Explore South America with HAL. Credit: Shutterstock

A shore thing: Five of the best excursions to try on a South America cruise

Author: Kaye Holland

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Holland America Line offers a selection of tours to key attractions in South America, giving visitors an insight into this colourful continent

South America may not be the easiest destination to reach, but the pay-off is worth it.

This is a continent of dramatic landscapes – Amazonian rainforests, waterfalls, Chilean deserts, Patagonia glaciers, and powder-white sands are all present and correct – hip-shaking beats (Colombian salsa, Brazilian samba, and Argentine tango); cosmopolitan cities of cool (take a bow Buenos Aires and Rio); and loud and proud Latin culture that’s sure to exceed expectations.

And Holland America Line (HAL) understands this which is why the cruise line – currently celebrating 150 years of seafaring heritage – offers as much on land as they do at sea.

Whether it’s going behind the scenes at the Teatro Colón (Argentina’s renowned opera house) or taking in a tango show when in Buenos Aires; trying your hand at fly-fishing in Chilean Patagonia; or exploring the world of Pisco when in Peru, a HAL shore excursion will help you gain an insight into local life.

Make no mistake: tedious tours are a thing of the past. Shore excursions with HAL in 2023 are all about learning, tasting, exploring and gaining exclusive access to blockbuster sites.

Here are five incredible South America shore excursions that you can enjoy while cruising with HAL.

Behind the scenes at the Colon Theatre
Buenos Aires’ beloved opera house is a visually spectacular seven-storey building that was built back in 1908. Occupying an entire city block, Teatro Colon seats 2,500 spectators on plush, red velvet chairs arranged in tiers of gilded balconies rising to giddying heights.

You’ll join an expert local guide and embark on an exclusive tour (expect a maximum of 15 guests for a more personalised experience) of the opera house, accessing spaces normally off-limits.

Opened in 1980, The Teatro Colón is South America's most beautiful theatre. Credit: Shutterstock

Visit Casablanca Valley winery
Located between Chile’s capital, Santiago, and Located 60 miles (100 km) northwest of the country's capital, Santiago, and the port city of Valparaiso with its 45 cerros (hills), Casablanca Valley is celebrated for its crisp white wines.

While you can explore the valley under your own steam, an organised tour is a great way to sample some great-tasting vintages at a cornucopia of local wineries including Estancia El Cuadro with expert guidance along the way. Lunch (and a live folkloric music performance) is also included.

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Fly fishing adventure in Patagonia
Chile’s Coyhaique-Aysén region is one of the world’s most storied fly-fishing destinations, a place every self-respecting angler dreams of visiting.

And for good reason: the area’s stretches of water – from freestone rivers to vast turquoise lakes – are home to fish that are hard to find pretty much anywhere else on the planet. Accompanied by a guide (one for every two anglers) you can expect to catch – using a fly as bait – 16- to 20-inch rainbow and brown trout of three to six pounds during your three-plus hours on the water.

Whether you are the complete angler or someone who has always wanted to learn to fly but never had the chance, this excursion is for you: guides are experienced, patient and passionate. They love what they do and can’t wait to share the beauty of Patagonia and the joy of fly fishing with you.

Patagonia stole Charles Darwin’s heart like nowhere else. Credit: Shutterstock

Magdalena Island & Penguin Reserve By Covered Speedboat
There’s visiting Chile’s most important penguin colony and there’s VISITING Chile’s most important penguin colony. Join HAL on an extraordinary speedboat adventure to discover the breeding colony of Magellanic Penguins. You’ll have the chance to go ashore and interact for an hour with more than 150,000 birds.

Marta Island – that’s home to more than 1,000 sea lions, along with cormorants, skuas, Austral seagulls, Antarctic pigeons and sea elephants – is also on the itinerary. You can't step ashore on Marta due to local regulations, but HAL’s speed boat will get you as close as possible so that you can admire and photograph both the colony and the diversity of marine birds that live there.

A visit to Magdalena Island to see the Magellanic penguins is always a highlight. Credit: Shutterstock

Tango: A night of passion and desire
Argentina is synonymous with tango – it’s arguably the country’s greatest contribution to the world.

The sultry yet melancholy dance was invented in Argentina in the 1880s and HAL can take you to see a tango performance – complete with a live musical ensemble, tango dancers, and world-famous singers – in one of the most iconic tango theatres in Buenos Aires, Argentina’s charismatic capital.

As the great Argentinian author, Jorge Luis Borges, once wrote about his cherished city: "Without the streets nor dusks of Buenos Aires, a tango cannot be written.”

Buzzing Buenos Aires is the tango capital of the world. Credit: Shutterstock
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About Kaye Holland

Kaye is a London-based wordsmith who has written for a range of publications including The Times, The Independent, The I, Culture Trip, The Sun, and ABTA among others. In June 2022, Kaye joined the Real Response Media where she looks – together with Lucy Abbott – after the World of Cruising website. Want to get in touch? Kaye can be reached at: [email protected]