South America has gained heaps of attention from travelers from all around the world. And there is a good reason for that… in fact, there are quite a few! Well, for starters, the tourism industry has experienced rapid growth in most of its countries, now offering a much better and extensive array of services, making it that much easier to travel around. But, what really is moving more and more people to embark on a once-in-a-lifetime South American adventure is the great array of flourishing destinations that stand out for their natural, historical or cultural features. So, let’s dive into that.
Here’s a list of what’s to see and do at 5 of the trendiest countries of this magical continent. You can either pick one or two to explore in depth… or –if you can add all those off-days that you have pending at work- make your trip a rather long one and go through all of them!
Ecuador is a nice little country that has a lot of different things to offer packed in a fairly small area, so you can easily get around. The city of Quito and the historic city of Cuenca are both World Cultural Heritage Sites and have some amazingly beautiful architechture! If you are more of a nature person, you can check out the area of Baños and the Mindo cloudforests, only a daytrip from Quito, or even adventure deeper into the rainforest. Of course, if you are visiting Ecuador, you must consider the Galapagos Islands. This archipelago is on top of many nature-lovers’ rankings for a good reason. It is one of the most naturally stunning places on Earth, with a hughe biodiversity and an array of wildlife that you can get really up-close with… kind of like your own little “national geogrpahic” expedition.
It is undeniable that you must see the world wonder of Machu Picchu while in Peru. No arguing that! But you should definitely seize the chance to explore some other wonders of this country… like the great food in Lima. Peru has been voted Best Culinary Destination in the World for the last few years in a row and Lima is probably the place place to explore peruvian cuisine… don’t miss out on the ceviche, the many creole dishes and, of course, wash all down with a freshly shaked pisco sour! In Cusco, allow some time for visiting Machu Picchu, but it is also a great plan to stay in the Sacred Valley of the Incas for an extra day or two and explore the little towns, archaeological sites, artisans markets, trekking routes and breathtaking scenery.
Now, if your middle name is ‘adventure’, then you must go to Chile. It’s a really skinny but LONG country on the map, making it extremely diverse, with arid deserts like Atacama on the northern part and glaciers on the southern end, like at Torres del Paine National Park on the Chilean Patagonia. Adrenalin-seekers, trekkers and plain outdoors-lovers will have a blast here. But Chile has something to offer to every one. So, if you’re not feeling that outdoorsy, just hang around the capital Santiago and plan day trips to the coastal towns of Valparaiso and Viña del Mar or to some of the many vineyards close by and sip your worries away with a nice glass of Carménère, Chardonnay or whichever you prefer.
Of course you will want to experience Rio de Janeiro and its vibrant urban yet beachy scene, the laid-back Carioca atmosphere and its welcoming people. Life will be perfect as you sip on a caipirinha as you enjoy the sun on any of the great beaches of Rio. This is also a great destination for partying, so don’t miss the nightlife and hit the dance floor to pick up some samba moves! If you are seeking a more relaxed spot and stunning beaches to unwind at, head out to Buzios or Florianópolis and just let life pass by for a couple of glorious beach days.
Bolivia is probable one of the lesser-known and newest trending destination in South America. Travelers are attracted to it by its awe-inspiring natural settings, which are indeed very unique. Of course, while you are there, check out the picturesque capital city of La Paz, nestled in between snow-capped mountains. But don’t miss sight of lake Tititcaca (also possible to visit from the Peruvian side, in Puno) and of the mind-boggling Uyuni saltflats, which boast a landscape that really seems out of this world… plus, you’ll get some AMAZING pictures to brag about to your friends!
Need ideas to start with? Check out our ‘Best of South America Tour’: