In spite of its strong Roman Catholic traditional background, South America has been a pleasant surprise to gay and lesbian travelers over the past years. Many countries “South of the Border” have become more tolerant, offering an LGBT-friendly neighborhoods and clubs.
Brazil, which has always been a favorite playground for LGBT travelers, along with “off-the beaten track” destinations such as Ecuador, Paraguay or Trinidad & Tobago have increasingly become LGBT magnets in the past few years. In fact, Uruguay was the first Latin American country to allow for same sex marriage. In the Americas, Buenos Aires was the first city in the Americas to allow same sex marriage.
Don’t forget to check out our lists of the Best and Worst LGBT Travel Destinations in the World:
- Best Gay & Lesbian Friendly Travel Destinations in the World
- 10 Most Unfriendly Gay and Lesbian Travel Areas in the World
What makes South America so Attractive to Foreign Travelers?
There isn’t just one reason but a few reasons why South America is great for travelers.
Tolerance is definitely one of the main reasons, but also the good weather year-round, the low cost of living (it’s probably one of the few places in the world, where the US$ hasn’t lost its buying power) and the friendliness of the local population towards foreigners (unlike other parts of the globe, where being an American can be risky).
This friendliness has led to a number of love stories that have made thousands of foreign travelers return to South American destinations. It’s a fact that the local LGBT community is fascinated by foreign visitors and they go out of their way to make their foreign visitors feel comfortable and at ease.
Although the US dollar has also plunged against the local South American currencies, South America is still a bargain for US travelers. You can eat excellent steak in Buenos Aires for as little as US $5! In São Paulo you can find world-class hotels starting at US$ 75.
Where to Travel To in South America
Stick to the major cities and tourist areas such as Cartagena, Galapagos, the Amazon, Rio de Janerio, El Calafate, and etc. One shouldn’t worry about it: LGBT travelers are always very welcome and pampered in these areas.
Of course, there are some places that should be avoided, such as the backward countryside areas where the tolerance towards homosexual life is as low as it can be in some parts of rural USA.
Traveling alone in South America isn’t a concern for the LGBT traveler, since you will seldom be alone in South America: locals tend to be extra-nice and friendlier to lone LGBT travelers. If you choose to travel in groups, be sure to allow enough time to mingle with the locals, since it’s the best manner to experience “The South American way.”
So next time you plan your trip abroad, go to South America, the best LGBT kept-secret in the Western world.
For more information and tips on LGBT travel, visit: www.gaytravelbrasil.com.
Oswaldo Valinote is a director of ABRAT-GLS (Brazil Travel Association of Lesbian, Gay and Transgenders) and he is also Director of Gay Travel Brasil (www.gaytravelbrasil.com), Latin America’s first LGBT travel operator.