Hola! Must-See Destinations In South America

machu picchu, peru

*This post is contributed by Ellie Jo for Blissful Snapshots. Photo from Pixabay.

South America is one of the least explored parts of the world. And yet, it offers some of the most stunning scenery, tours, and food. Take a look at some of these incredible places you must visit in and around the continent.

The Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

The Galapagos islands would be unique, even if they hadn’t been the place that inspired Darwin’s theory of evolution. But the fact that they are also teeming with all sorts of strange and unusual wildlife takes the Galapagos experience to the next level. Here, you’ll get to encounter one-of-a-kind species, including some of the most beautiful sea turtles and sea lions anywhere on the planet. 

The Galapagos islands themselves are part of Ecuador, but because they are so far from the mainland, life here evolved separately to life elsewhere. As a result, some of the species are truly unique, and the island has one of the most fascinating ecosystems anywhere in the world. If you’re a nature lover, you’ll enjoy the fact that Galapagos are totally unspoiled. Be wary, this bliss is unlikely to last forever, so visit while you can.

The Iguazu Falls, Argentina

Argentina is a country that stretches from the tropics in the north of the country, all the way down to the tip of South America, almost inside the Antarctic circle. As such, it’s a land of extreme contrast and beauty. There are more than 250 waterfalls in the Argentinean rainforest. 

One of the most beautiful is the Iguazu Falls, a set of waterfalls so enormous that they dwarf even the mighty Niagara Falls on the US-Canadian border. The Argentinian side of the falls is better to visit than the Brazilian side because you are able to get up close and personal with the falls themselves. There’s also the chance to take a thrilling boat ride right under the falls, similar to the Maiden of the Mist boat ride at Niagara.

Lake Titicaca, Bolivia

Lake Titicaca is famous for being the largest lake in the whole of South America. It’s crucial to the culture of both Bolivia and Peru, and its importance to humanity stretches back more than a millennium. The lake itself is quite murky around the edges, thanks to the local sediment, but once you’re on a boat and your travel into the center, the water becomes clearer and bluer, much like the Mediterranean.

*By Anthony Lacoste (Own work) [GFDL or CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Travelers can visit the so-called floating island of the Uros people, a group of around sixty islands that are cast adrift in the lake and take about 40 minutes to reach by boat from the main port at Puno. Here you’re able to spend time with local families, learning how they live, the food they cook, how they educate their children and how they look after their islands.

Lake Titicaca is also almost free from light pollution, and being so high up, it’s a great place to observe the Milky Way, especially if you haven’t seen what it looks like from the Southern Hemisphere.

Machu Picchu, Peru

Machu Picchu is an ancient city, hidden away in the Peruvian Andes. The settlement has an air of mystery like perhaps no other in the world. How did ancient people manage to live up here? Why did they decide to settle here and nowhere else? Where did they get their food? Today there are Machu Picchu tours that answer some of these questions, and the ruins are a world heritage site.

machu picchu, peru
*Photo credit

Machu Picchu became well known after Hiram Bingham announced his discovery of the city in his 1911 book, Across South America. It’s since become South America’s most famous archaeological site, with much of the original Incan architecture and relics still intact. The most amazing feature of the settlement is the Huayna Picchu Mountain which soars more than 1,000 above the ruins themselves.

You can get to Machu Picchu either by train or by hiking along the Inca trail. Be warned: hiking is not for the faint of heart.

Amazon, Quito, Ecuador

The Amazon rainforest is one of the most ecologically diverse regions on the planet. More species live here than in practically any other part of the world, thanks to the mixture of warm weather, sunshine, and regular rain. Visitors can take a tour along the beginnings of the Amazon river on the way to Quito, the capital city of Ecuador. 

Here, you can see iguanas, brilliant birds, jaguars, and monkeys. If you’re lucky, you might even spot an anaconda. There are many tours you can take where you can view the wildlife in safety and comfort.

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