1. Galapagos Islands
If you are a fan of nature documentaries, there’s a good chance you know already know about the wonders of the Galapagos. This group of Pacific Ocean islands, located almost 1,000 kilometres from continental Equador, has been astounding and confounding natural scientists for centuries. It even inspired Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution after he visited in 1835.
The word “unspoiled” gets thrown around a lot these days, but the Galapagos are one of the few places left in the world that truly are. Here you will see an abundance of strange and wonderful creatures you will find nowhere else on earth — marine iguanas, Galapagos tortoises, flightless cormorants and penguins. Yes, penguins, north of the equator!
Not only will you get to experience this wildlife, you will snorkel offshore, explore mangrove forests and hike the Galapagos otherworldly volcanic landscape.
2. Lake Titicaca
Lake Titicaca, a name we all remember fondly from childhood geography class, makes our list for a number of reasons. Situated high in the Andes, this massive lake straddles the border between Peru and Bolivia. Almost 200 kilometres long, it’s one of South America’s biggest lakes and the world’s largest navigable body of water.
Offering a wealth of wildlife, history and culture, the lake and its shores have something for everyone. Here you can experience the lake’s unique wildlife — giant frogs, the long-legged puna ibis — in the morning and explore ancient Inca ruins in the afternoon. Other highlights include exploring the Uros floating islands, visiting traditional villages, and the tombs of the Sillustani peninsula.
3. La Paz
We had to think long and hard to decide which city to include on the list; no mean feat when you have contenders like Rio de Janeiro and Cartagena vying for the spot. In the end we decided on La Paz, simply because of the eclectic wealth of experiences that it offers.
Situated high in the Bolivian Andes — it’s the world’s highest administrative capital — and not far from Lake Titicaca, La Paz delivers a carnival of sights, sounds and smells that you will not forget in a hurry. From walking dingy backstreets to soaring over it all on the city’s cable car system, the Bolivian capital offers an exciting, gritty urban experience that we think shouldn’t be missed.
4. Uyuni Salt Flats
We guarantee you will never see anything like the Uyuni Salt Flats anywhere else in the world. Covering 10,000 square kilometres in the Andes of southern Bolivia, this is the world’s largest salt flat and delivers views that are quite simply epic.
While photographs can give you an idea of how spectacular the Uyuni Salt Flats are, in truth you have to be there to really experience just how weird and beautiful this ethereal landscape is. The brilliant white of the sand is broken by what were once islands, geysers and strangely colourful lakes to create a mind-blowing desert vista. And, of course, the peaks of the Andes provide a beautiful backdrop to it all.
Being, essentially, a desert, the salt flats aren’t brimming with wildlife but it is worth keeping and eye out for pink flamingos, which add a surprising splash of colour. Travelling to the Uyuni Salt Flats does require more time and effort than some of the other attractions in this list, but we can guarantee it is worth every bit of it.
For our next highlight we head to Patagonia in the southern reaches of Chile and Argentina, one of the world’s most breath-taking natural landscapes. Snow-capped mountains, glaciers, fjords and rugged coastlines come together here to deliver stunning scenery and an outdoor adventure that will stay with you forever.
Patagonia’s many amazing attractions can be explored in a variety of ways. Arguably, the best way to enjoy the true majesty of the region is by boat. From the sea you can enjoy some of the very best sites, including Perito Moreno Glacier, Puerto Deseado Wildlife Reserve and even sail around Cape Horn.
Heading inland, you may want to explore the Argentinian Lake District of Río Negro, visit the quaint local towns of the area, or visit the UNESCO-listed Cave of Hands. Be warned, Patagonia is as vast as it is diverse. You could spend weeks here and still not see it all.
These five South American destinations provide just a tiny taste of what South America has to offer. If you would like to see these amazing sights, and much, much more, contact South America Tours today to find out how we can tailor a trip of a lifetime for you.