South America’s twelve vast and culturally different countries are heaving with beauty and nature at each and every turn. Join us as we celebrate the most stunning places of all – just don’t be surprised if you’re inspired to jump on the next plane to South America as a result!
Machu Picchu, Peru
South America’s most famous cultural landmark, Machu Picchu continues to captivate international tourists thanks to her breathtaking location perched on the flanks of Huayna Picchu.
For the full Inca experience, hike the now globally famous Inca Trail or the lesser known but more adventurous Salkantay, or arrive in comfort on the Belmond Hiram Bingham, a luxury train service named after the American explorer who first introduced the existence of Machu Picchu to the world.
Iguazú Falls, Argentina/Brazil
Prepare to be drenched by the rainbow-flecked spray of these enormous waterfalls, the largest system in the world. Washing right over the border between Brazil and Argentina, the awe-inspiring Iguazú Falls can be admired in all their magnificence from boardwalks and viewing platforms in either country.
Easter Island, Chile
Hauntingly beautiful and tantalizingly mysterious, the moai of Easter Island is yet another unique cultural symbol of South America.
While different theories for what happened to the original settlers of the island, the Rapa Nui, continue to circulate, what you can be sure of is being struck by the strange beauty of these monoliths on a visit to Easter Island.
Torres del Paine National Park, Chile
This national park in Chilean Patagonia has acquired celebrity status for the sharp needle-like towers that rise above a lake and which are the final epic highlight of the W trek or ‘O’ hike that brings walkers to the park.
But there’s a surplus of photogenic nature here, from Glacier Grey, which forms part of the Southern Patagonia Icefield to glacial lakes and windswept steppe.
El Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia
Standing in the middle of El Salar de Uyuni, the Bolivian salt flats, you’d be forgiven for feeling like you’ve landed on another planet.
Mile after mile of pristine white salt stretches out from every angle and you’re encircled by a ring of high-altitude volcanoes and implausibly-colored lakes that are speckled with feeding flamingoes. Combine this with a feeling of breathlessness from the high altitude and you’ll be left utterly dumbfounded.
Perito Moreno Glacier, Argentina
The jewel in Argentine Patagonia’s Crown, Perito Moreno is South America’s most famous glacier. The rich blue hues of the compressed ice glimmers in the sunshine and visitors are able to get but a few hundred feet from the calving snout of this icy monster.
There’s no better way of feeling small in comparison to the huge might of nature than when standing on the boardwalk at the foot of Perito Moreno.
Tayrona National Park, Colombia
When it comes to untouched natural beauty, few could win in a contest against Tayrona National Park, a large protected area that covers everything from arid, cactus-dotted hillsides to dense rainforest and sublime beaches.
Las Lajas Sanctuary, Colombia
Built in a perilous location perched over a deep, Colombian gorge, Las Lajas Sanctuary makes quite the impression upon first sight.
This 20th-century basilica sits 150-ft. (45m) above the river and is dramatic both in its location and its neo-Gothic architecture.
The Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
Few places in South America have quite the same reputation for incredible flora and fauna as The Galapagos Islands.
Home to some of the highest levels of endemism on the planet (around 80% of birdlife and 97% of the reptiles and land mammals are only found on these islands), the beauty here takes the form of strange creatures such as swimming marine iguanas, delightfully colorful blue-footed boobies and huge, majestic Galápagos tortoises.
Lago Quilotoa, Ecuador
The turquoise waters of Lago Quilotoa are the main reward for the intrepid hikers who’ve attempted the Quilotoa Loop, a three- to five-day challenging hike through the Ecuadorian Andes.
Formed by the collapse of the magma chamber of the volcano upon which it now sits, beautiful Lago Quilotoa is tucked away in the mountains and still receives few international tourists.