The start of summer brings a feeling of unlimited potential. The days are long, the weather is warm, and you’ve got a whole season ahead of you to enjoy it. It feels like summer won’t ever end. Then you blink and notice that the breeze feels just a little too cool, the sunset just a bit too early, and the stores are stocked with school supplies and pumpkin-scented candles. If you dread the end of summer each year, we have just the thing: a trip to the Southern Hemisphere.
When it’s the middle of winter in the Northern Hemisphere, Southern Hemisphere countries are experiencing the height of summer. We’ve put together this guide to what tours to travel on in the Southern Hemisphere so that you can start planning your escape. That way, once the snowplows hit the streets, you’ll be exploring waterfalls, snorkeling with sea creatures, or sipping a glass of wine in the sunshine.
Things to know about the Southern Hemisphere
What is considered the Southern Hemisphere?
The Southern Hemisphere is the half of Earth that lies south of the Equator. It contains all of Antarctica and Australia, as well as parts of South America, Africa, and Asia.
Which countries are in the Southern Hemisphere?
There are 32 countries in the Southern Hemisphere, though 13 of those countries straddle the Equator and technically lie in both hemispheres. You can visit 13 Southern Hemisphere countries on tour with us.
Which UNESCO sites are located in the Southern Hemisphere?
There are hundreds of UNESCO sites in the Southern Hemisphere. Some of the most popular (which you can visit with us on tour) include:
- The Great Barrier Reef in Australia
- Machu Picchu in Peru
- Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe
- Iguazú National Park in Argentina
- Los Glaciares National Park in Argentina
- The Galápagos Islands in Ecuador
What is a popular Southern Hemisphere destination for winter travel?
Popular Southern Hemisphere destinations for winter travel are countries like Brazil and Australia, which are warm and sunny when the Northern Hemisphere is cold. Our winter is also a wonderful time to take advantage of the lighter crowds in places like Zimbabwe and Indonesia
If you want to avoid the winter chill in the Northern Hemisphere, read on to see our list of Southern Hemisphere countries to visit to soak in even more of your favorite summer moments.
If you want to extend the summer party season:
If cooler temperatures and shorter days start to loom, but you’re not quite ready to give up partying on a beach with a refreshing drink in your hand, join us on a tour of Brazil and keep the party going. Sunshine and steamy weather make Brazil one of the most popular places in the Southern Hemisphere to travel to once the temperatures drop up north. Head to the beach with a caipirinha, a cocktail made with the rum-like spirit cachaça, fresh limes, and sugar, and forget all about the snowplows and early sunsets back home.
Plus, Brazil celebrates Carnival during their summer months. While countries celebrate Carnival many different ways around the world, no one does it quite like the Brazilians. The months leading up to Carnival in February are half preparation, half pre-celebration—you’ll see dancers practicing their samba routines and artisans crafting parade floats. The party really begins during the December holiday season before carrying on through new year’s and right up until Lent. It’s almost enough to get you through until next summer!
If you love being on the water during the warmer months:
The Pacific island of New Zealand is best known for its adventure sports, friendly locals, and staggering scenery—and is even home to spots that inspired famous films like Lord of the Rings. There’s plenty of adventure to be had year-round on a tour of New Zealand, but the Southern Hemisphere’s summer, from November to February, is the best time to head out on the water.
This is also the best time to see pods of orcas. Sail through Milford Sound in Fiordland National Park for a chance to see seals, penguins, and whales with a glass of wine in hand. After you’re finished, kayak on Lake Wakatipu or join our Waka Tour: Traditional Maori Canoe Adventure excursion to see more of New Zealand from the water.
If you find yourself longing for warm sand and glittering water during the gloomy Northern Hemisphere winter, head to the beach on a trip to Australia. The country is home to thousands of white sand beaches that are equally popular with surfers and sunbathers.
Spend a free day relaxing on the iconic Bondi Beach (it made our list of the five beaches every traveler should visit), or head out on the water to explore the Great Barrier Reef from a glass-bottom boat—you can dive in with a snorkel for a closer view.
If you’re looking for more summer adventure:
If you’re seeking excitement, you’ll find it in this diverse South American country. Whether it be treetop walks through the Amazon rainforest, a piranha-fishing adventure, or a journey to Machu Picchu, you’ll create memories worth bragging about on a trip to Peru.
Peru’s climate is mild year-round, but the country experiences heavy fog in the Southern Hemisphere’s winter, from June to August. Around November or December, the fog starts to settle to reveal lush, green landscapes ready to be explored.
Botswana may not be as well-known a safari destination as Kenya or Tanzania, but the sparsely populated country in Southern Africa gives adventurers an opportunity to view local wildlife up close from several angles. On our Botswana & Zimbabwe Wildlife Safari, you’ll discover Botswana’s flora and fauna via open-air safari vehicle, motorized boat, traditional canoe, and on foot during a guided bush walk.
Chobe National Park in Botswana boasts Africa’s highest concentration of elephants, which means you’ll see baby elephants between November and April. If you visit the country between November and January, you’ll witness the annual Great Zebra Migration.
If you love a summer trip to a vineyard:
Chile’s summers are warm but mild, averaging in the low 70s in January. The weather is perfect for wandering around a vineyard before pausing to sip a glass of wine in the sunshine. No trip to Chile is complete without at least one wine tour. Visit a sun-soaked vineyard and sip some South American wine you’ve never tried before.
After you’ve found your new favorite wine, join our Isla Magdalena Penguin Colony excursion and take a ferry across the Magellan Strait to snap some photos of the adorable Magellanic penguins—this seasonal excursion offered on our Chile to Argentina: Santiago, Patagonia & Buenos Aires tour only runs mid-October through mid-April.
South Africa is relatively new to the wine scene, but the vibrant country has already made a name for itself as a strong contender in the world of viniculture. Sip some of the country’s famous Pinotage on our Cape Winelands Tasting & Lunch excursion and see what all the fuss is about.
The country is lush and green in the Southern Hemisphere’s summer, and you’ll have a chance to visit lagoons, mountains, and national parks, all while learning about South African culture and the history of apartheid. “This tour was more than just a safari experience,” said traveler Kathy of our South Africa: Cultural Cities & Wildlife Safaris tour. “As a history and geography buff and amateur foodie, this is one of the reasons I chose it.” Another benefit of touring South Africa in the Southern Hemisphere’s summer? You’ve got a better chance of seeing baby animals while on safari.
Check out these tours
If you’re seeking more summer serenity:
A beautiful, tranquil, and spiritual country, Indonesia is the perfect place to visit when you need a break from the daily grind. Slip away on a restorative trip to Indonesia and explore emerald rice fields, practice yoga, and cook and eat nourishing local foods. You’ll have the opportunity to participate in a water purification ceremony and watch the sunrise over Mount Semeru, Indonesia’s highest volcano.
An off-season trip to Indonesia means fewer crowds and more time to explore the country’s temples and jungles free from distraction. It’s also a great time to go diving in certain areas, as the water is calmer and clearer.
A trip to Bolivia promises stirring landscapes, lively festivals, and a visit to the Fountain of Eternal Youth. There are plenty of reasons why you should visit Bolivia any time of year, but the Southern Hemisphere’s summer is the best time to have a transcendental experience at the salt flats.
While regular summertime rain showers mean you may have to be flexible with your day-to-day plans, the flood season (November to March) is the most picturesque time to visit the otherworldly Salar de Uyuni salt flats. The salt flats themselves don’t get much rainfall, but nearby lakes overflow and flood them this time of year. This turns them into a mirror reflecting the sky, creating a dream-like landscape that looks gorgeous in photos and even better in person.
If you love summery landscapes and natural beauty:
Zimbabwe is known for its natural wonders and magnificent, diverse landscapes. Here you’ll find grassy savanna, dense forests, rolling mountain ranges, and some of the world’s most famous waterfalls. No trip to Zimbabwe is complete without a tour of Victoria Falls, the world’s largest curtain of falling water and one of the seven natural wonders of the world. This UNESCO-listed site churns up spray that can be seen for 30 miles and festoons the area with dazzling rainbows. “The Victoria Falls visit was awe-inspiring and a key highlight,” said traveler Andy after returning from our Botswana & Zimbabwe Wildlife Safari tour.
The falls are calmer in December and January, but by February, toward the end of Zimbabwe’s rainy season, they are at their most impressive. Visiting Zimbabwe during this time will also guarantee lush landscapes and ample opportunities for birdwatching. Keep an eye out for endangered species like the black eagle and Taita falcon—they love to nest in the area surrounding the falls.
Argentina is a geographically diverse country with several UNESCO Natural Heritage sites. The country is marked by crystal waterfalls, dense jungle, red rock canyons, wide salt flats, and frosty glaciers—not to mention some of the most beautiful and lively cities in South America. If you start your journey from the east on our Chile to Argentina: Santiago, Patagonia & Buenos Aires tour you’ll visit Los Glaciares National Park to see the advancing Perito Moreno Glacier and get a closer look at the hundreds of smaller glaciers fed by the Patagonian Ice Field. If you visit from the Western border with Brazil on our Rio, Iguazú Falls & Buenos Aires tour, you’ll get an up-close look at Devil’s Throat, where sections of the thundering Iguazú Falls flow together into a narrow gorge. The falls form a natural boundary between Brazil and Argentina and are one of the largest waterfall systems in the world.
Of course, you’ll want to cap off any tour of Argentina with a visit to Buenos Aires. The capital city has been described as The Paris of South America, and once you set foot in it, you’ll see why. European influence meets South American style in this sultry, elegant city full of cozy cafes, tango performances, and an incredible Argentine food scene. Visit in November to see the lavender-colored jacaranda trees in full bloom.
If you love seeing wildlife in the summertime:
Tanzania is home to some of the world’s most diverse national parks (and one of the best sunset spots in the world). Here you’ll have a chance to spot the Big Five: elephants, buffalo, rhinos, leopards, and lions, as well as flamingoes, zebras, giraffes, and more. It’s a wildlife lover’s dream come true, and a tour of Tanzania will take you through transformative landscapes in search of these awe-inspiring creatures.
The time between November and March is known as the “green season” and is the best opportunity to see migratory birds and young calves. January and February are the best months to see wildebeest calves, and, as a result, they’re also the top times to see predators in action. This time of year also brings your greatest chance to catch a glimpse of the highly elusive black rhino in the Ngorongoro Crater.
Ecuador straddles the Equator and technically falls in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. It’s a small country that has a lot to offer, especially to nature and wildlife lovers. Ecuador is slightly smaller than the state of Nevada, but within its borders, you’ll find soaring mountains, active volcanoes, part of the Amazon rainforest, and the Galápagos Islands.
Visit Ecuador between November and March for the ultimate Galápagos experience. The warm weather and calm waters make this time of year ideal for boating, snorkeling, and getting up close and personal with the diverse Galápagos wildlife. There are thousands of distinct species living on and around the islands, including endangered species and animals you’ll only find in the Galápagos. “I felt like I was in a National Geographic or nature program,” said traveler Julia of our Ecuador & Galápagos Islands Cruise.