Best Latin America Tour Companies 2022
The votes are in and Travel+Leisure readers have once again chosen their top picks for hotels, resorts, and destinations around the world. They’ve also asked readers to pick the top tour companies.
The world’s best tour operators are quite subjective depending on your style of travel and there’s a limit to how many tour companies even the wealthiest travelers have tried. Plus we know from all those “Please vote for us!” solicitations we receive that there’s a lot of ballot stuffing going on.
But thousands of readers can’t be too off the mark can they? So we thought we would break down the operators on the T + L list that offer excursions in our part of the world—Latin America—and see how they compare one to another. Here are the tour companies in South America, Central America, and Mexico getting the highest ratings.
Duvine is a luxury biking and adventure tour operator offering four of their tours in Latin America: Chile, Ecuador, Uruguay, and Costa Rica. The Chile tour takes you through Chile’s Lake district. On the Costa Rica tour, you see the country’s foremost volcano, Arenal, and bike around the natural reserve that surrounds it as well as spend time on the beaches of the Guanacaste region.
The Uruguay route takes you to visit some of the country’s wineries as well as a jaunt through Montevideo. The Ecuador trip takes you biking through the Andean dry forest to kayaking in the Galapagos islands.
The trips are upwards of $6,000 and that price includes almost all related costs, including accommodation, bike gear, guides, wine tastings, and gourmet meals throughout. The only extra amount to pay is for airfare to the pick-up spot. They are also committing to becoming carbon neutral by the end of this year.
Classic Journeys has been offering luxury walking tours around the world since 1995. They have an eco-friendly, on-island tour of the Galapagos Island and a tour of Chile that spans from the very north to the pampas, stopping for wine and nature along the way. They offer a surf and turf combo in Belize so you can see the ancient ruins and the barrier reef, and in Colombia they stop in Cartegena, Medellin, and the Coffee triangle.
Their Peru trip includes options to hike Machu Picchu or take the Vistadome train and in Panama the tour travels through both jungle and farmland along the way. Most meals on the trip are included in the price (starting at around $4,000 per adult) as well as gratuities (which is nice not to have to worry about), and all land transportation on the tour (although watch out for internal flights that cost a separate fee).
Artisans of Leisure
Artisans of Leisure arranges ultra-deluxe private tours that are personalized to individual clients and their wants and needs. The sheer volume of the tours they offer is overwhelming but that’s because these aren’t set tours, but suggested itineraries that travelers can choose from or use to make their own unique trip plan. In Latin America Artisans of Leisure offer tours in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador and the Galapagos, Mexico, Peru, and Colombia. See more info here.
Each includes high-end lodging at each destination, ground transportation and transfers, private guides and drivers, and what they tout as exclusive access to events, tastings, and experiences. The cost of the tours varies but most will run you upwards of $15,000 (based on double occupancy).
For a luxury tour operator in Latin America that goes a little out of the normal lux locations like Belize, Argentina, Chile, and Peru, try Black Tomato. The company has trips in most of the continental countries in Latin America (excluding Paraguay, El Salvador, Venezuela, Honduras, Guyana, French Guinea, and Suriname). There are various sample itineraries that they offer in each country and these tend to run upwards of $3,500 per person depending on where and what you are planning – their website is not clear about what is included in the price of your trip and what is not.
They also have a sustainability focus that includes paying into carbon offsetting projects. Black Tomato owns Epic Tomato, which is an expedition and adventure part of their business, as well as a corporate travel side where they arrange trips for big groups.
One of the oldest tour companies on this list, Geoex has had years of on-the-ground experience and works with some of the most well-known names in luxury travel like the Tompkins foundation, founders of the Pumalin Park in Chile and many others. They have itineraries that span the globe including 15 in Latin America. You can visit the Brazilian, Ecuadorian or Peruvian Amazon, Check out Patagonia, or see the underrated luxury side of Nicaragua.
Tours run about $5,000 and up per person and include accommodations, ground transportation, airport transfers, most meals, some gratuities, and guide services.
Wilderness travel hits most of the popular spots in Latin America, as well as a few extras that aren’t on every tour operator’s list like the Falkland Islands, Easter Island, and the Pantanal of Brazil, the world’s largest tropical wetland. The tours are super luxe, so envision luxury safari camps and exclusive boutique hotels, as well as a lot of pampering.
These tours have set days that they are scheduled for, with group sizes up to 10 or 12, the prices slightly cheaper the more participants, but coming in at $5,000 and above per person for two people.
Kensington tours has a bevy of options in each country where they offer them and packages for five days to up to a month of traveling, the cheapest of which will run about $3,000 for two people. You can also customize a tour using their itineraries as starting points. The tours run the gamut from exploring a single city like Panama City or Santiago, Chile, to exploring the Brazilian Amazon and Antarctica aboard a cruise ship.
Quasar is one of the few tour operators on this list that has stuck to a few singular locations and become top experts in those places. In this case, it’s the Galapagos Islands and Patagonia, where they have years of expertise and knowledge on how to craft perfect luxury vacations aboard small cruise ships. They have a couple of cool, novel options like a photography cruise and an Autism cruise and they have been Voted the #1 Small-Ship Ocean Cruise Line over and over again by Travel+Leisure.
Luxury Latin America writers have had several opportunities to travel with Quasar and always sing their praises. Check out our latest story on a puma tracking tour in Chile.
TCS World Travel
TCS offers pre-scheduled tours for groups as large 25, that clients chose from the listings on their website. Their specialty is travel by private jet, either with a group or in a custom private tour, and most pre-organized tours last 10 days or more. While traveling by private jet might be one of the most carbon-intensive ways to travel, TCS claims to calculate its carbon footprint and purchase carbon offsets to make up for its output. The company only has two or three tours that stay strictly within the Americas, with most of the Latin America destinations part of a larger Around the World itinerary. Check out packages and prices here.
Butterfield and Robinson
Focused initially on bike tours throughout Europe, Butterfield and Robinson now offer all kinds of tours—on bike, on foot, by boats—that focus on slow, deliberate travel. They have a commitment to sustainable travel and offer three types of trips: scheduled group trips with pre-set dates and itineraries, self-guided tours with a basic structure but the freedom to pace your days the way you want, and Bespoke tours. The latter give clients complete control as they work with a trip designer to put together their dream trip.
In Latin America, the pre-set itineraries include Peru, Colombia, Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, Panama, Patagonia, and Uruguay with most trips running around 1,000 dollars per day per person. See story here from a Butterfield and Robinson Peru tour one of our writers was on.
Run by the Tauck family since 1925, this is one of the oldest tour companies in the United States and they were innovators in the 1950s, combining air travel with bus travel for the first time. They offer small-ship ocean cruises, river cruises, overland travel, and family-friendly tours.
In Latin America Tauck travels to the Galapagos Islands, Peru, Patagonia, Antarctica, Panama, and Costa Rica, with some of the tours incorporating more than one country in the itinerary. Tours run from around $4,000 to $15,000 depending on the destination and the length of the trip, which includes mid-tour air travel where necessary.
Adventure Women offers small groups (12-14 participants) for women only, whose dates are set in advance and travelers sign up for on the website—like a Galapagos Cruise, or Hiking Machu Picchu in Peru. The tours tend to be high-activity with lots of hiking and trekking and so might not be right for more laid-back travelers.
Their offerings for Latin America are more limited than some on this list (because they do fewer tours overall as set, yearly events) but they do visit Baja California in Mexico a good bit, the Galapagos Islands, Costa Rica, and Peru. Women on the tours also engage with local women wherever they go and the company is run and owned by a female team.
A little like Adventure Women above, Explorer Chick tours also have pre-set dates in the Americas and Europe. In Latin America, they have trips to Peru to hike the Inca trail and underwater adventures in Belize. There is also a trip to Baja California. The trips include a lot of physical activities such as hiking, kayaking, and snorkeling, so maybe not right for you if that’s not your style.
One prominent feature of their trips is that some (not in Latin America unfortunately) are day or weekend trips, so the price is a little more accessible and the trips more doable for women who have a harder time getting away to take a long trek in a foreign country.
These are not the only tour companies running high-end tours in Latin America, of course. so follow that link for lots of articles on others, including some you can book direct with that are based in the country you’re headed to.