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South America

At twice the size of Europe, South America is the fourth largest continent on the planet, and one of the most culturally rich and geographically diverse travel destinations on the globe.

Caribbean beaches, vast expanses of jungle, spectacular Andean peaks, arid deserts and icy plains guard some of the world’s most awe-inspiring splendors; the ruined Inca City of Machu Picchu in Peru; Venezuela’s Angel Falls, the largest in the world, and the buzzing cosmopolitan cities of Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires are just a few of the places that draw floods of tourists from all over the planet.

It’s a fantastic place to get off the beaten track as well; here you can float down narrow rivers deep into the Amazon Jungle, hurtle down volcanoes on a bike at breakneck speed and visit remote mountain villages where the locals still maintain their traditional customs and where tourists rarely venture.

The thirteen countries that make up the continent each have their own local flavor, but their people are some of the friendliest in the world, bound together by their fun-loving, Latino spirit, their love of coffee and colorful festivals, and the ubiquitous concept of mañana.

09 Mar 2010

South America Top Attractions

Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail

102039Framed by spectacular Andean peaks and surrounded by verdant jungle, Machu Picchu is an eye-tantalizing tribute to man in harmony with nature. Located high above the clouds, the city\'s streets, ...
Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail, Peru

IguazĂș Falls

116966The richness of life rising up from the mists of IguazĂș Falls is a far cry from the bleak slabs of concrete overlooking the famous Niagara Falls. While the latter is infested with gawking ...

The GalĂĄpagos Islands

101246In the two-hour flight across the thousand kilometers of Pacific Ocean from the Ecuadorian mainland to the GalĂĄpagos archipelago, visitors can expect to be transported to an environment reminiscent ...
Region, Diving

Torres del Paine National Park

104799Torres del Paine National Park is bordered by the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, one of the largest glaciated areas in the world outside of Antarctica. Sister park to Yosemite in California, Torres ...
Major Attraction

Angel Falls

101646Angel Falls, the world’s highest waterfalls at 979 meters (3,212 ft), are so high that during dry season the water can evaporate into mist before reaching the bottom. Set in the rainforest of the ...
Major Attraction

Ciudad Perdida (Lost City)

120802Deep in the recesses of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, in the upper RĂ­o Buritaca valley, lies one of the ancient Tayrona nation\'s most impressive cities, Teyuna, or Ciudad Perdida (Lost City). ...
Major Attraction

Kick back on South America's Beaches

Tortuga Bay

102142 Tortuga Bay is a pristine, gorgeous white sand beach located within walking distance from Puerto Ayora. It’s part of the park system, but it’s free and you don’t need a naturalist guide to go ...
Surfing, Beach
Puerto Ayora, Ecuador

Los Frailes

138545Relaxing and remote, Los Frailes is widely considered one of the most spectacular beaches along the Pacific coastline, and it’s easy to see why. Its pristine waters and perfect crescent-shaped ...
Puerto LĂłpez, Ecuador

Nearby Beaches

102162 Puerto Baquerizo Moreno has several inter- esting visitor sites nearby. You should deïŹnitely check out the visitor’s center and the trails behind it, which lead to a great beach (Cabo de ...
Hiking, Surfing, Beach
Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, Ecuador

Playa Blanca

Very few foreigners know of Playa Blanca, 30 minutes west of Coveñas. This town has small beaches separated by jetties. It's where Colombians seeking sand and sun come to vacation. During the ...
Coveñas, Colombia

Playa El Varadero

It doesn\'t take long to figure out that the Playa El Varadero is where most of the action happens in Huanchaco. Tourists and locals alike converge on the sidewalk bordering the beach, beating a path ...
Huanchaco, Peru

Boca del RĂ­o and Other Beaches

Tacna has its own beaches to which its denizens escape the sweltering summer months. The air may be hot, but the water of the Pacific along this coast is cold. A dip into the surf is refreshing. ...
Tacna, Peru

The Blowing Hole

106592Only on a small Caribbean island in the middle of the ocean could a hole in the ground which occasionally blows a strong puff of air be a major tourist attraction. On the southern end of the island, ...
San Andres, Colombia

The Other Beaches

121265Most visitors to Parque Nacional Natural Tayrona go to the beaches near Cañaveral and Arrecifes in the humid forest zone of the park. On the western end of Tayrona are other less-frequented beaches ...

Santa Marta Beaches

122212Nothing surpasses the pale sand and warm waters of the Caribbean coast. Santa Marta is no exception. Within the city itself there\'s a beach along the camellĂłn (seafront). Although a bit dirty, it ...
Santa Marta, Colombia

Circuito Costero

135806Along the coast of San JuliĂĄn is the Circuito Costero, which visits a variety of natural and historical sites dappled with the constant presence of birds (22 km / 14 mi one way). A small lighthouse ...
Puerto San JuliĂĄn , Argentina

Northern Beaches and the Desembocadura de Lluta

125719To the north of Arica are several bathing and surfing beaches. The two-kilometer-long El Chinchorro is the best place to catch a wave or to take a dip. Along the waterfront boardwalk, families ...
Arica, Chile

South America for History Buffs

El Brujo

Once an important site used by the witches of Chicama, El Brujo (The Sorcerer) is a network of ruins and mounds dating back over 5,000 years. Situated in the Chicama Valley, 60 kilometers (36 mi) ...
Trujillo, Peru

Candelabro De Los Andes

108137An image carved into the north side of the Paracas Peninsula is one of South America’s most mysterious archeological sites: Candelabro de los Andes (Candlestick of the Andes, because of its ...

Cumbe Mayo

108847In the indigenous language Quechua, Cumbe Mayo means fine river, which is a fitting name for this ancient aqueduct, believed to be constructed around 1500 B.C. Located 19 kilometers (11.80 mi) ...
Cajamarca , Peru

Mirador and Cerro

125316The Nasca Lines can be viewed from a plane weaving the sky above them, or from other, more down-to-earth vantage points. The cerro is a solitary hill in the midst of this vast desert. Climbing to the ...
Around Nasca, Nasca, Peru

San Ignacio MinĂ­

138513San Ignacio MinĂ­, in its pre-exodus incarnation, was located in the Territorio del GuairĂĄ in Brazil’s modern ParanĂĄ state. Founded in 1609 by Fathers JosĂ© Cataldino and SimĂłn Maceta, this was ...
San Ignacio, Argentina

Chan Chan

101573Located five kilometers (3 mi) west of Trujillo, Chan Chan is the largest pre-Columbian city in South America and the capital of the ChimĂș kingdom. It dates from around 1300 AD. Some archaeologists ...
Trujillo, Peru

Pisac Ruins

103015The ruins of the fortress at Pisac are among the most interesting in Peru. Today, historians and archaeologists believe that Pisac was a compound that served mainly as a line of defense against the ...
Pisac, Peru

ChavĂ­n de HuĂĄntar

Located about three to four hours east of Huaraz, the massive temple fortress of ChavĂ­n de HuĂĄntar is one of the last remaining large scale reminders of the ChavĂ­n culture, which stretched across ...

Ruins of Cahuachi

The ceremonial city of Cahuachi is located at the lower section of the Nasca Valley, virtually in the middle of the desert north of Nasca. Since 1982, the Centro Italiano Studi e Ricerche ...
Around Nasca, Nasca, Peru

Ruinas Vilcashuamån and Baños Intihuatana

A four-hour (110-kilometer) bus journey south of Ayacucho brings you to VilcashuamĂĄn (meaning Sacred Falcon), the Incan provincial capital at the crossroads of their Cusco-Pacific and north-south ...
Ayacucho, Peru


103219Perched forebodingly in the hillsides rising above Cusco, the fortress ruins of SacsayhuamĂĄn are some of the most impressive ruins in the area. Though few structures now remain inside, the massive ...
Cusco, Peru

Hiking in South America

The Inca Trail

102040Characterized by rugged ascents boasting magnificent views of Andean scenery and trails that wind their way through the cloud forest and past ancient archaeological sites, the Inca Trail is perhaps ...
Hiking, Major Attraction, Trekking
Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail, Peru


102675Quito’s best-known tourist attraction offers some of the most spectacular and most easily accessible views of the city. There are 18 gondolas that soar up the side of Quito\'s western mountain ...
Hiking, City Park
Northern Quito, Quito, Ecuador

Four-Day Inca Trail Trek

103226To give you a better sense of what the four-day trek involves, we\'ve put together a brief day-by-day summary of the trip.Day 1Total Distance: 10 to 11 kilometers (6.2-6.8 mi) Arrive by train from ...
Hiking, Trekking
Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail, Peru

Perito Moreno Glacier

103787The Perito Moreno Glacier is located in Los Glaciares National Park in the southwestern part of Santa Cruz province, Argentina. When it snows high in the Patagonian Andes, the snow and ice does not ...
Boating, Trekking, Hiking, National Park
El Calafate, Argentina


139954Another popular way to explore the Estero del Iberá is by hiking. Near the Reserva Provincial Iberá’s Centro de Visitantes Agua Brillante are three trails. Behind it are the Sendero del Cerrito, ...
Colonia Pellegrini, Esteros Del IberĂĄ, Argentina

Reserva Nacional Pacaya-Samiria

Sitting a hefty journey south of Iquitos in a flooded rainforest between the Ucayali and Marañón Rivers, Reserva Nacional Pacaya-Samiria is the largest and one of the best conserved protected areas ...
Hiking, Trekking, Birdwatching
Iquitos, Peru

The Lost City Hike / Ciudad Perdida Hike

137498 Treks to Teyuna (or Ciudad Perdida) combine the opportunity to see some of Colombia’s natural beauty with a fascinating insight into the ancient indigenous Tayrona culture. Usually a five-day ...

Hiking around Cuicocha Lake

The hike around Cuicocha Lake can be completed anywhere between 3.5 and 5 hours, depending on your general level of fitness. Most people head off around the lake anticlockwise from the restaurant. Be ...
Cuicocha Lake, Around Otavalo, Otavalo, Ecuador

Volcano Osorno

122637Volcano Osorno, elevation 2652 meters (8701 feet), is located on the northeast end of Lake Llanquihue, 51 kilometers from Puerto Varas. The pristine drive along the lake eventually leads into the ...
Puerto Varas, Chile

Valley of the Volcanoes

Characterized by an unearthly, ostensibly endless lava field dominated by the majestic snow-capped peaks of Coropuna and EscrĂ­bano, the Valley of the Volcanoes (Santuario Nacional Valle de los ...
Hiking, Trekking, Climbing
Colca Canyon, Peru

Colca Canyon Trekking

Colca Canyon has a good range of trekking opportunities, from easy day hikes to longer, more intense treks in and around the canyon.One of the most popular treks—and one done on most ...
Hiking, Trekking, Climbing
Colca Canyon, Peru
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