Best Places to Travel in Mexico and Central & South America in March
Harvest season in South America's most celebrated wine region begins this month, while Mexico's famous monarch butterflies are about to fly north. There are music festivals, film festivals, and massive holiday celebrations, too. Basically, it's a busy time of year in Mexico, Central America, and South America.
To help you sort through the jam-packed calendars — and determine the absolute best places to travel in the region this month — we consulted with top tourism providers that specialize in this part of the world. We also looked at popular annual events and noteworthy openings, and called upon a deep knowledge of the area.
You'll recognize some of these destinations from our list of the 50 Best Places to Travel in 2018, like São Paulo, Brazil, which is home to a burgeoning art scene. Also worth traveling for? Migrating whales and world-class dancers in Los Cabos, Mexico, which is experiencing a massive luxury hotel boom.
But we also scoured the rest of Latin America to find the best reasons to travel there right now, including scarlet macaws in Costa Rica, hands-on science in the Peruvian Amazon, the first luxury hotel in La Paz, Bolivia, and the largest Easter celebration in the Americas in Guatemala.
Whether you're looking to take an easy, non-stop flight or a seriously far-flung getaway, these are the best places to travel in South America, Central America, and Mexico this March.
This month, Abercrombie & Kent debuts the 10-day Majestic Chile & Argentina tour (March 16 to 25, from $8,495) which delivers a concise overview of the region with a serious focus on luxury experiences. Activities include guided market tours, private tango lessons, visits to hot springs, wine tastings, and more. Accommodations include the Four Seasons in Santiago, Hacienda Hotel Vira Vira in Chile's Lake District, and the Four Seasons Buenos Aires. Guests will also enjoy A&K’s signature perks, like a traveling valet to handle laundry, and a new breakfast in bed option.
Punta de Mita, Mexico
For the first time, the W Punta de Mita marks International Women’s Day (March 8) with free surfing lessons for all female guests. Three-hour lessons include surf boards and an experienced instructor with a maximum of four students at a time. Rash guards and wet suits are available to rent, but probably aren’t necessary, as the average water temperature in March is 77 degrees. A set of photos captured on a GoPro is included.
San José, Costa Rica
Lufthansa debuts twice weekly nonstop flights between Frankfurt, Germany and San José, Costa Rica this month, making it easier than ever for European travelers to visit the Central American nation. It's also whale watching season in Costa Rica’s Ballena National Marine Park, and scarlet macaw season in Corcovado National Park.
Naya Traveler debuts a new bespoke Wellness Wander tour in Peru this month. Create the private or group itinerary you want by choosing from a wide range of health and wellness focused experiences, including detox meals, surfing, consultations with shamans, meditation, Incan rituals, and more (minimum 7 days, from $900 per day, per person).
The Guadalajara International Film Festival (March 9 to 16) is one of the most prestigious film festivals in Latin America — and it's the principal showcase for new works from independent filmmakers from Mexico, and around the world. Fans can meet the filmmakers and watch new works, including features, documentaries, and short films during nightly screenings at Guadalajara’s Teatro Diana.
La Paz, Bolivia
The capital of Bolivia gets its first luxury hotel this month with the opening of the Altu Qala Design Hotel (from $300). The historic Republican-era building, which was painstakingly restored (developers even brought in a team of traditional Bolivian stoneworkers to re-create the interior one stone at a time) boasts 10 rooms, including five suites. A modern, two-story glass addition crowns the hotel, and a massive collection of Murano glass and mid-century lamps will be featured throughout the hotel. Guests can meet with a barista at the HB Bronze Café, off the lobby, to determine the roast, grind, and style of coffee they most prefer — and exactly that precise brew will be provided as part of their in-room breakfast service. There’s also an exclusive, six table restaurant with an open kitchen.
Los Cabos, Mexico
Catch the finale of whale watching season in Los Cabos this month, and then enjoy the annual Gala de Danza (March 4). Held at the Viceroy Los Cabos, the festival features performances by acclaimed dancers from around the world, such as Joffrey Ballet's principal dancer, Fabrice Calmels. The hotel’s dramatic architecture and stunning location prove to be an incredible stage and backdrop.
Estéreo Picnic, or Stereo Picnic Festival (March 24, 25, and 26) is one of the most exciting music festivals in Latin America. This year’s lineup includes Gorillaz, Lana del Ray, LCD Soundsystem, The Killers, De La Sol, The National, and Colombia’s own Grammy-nominated Bomba Esetereo, among others. One-day tickets start at approximately $130.
Aspiring scientists of all ages should head to Refugio Amazonas in March for Science Season. Guests will be joined by Wired Amazon project leaders who will speak about the Amazon and conservation-minded travelers to join in year-round Wired Amazon programs such as monitoring camera traps, collecting insects (on average, a guest helps identify one new species every month), and flying drones over the jungle canopy to identify and count tree species. After a long day of science, enjoy a massage in the wellness center and relax in a hammock or in your jungle luxe accommodations.
São Paulo, Brazil
Themes of slavery and color are explored in a major exhibition highlighting the work of Aleijadinho, an influential black sculptor and one of the most famous artists in Brazil. The exhibit opens this month at the São Paulo Museum of Art (MASP), and runs from March to June. Featured works have been collected from museums and religious congregations around the world, and there are also creations by other artists who have depicted Aleijadinho's story. It’s getting easier to make the trip, too, as LATAM Airlines is debuting a new flight from Rome to São Paulo this month.
Valle de Bravo, Mexico
Every year between November and March, millions of monarch butterflies migrate thousands of miles to fir forests not far from Mexico City. In March, warmer temperatures lure the butterflies lower down the hillsides, shaving distance off your hike up to the butterfly roosting sites at El Rosario and Cerro Pelon.
As harvest season kicks off in this celebrated wine region, so do the festivals. One of the world’s largest wine festivals is La Fiesta Nacional de la Vendimia (National Wine Harvest Festival, March 1 to 4), and it's held in the city of Mendoza. Tens of thousands of spectators will flock here to watch the parades, musical performances, dances, fireworks, and the crowing of the grape harvest festival queen. Later in the month, the beloved Rally de las Bodegas — a 435-mile classic car race — takes place in some of the most scenic areas of Mendoza wine country. A car show competition featuring classic models is also held during this time.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
The 100 band line-up for Lollapalooza (March 16, 17, and 18) could hardly get better. Attendees will enjoy headline performances by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Pearl Jam, Chance the Rapper, Liam Gallagher, and David Byrne — and there are dozens of new discovery and old favorite bands on the roster as well. A highlight of the multi-day music fest is the Food Trucks Camp, where many top Argentinean chefs will be preparing meals for the crowds.
The largest Easter Week — that's Semana Santa in Spanish — celebration in the Americas takes place in this gorgeous colonial city from March 25 to 31. Expect elaborate daily parades during which enormous wooden floats are carried by the devout and cobblestone streets covered in intricate (but temporary) designs made with flower petals, grains, and glitter. Hundreds of thousands of spectators will likely attend.
Sacred Valley, Peru
All excursions at the Explora Valle Sagrado, an all-inclusive luxury adventure base camp, are included in your rate. This month, three new explorations are unveiled (two hikes and one vehicle-based excursion), providing fresh reasons to visit the newest property in the Explora family.