The Top Travel Destinations in South America
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The Top Travel Destinations in South America

9 min read

Aug 26, 2019

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By Jaclyn Hill

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Last updated on July 8th, 2021 at 10:16 am

From sandy beaches to misty rainforests to ancient ruins, South America is a versatile continent, boasting a variety of appealing travel destinations. While this makes traveling to South America a no brainer, it also makes it difficult to decide which locations are best to visit. It is no wonder that potential visitors to the region have a hard time devising an itinerary. Especially an itinerary which includes the best sites and attractions. However, don’t lose hope! This list is far from exhaustive, though it strives to narrow down the best places to visit in each country based on attractions, dining, and culture. Follow along for the top travel destinations in South America!   

The Amazon Rainforest

a bridge leads a path above the canopy of the lush Amazon rainforest   The Amazon is a famously diverse and naturally rich region which spreads throughout Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, and Colombia. The lush forest offers visitors many valuable experiences. For example, visitors can immerse themselves in nature, witness rare wildlife, and learn about the local culture! Activities in the Amazon are endless due to the jungle’s natural beauty. Venture deep into the Amazon Rainforest and discover rich plant and wildlife alongside professional, local guides.  SouthAmerica.travel offers one-of-a-kind travel itineraries, centered around offering the best experiences within the Amazon. All of their offered tours are completely customizable. Travelers can cruise down the Amazon river or spend the night at a cozy Amazon lodge. Rainforest activities include walking on bridges above the forest canopy, kayaking down the river, and trekking around the jungles winding trails.

Buenos Aires (Argentina)

A couple dances the tango, while the sun sets in Buenos Aires   Buenos Aires is one of South America’s most renowned cities. The city boasts beautiful European-style architecture in the Recoleta district and colonial-style houses in the San Telmo neighborhood. The history of Buenos Aires is highly prevalent throughout the city – perfect for visitors looking to appreciate Argentina’s past. Visitors should explore the Casa Rosada and the Plaza de Mayo, which was the scene of the 18th-century revolution. It is also still home to many remnants of past political events.  Also referred to as the “Paris of South America,” Buenos Aires provides an array of tango shows. Participants are treated to a 3-course meal while sipping on an exquisite Argentine wine. All the while watching professional dancers perform the cultural dance of tango to live music.  

Salar de Uyuni (Bolivia)

A person walks on the Bolovia Salt Flats, as the sky is beautifully reflected off of the flat's floor   Salar de Uyuni is home to the famous salt flats of southern Bolivia. These salt flats are immense. They span over 10,500 square kilometers, making them the largest salt flats in the world. Additionally, Salar is home to prehistoric lakes and plants, flamingoes, and various wildlife including Andean foxes [culpeos] and chinchillas [vizcachas].  Of course, the salt flats are the main attraction. Visitors should go on guided tours of the flats and stay at the famous Hotel de Sal. Hotel de Sal is entirely made out of salt! Other attractions are encouraged on a guided tour, including visiting the salt factory and the train cemetery. Visitors can also walk around the Incahuasi Island, which is a little island in the middle of the flats, completely covered in cacti. There are a few ways to visit these interesting places. It is easy to either come from visiting La Paz or taking a tour that connects Bolivia with Argentina.  

Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)

Birds eye view of Rio de Janiero, featuring the city, beach, and Sugarloaf Mountain   Rio de Janeiro in Brazil is known as the “Marvelous City.” Home to the famous Sugarloaf Mountain, Christ the Redeemer and Copacabana beach. Explorers are able to savor Brazilian culture as they travel through this vibrant city. Guided tours are available for those looking to see the city in its entirety. Arrange visits at Rio’s highlights such as Guanabara Bay, Sugarloaf Mountain, Corcovado Mountain, and Copacabana Beach. For hidden gems and travel tips, contact an expert Travel Consultant, as they can tell you what most other travelers don’t know about the city.  Take a morning walk along Copacabana’s pristine white sand, while the rest of the city sleeps.  Sample Brazil’s favorite sparkling beverage, made from the red Amazonian Guaraná berries, as you sit above the waves below the morro de Leme.  Climb to the top of the ‘rock of Leme’ for a panoramic view of Copacabana & Praia Vermelha as well as Sugarloaf Mountain looming over you just hundreds of meters away.  Tour the interesting military museum at the Forte de Copacabana, then later relaxing at a more sophisticated cafe with views of the entire beach with Sugarloaf in the background. There’s so much to do and see in Rio!  

Easter Island (Chile)

A line of Hay Nau Nau Moais on Easter Island   Easter Island, known as Rapa Nui, is a Polynesian island located in the middle of the South Pacific Ocean, right off the coast of Chile. It is a must-see destination when touring South America. History enthusiasts have not been able to find the true history of the puzzling stone configuration, making it even more of an interesting spot to discover for yourself. Mystery aside, or maybe because of the mystery, Easter Island is worth checking out.  One of the most popular sites on the island is Moai. These are monolithic human figures, said to have been carved by the Rapa Nui people between the years of 1250-1500. Moved from their original location at Rano Raraku, these structures sit apart from where the majority of them still are located. Consider heading down to the white sandy beaches that border the cliff region and have some fun after observing these magnificent sculptures. The sunny beach location is ideal for tanning, scuba diving, surfing, snorkeling and more. At night, rest in one of the fantastic Easter Island lodges.   

Bogota (Colombia)

Cathedral of Bogota. "Catedral Basiiica Metropolitana de la Inmaculada Concepcion". At the Bolivar square. La Candelaria district, Bogota, Colombia.   Bogota is home to colonial and pre-Columbian history. Visitors can learn more with the opportunity of touring the historic district of La Candelaria. As well as the Colonial Art Museum and the Gold Museum which contains over 30,000 items from the rich pre-Columbian era. However, Bogota is not just the home of all things history. It is also a very modern city and is known as the hub of northwestern South America. They offer a graffiti tour for those looking for a modern adventure! Bogota is perfect for those interested in history as well as contemporary themes!  

The Galápagos Islands (Ecuador)

A sea turtle swims through the waters of the Galapagos Island   Boasting more wildlife than it does human life, the Galápagos Islands are an ideal destination for animal enthusiasts, botanists, environmental activists, and nature conservationists alike. From penguins to blue-footed boobies, and from giant tortoises to marine iguanas, you’ll discover a variety of exotic creatures that look as if they’re straight out of a fairy tale. In addition to hosting an abundance of wildlife, the islands also preserve history. While visiting learn about Charles Darwin and his observations of animal life in the Galápagos, and his theory of natural selection.  Perhaps one of the best parts of the Galápagos Islands is that it is one of the last examples of true wilderness. Of the 120 islands and isles that make up the area, humans only inhabit only four.  

Patagonia (Argentina & Chile)

A gorgeous mountain range above a body of water in Torres del Paine   A tour of Patagonia allows travelers to explore the vast and wild landscape of Chile and Argentina. This landscape includes regions of mountains (including the Andes Mountains), deserts, grasslands, and pampas. Within Patagonia, the Torres del Paine National Park offers an endless amount of wonder and exploration. Visitors can also walk along guided treks of the Perito Moreno Glacier as well as stand below Fitz Roy in complete awe.  Other activities include venturing to El Calafate, which is known as the gateway to Los Glaciares National Park, or simply relaxing by the fire in a cozy Patagonia Lodge Patagonia is home to a wide array of natural beauty due to its glaciers, sprawling landscapes, and impressive mountain peaks. Patagonia tour packages are perfect for visitors looking to disconnect from everyday life and reconnect with nature and serenity.   

Machu Picchu (Peru)

A wide view of Machu Picchu, with a Peruvian llama featured   This magnificent 15th-century Inca Citadel is a must-see for any traveler looking to spend time in Peru. Machu Picchu’s history is said to have begun around the year 1450, though abandoned a year later during the Spanish Conquest of South America. It was then that the world lost this incredible site. Up until 1911 when Hiram Bingham discovered the site with the direction of the locals. Today, Machu Picchu attracts travelers from all around the world, to come to see all of its beauty as they take a trip to Peru Visitors are encouraged to truly explore Machu Picchu’s surrounding area as well, which includes the Inca Trail, Cuzco, and the Sacred Valley. The two ways to reach this Incan site is through hiking the famous 4-day Inca Trail that goes through Sacred Valley or taking a train that departs in Cuzco. However, both ways offer spectacular views and are worth-while.   

Montevideo (Uruguay)

A feature of the gorgeous architecture of Montevideo   The capital of Uruguay is Montevideo. Many describe this city as a “vibrant, eclectic place with rich cultural life” as well as a “thriving tech center and entrepreneurial culture.” Many visit the Ciudad Vieja area, as it is home to many of the tourist activities. While there, observe the city’s oldest buildings, museums, art galleries, and night clubs. Montevideo also hosts a Carnaval, which lasts for an entire 40-days in late January. Many claim Carnaval to be the world’s longest ongoing festival, as energetic drums play to an array of parties and parades. However, it is highly recommended that visitors be sure to look at the costumes, instruments, and masks as well as watching a candombe performance.      South America has so much to offer it would take a lifetime to see it all. To make the most of your trip, look into tours of South America before solidifying your travel plans. The tours of SouthAmerica.travel offer a feature of customization that is not available from most travel agencies. This customization feature allows you to use the premade itineraries as samples of what your trip could look like. However, all features are entirely customizable, from destinations to activities to accommodations. The expert Travel Consultants are extremely knowledgeable about South America and are able to answer any questions you may have.  Contact the Travel Consultants today to begin your discussion on where your South America travel package should bring you. 

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Last updated on July 8th, 2021 at 10:16 am

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