Getting to South America has gotten much easier in recent years due to massive increases in flights to the continent by major global airlines. Although some particular places are still quite hard to reach (i.e. Paraguay, Suriname, northern Brazil), the places that you most likely want to go, such as Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro, are more accessible than ever before.
From Africa: the only (reliable) options worth considering would be the South African Airways service linking Johannesburg with Sao Paulo and Buenos Aires or the Malaysian Airlines service between both major South African cities and Argentina(Johannesburg via Cape Town to Buenos Aires). There are also connections between Luanda and Rio de Janeiro, Salvador de Bahia and Recife with Taag Angola Airlines. Do realize that demand between Africa and South America is very limited, so even the aforementioned services are infrequent and fares may be quite high.
From Asia: Be prepared for a very long journey, especially if your itinerary includes connecting flights to travel to/beyond the major Asian and South American hubs. In addition to the aforementioned Malaysian Airlines flight to Buenos Aires (which does of course originate and terminate in Kuala Lumpur), there is a Japan Airlines service from Tokyo-Narita to Sao Paulo (via New York-JFK, ending in September) and a Korean Air route between Seoul-Incheon and Sao Paulo (via Los Angeles). Do note that the Malaysian Airlines flight makes 2 stops en route, while the latter options involve a stop in the United States that will require all passengers, including those in transit, to pass through U.S. customs. Air China will restart flights between Beijing and São Paulo , via Madrid, in December 2009. If practical, consider the non-stop Emirates flight from Dubai to Sao Paulo, currently the only direct link between the Asian and South American continents. In 2011, Singapore Airlines started flights from Singapore to Sao Paulo via Barcelona
From Australia, New Zealand, and the South Pacific: A somewhat surprising number of options exist. Both Aerolineas Argentinas and LAN (Chile) Airlines serve Auckland and Sydney from their respective hubs at Buenos Aires and Santiago, while Qantas introduced a non-stop service between Sydney and Buenos Aires on November 24 2008. LAN (Chile) also operates one of the world's most obscure flights of all - a service linking Santiago-Easter Island-Tahiti.
From Europe: The entire South American continent once lived under European colonial rule, and the resultant political, social, and economic ties between former colonies and colonizers remain quite strong even today. Portuguese flag carrier TAP Airlines is by far the leading foreign carrier to Brazil, serving a slew of destinations in North and East Brazil as well as the Brazilian capital Brasilia which otherwise have only limited or absolutely no other international connections. Spanish flag carrier Iberia flies to most of the former Spanish colonies, although neither Bolivia nor Paraguay are served. KLM flies between Amsterdam and Suriname and Air France links Paris with French Guiana. Of course, such services are not exclusive - KLM also flies to Lima, TAP to Caracas, Air France to Rio de Janeiro, etc. Other leading European airlines such as British Airways, Lufthansa, Swiss Airlines, and Alitalia also serve key South American gateways from their respective hubs, while South American airlines also operate into several major European cities as well.
From North America: Until very recently, it was virtually inconceivable to reach South America from anywhere other than Miami. Today, however, rapidly developing hubs at Atlanta, Dallas/Fort Worth, Fort Lauderdale, Houston, Mexico City, New York, Newark, Orlando, Toronto, and Washington-Dulles offer viable alternatives. Indeed, airlines such as Air Canada, Continental and Delta Airlines have successfully begun to challenge the virtual monopoly once enjoyed by American Airlines to several key markets. American discount carriers such as Spirit Airlines and JetBlue (Azul in Brazil) have recently fought hard for and won several route authorities to serve the likes of Colombia, Brazil and Peru, bringing low fares to these markets for the first time. Given the U.S. airlines' cutbacks in service, frequency, and cities served over the years, consider high quality Latin American carriers such as Avianca (to Colombia with daily non-stop flights to Bogotá, Medellín, Cali and Cartagena), Copa Airlines (Panama's national airline to hits hub in Panamá City), LAN Airlines (Chilean carrier serving Chile direct and via several other countries), or TAM (to Brazil).
The Most Frequently Asked Travel Questions about South America
Where To Stay & Best Hotels in South America - updated Jun 2023
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