Please click onto the links below for comprehensive information and travel advice.
We will advise you on the best time of the year to travel and, just as importantly, when not to go to a particular region or place. We hope the following guidelines are useful:
The best time of the year to travel to southern Chile and southern Argentina, the Falklands and Antarctica is December to February.
The best months for the Galapagos Islands are December to March, when the seas are at their calmest. You should avoid September-October as there is a sea mist at this time.
The Inca Trail is closed in February. The wet season in Peru runs from November to March. The best time of the year for hiking the Inca Trail is May to September but bear in mind that July-September, whilst dry, can get very cold in the Andes in winter.
For travel to Venezuela, the Guianas, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru, the warmest time of the year is December to March, but this coincides with the wet season. April-May or September-October are probably best.
The Rio Carnival in February takes place at the hottest and wettest time of the year. It doesn’t stop the Brazilians, so please don’t let the weather put you off either. If you a planning a trip to the Pantanal the wet season (November-February) is best avoided.
The Uyuni salt flats and the Atacama Desert are turning into year-round destinations but bear in mind that temperatures plummet at altitude in the South American winter (July-September).
The best time of the year to travel to Mexico, Cuba and Central America is in the dry season between December and April. The wet season in the Caribbean and Central America is generally May to November. Hurricanes are most likely in September and October but can start as early as May and continue until the beginning of December.
Please click the links below for up-to-date visa and entry requirements for British nationals travelling to Latin America:
Falkland Islands: www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/falkland-islands/entry-requirements
Please make sure your passport is valid and up to date. In general terms, your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from your date of arrival into all South American countries.
Evidence of Yellow Fever vaccination may be required for travellers who are going to or have recently been to countries where there is a risk of yellow fever transmission.
Travelling with children
Single parents or adults travelling with children under the age of 18 are required to provide notarised documentary evidence of parental responsibility, or consent to travel from those with parental responsibility. Such documentation is often required before being allowed to enter Latin American countries and, in many cases, before permitting children to leave the country.
Local airport taxes International and domestic airport taxes may be payable locally if it is not included with your airline tickets. This is usually payable in US dollars and it may not always be possible to pay by credit/debit card.
For up-to-date advice on any vaccination requirements and any health risks associated with visiting Latin America, contact your local GP.
The following NHS websites provide health information and advice for travellers to Cuba, Mexico, Central and South America, the Falkland Islands and Antarctica and to St Helena:
Central America: www.fitfortravel.scot.nhs.uk/destinations/central-america
South America, the Falklands and Antarctica: www.fitfortravel.scot.nhs.uk/destinations.aspx#south-america–antarctica
Please click onto the links below for up-to-date advice from the Foreign and Commonwealth office:
Costa Rica: www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/costa-rica
El Salvador: www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/el-salvador
Falkland Islands: www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/falkland-islands
French Guiana: www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/french-guiana
Help for British nationals in South America:
In general terms it is best to travel to Latin America with a supply of US dollars rather than trying to obtaining any local currency here. Dollars can always be changed for local currency and are more widely recognised than euros or pounds. The clear exceptions are if you are travelling to the Falklands Islands or to St Helena which are pegged to sterling or to French Guiana which uses the euro.
Please note that there are currently no ATM cash machines on St Helena (you can get cash out over the counter at the Bank of St Helena during office hours). A limited number of shops and businesses may accept Visa/ Mastercard for payment but a fee is usually charged.
For other countries, it is generally always a good idea to visit an airport ATM when you land, before leaving the airport. Some ATMs (e.g. in Peru) will give you the choice of taking out either local currency or US dollars. You should always take sensible precautions when using bank ATMs.
It is generally easy enough to travel throughout Latin America using bank ATMs but these are not always available in remote locations such as Patagonia, the Atacama desert, the Uyuni Salt Flats or the Amazon jungle. We always recommend you keep a supply of US dollars handy and make sure that notes are clean and undamaged. Torn or damaged notes (e.g. from a staple or written on) will not be accepted.
We also suggest that you have a supply of single 1 dollar notes as these are useful for tips for airport and station porters and for hotel staff.
Credit cards are widely accepted in hotels and the better restaurants and shops but may not be accepted in small shops, cafes, bars and restaurants, nor in local markets.
In general terms, MasterCard is more widespread than Visa. It may be a good idea to take both if you have them. Usage of American Express is rare. If you are a regular traveller to countries where the currency is the US dollar (e.g. Ecuador, Panama, the United States) or where you can obtain US dollars from some bank ATMs (e.g. Peru, Bolivia) you may like to consider obtaining a currency card. Caxton FX, Foreignex and FairFX are amongst suppliers. Charges and fees vary.
Exchange Rates are subject to change at any time but the following table gives indicative rates:
Note that the St Helena Pound is pegged to the British Pound (Sterling) and is also used in Ascension Island. The Falkland Islands Pounds is similarly fixed and in all these territories Bank of England notes and coins are accepted. French Guyana is an overseas department of France and thus uses the euro. Ecuador abolished their own currency (the Sucre) in 2000 and adopted the US Dollar.
Argentina: Buenos Aires: GMT -3
Belize: Belmopan: GMT -6
Bolivia: La Paz: GMT -4
Brazil: Rio de Janeiro GMT -4
Chile: Santiago: GMT -3
Chile: Easter Island: GMT -5
Colombia: Bogota: GMT -5
Costa Rica:San Jose: GMT -6
Cuba: Havana: GMT -5
Ecuador: Quito GMT -5
El Salvador: San Salvador GMT -6
French Guiana: Cayenne:GMT-3
Falklands: Stanley GMT -4
Guatemala: Guatemala City: GMT -6
Guyana: Georgetown: GMT -4
Honduras: Tegucigalpa: GMT -6
Mexico: Mexico City: GMT -5
Nicaragua: Managua: GMT -6
Panama: Panama City: GMT -5
Paraguay: Asuncion: GMT -3
Peru: Lima: GMT -5
St Helena: Jamestown: GMT
Suriname: Paramaribo GMT -3
Uruguay: Montevideo GMT -2
Venezuela: Caracas GMT -4½