South America

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Bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean and on the north and east by the Atlantic Ocean, South America is mainly located in the Southern Hemisphere. South America is made up of 12 sovereign states, two non-sovereign areas, the ABC islands of the Netherlands and Trinidad and Tobago.

Best Time to Visit South America

The best time to visit Colombia, French Guiana, Guyana, Suriname and Venezuela is from December to April. This area is considered Northern South America. Central South America covers Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, Peru and Paraguay and the best time to visit this area is April to September. Lastly, Southern South America is comprised of Chile, Argentina and Uruguay and the best time to visit this area is between October and March.

ARGENTINA

Vineyards

Things to do

  • Wine Tasting around Mendoza in the Malbec Region – It’s no secret that Argentina boasts some of the world’s best wines but getting out and witnessing first-hand how the grapes are grown and harvested and actually staying at a working winery is as quintessential an Argentine experience as you will find. Add to it a full day tour sampling delectable wines from multiple wineries and you may never want to leave  Argentina!
  • Visit Spectacular Iguazu Falls – There is nothing quite like the roar of the normally peaceful Iguazu River as it suddenly plunges over the cliff creating an unbelievable spectacle that is one of the most awe-inspiring sights on the planet! Adding to this mesmerizing experience is the natural beauty of the national park overgrown with jungle and teeming with exotic birds and wildlife. Iguazu Falls and National Park are truly a sight that must be seen to be believed! 
  • Lose Yourself in Buenos Aires – There’s just something really special about Buenos Aires that is different from any other city in the world. Whether it’s exploring the charming colonial neighborhood of San Telmo on foot; taking in an impromptu sexy Tango Dance in a casual street performance; or dining on some of the world’s most scrumptuous gastronomic delights, however much time you plan to be in Buenos Aires inevitably will not be enough!
  • Enjoy Fun and Sun in Mar del Plata – As Argentina’s premiere beach resort, you’ll have to arrive early to find your own little patch of sand during the summer in Mar del Plata. It’s quite to spectacle to see Argentines at play on the beach and outdoor activities such as surfing, fishing, horseback riding and even skydiving are available for the adventurous.

Most Exciting Adventure Activities

Apart from a visit to Patagonia which is a must-do on any traveler’s trip to Argentina, Salta Province in the northwest corner of the country offers the best variety of exhilarating adventure activities. Renowned for its staggering natural beauty and untouched landscape, there is an abundance of  deep canyons, picturesque gorges, and challenging volcanic peaks to be explored. From horseback riding along river valleys and through lush hills, descending from a nearly 10,000 foot mountaintop on a 28 mile thrilling mountail bike ride, jumping off San Lorenzo Hill with your own hanglider, and rafting raging rivers or taking your turn at defying the wind on a windsurfer, it’s virtually impossible to be bored in Salta!     

BOLIVIA

Flag and Copacabana Lake Titicaca

Things to do

  • Discover the Famous Island of the Sun (Isla del Sol), Island of the Moon (Isla de la Luna), and Floating Islands (Uros Islands) in Lake Titicaca – Lake Titicaca is believed to be the birthplace of the Incas and la Isla del Sol is one of the most amazing places in the entire country of Bolivia. Explore Challapampa and the Inca Ruins on the north end and then Yumani, the largest town on the island at the south end, with the famed Inca steps. The Isla de la Luna is where “chosen” women were housed during the time of the Incas so a short trip there affords a peak into their interesting history and culture. Los Uros are not nearly as impressive as their counterpart in Peru but a visit to these floating islands of tortora reeds is as authentic a Bolivian experience as you will find!   
  • Explore the Bolivian Jungle- While in Bolivia many tourists opt to explore the jungle because you can get a lot of the same experiences for a fraction of what you would pay in Brazil or Peru. Some of the things you will see in the Bolivian jungle include monkeys and exotic birds, turtles and pink dolphins as well as thousands of alligators and even anacondas.

Most Exciting Adventure Activities

Take a trek down “Death Road”- Dubbed Death Road due to the sheer number of fatalities that occur here, travelers are frequently dropped off at the beginning of this scary road to make their descent down from La Paz along winding paths that have blind spot after blind spot all the way to Coroico. Beware of cars and bicyclists on this road or your next step could be met with an accident or worse a fall to your death off one of the cliffs. And if you don’t have the nerve to do it on bike, think twice before getting on a bus since it’s not much safer!

BRAZIL

Aerial View of Rio

Things to Do

  • Discover Colonial Salvador and the Gorgeous Beaches of Bahia – Take a step back in time to discover Pelourinho, the historical center of Salvador with its abundance of baroque churches, exquisitely colorful architecture, and large, open-air squares. Strolling the quaint cobblestone streets is to like seeing time standing still and experiencing Salvador as it was in the 16th and 17th centuries. The African influence on daily life is most impressive with its mesmerizing music and delectable food.  Then take a trip to Bahia to for fun in the sun and to unwind on some of the best beaches in Brazil and all of South America. The laid back atmosphere that is quintessential Bahian is nothing short of captivating!  
  • Head to Rio – Rio de Janeiro is home to the world famous Copacabana and Ipanema beaches and it is also considered the top party spot in the world. This is especially true during the area’s biggest party of the year- Carnival! This annual feast of the senses is held annually just before the start of Lent. While there be sure to visit the Christ the Redeemer statue –Seen in countless movies, documentaries and even music videos, perhaps no statue of Jesus Christ is as famous as this one.
  • Rafting at Iguaçu Falls – On this rafting tour you will paddle your way through Iguaçu National Park and see the Iguaçu Falls from a vantage point few have seen.

Most Exciting Adventure Activities

Brazil is so large and offers so many exciting things to do that it’s hard to know where to start.  Start with hiking and biking the Chapada Diamantina National Park and be mesmerized by its breathtaking scenery.  Go scuba diving in Fernando de Noronha, an archipelago of 21 islands in the Atlantic and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Or explore the impenetrable canopy of the Amazon Rainforest by canoe in search of local indigenous tribes barely touched by the outside world.  

CHILE

Horses at Torres del Paine

Things to Do

  • Engage in Outdoor Pursuits in Torres del Paine National Park – Renowned the world over for offering some of the most dramatic natural landscapes and scenery, trekking doesn’t get anybody better than this in Torres del Paine. You can also go horseback riding into the mountains and marvel at the splendor of gigantic glaciers calving at Glacier Grey.
  • Take a walking tour of Valparaiso – Located only 70 miles northwest of Chile’s capital city, Valparaiso is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that can be visited as a day trip from Santiago. Valparaiso is Chile’s principal port city yet it is renowned for its bohemian and artistic atmosphere
  • Cruise the Tranquil Fjords of Southern Chile – Chile’s southern fjords boast a peaceful beauty like few other experiences in South America, or the world for that matter. The best part is how accessible and affordable cruises through the pristine natural beauty of the fjords can be.  
  • Visit Alberto de Agostini National Park – Named after one of the most important Salesian priests in Chilean history, Father Alberto María de Agostini, the Alberto de Agostini National Park is the third largest park in Chile. The glaciers in this park draw crowds from far and wide and the lakes here make for some of the best fishing around.
  • Explore Easter Island – Mysterious Easter Island is one of the most remote inhabited islands in the world. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995, much of the island is protected within the Rapa Hui National Park. One of the main reasons to visit Easter Island is to see the monumental statues, often referred to as stone heads that are full-bodied representations of long-lost ancestors. Other exciting activities on Easter Island include surfing, diving and snorkeling, hiking, spelunking (cave exploring), or hitting the only but picturesque beach at Anakena.

Most Exciting Adventure Activities

Chile is paradise for adventure travelers with a plethora of thrilling activities such as white water rafting, trekking some of the world’s best hiking routes in Torres del Paine National Park, or summiting a volcano. But one adventure sport that should not be missed on a trip to Chile is skiing and snowboarding the pristine slopes of the Andes. Ski season lasts from June since Chile is in the southern hemisphere and there are even companies that can arrange for heliskiing if you dare!   

COLOMBIA

Cartagena from Above

Things to do

  • Discover colonial Cartagena on a Horse and Carriage Ride – Colombia’s most popular destination was founded in 1533 by Spanish Conquistador Don Pedro de Heredia as “Cartagena de Indias”. Cartagena de Indias was declared by UNESCO a World Heritage Site because of its colonial walled city; and just walking through to its cozy narrow streets is enough to understand why. 
  • Explore the Caribbean Coast, Beaches, and Tayrona National Park – The Rosario islands are just south of Cartagena in the Caribbean and offer a good snorkeling and nice all-inclusive beach resorts. With its pristine white sand beaches and exclusive beach resorts, the island of San Andres is popular with Colombian tourists. The modern city of Santa Marta is north of Cartagena and provides easy access to the thick jungles and pristine white sand beaches of Tayrona National Park.  
  • Indulge with some of the World’s Best Coffee – A visit to the region of Antioquia and the Eje Cafetero, which is Colombia’s main coffee growing region, reward travelers with some of the most picturesque mountain scenery in all of Colombia and a chance to indulge in a cup of some of the world’s best coffee.   
  • Get wet and wild on the Amazon River- Hike it, camp it, kayak it and more- the Amazon River is filled with wonderment that nature lovers can’t get enough of. Just a few of the things you may see along the Amazon River are monkeys, pink dolphins, colorful parrots and more.
  • Strike gold in Bogotá- This museum houses the largest pre-Hispanic gold work collection in the world. Not only is this Colombia’s most famous museum, it is also called the most fascinating in all of South America.

Most Exciting Adventure Activities

With its great diversity of landscape between mountains, deserts, rivers, valleys, jungles and Caribbean coastline, the sky is the limit for adventure travelers. Head to San Gil, said to be the adventure sport capital of Colombia, and get your adrenaline running by rafting the Class IV and V rapids of the Suarez River. Or take your chance at rappelling down a 250 foot waterfall while taking in gorgeous tropical scenery. And if that is not enough, travelers can paraglide over some of the most beautiful canyons in all of South America. 

ECUADOR

Middle of the Earth Monument

Things to do

  • Visit the Quitsato Sundial at the Middle of the World (Mitad del Mundo) and World-Famous Otavalo Market – A stop to visit the Quitsato Sundial on the Equator is practically obligatory for anyone visiting Ecuador, especially during a day trip to the famous market of Otavalo. There you will find the most famous artisan’s market in all of South America that sells brightly colored handcrafts including the famed Masapan Dolls.
  • Explore the Amazon Rainforest and Learn about the Customs and Traditions of Native Ancestral Communities – During your stay at the Kichwa Anangu Community you will be energized by making wayusa tea and joining in the ritual of listening to traditional Kichwa songs.  While exploring the rainforest you will be mesmerized by the spectacular sights and sounds of exotic birds and monkeys up close and personal from a 120 foot observation tower.   
  • Take the Devil’s Nose (Nariz del Diablo) Train Ride – Called this because of the many deaths of workers who worked on it- the Devil’s Nose is the hair-raising section of the railway on the passage of the Tren Crucero from Quito to Guayaquil. This thrilling adventure starts in Alausi and consists of a 45 degree descent via the zigzagging railway over a distance of 12 kilometers to the Simbambe station. For the truly adventurous, and certainly not for the feint of heart, passengers sit on roof of old box cars as the train climbs steep cliffs, rolls over rickety tracks, and experiences sudden, stomach wrenching drops. 
  • Discover the fascinating culture and traditions of Colonial Cuenca – Dubbed a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the 16th century historic center of Cuenca is claimed by locals to be an even more beautiful colonial city than its rival capital city Quito. It is also famous for its steep cliffs with houses that seemingly dangle miracuously over the Tomebamba River below.  Take time to relax and truly appreciate the laid-back atmosphere while taking in the incredible sights of the city. 

Most Exciting Adventure Activities

One of the best places in the entire world for wildlife encounters, often of the prehistoric kind, is the Galapagos Islands. What makes the Galapagos Islands so uniquely special is that although many of the species are found nowhere else in the world, they simply go about their daily business when approached by humans. This means you get the opportunity of a lifetime to get up close and personal with these prehistoric creatures to get that perfect snapshot! Don’t expect a tropical paradise but what you will find is a showcase of biodiversity like nowhere else on the planet. No trip to Ecuador would be complete without spending at least a few days in the Galapagos Islands!  

GUYANA

Falls at Kaiteur National Parkjpg

Things to do

  • Take in the scenic wonder that is the Kaieteur Falls – Located on Potaro River in Kaieteur National Park in the center of Guyana’s rainforest, Kaieteur Falls is a waterfall that is 741 feet high when measured from its plunge over a sandstone and conglomerate cliff to the first break. Just how high is that? Imagine stacking Niagara Falls on top of itself and then doubling it!
  • Admire the Dutch and British Influences on the Architecture of Georgetown – Guyana’s capital city of Georgetown is loaded with character. St. George’s Cathedral is reputed to be the largest timber Church in the world. The Hindu Temple, Queenstown Mosque and Parliament Building display a myriad of other fascinating architectural styles.
  • Visit Suramba Village and Be immersed in the Traditional Lifestyle and Traditions of the Macushi Tribe – Venture to Suramba Village and be encapsulated by the fascinating culture of the Machushi Amerindian Tribe. Explore the jungle, led by skilled local guides in search of giant river otters, jaguars, giant anaconda, tapir, capybara and four different species of monkeys. More than 500 species of birds have also been recorded and you have the chance to be accompanies by one of the preeminent bird guides in all of Guyana.

Most Exciting Adventure Activities

Adventure travelers and eco tourists go to Guyana for one reason – to explore the amazing tropical interior of the country which boasts the tropical beauty of its dense jungles, magnificent waterfalls that rival Iguazu Falls on the border of Argentina and Brazil, rugged savannahs, hidden valleys and an abundance of wildlife. It’s not for the inexperienced traveler but the rewards for venturing off the beaten path in Guyana are virtually limitless!   

PARAGUAY

Saltos Monday from Taringa.net

Photo Source: http://www.taringa.net/

Things to do

  • Go in Search of Pristine Jungles and Spectacular Waterfalls – You will discover immense natural beauty with an incredible diversity of flora and fauna found throughout Paraguay’s 11 National Parks. But many are not easily accessible so play your adventure carefully. The closest to the capital city of Asuncion and therefore most accessible is Ybycui National Park where you can find a wide assortment of butterflies and partridges. It gets crowded with locals on the weekend due to it being only 77 miles from the capital so best to go during the week. For its part, Parque Nacional Defensores del Chaco is paradise for bird watchers with its spectacular variety of birds that inhabit the park.
  • Visit the Eco Reserva Mbatovío – Canopy walks, cliff rappelling, and zip lining are just a few of the things you can do in this protected nature reserve. The views from the hanging bridges and peaks of the zip line are said to be some of the best Paraguay have to offer, but whatever you do, don’t look down!

PERU

shutterstock_228600667

Things to do

  • Marvel at the Beauty of Machu Picchu – Considered one of the Seven Wonders of the World and one of the world’s best known archaeological sites,the Lost City of the Incas draws thousands of tourists each year. If you want to get adventurous, be sure to trek to the top of Huayna Picchu, the famous peak lingering behind and towering over the ruins of Machu Picchu, where you will be mesmerized by the ruins of Machu Picchu nearly 1,000 feet below!
  • Admire the Nasca Lines from Above – Take to the air as the only way to see the ancient shapes depicting animals and plants along with 10,000 lines carved into the desert sands of southern Peru. 
  • Venture Deep in the Amazon Jungle – Peru’s Amazon Jungle is a must-see for anyone with even the slightest sense of adventure and appreciation for an enormous diversity of tropical flora and fauna. Whether you discover the Amazon from the northern gateway of Iquitos or the southern gateway of Puerto Maldonado, options for exploring the mighty amazon range from river cruises, rustic jungle lodges with no electricity, and being on your own with a private guide with nothing more than a tent between you and the elements.
  • Experience Ancient Cultures while Island Hopping on Lake Titicaca – Take a day tour from Puno to experience how the Uros Indians of Lake Titicaca live on floating “islands” made of tortora reeds that grow in the shallow waters of the lake. As incredulous as it seems, you can see how they have built houses and even schools, post offices, public phones, souvenir shops, bars and even a small hotel. For its part, naturally formed Taquile Island is a gorgeous island about 4 hours by boat from Puno. The inhabited island that is only a half mile wide and nearly 4 miles long enables tourists to gain insight into the local way of living with options for travelers to stay in private homes.

Most Exciting Adventure Activities

Hike the Inca Trail- This hike is considered one of the best in the world. In fact, it is often ranked in the top 5 places to go backpacking. The trail is 26 miles and takes most people 4 days to make their way to Machu Picchu. Then on the last day you’ll get up early to make your way down from Intipunku just in time for one of the most amazing sights you may ever see – the sun rising over the Lost City of the Incas!

SURINAME

Lily Pad Swamp in Nieuw Amsterdam Suriname

Things to do

  • Explore the Central Suriname Nature Reserve- The Central Suriname Nature Reserve comprises 1.6 million hectares of primary tropical forest of west-central Suriname. Here you will find vast tracts of dense tropical lowland forest as well as swamp forests, rare rocky savannas, and visually stunning granite inselbergs, all harboring specialized communities of flora and fauna.
  • Go Hiking and Search for wildlife at the Brownsberg Nature Reserve – This spectacular mountain top rainforest is easily accessible and boasts a wider array of wildlife with possible sightings that include howler monkeys, agouties, armadillos, deer, and even jaguars, pumas and ocelots may be seen by the lucky traveler. There are also 600 different species of birds, including the scarlet macaw and the beautifully colored wide billed toucan.  The reserve offers some of the best hiking trails in South America that can be hiked independently or on guided hikes.
  • View Nesting Giant Sea Turtles at Galibi Beach – During nesting season giant sea turtles come ashore at night right where there is a Carib Village.

URUGUAY

View from Lighthouse of Colonia del Sacremento

Things to do

  • Horseback ride across the Uruguayan Plains- Many ranches in Uruguay organize horseback riding tours that take you through the plains alongside gauchos (Uruguayan cowboys). One such tour takes you to the Emerald Coast Estancias where you can experience the unspoiled beaches and lagoons of the area.
  • Walk La Rambla – La Rambla is a nearly 14-mile boardwalk in Uruguay’s capital of Montevideo. Not only is this a great place to exercise, it is also said to be the best place to people watch.
  • Hit the Beach at Punta del Este – Boasting gorgeous beaches, upscale beach resorts, and non-stop casino and nightlife entertainment, Punta del Este is THE beach resort to see and be seen at in South America. If you get tired of rubbing shoulders with the rich and famous there are plenty of other activities to keep you entertained like horeseback riding and practically every known water sport under the sun.  

VENEZUELA

Angel Falls from a distance

Things to do

  • Conquer the Angel Falls – One does not visit the Angel Falls, you must conquer them. Located in the Canaima National Park, in the middle of the Amazon forest, Angel Falls is home to the highest waterfall in the world. To get through this hike you will walk, trudge through the river and then walk again. This will be the most exhilarating and most exhausting tour you can take in Venezuela.
  • Relax on Sun Swept Margarita Island – With nearly nine hours of sunshine every day Isla Margarita might just be the best place in Venezuela to stroll the beaches, enjoy some water sports and perhaps visit one of their many bars or restaurants to sip on a margarita!

FRENCH GUIANA

St. Joseph Island, Frech Guiana

Things to do

  • Visit Hattes Beach – This stretch of beach is considered the single most important nesting site in the world for giant leatherback turtles. Between April and July you can see as many as 80 or more sunbathing on the sands of this beach.
  • Go fishing off the coast of Devil’s Island – Once an exile for French political prisoners, today, Devil’s Island is a hot spot for swimmers and fishermen. One of the most popular things to fish for is shark. There are several deep-sea fishing tours as well as options to rent a boat and go out on your own.

THE FALKLAND ISLANDS

King Penguins

Things to do

  • Take in the wildlife – Just a few of the types of animals you can expect to encounter on your visit to  the Falkland Islands include albatrosses, sea lions, elephant seals, penguins, 15 different species of whales, dolphins, and nearly 200 different species of birds. It is this diversity of wild life that brings thousands of tourists to the islands annually.
  • Dare to reach the summit of Mount Usborne – Mount Usborne is the highest point in the Falklands at 2,312 feet. The ground is a mix of boggy terrain and many long, difficult-to-cross stone runs. This is not an easy hike by any means and you should definitely bring plenty of water and snacks with you for the trek. When you do finally reach the peak you will be rewarded with stunning views across Lafonia and out towards the hills of West Falkland. Be sure to go on a clear day though because there is nothing worse than hiking up all that way just to have your view blocked by the clouds! 
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