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Discover the best souvenirs from South America.

It’s almost impossible to find the perfect gift for everyone, but if you’re traveling to South America, it just so happens that I’m an expert in shopping around Latin America. While on your dream holiday in South America, be sure to leave some extra room in your luggage to bring home a few of these souvenirs for your friends and family, and maybe even for yourself.

Best Souvenirs from Argentina

argentina-souvenirs-from-south-americaBuenos Aires should be named ‘the city of souvenirs’ because there are so many different souvenirs to buy. You can find something for the whole family, ranging from a leather bag for your mother to a Mafalda wallet for the teenagers in the family. For food lovers, bring home some alfajores, a delightful sandwich cookie filled with Dulce de leche. And to accompany your cookies, take home a bottle or two of Argentinian wine. If red is your calling, choose Malbec, and if you’re looking for white consider a bottle of Torrontes.

If the children of the family are fans of futbol (soccer), you cannot leave the country without a jersey from the national team, Boca, or the River Plata team. After all, Messi is considered one of the major power players of the world, so you don’t not want to risk leaving without his jersey. For fun, ask your guide about which jersey you should choose. From their answer, I guarantee you will see how serious soccer is in this country!

During your trip to Argentina, you must try mate. This traditional drink made of dried leaves is the national drink and also makes for a very social experience. If you wish to bring a little bit of Argentina home with you, purchase the gourd (that is made of calabash, wood, or ceramic/plastic for the more modern). The gourds and mate can be found nearly anywhere in Buenos Aires, but I recommend going to the Sunday San Telmo Market to find the perfect gourd.

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Best souvenirs from Chile 

wine-souvenirs-from-south-americaIf love is in the air and you’re looking to impress a future crush or your adoring spouse, then jewelry is your best bet for a souvenir from Chile.  A lot of places offer Lapis Lazuli, which is a deep-blue, semi-precious stone known for its intense color. Enough to make the women of the family happy!

Chile also produces some fantastic wine. Bring home a bottle of Carmenere. This French grape disappeared from the globe because of the Phylloxera plague in the middle of the 19th century, until winemakers in Chile discovered a few plants of Carmenere hidden with Merlot. Carmenere is to Chile, what Malbec is to Argentina: the national grape. You can’t go wrong bringing home a bottle of Carmenere!

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Best souvenirs from Peru

peru-souvenirs-from-south-americaWhen you visit Peru, you will immediately think color. The vibrant markets in the Sacred Valley, Pisac or Chinchero, are sure to inspire you. Peruvians are well-known for creating fabulous textiles with vivid colors. From the typical Alpaca Chullo (Peruvian hat) to larger pieces like scarves, blankets or tapestries, you will be amazed by the quality of the pieces.  However be weary of buying fake alpaca wool. If the price seems too good to be true, it most likely is. And if you see someone brushing their “alpaca” sweaters, they are likely fake. Ask your guide to show you the difference between fake and real alpaca wool.

Since I’ve been talking about alcohol, I can’t forget to mention that a bottle of Pisco would be an excellent souvenir to bring home from Peru. To make your bottle of Pisco even more special, ask a local for their recipe for a Pisco Sour. That way when you return home, you can impress your friends at your next cocktail party!

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Best souvenirs from Brazil

brazil-souvenirs-from-south-americaAfter you’ve indulged in your favorite activities throughout the city, it will be time to shop! My number one souvenir from Rio would be a pair of the famous Havaianas flip flops. Havaianas, created in 1962, were designed for style and comfort. Leaving Rio without a pair would just be wrong. Also, Havaianas are not only for tourists; you see that every Brazilian wears them too! Havaianas come in many colors and designs, from the very first blue and white model to the recently most exclusive patterns.

If the popularity of Havaianas does not convince you, then stick to some Brazilian music as your gift of choice. Whether you choose Samba or Bossa Nova, your friends and family are sure to love it!  Stil not convinced on what souvenir to buy from Brazil, then bring some Cachaça. Cachaça is the most popular liquor in Brazil and is used to make the caipirinha, their national cocktail. There are plenty of different brands to choose from, so take home a few and bring the beach to your home with a delicious caipirinha.

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Best souvenirs from Ecuador 

ecuador-souvenirs-from-south-americaAs an Andean country, Ecuador is a bit similar to Peru when it comes to souvenirs. The Otavalo Market is certainly the best place to find some individual pieces ranging from scarfs, hats, textiles, watercolor paintings, handmade dolls, jewelry and so much more. You could fill an entire suitcase with souvenirs from Ecuador, so be sure to leave some extra space in your luggage.

Don’t forget that this country produces excellent coffee and chocolate. Once you’ve had a taste, you’ll know you need to bring some home. All the sweet tooth’s of the family will be eternally grateful.

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Best souvenirs from Colombia 

colombia-souvenirs-from-south-americaWhen you think of Colombia, you think of coffee and what makes for a better gift than a bag of some freshly ground coffee beans? The quality of coffee beans are exceptional and the aromas cannot compare with any coffee you will drink outside of the country!

Regarding handicrafts, you will find typical round Colombian bags, used by the Native people.  These beautiful and authentic handbags would make great stocking stuffers.

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Best souvenirs from Bolivia

bolivia-souvenirs-from-south-americaBolivia is also similar to Peru and Ecuador when it comes to souvenirs. You’ll see that the streets are packed with vendors in the city of La Paz, but probably the most interesting thing you’ll see at the famous “Witches’ Market’ in La Paz are the dried llama fetuses.  You’ll see some are dried with the fur and some without fur.  These are actually a good luck charm but keep in mind you may have trouble bringing this home and getting through customs with a llama fetus.

If you’re looking for something more traditional, you’ll also find alpaca wool sweaters, masks, hand-carved sculpture, hats, blankets, colorful backpacks, jewelry and other trinkets. Bolivia is one of the cheaper countries to visit, so if you plan to stock up on gifts for friends and family, consider waiting until Bolivia.

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Collect all these souvenirs from South America!

Start collecting all of these souvenirs! Before traveling, make sure you know the luggage allowance requirements for your plane ride home so that you don’t have to leave any new purchases at the airport.  Also, update yourself on the customs regulations, so that your gifts coming back won’t get confiscated. For more information, don’t hesitate to ask your travel consultant for more advice. Have a beautiful trip and have a stress-free time shopping! 

Click the link below and get started planning your South America Tour!

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Charlotte Lebouvier

Charlotte is originally from Normandy, France. She first traveled to South America in 2009 after receiving her degree in Audiovisual Communication. Charlotte fell in love with the continent and started working in tourism in Chile: first in Valdivia then in Santiago. She has traveled throughout South America and is particularly interested in the native cultures and ancestral medicine of this beautiful continent. Charlotte is now living in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and hopes to work from our Rio office one day, to experience the Carioca way of life. Some of her favorite places include: the lake region in Chile, northern Peru and the hidden treasures such as Chavin, Chan Chan and/or Kuelap, hiking in La Cordillera Blanca in Huaraz and seeing the sunrise in the middle of the valley surrounded by mountains. Colombia has wonderful food and the happiness of its people. Brazil for its mix of culture and its music, forro, bossa nova and samba.
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