Oh South America! My favourite hunk of land on this wonderful world. It has it all, and more, from wild unexplored expanses in Patagonia to quirky towns built on stilts in the Chilean Lake District.
It was a tough call to pick just 6 places that you must visit in South America, but pick we did. There’s something for everyone in this mix, so go on, book those flights and explore!
1. Torres del Paine, Chile
If you’re looking for natural beauty, look no further than Torres del Paine National Park. Located in southern Chilean Patagonia, dramatic mountain peaks overlook the park full of the most photogenic landscapes in the world. You’ll see amazing flora and fauna against a spectacular backdrop. Photos don’t do this place justice; you’ve got to visit it yourself to experience the beauty. Getting yourself that far south doesn’t always come cheap, so check out The Expeditioner’s five ways of making the trip more affordable.
2. Lost City, Colombia
You’ll notice Machu Picchu doesn’t feature on this list. Although its more than worthy of a spot here, there’s another gem in South America where you won’t be surrounded by tourists. Ciudad Perdida in Colombia – known as the lost city – was built by the Tayrona people in the 11th century, and was only rediscovered deep in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta Mountains in the 1970s.
As the Secret Traveller says, “unlike its Peruvian counterpart, Cuidad Perdida remains largely undiscovered by the tourist hordes, despite its stunning location high in the hills.” You’ll have to hike to get there, but it’s a journey you’ll never forget.
3. Santuario de las Lajas, Colombia
Staying in Colombia, we’ve got Las Lajas Sanctuary. It’s a basilica church built inside the canyon of the Guáitara River. At 100-metres high from the bottom of the canyon, connected with a 50-metre tall bridge to the other side, it’s a spectacular sight.
4. Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
It would be rude not include the Galapagos in this list of South America! Accurately described as a “trip of a lifetime,” by The Telegraph, The Galapagos Islands are famous worldwide for the opportunity to see amazing wildlife. From penguins and playful sea lions to marine iguanas and unique blue-footed boobies, it’s a nature lover’s dream.
In recent years, tourism has been tightly regulated to control any negative effect on the archipelago. You’ll arrive on a small boat at a designated landing spot and must only venture on the clearly marked trails, accompanied by local certified guides. It might seem over the top, but it’s essential to protect the future of such an amazing place.
5. Canopy Walk, The Amazon, Peru
Peru is home to one of the world’s longest canopy walks. Explore the Amazon from above with around 16 platforms at different heights. At the peak, you’ll reach around 37 metres from the jungle floor – that’s about 10 stories high. As a result, you’ll have an incredible view. Try not to look down. Watch a taster of the experience here.
6. Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia
Reaching over 12,000 square kilometres, with around ten billion tonnes of salt, Salar de Uyuni is the world’s largest salt pan. Formed when a prehistoric lake (Lago Minchin) dried up, it now attracts visitors from all around. And you can’t go to the world’s most famous salt flats without getting a few great photos – it acts as the perfect backdrop.
Have you visited South America? Share your recommendations with us in the comments below!