South America is on the to-do list for many for the sheer scale of ancient sights, natural wonders and captivating cultures available in this vast and varied continent. The good news is, you don’t have to be an adventurer to head to South America and feel like a pioneer venturing to a new frontier. Whether you opt for a guided tour or decide to DIY, here are the 17 destinations to experience at least once in your lifetime:
1.Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia
Salar de Uyuni is the world’s largest salt flat, located in Bolivia, spanning 4086 square miles. Unlike the rest of the deserts known which have sand in abundance, Bolivian desert features vast expanses of glistering white salt. In autumn, due to the heavy rains, the flats are transformed into a vast puddle that reflects the sky, making it almost impossible to tell where the land ends and heaven begins.
2. Machu Picchu, Peru
Machu Picchu stands 2,430 m above sea-level, in the middle of a tropical mountain forest, in an extraordinarily beautiful setting. It was probably the most amazing urban creation of the Inca Empire at its height; its giant walls, terraces and ramps seem as if they have been cut naturally in the continuous rock escarpments. The natural setting, on the eastern slopes of the Andes, encompasses the upper Amazon basin with its rich diversity of flora and fauna.
3. Perito Moreno Glacier, Argentina
On the southern area of the Park, the most famous glacier can be seen: Perito Moreno. It is very famous because of its dynamic changes, which produces a cyclic phemomenon of forward and backward movement, with spectacular ice falls from its front walls.
4. Moai, Rapa Nui National Park, Chile
Easter Island, one of the world’s most remote inhabited places, some 3,700 kilometers off the coast of South America, is home to an extraordinary archaeological heritage that spans over a thousand years. The archaeological sites of Easter Island are protected within Rapa Nui National Park, an open-air museum that has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1995.
5. Torres Del Paine National Park
At the Southern tip of the Andes in Chile lies Torres del Paine National Park, one of the most impressive sights in the Southern Hemisphere and home to some of the world’s most classic trekking routes. The park is located in Chile’s southernmost and largest region, Magellanes and Chilean Antarctica, where the main economic activities are sheep farming, oil extraction and tourism. The park encompasses ancient forests, glaciers, lakes, rivers and fjords, and fauna including guanacos, foxes, pumas and a diverse array of birds.
6. Coffee plantations, Colombia
While coffee is not the famous export product in Columbia, its growing plantations produce the majority of the world’s Arabic beans. The country has already showed improved stability and becomes a “coffee tourism” destination.
7. Sugarloaf Mountain, Brazil
From its summit, 395 metres (1,300 feet) above Guanabara Bay, Sugarloaf Mountain (Pão de Açúcar) offers amazing views across the captivating landscape below: a city crammed between soaring forest-covered peaks and golden beaches edged by turquoise seas.
8. Archipielago Los Roques, Venezuela
Los Roques is an archipelago of Venezuela, located in the Caribbean, at 168 Km (100 miles) north of La Guaira, Caracas port. For its beauty and ecological importance it was declared national park in 1972. The islands’ pristine coral reef attracts many wealthy visitors, especially from Europe, some of whom come in their own yachts and anchor in the inner, protected shallow waters.
9. Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
The Galápagos Islands may just inspire you to think differently about the world. The creatures that call the islands home, many found nowhere else in the world, act as if humans are nothing more than slightly annoying paparazzi. It is a bucket-list destination for good reason: thanks to a lack of natural predators, friendly wildlife such as playful sea lions and gigantic sea tortoises let visitors get up close and personal. This archipelago of about 19 islands and many smaller islets sprinkled 620 miles off Ecuador’s coast in the Pacific Ocean is a double World Heritage site (both land and sea are protected) and served as the inspiration for Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution.
10. Iguazu Falls, Argentina
Voted as one of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World, Iguazu Falls is undoubtedly the most visited place in Misiones and one of the most imposing natural attractions in Argentina and the world. The waterfall is made up of 275 or so waterfalls and is twice as tall and three times as wide as Niagara Falls.
11. Huacachina, Peru
In the midst of one of the driest climates in the world is an oasis town with lush palm trees, flourishing foliage, and a tranquil lagoon which is said to have curative properties.The magical town is called Huacachina, and it can be found not only on adventurers’ bucket lists, but also in a barren desert in Peru.Visitors can visit the surreal settlement and the 96 residents who thrive on running small businesses on their greatest resource: sand.
12. Isla del Sol, Bolivia
If you plan a trip to Bolivia you’ll need a place to catch your breath and reset. Visiting Isla Del Sol is the perfect answer. Birthplace of the sun and the Incan dynasty, Bolivia’s Isla del Sol is the embodiment of peace and serenity. Best explored at an ambling pace, the sacred island reveals itself to be an energetic blend of mysticism and spirituality. A short boat trip from the lakeside town of Copacabana, Isla del Sol is a beautiful place teeming with archaeological marvels. Over 80 ruins can be found sprawled across the rugged 70 sq km island – remnants of the Inca civilization that lived there in the 15th century AD – as well as approximately 800 indigenous families who live in small villages dispersed throughout the island.
13. Tango in Buenos Aires, Argentina
Buenos Aires is full of tango. Most tourists visiting the city only ever have access to smallest section, the part the city creates for them. The dancers in La Boca, the tango shows hawked by tour guides and hotel concierges. But Buenos Aires IS tango… there is so much more. And it’s way more complicated than it looks on stage. The dance seems very basic at its essence, but in reality it is one of those frustrating skills were you realize that the more you know, the more you need to know. However, it is not only about the dance itself, but the culture of tango – the rules, the codes, the politics, the drama. Tango is not a hobby, it is a lifestyle.
14. Patagonia, Argentina and Chile
Patagonia has an almost surreal quality to it so it’s no wonder that visiting Patagonia is synonymous with intense rugged beauty and world-class hiking. You would struggle to find a more intensely beautiful, rugged and diverse countryside, from vivid green alpine meadows dotted with wildflowers, to glacier fields stretching as far as the eye can see.
15. Catedral de Sal, Colombia
It is an underground Roman Catholic church built within the tunnels of a salt mine 200 metres (220 yd) underground in a halite mountain near the town of Zipaquira in Cundinamarca, Colombia It is a very popular tourist destination and place of pilgrimage in the country. The name “Salt Cathedral” is mostly to attract tourists – while a functioning church that receives as many as 3,000 visitors on Sundays, it has no bishop and therefore no official status as a cathedral in Catholicism.
16. Guatape, Colombia
No trip to Antioquia is complete without at least a day spent wandering through the colorful streets of Colombia’s most colorful town – Guatapé. A quaint and charming town awaits you in Guatape with colourful streets and quiet piazzas . One of the must see sites in this city is the 200-metre El Penon de Guatape – a monolithic rock formation that shoots up out of the ground surrounding the area and can be climbed via an almost braid-like staircase.
18. Florianopolis, Brazil
The city of Florianópolis, also just called Floripa, in the east of Brazil is separated into two parts, where the main part with all the cultural life is located on a small island. It is the capital of the state Santa Catarina, and offers everything, from sun, beaches, green areas, parties, museums, fortresses, restaurants and outdoor sports activities.
featured image: source