South America Travel Tips for Seniors
The long, wide continent of South America holds lots of charming experiences in store for any visitor. See the haunting landscape of Patagonia, walk the lively streets of Santiago and Montevideo, marvel at the Incan ruins of Machu Picchu, the seaside pastures of the Falkland Islands. You may not pick up too many senior discounts, but you’ll find the exchange rates are good and the prices are generally much lower. It’s also a relatively easy continent to get around in, as English is widely spoken in all of the top tourist areas. Read on for more South America travel tips and guides.
Taste the diverse delights. The cuisine of South America varies a great deal depending on culture, nationality, and geography. Argentina is famous for its beef, for example, while countries like Chile with a long coastline serve the tastiest fish around. For true gastronomy, the top tip is to follow the wine: where’s it excellent like in Argentina and Chile, so is the food, while mid-ranking wine producers like Uruguay and Peru can be somewhat mediocre on cuisine as well.
See the sights by train. Railways are something of an endangered species on the continent of South America, but you can still see some amazing places at ease by taking the train. There’s a scenic line between Machu Picchu and Lake Titicaca running through the Sacred Valley and Cusco, for example. Chile has some excellent trains for day trips south of the capital Santiago, while in Argentina you can get to Rosario and Cordoba from Buenos Aires by rail. A particular highlight is Argentina’s Old Patagonian Express or La Trochita to the locals. This steam locomotive line has long since passed its heyday, but you can still take a one-hour tourist train to sample a bit of railway history. See www.patagonia-argentina.com for more information.
Visit the world-famous wonders. South America is home to a number of landmarks known the world over. The Christ the Redeemer statue above Rio, for example, is now seen as one of the Seven Wonders of the modern world. You can visit the statue on Corcovado Mountain by road or rail, and there are escalators and elevators on hand to spare you the 222 steps up to the statue itself. The once ‘Lost City’ of Machu Picchu is now easily accessed by road or rail from the modern Peruvian city of Cusco, followed by a short bus ride. Even Easter Island is only a flight away from Santiago, and there’s plenty to see and do once you’re there.
Sample the open-air markets. One relaxing activity you can enjoy on your trip is to take a walk around a street market. Luckily, you can find these almost anywhere in South America. For instance, Ecuador has exotic foods and Panama hats in its markets, while Argentina is a good place to go to find unique antiques at one of several flea markets in Buenos Aires. And Rio de Janeiro has innumerable places where you can find great souvenirs at reasonable prices.
Experience the rhythm of Rio. Even though it’s no longer the capital, Rio de Janeiro remains the pulsing heart of Brazil. Here you can take a relaxing walk along the famous Copacabana promenade, admire the renowned works of modern architecture and see some of the many fascinating museums and art galleries that pay testament to the city’s varied past and multicultural present. There are also many great places to go to see some live Brazilian music, such as the charming Rio Scenarium music venue.
South America for Seniors Travel. There are many tour companies operating in South America – most of which offer seniors travel discounts of between 5 – 10 %. The key is to contact the companies directly. As a destination, South America and its countries don’t cater specifically well to seniors. I would advise that you are in good health when you travel there and tend not to attempt independent travel unless it is something you have been doing for a while and used to. There are many fantastic tour companies that operate in the region catering from budget to 5 stars. In some areas, such as the popular Machu Pichu Inca city, consider the effects of high altitude. This is something that you don’t really know about until you are there. However, there are ways to minimize extreme effects so talk to your doctor and read plenty of travelogues/research on the area before you go.
Bronwyn White is a travel and tourism industry professional with more than 30 years of experience. Her special interest is helping retirees, semi-retired baby boomers enjoy the dream of travel. She loves to help them plan and get the most out of this time.