Are we itching to get out and see the world again, or what? It probably goes without saying that we are definitely ready to get back into international travel and in a big way. But how do we actually know which destinations have our backs? Does a country need the World Travel & Tourism Council’s (WTTC) “SafeTravels Stamp” to be considered a safe destination?
The great news is that most countries in South America have been bouncing back, and keeping up with the latest recommended COVID-19 protocols. In this article, we discuss the benefits of booking your private travel experience through South America now, and the entrance protocols of the six South American countries we work with: Colombia, Bolivia, Argentina, Peru, Ecuador, and Chile!
What are the benefits of traveling now?
As we collectively process the current global Omicron surge, you may be thinking, “this is not the time to plan a personalized journey through South America, right?” But the benefit to planning now is that you can take your time crafting your ideal itinerary with one of our expert travel designers months in advance. You don’t even need to have your dates set to start the planning process.
And if you are thinking of booking a carefully curated itinerary through some of these extraordinary destinations in the next couple of months, you have some tangible benefits to look forward to. We must also mention that the risk of getting severely ill and bedridden abroad with COVID-19 is much lower for fully-vaccinated travelers than for unvaccinated individuals.
– Enjoy off-the-beaten-track experiences
Off-the-beaten-path path experiences have become even more accessible and more exciting in the “new normal” of travel. Places like Machu Picchu’s “sacred sister” called Choquequirao, or Tayrona National Park in Colombia’s breathtaking Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta coastal mountain range ensure a truly authentic experience.
– Fewer crowds to contend with
This may seem like an obvious point, but definitely, one worth mentioning – the international travel landscape is much more open now. In other words, the crowds have thinned out! This also means shorter lines, which is a huge plus when it comes to the heavy-hitting bucket list items, like Machu Picchu or Iguazu Falls.
– Support local economies when they need it most
This pandemic has taken a toll on us all, especially in developing economies where tourism makes up a large percentage of local income. Your trip has even more of a positive impact now if you have the time to travel and are fully vaccinated. Tour guides are just getting back into the swing of things, after having temporarily switched gears in the height of the pandemic – so, every tourist counts!
Which South American countries are currently receiving tourists?
At this point, all South American countries are open for international travel with various conditions and requirements upon entry. For each of the six countries we work with in South America, we want to outline all of the necessary requirements, and give a quick and current update on the local COVID-19 situation.
To currently enter Colombia, all travelers over 18 must show some type of vaccination plan in motion. What this means is that you need at least your first dose. If you have two doses with at least 14 days since your last dose you don’t need a negative test result. If you only have one dose or two doses with less than 14 days since the final dose, you will need to show a negative PCR test result within 72 hours of your arrival.
Without exception, everyone entering the country needs to fill out an online form called “Check-Mig” on Colombia’s immigration website. You will need to register all of your travel information and itinerary on this website between 24 hours and 1 hour before your flight.
Colombia is experiencing its fourth wave due to the Omicron variant, and the total percentage of fully vaccinated individuals is at around 60%. All of this said Colombia is one of the six South American countries that currently as the SafeTravels Stamp. So, if you travel responsibly while fully vaccinated and following all the guidelines, the risk is not particularly high.
Borders are also open for a Bolivia personalized trip! The latest update on travel requirements dictates that every international traveler over two years old must present a negative PCR test at least one day before arrival – regardless of vaccination status.
Any unvaccinated travelers need to take an additional PCR test upon arrival into Bolivia and remain in quarantine until receiving their result. Another important element to enter Bolivia requires each traveler to have health insurance that covers COVID-19.
On the ground in Bolivia, 61% of adults over 18 have at least two doses, and the majority of hospitalizations in the current fourth wave are unvaccinated individuals. You may also be required to show your vaccination card to enter certain indoor spaces while you are traveling.
Argentina was one of the final South American countries to open its borders to international tourists in November 2021. Since then, travelers can now enter Argentina with the condition that they are fully vaccinated, showing the second dose administered no less than 14 days before their arrival date.
And everyone (vaccinated or not) must present a negative PCR test result within 72 hours of arrival, or a negative antigen test result within 48 hours of arrival. You must also show proof of a health insurance plan with COVID-19 coverage, and fill out a “declaración jurada de salud” (Affidavit of Health) within 48 hours of arrival.
Argentina claims just about 80% of its population vaccinated with at least two doses, which is why the current Omicron surge causing the third wave in the country has not substantially increased hospitalizations.
The most up-to-date entry requirements to enter Peru are as follows. Individuals who have at least two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, and are traveling for more than 14 days since receiving their last dose can enter the country without presenting a negative test result. Those who are not fully vaccinated need to present a negative PCR test result within 72 hours of their arrival date.
Everyone in your travel party needs to also fill out something called a “Declaración jurada de salud,” which is essentially an Affidavit of Health within three days of arrival, and we will help you fill this out online. You can either present this affidavit on your phone or tablet or show a printed version when you check into your flight.
Peru is another South American country backed by the SafeTravels Stamp, which means that all tourist areas and archaeological sites are taking the utmost care to follow COVID-19 protocols. Something worth mentioning is that to enter all archaeological sites you must present your vaccination card. This also goes for any stores, restaurants, malls, etc.
Peru was hit extraordinarily hard in the first and second waves of COVID-19 with hospitalizations and deaths through the roof, but has also bounced back through vaccination – over 80% of the national population with at least two doses! This means that although Omicron is now surging here, hospitalizations are relatively much lower, as with severe illness.
All travelers over 15 must present both their complete vaccination card, plus a negative PCR test result obtained within 72 hours of boarding their flights. Children between the ages of 2 and 15 who are not fully vaccinated can just present the negative test.
In addition, everyone must fill out a declaration of travel health on Ecuador’s ministry of health website. If you are also taking a Galapagos Islands luxury tour, you will need to take a second PCR test on Ecuador’s mainland 72 hours within your flight to the Galapagos.
About 75% of Ecuador’s population is vaccinated with two doses, and like most countries, they are experiencing their highest peak of positive cases since the beginning of the pandemic due to Omicron. However, the current mortality with Omicron in Ecuador is much less with 1 death every 1,000 cases instead of 1 in every 100 as was the case with Delta.
Every non-citizen traveling to Chile must complete something called a “Mobility Pass” showing at least two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to enter the country. In addition to being fully vaccinated, everyone needs to present a negative PCR test within 72 hours of your flight to Chile, a “Traveler’s Affidavit,” and proof of a health insurance policy that covers COVID-19.
Despite being hit pretty hard early on in the pandemic Chile has come back stronger than ever. They are killing it with an impressive 92% of the population fully vaccinated, and boosters on the rise as well. So even though Omicron is causing unprecedented levels of both new and breakthrough cases, like in much of the world, hospitalizations are kept at bay.
Reasons to book with Kuoda in the “new normal” of travel
For all of these countries, masking and social distancing are still in place. All of our office staff, drivers, accommodation, and expert guides take every protocol very seriously. As an agency, we are also backed by the SafeTravels Stamp and will do everything within our power to keep you as safe as possible while engaging with meaningful travel through these incredible destinations!
In many of these countries, you will need to quarantine for a minimum of five days if you test positive for COVID-19 before returning to your home country. But rest assured, because if you decide to travel with Kuoda, we will be by your side every step of the way, making sure we negotiate prices for additional hotel stays, checking in with you every day, and helping you in every way possible until the moment you can fly home.
Contact us today to jumpstart the planning for your outstanding South America vacation full of immersive experiences!