South America is home to some of the world’s most famous and sought after sights, both natural and man-made. With one current exception, its countries are also politically and economically stable, yet some still feel nervous about travelling to this diverse, safe, welcoming and affordable continent, which for North Americans, offers all the thrills of long-haul travel without the jetlag.
We could spend pages going on about all the wonders of South America, but here, in no particular order, are some top highlights to visit.
1. Galapagos Islands – Called the world’s greatest living laboratory or the modern day Garden of Eden, this is where Darwin’s theory of evolution began to crystallize. Home to a vast range of wildlife that shows no fear of man, as well as pristine beaches, and crystal clear blue waters, the Galapagos is a not only a top site in Latin America, but one of the great ‘must do’ trips anywhere in the world. Explore the Galapagos aboard the M/V Legend for 8 days.
2. Angel Falls – The tallest waterfalls in the world, located in southern Venezuela, Angel Falls offers great off the beaten track exploration. Far removed from the main tourist route, the surrounding Gran Sabana is a natural wonder for those who make the trip. Unfortunately, Venezuela is that ‘one current exception’ we mentioned. Due to the political unrest, Goway is not currently offering trips to Venezuela. But with sights such as Angel Falls, we hope this amazing country returns to many a South American ‘to do’ list once stability returns.
3. Amazon River – Stretching across five easy-to-reach countries, the Amazon River system is a natural treasure that can be explored from Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, and of course, Brazil. In fact, it’s almost as immense as the continent of South America itself. The Amazon offers Piranha fishing, caiman spotting, village visits, and river explorations. Goway’s 4-day Amazon River Cruise is a great way to explore the region.
4. Lake Titicaca – The highest navigable lake in the world and once thought to be the original location of the lost city of Atlantis, Lake Titicaca offers travellers a look at endemic Andean cultures, the famous reed islands, as well as panoramic views of the mighty Andes that border the eastern edges of the lake. A 4-day tour is perfect for seeing Lake Titicaca.
5. Atacama Desert – One of the driest regions in the world, but the lack of water and greenery should not prevent travellers from exploring this region of northern Chile and Bolivia. With a kaleidoscope of earth tones and ancient weathered valleys, all on the doorstep of the world’s largest salt lake – Uyuni – San Pedro de Atacama is a must for those seeking active adventure. The region offers unstructured touring, full of hiking, horseback riding, and some of the finest accommodation choices in South America.
6. Andes Mountain Range – The only ‘growing’ mountain range in the world stretches from the top of the Caribbean coast on the shores of Colombia and falls off into the sea at the world’s most southern city – Ushuaia in Argentina. Many of Goway’s trips revolve around the spectacular Andes and it is an ever present feature of trips to Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, and Bolivia. Cross the Andes with Goway’s Andean Traverse trip.
7. Lakes District Patagonia – The thousands of lakes fed by the Andean Glaciers give this region of central Chile the very apt name of The Lakes District. Very similar in look and feel to the English Lakes District, this area is home to hot springs, trekking, horseback riding, great golf courses, rafting, mountain biking, and leisure with views to die for.
8. Patagonia – One of the world’s most famous outdoor playgrounds, Patagonia is home to Torres del Paine National Park, the thunderous Perito Moreno glacier, Tierra del Fuego, and the southernmost city in the world – Ushuaia, Argentina. The region itself is synonymous with the age of exploration, while its rough landscapes are inhabited by Gauchos, South America’s answer to the cowboy. Goway’s Patagonia Complete is a great exploration of this part of the world.
9. Machu Picchu – Few places on earth convey the emotions felt while standing in the shadow of this world famous site. Perched high in the Andean mountain range, deep within the Sacred Valley of the Incas, Machu Picchu is to this day clouded in mystery and wonder, and is often the first port of call on any trip to South America. Peruvian Landscapes is a great base itinerary that is easily expanded for travelers wishing to explore Peru.
10. Iguassu Falls – Even if the world’s highest falls – Angel Falls, Venezuela – are hard to reach right now, South America is also home to the world’s largest waterfall system, and arguably its most impressive! Located at the intersection of three countries, Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay, these falls take two full days to see properly. Sightseeing options include power boat rides to the base of the falls, helicopter flights over the falls, as well as footpaths winding along the water’s edge and throughout the jungle forest. All of which help put into perspective the size, grandeur and power of what can be honestly described as jaw dropping sights and sounds. Explore Iguassu Falls from Rio and see both sides of the Falls.
11. Falkland Islands – Whether you are looking for adventure, war history, or a return to a quieter time, the Falklands are a great place to relax and unwind. The Falkland Islands are one of the world’s last untouched wildlife wonders. Unspoiled beaches, islands, and cliffs provide a natural safe-haven for hundreds of species that have made the Falklands their home. With few humans around, the true highlight of the Falklands is finding yourself alone on a beach with 3000 penguins for company!
12. Easter Island – This pacific Island’s culture shares more in common with the people of Tahiti or Hawaii people, but Easter Island is world-renowned for their eerie Moai stone sentinels which symbolize the end of a civilization thousands of years ago. The rocky shores and interesting history provide a different twist to a Polynesian Island holiday. It is typically accessed via Santiago, Chile.