the Pantanal!
Patagonia in August
Skiers, snowboarders and lovers of sensational snowy landscapes ought to keep their aim pointed straight towards Patagonia. The ski fields around Santiago and Bariloche, lusciously covered in thick snow, are an absolute delight to visit in August. Aside from the ski fields, however, we’ll let you in on a little secret: Patagonia is a DREAM to visit in winter. Fewer crowds, lower prices and ethereal scenery are just three of the truly astounding benefits of visiting the southern tip of South America during its official ‘low season’. Although not all the hiking trails are open at this time, there’s still an absolute ton of stuff to see and do. You can still visit and hike glaciers, like Perito Moreno, tackle day-long treks around El Chalten and El Calafate and if the weather permits – or rather, if the weather doesn’t close the roads temporarily – you can indulge in a sensory overload experience like no other: a stupendous wintertime road trip around the breathtaking Lakes Region of Patagonia. From Puerto Madryn to the Valdes Peninsula and the glistening fjords of southern Chile, Patagonia is resplendent in winter and as long as you book way ahead of time – and nab the few places and tours operating at this time – you are bound to have a soul-reviving trip in what will be, in August, the least-visited corner of Latin America.
So much to see…so little time…make the most of your visit to Patagonia!
The Galapagos Islands in August
As temperatures start to drop in August in the Galapagos Islands, it’s time for Blue Footed Boobies to nest and for Galapagos Hawks, Greater Flamingos and Albatrosses, to mate and show off their sensational courting skills. August is also the month when adorable sea lion pups take to the open seas for the first time, Giant Tortoises start their high-land hikes on Santa Cruz, and humpback whales can be spotted. In August, you’ll find daytime temps hovering between 20 and 26 degrees C, with sea temps of 21.5 C (the lowest they’ll be all year) and although it’s a little chillier, the marine wildlife action is extensive, making this a magical month to visit. Given the ease of connection to just about every corner of the continent through the Ecuadorian capital of Quito, the Galapagos Islands are a genius add-on to any journey through South and Central America.
For animal lovers, a cruise of the Galapagos is the ultimate bucket-list adventure!
Arctic Cruises in August
On the opposite end of our map lies the Arctic region, which is now experiencing the last month of its high tourist season. Although humpback whales have started to leave the region, chances of seeing them on Arctic cruises are still very high indeed. This unique wildlife haven is unrivalled in the northern hemisphere. August is also still a great time to catch glimpses of narwhals, a flurry of migrating birds, polar bears closer to shore, caribous migrating, and Beluga whales on Hudson Bay, in Canada’s Manitoba region. As the greatest ice melt of the year occurs, you’ll have the best chance for cruising the Northwest Passage, as the strait remains open for a few more weeks. Spitsbergen expeditions are also still very rewarding in August but as the temps start to drop as the month progresses, it is a good idea to go as early in the month as possible.
Venture to the ice of the Arctic and beyond!
August is one of the busiest travel months in Latin America and a fabulous time of year to explore it extensively. As is the case with all popular travel months, we suggest you book your most pivotal visits ahead of time, leaving only the minor side-trips (like day hikes and drives) until you’re actually on the ground. Other than a few important bookings, there’s no reason to leave spontaneity at the door. Yes, this can be a busy month to visit the most popular sights but with so much to see and do in and around them, there’s still a lot of room for last-minute add-ons and itinerary changes. So why not contact us and discover the kind of sensational itineraries we can plan for your visit to this magnificent continent? We’d love to show you our favourite places!
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.”