South America is home to a plethora of natural, historical, and cultural sites.
There are some unique islands to explore, with Rapa Nui (Easter Island), the Galapagos Islands, and the Falkland Islands topping the list. There is extreme beauty in natural sites such as the Amazon jungle and the impressive Iguassu Waterfalls. We also cannot forget the inspiring man-made sites such as Peru’s famous Machu Picchu, and the colonial jewel of Cartagena in Colombia.
With most on these listed as being a UNESCO World Heritage site, we must be aware that many of these regions’ natural and historical treasures remain at risk. Fortunately, positive steps are being taken to preserve these important sites.
Below are just a few examples:
The Amazon Jungle
While still under threat, tour operators battle to see this enormous green belt not only remain viable for tourism, but viable to us all at the base level of existance. Governments in Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Brazil are all taking big steps in protecting the “lung of Mother Earth”, often battling industry and economic development in order to do so.
While a visit to the Amazon has not changed all that much over the years, the fact that it is still shrinking in overall size, despite the great work to protect it, means that there is quite some work to be done to protect this important ecosystem and source of life.
The Galapagos Islands
More than just picturesque islands in the Pacific, the Galapagos Islands are an inspiration, as this is where Charles Darwin formulated his Theory of Evolution. Home to the famous blue-footed boobies, frigatebirds, huge land tortoises, marine iguanas, plus a menagerie of more animals and sea life, the Islands’ popularity has grown, as more and more people discover Ecuador. With this though, comes quite an impact on the fragile environment.
A $120USD park fee is charged to visit the entire Island chain in a national park – all of which goes back towards helping with local education, as well as preserving and protecting the islands and their wildlife residents.
Check out various itineraries to Galapagos Islands.
The Inca Trail
For years the Inca Trail in Peru has been a mecca for trekkers, and those seeking to view the famed “Lost City of the Incas”, Machu Picchu. In the past, and without restriction, the trail was open to anyone and any number of travellers. The result was a trail that was crowded, and historic sites that were getting damaged.
With today’s new rules, the trail is now monitored, controlled, and kept spotlessly clean, and has become a true joy to walk, while discovering Incan sites and traditions along the way.
While rumours of Machu Picchu closing to the public are categorically false, the opportunities to visit are becoming harder due to the warranted oversight and protection of the ruins. The ruins have stood for over 500 years, and in order for them to stand for 500 more, we all must strive to respect and protect this truly impressive site.
Inca Trail Trekking
Sun and Moon Temple
One of the more “unsung” stories is found at the Sun and Moon Temple in northern Peru, outside the colonial town of Trujillo.
Built during the Moche Empire (yes there are other ancient peoples in Peru other than the Incas), these two huge adobe brick pyramids stood almost unguarded and neglected for years. It was President Fujimori who began investing resources back into the protection and excavation of the temple.
The now famous relief sculpture, with its original earth sediment paints, was open to the elements until proper and organized restoration steps were put in place. These temples were literally blowing away in the desert winds, but today, a further chapter in the story of the Moche civilization has been revealed through the simple steps of preservation, caring, and careful research.
3-Day Trujillo Northern Wonders
Sustainable tourism, as the name implies, came into existence to overlook long lasting and beneficial returns of tourism in South America, ensuring it continues into the future. It allows us and our children, along with the region’s local population, to experience the intimacy, the beauty, and the pure uniqueness all of these natural and cultural treasures.