South America is the ideal continent for travelling. It has it all – beautiful scenery, rainforests, rivers and waterfalls, wildlife galore, vibrant cities and music that fills the streets. Here are some of the best places to sneak into your trip.
1. Machu Picchu, Peru.
If you hike the spectacular 33 km long Inca trail or just take the train, the lost Inca city of Machu Picchu is a must-see when visiting South America. The surrounding region is known as the Sacred Valley also has a lot to offer, with the beautiful Inca citadels of Pisac and Ollantaytambo. The undisputed archaeological capital of the Americas and the ancient capital of the Inca Empire, Cusco, is the starting point for most trips to the Sacred Valley, making this region a paradise for history buffs.
2. Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia.
The beautiful southwest corner of Bolivia has many beautiful landscapes. The Salar de Uyuni is one of the best and is the largest salt dish in the world, located at an altitude of around 3,650 m above sea level. You can take 4×4 safaris from Uyuni, which admire the salt flats (including overnight in a salt hotel!), Many volcanoes, colourful lakes, hot springs, geysers, flamingos, llamas, alpacas and endless spectacular landscapes.
3. Galapagos Islands, Ecuador.
These volcanic islands lie 1000 km off the west coast of Ecuador and are a paradise for nature lovers. Home to giant turtles, sea iguanas and hundreds of different bird species, wildlife viewing is the main attraction here. Most tourists spend 4 to 8 days sailing around the islands by boat, by far the best way to get close to most of the wildlife. The scuba diving here is fantastic and also very unique.
4. Angel Falls, Venezuela.
The highest waterfall in the world at a height of 979 m and with a dip of 807 m. It is located in Canaima National Park, in the southeast corner of Venezuela. To visit, you must fly (45 minutes) from Cuidad Bolivar to Canaima. From Canaima, it’s another 5-8 hours (depending on water levels) by boat upstream from the falls. Best visited during the rainy season, the falls are therefore the most impressive between June and September, but in truth, at any time, it’s great, because they are one of the most spectacular sites in the world.
5. Cuidad Perida, Colombia.
Built by the Tayrona Indians, between the 8th and 14th centuries. Located in northern Colombia, near the town of Santa Marta. The only way to visit the lost city is to participate in a guided tour of 52 km over 6 days. The first 3 days are devoted to hiking to the lost city, with 1 day of exploring the site and the other 2 days of hiking until the start. Not much of the original city remains, but the views and location on the site are impressive.
6. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
One of the most beautifully located cities on the planet. Cradle of the famous Rio Carnival, there is so much to keep you occupied for weeks. Sunrise over the Sugar Loaf Mountain, sunset from Corcovado (next to the statue of Christ the Redeemer), relax on the beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema, sip coffee in Santa Teresa, cheer on a football match at Maracana stadium and dancing the night away in one of the many clubs located throughout the city, are just some of the fantastic experiences to live in Rio.
7. Patagonia, Argentina / Chile.
This region of southern Argentina and Chile is simply magnificent. To visit preferably during the summer months from October to March. Visitors come to see its incredible landscapes and natural fauna. Some of the most popular things to do are hike around the incredible granite peaks of Parque Nacional Torres del Paine, visit the Perito Moreno Glacier and go whale watching on the Valdez Peninsula. The beautifully situated mountain towns of El Calafate and Bariloche are also popular and the southernmost town of Ushuaia is the starting point for trips to Antarctica.