South America is one of the hottest must-see travel destinations – especially for more adventurous types. In a guest post by Luis from Vagabundo magazine he picks 10 of the most naturally beautiful places to visit in South America…
The Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
Nearly everyone want to visit this archipelago despite being one of the most expensive attractions in all of South America. But having the chance to walk among the exotic wildlife species – such as the giant tortoise and the sea iguana – make it worth every penny. Swimming with wild dolphins and snorkelling are also other highly recommended activities in the Galapagos.
The Canaima National Park, Venezuela
Home to the highest waterfall in the world – the Angel Fall – this National Park can only be reached taking a flight from Caracas, via Puerto Ordaz. The tepuies, or table-top mountains, whose formation goes back to the time when South America and Africa were part of the same continent, can only be found here and are an excellent opportunity for hikers and climbers.
The Nazca Lines, Peru
Declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the lines and figures on the ground can only be seen from above – which means that a flight has to be taken to admire them completely. Alternatively nervous flyers can also view them from some hills nearby. The main attractions to this site are the precision of their formation and the amount of speculations regarding their origin and purpose.
San Pedro de Atacama, Chile
This area, located about 60 miles east from the northern Chilean city of Antofagasta, has been made famous by the cult-favourite movie The Motorcycle Diaries. San Pedro de Atacama is a great adventure destination for hikers and sandboarders, surrounded by desert and not much more. You should also visit pre-Columbian ruins or just take in amazing, lunar-esque landscape in places like the Death Valley or the Valley of the Moon. It is also known to be the best stargazing spot in South America.
The Meeting of Waters, Brazil
Manaus is the largest city of northern Brazil and it is located at the confluence of two rivers – the black-watered Rio Negro, coming from Colombia and the sandy Rio Solimões, from Peru. They run without mixing waters for eight kilometers until they finally meet to form the bigger Amazon (due to their different temperatures and densities). The waters are a very interesting natural phenomenon and make a fantastic places to visit in South America.
The Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia
With an extension of almost 4,100 sq mi, this is the biggest salt flat in the world. A surreal yet very beautiful destination, the area is highly photogenic. The flats are not near any major cities and construction materials are hard to transport so there are a bunch of hotels built from salt blocks taken directly from the Salar. The train cemetery and the abandoned tracks are also major tourist attractions and definitely worth a visit if you’re in this area.
Lake Titicaca, Peru & Bolivia
Between the two countries lies the largest lake by volume in the continent and the highest navigable lake in the world. The artificial islands (named Uros) are one of the main tourist attractions, but islands like Amantí and Taquile are best known for holding a low-profile tourism model. Here visitor’s can gain a complete cultural experience as many families offer overnight stays at their homes as well as the opportunity to get involved in traditional rituals and practices (something which I highly recommend).
Torres del Paine National Park, Chile
The Chilean Patagonia is full of beautiful natural wonders. One which you shouldn’t miss is the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve-Torres del Paine. A great place to practice adventure tourism, it’s accessible from the southernmost Chilean cities, such as Punta Arenas. It is one of the best hiking destinations in the country, and it’s better to visit during the austral summer because of the more pleasant weather and the longer daylight hours.
The Perito Moreno Glacier, Argentina
With ice walls towering as high as 40 meters, deep blue landscapes and sights, and inclusion within the Perito Moreno National Park, this glacier is a must-do when visiting southern Argentina. It is accessible from villages like El Calafate. This one is different from other glaciers around the world as it is constantly moving outward several feet per day and ice chunks fall into the sea everyday. I recommend ice trekking and viewing cruises for the best options for exploring it.
The Falkland Islands
This remote archipelago on the South Atlantic is a self-governing British Overseas Territory has been claimed by Argentina for a long time, hence the Falklands War in 1982 between the two nations. The native population – called Falkland Islanders – are although still considered to be British Citizens. Despite such controversy, the islands are beautiful and definitely worth a visit. The Falkland Tourism Board is located in Stanley (the capital and only city). Head there for organized activities ranging from wildlife encounters and trout fishing to boat trips and hiking.
Written by Luis of Vagabundomagazine. Luis is a Graphic Designer, travel and food lover from Mexico currently working as an intern for Vagabundomagazine.com. You can also check out his personal blog, Mexican Curious.