Top Places in South America

South America is a fantastic continent and is home to some of the world’s favorite tourist sights.

Visit the ruins of incredible pre-Columbian civilizations that defied belief when first discovered, tour the Amazon Rainforest to enjoy the world’s largest home to wildlife, taste some of the world’s finest cuisine, and enjoy spectacular waterfalls.

Here, we have selected the top 50 places to visit in South America. We have included recommended tours and travel bloggers who have enjoyed these incredible places to give you their own opinions on each destination.

  1. The Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

    The Galapagos Islands are a wildlife-rich paradise off the coast of Ecuador. Enjoy beautiful beaches, idyllic tropical bays, fantastic scenery, and some of the world’s most incredible wildlife experiences.

    The archipelago is world famous as helping Charles Darwin discover how the world’s wildlife became so diverse, as it helped him understand evolution by natural selection.

    Because the Galapagos Islands were one of the last world areas to be discovered, combined with having very few predators, the animals are very friendly and curious.

    This means you can enjoy some incredible wildlife experiences and capture some fantastic photographs as you explore the best points of interest on the Galapagos.

    Enjoy spotting all the iconic species of the Galapagos Islands, including giant tortoises, marine iguanas, blue-footed boobies, frigatebirds, sea lions, pelicans, and Darwin’s finches.

    While enjoying some of the world’s best diving and snorkeling opportunities, you can also see shoals of hammerhead sharks, manta rays, sea turtles, and thousands of colorful fish.

    Although lesser known to the general population before Darwin, the Galapagos Islands were well known to pirates and whalers, which has left behind a fascinating history you’re sure to discover.

    The volcanic nature of the islands has also created fascinating natural wonders, such as giant lava tubes, steaming vents, and impressive volcanoes. Exploring these natural wonders and seeing the different wildlife makes for some fantastic things to do on the Galapagos.

    To enjoy the Galapagos Islands and make the most of your visit, we recommend taking a Galapagos cruise or enjoying package tours from the fantastic hotels.

    Some recommended Galapagos tours include the Ocean Spray Galapagos Cruise and the Red Mangrove Hotel on Santa Cruz Island (pictured above).

    The Red Mangrove Hotel

    The Red Mangrove Hotel

    Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, South America
    Price per person from $
    Offering very comfortable accommodation and package tours for the Galapagos Islands, the Red Mangrove Hotel More info

    To combine with Ecuador’s incredible Amazon Rainforest, you can enjoy the luxury-class Galapagos & Amazon Combination Tour.

    Galapagos & Amazon Combo Tour

    Galapagos & Amazon Combo Tour

    Coca, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, Amazon Rainforest, South America
    Price per person from $
    Enjoy 3 nights on a luxury class catamaran to experience the Galapagos Islands and see fantastic ani More info
  2. The Tambopata Rainforest, Peru

    Jaguar - Tambopata Research Center - Top Places in South America

    An incredible area of Amazon Rainforest in southern Peru, the Tambopata rainforest is home to impressive wildlife displays. You can visit the Tambopata rainforest from the gateway town of Puerto Maldonado. After booking a tour, you will be collected by jungle lodge staff to begin your adventure.

    Enjoy guided tours from comfortable Tambopata lodges to find incredible wildlife, including giant river otters, several different monkeys, colorful parrots, and even chance sightings of wild jaguar.

    In and around the Tambopata National Reserve, enjoy finding more claylicks than anywhere else in South America. These are areas where flocks of colorful macaws and other parrots visit to obtain salts and medicines.

    The licks are often visited by hundreds of macaws, which present guests with almost guaranteed wildlife spectacles on a daily basis.

    In addition to colorful birds, the clays are also visited by many other forest animals, including monkeys and jungle cats that look for an easy meal.

    On professionally guided tours through the Amazon, find some amazing animals, giant rainforest trees, and friendly communities.

    After your expeditions, you can relax at comfortable lodges that provide high quality service, delicious food, and some even include spa facilities.

    Choose from great lodges for an introduction to Amazonia closer to the rainforest gateway town of Puerto Maldonado or opt for deep jungle lodges where you will maximize wildlife possibilities.

    A recommended deep jungle lodge for wildlife viewing and comfort is the Tambopata Research Center with its comfortable and deluxe suites in the middle of Tambopata National Reserve.

    Tambopata Research Center

    Tambopata Research Center

    Puerto Maldonado, Amazon Rainforest, Peru, South America
    Price per person from $
    The Tambopata Research Center is a deep Amazon lodge located near one of the largest known clay lick More info

    Other recommendations are the Refugio Amazonas Lodge, a private Amazon Villa in the Tambopata buffer zone and the community-owned Posada Amazonas Lodge only 40 minutes from the gateway town.

    The Refugio Amazonas Lodge

    The Refugio Amazonas Lodge

    Puerto Maldonado, Amazon Rainforest, Peru, South America
    Price per person from $
    The Refugio Amazonas Lodge & Spa is an Amazon Rainforest lodge located in the buffer zone of Ta More info
    The Amazon Villa

    The Amazon Villa

    Puerto Maldonado, Amazon Rainforest, Peru, South America
    Price per person from $
    Explore the Amazon Rainforest in comfort on a premium experience at the Tambopata Amazon Villa. The More info

    The Posada Amazonas Lodge

    The Posada Amazonas Lodge

    Puerto Maldonado, Amazon Rainforest, Peru, South America
    Price per person from $
    We had an amazing time at Posada Amazonas and would recommend it to anyone wanting to go to the Amaz More info
  3. The Amazon River, Peru

    Delfin II, Iquitos, Peru

    The Amazon River is one of the world’s largest rivers. Second longest after the Nile, the Amazon is the world’s largest river by quantity of water expelled into the Atlantic Ocean.

    For an example of the river’s strength, early sailors could drink fresh water from the Amazon before even sighting land.

    The Amazon River feeds a rainforest that covers 40% of the South American continent. Being surrounded by wildlife-rich tropical rainforest, the Amazon River is an excellent place for a river cruise.

    Our favorite cruise destination is the jungle city of Iquitos in northern Peru. From here, you can explore the beautiful Pacaya Samiria National Reserve.

    The Pacaya Samiria is Peru’s largest national reserve and protects over one million hectares of flooded tropical rainforest.

    On expeditions from your cruise vessel, enjoy spotting several different monkeys, colorful and iconic toucans, blue and yellow macaws, pink river dolphins, and even find caiman crocodilians while on night cruises.

    A favorite sight are the monkeys and you will see howler monkeys, playful capuchins, squirrel monkeys and more, which cross through the trees as you navigate their jungle home.

    There are several fantastic cruises to choose from and some favorites are the luxurious Delfin I, the Aria Amazon, Delfin II, and Delfin III vessels.

    The Delfin I

    The Delfin I

    Price per person from $
    Offering an on-board experience second to none, the Delfin I Luxury Cruise begins in Iquitos, Peru More info

    The Delfin III offers one of the most affordable luxury cruises on the Amazon River. For an adventure cruise category, you can also choose La Perla. There are also excellent Amazon lodges from Iquitos.

    Delfin III

    The Delfin III

    Price per person from $
    The Delfin III provides a one of the most affordable luxury cruises on the Amazon River. The vessel features hardwo More info

    On the above Amazon River cruises, you will head into the rainforest on guided skiff expeditions scouting the waterways for a range of rainforest life.

  4. Machu Picchu, Peru

    Machu Picchu, Peru

    Machu Picchu draws hundreds of thousands of visitors each year to marvel and this magnificent Incan citadel. Because this is such an incredible sight, Machu Picchu has been listed as one of the New7Wonders of the World.

    Thought to have been built for the Inca Pachacuti in the 15th Century, Machu Picchu stands high on the Andes mountains.

    Enjoy breathtaking scenery as you view Machu Picchu against the Andes mountains and marvel at the engineering feats of the Incas.

    Although breathtaking to witness, Machu Picchu was completely unknown to the conquistadors and Spanish colonists. It was only in 1909 after the expedition of HIram Bingham from Yale University did it first enter the public eye.

    Since this time, Machu Picchu has been on the list of most visitors to South America and Peru. Combined with the many Incan and pre-Incan sights nearby, this is one of the favorite attractions in South America.

    To have the best experience, make sure you choose the best time to visit Machu Picchu for a balance between good weather, great views, and less crowds.

    If you would like to visit over peak season or simply want to get the most of your experience, we recommend the different luxury Machu Picchu tours that includes visits to other sights.

    The advantage of these is that the tours include the fantastic Sanctuary Lodge, which is the only hotel located close to the Incan monument. This means you can enjoy visiting the sight before or after the majority of tourists have left. You will also enjoy some stunning views of Machu Picchu from the hotel itself.

    Some fantastic luxury luxury package tours that include Machu Picchu are the Belmond Essential Peru Tour and the Belmond Insider’s Peru Tour.

    You can also choose from several different treks to Machu Picchu to enjoy the stunning scenery. The most famous of these is the Inca Trail, however, there are a few others to choose from, such as the Salkantay Trek or Weaver’s Way.

  5. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

    Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)

    One of South America’s most famous cities, Rio de Janeiro definitely deserve the attention.

    Enjoy Rio’s famous and lively nature while being close to beautiful beaches and incredible scenery.

    The surrounding mountains provide a beautiful backdrop to your stay and the coastline near Rio is dotted with many beautiful islands.

    In addition to the natural beauty, while walking Rio’s streets you will no doubt encounter music, dancing and street parties iconic to Rio de Janeiro.

    There are many hotels that provide some incredible views of the city’s coastline. Surrounding these, you can find excellent restaurants, boutique cafes, and many things to do.

    While exploring the city, you will also notice a lot of greenery. You will also see many colorful birds living within the city boundaries. The parks offer green areas with many trees, water, and a balance of nature with a modern city.

    While exploring Rio, you can also see some of South America’s most famous landmarks. One of the most symbolic city landmarks is Christ the Redeemer standing atop Corcovado mountain. Of course, another iconic landmark is Copacabana beach which is possibly the most famous beach on Earth.

    Lastly, it wouldn’t be Rio without frequent celebrations. The most famous is the lively Carnaval that takes place yearly at some point between February and mid-March. Although, for the best weather you may choose to visit between May and August.

    Some travel bloggers who have explored Rio de Janeiro are Suzie from Suzieagelopoulos.com and Kiersten from Theblondeabroad.com.

  6. Cusco, Peru

    Belmond Hotel Monasterio - Cusco, Peru

    Cusco is one of the world’s most historically fascinating cities. Cusco was the hub of the Inca Empire. The Inca were the largest pre-Columbian civilization in the Americas and dominated an area from Ecuador to Argentina.

    As the Inca civilization began in Peru, the country has more Incan sights than others that were crossed by the empire, including the famous monument of Machu Picchu above.

    Cusco is the base to explore Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley. However, the city of Cusco itself is an attraction in its own right.

    The entire city is recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site and there are some fascinating buildings and streets to enjoy. There are also some fantastic things to do in Cusco itself after exploring the Sacred Valley.

    After the Spanish conquest of Cusco, the colonists didn’t clear the site to build their city anew. Instead, the colonial buildings were built on top of Incan ruins. This has created some incredible architecture with fine Spanish brickwork mixed with the large Incan stone foundations.

    The same is true for many of Cusco’s favorite areas. Even the central Plaza de Armas was once an Incan square and the Cusco Cathedral sits on the site of an Incan palace.

    While enjoying the fantastic history and architecture, you can enjoy boutique cafes, restaurants servicing delicious cuisine, interesting museums, and lively markets.

    For a luxury-level experience of Cusco and the Sacred Valley, we recommend some of the top luxury tours in Peru, such as the Belmond Essential Peru Tour and Belmond Insider’s Peru Tour.

  7. The Pantanal, Brazil

    The Pantanal Wetlands covers a gigantic area of 140,000 square kilometers (54,000 square miles) and contains an impressive diversity of wildlife.

    This is a flooded grassland habitat filled with wildlife that draws nature lovers the world over. The majority of this incredible ecosystem is found in Brazil, but the region also crosses into neighbouring Paraguay and Bolivia.

    The Pantanal is often where documentary creators film the more charismatic animals of the Amazon Rainforest, given the higher probability of seeing jaguar, capybara, and others.

    Enjoy some incredible guided tours across the Pantanal to enjoy beautiful views of wide open grasslands.

    The Pantanal provides some fantastic views where you can see herds of capybara crossing the plains. Capybara are the world’s largest rodent and with webbed feet they are well adapted to the wetlands.

    You can also find the world’s highest concentration of caiman crocodilians, incredible birdlife, and jaguar prowling the landscape, which are often the most desired wildlife sighting.

    Some travel bloggers who explored the Pantanal are Steve & Julie from 2checkingout.com and Ailish from Ailishinwonderland.com.

  8. Iguazu Falls, Argentina

    Iguazu Falls - Best Places in South America

    As one of the world’s most incredible waterfalls, Iguazu draws over one million visitors each year.

    The UNESCO listed Iguazu Falls is actually hundreds of cascades that stretch 2 miles (3 km) across the Iguazu River.

    To put the falls into perspective, Iguazu is twice as wide and taller than Niagra Falls.

    As the waterfall crosses the Argentinian and Brazilian border, you can visit Iguazu Falls from either country. However, the most popular sight called the Devil’s Throat (Garganta del Diablo) is in Argentina.

    Composed of 14 individual waterfalls, the Devil’s Throat is the largest section of cascades in the whole waterfall system. There is also a walkway to get close to this impressive section.

    The Brazilian side also offers a long walkway leading over the river for some fantastic views.

    In addition to the waterfall, the surrounding area is part of the beautiful Iguazu National Park. This is also worth exploring on different trails. The park is a small part of the remaining Atlantic Forest, which we will mention farther down the page.

    To see the falls in full force, the best time of year to visit is between November and March. However, you can enjoy the falls at all times of year. To reach the falls, you can fly to Puerto Iguazu from Buenos Aires for the Argentinian side or Foz de Iguacu from Rio de Janeiro for the Brazilian side.

    Some travel bloggers who have explored Iguazu Falls are Julie Wunder from Runninginaskirt.com and Andrew & Emily from Alongdustyroads.com.

  9. Brazil’s Amazon Rainforest

    Cristalino Lodge, Brazilian Amazon

    Brazil contains the largest section of Amazon Rainforest. You can visit the Brazilian Amazon from Manaus, which is the main gateway on the Amazon River. Manaus is also the largest city in the Amazon Rainforest. From here, you can explore the Rio Negro aboard some excellent cruises, such as the Tucano Expedition Cruise.

    Another fantastic area to visit is the Cristalino Reserve from Alta Floresta in the southern rainforest. This is found where the Pantanal Wetlands meets the Amazon Rainforest. Because of this, you can find a high diversity of animals and plants.

    Enjoy exploring the Amazon on forest walks with your naturalist guide, canoeing the waterways, and enjoying the two giant canopy towers of the Cristalino Lodge. You can find several different monkeys, giant river otters, caiman crocodiles, and hundreds of different birds.

    Cristalino Lodge

    The Cristalino Lodge

    Alta Floresta, Brazil, Amazon Rainforest, South America
    Price per person from $
    Nestled in its own private reserve, the Cristalino Jungle Lodge is situated in the southern Brazilia More info

    The Cristalino Lodge offers one of the most comfortable accommodation options in the Amazon, including a beautiful floating deck, comfortable accommodation, and attentive service. The lodge has an active conservation initiative involving locals and researchers alike in the study and appreciation of the area’s remaining rainforest.

  10. Ecuador’s Cloud Forest

    The cloud forest is forest defined at such a high altitude that it is among the clouds. In South America, the cloud forest is along the slopes of the Andes and is one of the world’s richest areas for animal and plant life.

    Enjoy guided tours through the cloud forest to find some fantastic animals and plants. This is an especially great area to see beautiful orchids and bromeliads clinging to the trees.

    Among the lush vegetation, you can also find many different animals. The cloud forest is particularly abundant with hummingbirds and there are over a hundred different species to find.

    There are also some larger animals living in the cloud forest. You can chance upon woolly monkeys, capuchins, and even spectacled bears although these are very rarely seen.

    Ecuador is a fantastic place to enjoy the cloud forest and a highly recommended lodge is called Mashpi Lodge, which offers luxurious stays and guided tours with an environmentally conscious approach to tourism.

    Some travel bloggers who explored Ecuador’s Cloud Forest are Charlene & Henry from Onlyadayaway.com and Vibeke from Thevikingabroad.com.

  11. Patagonia, Chile & Argentina

    Patagonia - Best Places in South America

    Patagonia is a region in southern South America that crosses Chile and Argentina. You can enjoy breathtaking scenery with mountains, glaciers and beautiful lakes of fantastic protected areas.

    In addition to the fantastic scenery, there are also remnants of ancient cultures, such as cave paintings in the fascinating Cueva de las Manos Pintadas.

    Some favorite protected areas in the region are the Parque Nacional Torres Del Paine, Parque Nacional Perito Moreno, and Parque Nacional Los Glaciares.

    You can find the Parque Nacional Torres Del Paine in southern Chile. As one of the most popular places in Patagonia, there are over 100,000 yearly visitors.

    The Torres del Paine (Towers of Paine) themselves are granite pillars extending vertically just over 2,000 meters into the sky.

    In addition to these incredible natural structures, enjoy beautiful lakes, glaciers, rivers and forests that create one of South America’s most beautiful national parks.

    The wildlife that live here include majestic Andean condors, flamingos, guanacos, puma, and the ostrich-like rhea.

    In Argentina, you can find the Parque Nacional Los Glaciares. This is another of the most popular parks in Patagonia.

    Named after the magnificent glaciers, the park offers some incredible scenery. The Perito Moreno glacier is the most well known and is a spectacular sight to witness.

    Enjoy the beautiful views while listening to the incredible sounds of collapsing ice. Although many of the world’s glaciers are receding, the Glaciar Perito Moreno is in a stable condition and the ice collapses are seen as a natural event.

    Some travel bloggers who explored Patagonia are Jenny & Steven from Talesfromthelens.com and Lauren Salisbury from Somethinginherramblings.com.

  12. Cartagena, Colombia

    One of Colombia’s most beautiful cities, Cartagena offers some historically fascinating and colorful streets. Enjoy the romantic alleyways and intricately designed cathedrals in the UNESCO recognised Old Town.

    While walking around Old Town, you can enjoy some elaborate plazas with fountains, attractive wooden balconies, and see the impressive mansions of the Spanish colonists.

    The city outside of the historic center is also a fantastic place to enjoy. From Old Town, the city extends into a modern South American city with many excellent restaurants, cafes, museums, and things to do.

    As Cartagena is positioned on Colombia’s Caribbean Coast, the city is a usual port of call for many Caribbean cruises. In fact, this is the country’s most visited city. When you witness the beauty of Old Town and the many boutique restaurants, shops, and cafes, it is obvious to see why.

    As we’re on the Caribbean Coast, there are also some fantastic snorkeling opportunities off Cartagena. Enjoy warm water, islands, reefs, and colorful fish only a short boat trip away.

    Some travel bloggers who explored Cartagena are Lindsay from Frugalfrolicker.com, Gemma & Craig from Twoscotsabroad.com and Lauren Elyce from Laurenelyce.com.

  13. Easter Island, Chile

    Easter Island - Best Places in South America

    One of the world’s most mysterious places, Easter Island is found 2,300 miles (3,700 km) off the coast of Chile. This isolation has led to the island’s mysterious and fascinating past.

    The most familiar features of the island are the moai statues. These are the mysterious buried statues that were previously thought to be simply giant stone heads. However, we now know that beneath these heads are entire bodies buried deep into the earth.

    The people that lived on Easter Island had a fascinating history, which could help teach the rest of the world some much needed lessons on environmental responsibility. This becomes apparent when you look at the now treeless landscape with the proud statues standing as if a sign from the past.

    In addition to exploring the UNESCO listed island, you can learn more about Easter Island culture from the local people. See ceremonial displays and traditional dances from descendants of the native Rapa Nui people who carved the statues.

    You can also enjoy some fantastic snorkeling opportunities around the island. The snorkeling and diving here is known for the different colorful fish, sea turtles, and crystal clear water.

    Some travel bloggers who explored Easter Island are Rhonda & Mike from Travelyesplease.com and Alesha & Jarryd from Nomadasaurus.com.

  14. The Cerrado, Brazil

    Another lesser known area in South America, the Cerrado in Brazil is the country’s second largest habitat after the Amazon Rainforest.

    The Cerrado is an area of dry grassland where you can find many different animals. The most loved wildlife sightings here include the elegant maned wolves, tool-using capuchin monkeys, and the endangered hyacinth macaw.

    This is one of the world’s richest savannas. For example, the Cerrado is home to around 200 different mammals and around 800 different birds. As well as the animal life, over 40% of all plants in the Cerrado are found nowhere else on Earth.

    The Cerrado itself is defined by the dry grassland, gnarled trees, and low shrubs. You can then enjoy some dramatic scenery on guided tours.

    This immense region crosses nine states and cover 20% of Brazil. When visiting the area, enjoy many different trails to see the wildlife, clear rivers, waterfalls, and stunning scenery.

  15. Buenos Aires, Argentina

    One of the favorite cities for many visitors to South America, Buenos Aires is the capital of Argentina and is where you will enter this fantastic country.

    Not simply suited to a brief stop over, in Buenos Aires itself you can find some fantastic nightlife and different things to do.

    Famously, this is a great place to dance or learn Tango. The first steps to this seductive dance aren’t as hard as they look, and there are many beginners classes to join.

    You can also enjoy world-class opera performances, fantastic galleries, theatres, boutique cafes, and of course some excellent restaurants. For many visitors, it’s the excellent steaks, wine, and ice cream that are the must try options and there are many different places to dine.

    Make sure you have a nap, however, as the night-time scene of Buenos Aires is world famous. It’s normal here for the nightlife to get going at 3am and even the restaurants are open until late.

    Some travel bloggers who explored Buenos Aires are João from Joaocajuda.com, Pauline from Paulinetravels.com and Nadeen from Thesophisticatedlife.com.

  16. Salar De Uyuni, Bolivia

    Salar de Uyuni - Best Places in South America

    If you have seen the photos playing with perspective on salt flats, chances are these were taking at the Salar De Uyuni in Bolivia.

    Although the photos are on many people’s minds when visiting the salt flats, the region itself is also fascinating to see.

    As the world’s largest salt flat, the Salar De Uyuni covers an impressive area of just over 4,000 square miles (10,300 km2).

    Seeing this incredible landscape is worth the visit and watching the sunrise and sunset here is especially enjoyable.

    The salt is actually a crust on a large lake, which creates an alien and desolate landscape. Seeing the salt flats of a day is a completely different, yet equally spectacular, experience from seeing it at night.

    Although seemingly uninhabited, there are some animals and plants that live here. You can see some different cacti and even flamingos visit over the wetter months.

    Just after the wet weather, the rain leaves behind a shimmering area that acts as a gigantic mirror. This creates some even more stunning scenery and even more photo opportunities.

    Some travel bloggers who explored Salar De Uyuni are Chris from Christravelblog.com and Rob & Sarah from Natravelblog.com.

  17. Chan Chan, Peru

    Chan Chan - Best Places in South America

    The world’s largest adobe city, Chan Chan is located by the city of Trujillo in northern Peru.

    Chan Chan was built by the Chimor Empire that existed between AD 900 – 1470. The civilisation ended around the same time as the Inca civilization was reaching dominance.

    The Chimor were eventually defeated by the Inca Empire under leadership of Topa Inca Yupanqui.

    Chan Chan was once home to over 50,000 people and there are over ten thousand structures to find. Once, these walls would have held vast quantities of gold.

    Although Chan Chan was defeated by the Inca, it was the Spanish who looted the gold from the city. Chimu gold was well known to the Spanish who were in the process of shipping Incan gold back to Spain.

    This was the most important place of the Chimor Empire and you can enjoy walking the streets to see the city and Chan Chan’s various artworks.

    Some travel bloggers who explored Chan Chan are Sarah from Autobiographyofanadventurer.com and Sara from Travelcontinuum.com.

  18. Kuelap, Peru

    Although less well known, Kuelap is one of the only other structures in Peru that can rival the famous citadel of Machu Picchu.

    Kuelap is a fortress-like structure built by the mysterious Chachapoyas culture of northern Peru.

    The ruins themselves were built in the 6th Century AD and are composed of a high-wall surrounding many different buildings. The wall is made from giant stones of pink granite.

    Although dating to hundreds of years before the defeat of the Inca Empire, Kuelap was inhabited right up until the Spanish conquest.

    The giant structure is thought to have taken over 200 years to complete. Despite its magnificent size, Kuelap remained completely unknown to the Spanish.

    Overlooking the valley of Utcubamba, you can enjoy some beautiful views of the area. The region is part of Andean cloud forest home to many orchids, bromeliads, hummingbirds, and lush vegetation.

    Because of where they lived, the Chachapoyas themselves are known as the cloud forest people. Little is known about this culture aside from what was learned at the site of Kuelap. However, what is clear is that they were one of the most advanced civilisations in South America’s tropics.

    Some travel bloggers who explored Kuelap are Claire Sturzaker from Talesofabackpacker.com and Kendra from Rustytraveltrunk.com.

  19. The Atlantic Forest, Brazil

    The Atlantic Forest along the south-eastern coast of Brazil is one of the world’s richest ecosystems but has been severely threatened.

    A few hundred years ago, this forest covered an area of around 330 million acres (1,300,000 square kilometers). However, after deforestation the Atlantic Forest has been reduced to less than 12% of its former cover.

    Despite this, you can find a rich diversity of life here with different trails leading past large trees, wetlands, and rich flora and fauna.

    The Atlantic Forest is well known among serious birders and there are hundreds of different species to find. These include 200 species found nowhere else on Earth.

    In addition to birdlife, the forest is home to different monkeys, reptiles and amphibians. When taken together, the species here represent 5% of all the world’s vertebrates.

    Enjoy spotting golden lion tamarins, many different parrots, and the maned three-toed sloth. There is also an abundance of fascinating trees and plants to enjoy.

    Although a forest rich with wildlife and having suffered incredible deforestation, only 2% of the area has been protected.

    You can explore the reserves on guided tours to see why many organizations are working hard to protect the remaining fragments.

    Some travel bloggers who explored the Atlantic Forest are Bradley & Cazzy from Dreambigtravelfarblog.com and Kim from So-many-places.com.

  20. The Wetlands of Argentina

    The Iberá Wetlands are Argentina’s answer to the Brazilian Pantanal mentioned farther up. The area is full of lagoons, lakes, and swamps. This is also an important habitat for a wide range of animals and plants.

    Covering an impressive 7,500 square miles (20,000 km2), the Iberá Wetlands are the world’s second largest wetlands after Brazil’s Pantanal. These wetlands are not as well known as the Pantanal or Amazon Rainforest, but offer some incredible sights.

    Located just a two-hour flight from Buenos Aires, the wetlands are home to howler monkeys, jaguar, capybara, maned wolves, caiman crocodilians, ostrich-like rhea, anaconda, and giant anteaters.

    Although some of the wildlife has been severely hunted in times gone by, animals are being released back into the area to help the populations recover.

    You can enjoy exploring the Iberá Wetlands on guided horseback expeditions and boat tours from different ranches. Some of the ranches have been converted into tourist lodges allowing guests to explore this incredible region of Argentina.

    Some travel bloggers who explored the Iberá Wetlands are Yasha & Juergen from Dare2go.com and John & Paula from Ourbiggerpicture.com.

  21. Lima, Peru

    Lima - Best Places in South America

    As Peru’s capital city, you will first visit Lima before your journey to the Sacred Valley or Amazon Rainforest.

    Although many people simply connect in Lima or stay for one night before their journey deeper into Peru, Lima can also be worth a visit for a few nights.

    One of the reasons is because Peruvian cuisine is regarded as one of the best in the world. Lima is then fortunate to be home to a few of the world’s 50 best restaurants, which you can enjoy on your stay.

    Lima is also rich in history and this was from where the Spanish would ship Incan gold back to Spain.

    Enjoy visiting the fascinating Historic Center to see many of the colonial buildings. Walk the streets to see iconic wooden balconies and the city from where the Spanish conquest of South America was based.

    Around the main plaza, you can see the Plaza Mayor, Cathedral, Government Palace, the City Hall, the Archbishop’s Palace, and the fascinating San Francisco Monastery.

    The monastery is then one of Lima’s top attractions. The monastery was built in 1774 and was added by UNESCO to the World Heritage List.

    Enjoy guided tours of the building to see the intricate architecture, the church, monastery and library. You will then venture below ground to see the catacombs where around 75,000 people were laid to rest.

    Around Lima, you can also visit various city parks, such as the Parque de la Reserva, Parque de Amistad, and the centrally placed Kennedy Park.

    Two of the favorite museums are then the Larco Museum and the Museum of the Central Reserve Bank with its collection of golden artifacts from the Incan and pre-Incan cultures.

    Some travel bloggers who explored Lima are Sonja from Myhammocktime.com, Lisa Opie from Ladycodeblog.com and C from Ms-skinnyfat.com.

  22. The Parque Tayrona, Colombia

    Parque Tayrona - Best Places in South America

    This is arguably Colombia’s best protected area. The park is located just under an hour drive from Santa Marta or four hours from Cartagena on the Caribbean Coast.

    The beauty of the area is that the rainforest presses right up against the beautiful palm-tree fringed beach.

    You can enjoy spotting different birds and even monkeys in and around the park. The monkeys you can see in the park include howler monkeys, capuchins, and tamarins.

    The golden sands and trees provide an image of paradise and it’s a fantastic place to relax. The landscape is also beautiful with the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountain range in the background.

    There are also different trails to enjoy through the park. In addition to the wildlife and beautiful scenery, you can also find archaeological remains of the Tayrona indigenous group who once lived in the area and have given the park its name.

    Although the water is rough and much of the area is not recommended for swimming, there are some designated swimming areas.

    Some travel bloggers who explored Parque Tayrona are Kelly from Thewanderingblonde.com, Manish & Shruti from Arrangedtravelers.com and Lia & Jeremy from Practicalwanderlust.com.

  23. Medellin, Colombia

    As one of Colombia’s favorite cities for visitors, Medellin has become a top tourist destination. Enjoy a friendly and lively city with many fascinating sights and things to do.

    Medellin offers a very pleasant year round temperature, many restaurants serving delicious cuisine, and vibrant nightlife.

    A great place to stay is called El Poblado, which is one of the top neighbourhoods in the city.

    Around Medellin, you can enjoy boutique cafes, great bars, many city parks, and great shopping opportunities. There are also various interesting museums, a butterfly house, and the botanical gardens to explore.

    Salsa dancing is also a favorite things to try in Medellin and there are numerous salsa schools to teach you the basics. You can then head out at night to one of the many latin clubs.

    This is also a good place to learn Spanish, which will help you in your travels around Colombia and to other South American countries. There are many different Spanish schools to choose from.

    Some travel bloggers who explored Medellin are Christina from Jetsetchristina.com and Steven & Jazmin from Traveltoblank.com.

  24. Iquitos, Peru

    Iquitos - Best Places in South America

    The world’s largest city not to connected to any other by road, Iquitos is located in Peru’s tropical north.

    Iquitos is a rubber boom city that grew during the rubber boom of the 19th and early 20th century.

    The rise of the bicycle and automobile in Europe and North America created a great demand for rubber, which was sourced from rubber trees native to the Amazon Basin.

    Iquitos provided a gateway to the rainforest where rubber barons who owned rubber plantations could base themselves and orchestrate the harvest and distribution of natural rubber.

    The rubber trade brought tremendous wealth to Iquitos and rubber barons would build large intricately designed mansions decorated with the finest materials.

    These rubber boom mansions have since been converted into hotels, supermarkets, museums, restaurants, and residences that dot Iquitos city. They make an excellent sight to chance upon and are often identified from the outside by intricate tiling.

    There are some interesting things to do in Iquitos itself. Enjoy visiting the manatee rescue center for a chance to feed and see manatees before their release. You can also try some delicious jungle cuisine at various restaurants. There is also a butterfly house and animal orphanage to visit nearby.

    The Tahuayo Lodge

    The Tahuayo Lodge

    Iquitos, Peru, Amazon Rainforest, South America
    Price per person from $
    You are assigned a private guide and custom itinerary as standard to explore the wildlife filled Tahuayo Reserve. More info

    However, the best thing to do from Iquitos is to visit the incredible Amazon Rainforest. The accessible protected areas of rainforest to visit include the Tamshiyacu Tahuayo Reserve best enjoyed from the Tahuayo Lodge and the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve.

    As the Pacaya is flooded tropical forest, this is best explored on one of the Iquitos Amazon River tours.

  25. Colca Canyon, Peru

    Colca Canyon - Best Places in South America

    Colca Canyon is a very impressive attraction in Peru. This is the world’s second deepest canyon and stretches for over 60 miles (100 km).

    Accessed from Arequipa, you can enjoy some fantastic hikes and trail walks in and around the canyon. Enjoy stunning scenery with Andean condors gliding above and the viscachas (a chinchilla relative) darting across the ground below. In addition to the famous Andean condors, you can enjoy spotting the region’s many other Andean birds.

    As with many other areas in Peru, around Colca Canyon you can find many different Incan and pre-Incan remains dotted throughout the canyon. The cultural experience is also interesting, as many of the locals still wear traditional Andean dress.

    To stay in the region, you can enjoy some recommended lodges with incredible views over the canyon itself. You can choose to explore either independently or join some excellent Colca Canyon tours.

    Adventure seekers can also enjoy white-water rafting with grade 3 to 5 rapids and mountain biking.

    Some travel bloggers who explored Colca Canyon are Carmen & Thomas from Twoculturesonedream.com, Sharon & Heesun from Mewanttravel.com and Kim & Justin from Gypsysoulimages.com.

  26. The Atacama Desert, Chile

    One of Chile’s main natural tourist attractions, the Atacama Desert is a fascinating environment to witness.

    Surrounded by stunning scenery, the Atacama desert offers a volcano dotted horizon and an almost alien landscape. You will also enjoy one of the best places on Earth for stargazing.

    To visit the desert, you can arrive at the gateway town of San Pedro. Even San Pedro is worth exploring as there are different attractive streets, plazas, and buildings.

    The alien landscape is helped along by the fact that this is the world’s driest desert with some areas never having experienced rain in recorded history.

    Because the area is so dry, there is very little vegetation. Most of the desert is completely missing plant life. You can walk thousands of miles without encountering any sign of life.

    Not just a draw to tourists interested in visiting the area, the Atacama Desert is also a draw for NASA. The Atacama doesn’t simply look like an alien landscape, but soil samples reveal a similar soil to areas on Mars. Because of this, NASA uses the area as a testing ground for exploration and for filming television documentaries about other worlds.

    The Atacama also contains evidence of human habitation from close to 10,000 years ago. Evidence of vegetation has also been found from thousands of years ago explaining how people settled here. During this time, it’s thought the desert was marshland lush with plant life.

    Some travel bloggers who explored the Atacama Desert are Kristin from Bemytravelmuse.com and Lori from Travlinmad.com.

  27. The Chapada Diamantina National Park, Brazil

    The Chapada Diamantina is a fantastic national park that contains some very scenic natural features. Enjoy beautiful streams and rivers, waterfalls, and a backdrop of the beautiful Sincora Range.

    The national park covers just over 375,950 acres (150,000 hectares) and is found in the middle of Bahia state, Brazil. This is best reached from the Brazilian city of Salvador. The main gateway to base yourself for park exploration is then called Lençóis, although note that visitor infrastructure is minimal, so you may wish to visit as part of a guided tour.

    Enjoy stunning scenery and a diversity of plants and animal life. You can find beautiful orchids, bromeliads, hummingbirds, macaw parrots, and several different monkeys.

    Regarded by many as one of the best national parks in Brazil, the protected area contains a diversity of different ecosystems. You can enjoy the iconic dry savanna of the Cerrado, lush rainforest, beautiful limestone caves, and wetlands.

    Some travel bloggers who explored the Chapada Diamantina National Park are Ken & Cally from Dodgyknees.com, Matheus from Rediscoveringtheworld.com and Briarne from Herwanderlustguide.com.

  28. Angel Falls, Venezuela

    As the world’s largest single drop waterfall, Angel Falls is one of the world’s most famous waterfalls and sits in a secluded area a short flight from Ciudad Bolívar.

    Cascading down Mount Auyantepui, Angel Falls is Venezuela’s most popular tourist attraction and is about 16 times taller than Nevada Falls in the USA at 807 meters (2,648 feet).

    Famously, the falls is named after Jimmy Angel after he crashed his plane on top of Auyantepui in 1937.

    You will reach the falls from the nearby town of Canaima. From here, you will enjoy a boat trip down the Carrao River through the forest before reaching the falls.

    The falls itself are located within the Canaima National Park, which is also a fantastic area to visit. The park covers 12,000 square miles (30,000 km2) of forests and savanna dotted with dramatic tabletop mountains.

    On your visit to Angel Falls, you can also combine with other waterfalls and lagoons in the region.

    Because the falls is so remote, many visitors choose to spend the night at the nearby camp before the journey back. You can also organize a flight around the falls for a fantastic perspective.

    Some travel bloggers who explored Angel Falls are Kendrick from Livingthedreamrtw.com and Maya & Michal from Travelwiththesmile.com.

  29. Ilha Grande, Brazil

    Ilha Grande - Best Places in South America

    Ilha Grande is a large island just off the coast of Brazil’s green coast. Lined with some of the best beaches in Brazil and filled with lush vegetation protected by the national park, Ilha Grande is a draw for both visitors and Brazilians alike.

    The central island is filled with rainforest where you can enjoy different hikes through the jungle. You can even spot the resident howler monkeys, parrots, tamarins, and toucans that call the island home. There are over 100 km of trails to enjoy. The trails offer some breathtaking views of the island and coast.

    You can reach the island from Rio de Janeiro and this should be on every visitors list as it’s possible to visit for day trips. However, it’s recommended to stay one or two nights to enjoy all the island offers.

    The busiest part of the island is called Abraão, which is where you will first set foot on Ilha Grande. This is also where you can find hotels, restaurants, and cafes.

    Some travel bloggers who explored Ilha Grande are Jodie from Thelittlebackpacker.com, Christine from Dontforgettomove.com and Kevin from Kevinstravelblog.com.

  30. Salvador, Brazil

    One of Brazil’s favorite cities for both locals and visitors alike, Salvador offers some fantastic Portuguese colonial architecture in the Historic Center.

    This is one of the country’s oldest cities, and in addition to the beautiful architecture, enjoy boutique cafes, restaurants, lively festivals, and beautiful beaches.

    Salvador also has a strong African influence, which has influenced cuisine, dance, and the music. Salvador is home to an interesting blend of African and Catholic religious beliefs.

    If you have ever wanted to see or learn Capoeira, this is also the best place in all of Brazil.

    Enjoy hundreds of beautiful churches, historic mansions, and many museums and art galleries. The city also offers lively and fun nightlight.

    Some of the favorite city sights include the main square (Praça Municipal), the Forte de Santo Antônio da Barra, which is one of the region’s oldest forts, and the Igreja da Ordem Terceira de Sao Francisco (a beautiful church).

    The beaches of Salvador are fantastic and some of the favorites are along the Blue Coast (Costa Azul).

    The city is also one of the best places in Brazil to enjoy festivals, including the Bahian Carnival. Over six days, enjoy incredible festivities, dancing, and music. The event is held every year between February and March.

    Some travel bloggers who explored Salvador are Elena from Travelmoodon.com, John from Heneedsfood.com and Erin from Erinblogs.com.

  31. Fernando de Noronha, Brazil

    A very attractive part of Brazil, Fernando de Noronha a series of beautiful UNESCO-listed islands 220 miles (354 km) off the South American coast. The largest island also shares the same name as the archipelago.

    Enjoy the idyllic tropical island paradise with beautiful beaches, crystal clear water, and a high diversity of colorful fish and other marine life. Fernando de Noronha is where you can find some of most beautiful beaches in Brazil.

    There are many activities to enjoy here. This is a great place for walking in the island’s forests, swimming, and snorkeling. Enjoy seeing a diversity of marine animals, including one of the world’s highest concentrations of dolphins, sea turtles, and many colorful fish.

    A large part of the island has been protected and there are restrictions on entering certain areas to help conserve the islands. However, this is also a top tourism destination for both Brazilians and visitors alike.

    Some of the favorite beaches are Dolphins Bay, Pig Bay, Sueste Bay, and Baía do Sancho. Known for the beaches and snorkeling and dive sites, the underwater visibility is fantastic. Enjoy exploring the different bays to find colorful fish, corals, and rays.

    Some travel bloggers who explored Fernando de Noronha are Oksana & Max from Drinkteatravel.com and Amy from Inkedadventurer.com.

  32. Lake Titicaca, Peru

    Lake Titicaca - Best Places in South America

    Lake Titicaca is the world’s highest large lake and sits in the Andes Mountains of southern Peru.

    The lake is one of Peru’s main tourist sights. However, the lake is also shared with Bolivia and you can also visit from the Bolivian side.

    Most visitors reach the lake from the Peruvian city of Puno. In addition to the lake, the region provides a chance to see locals in a traditional Andean dress. It’s not uncommon to see families with their llamas and alpacas.

    For even more cultural experiences, you can visit the community of Uros who live on floating islands on the lake itself. The islands have been made with reeds and the community has existed for hundreds of years, pre-dating the Inca Empire.

    There are different animals to see around Lake Titicaca, including many different birds. In addition to the domesticated alpaca and llama previously mentioned, you can also see their wild vicuña relatives. Vicuña were highly prized by the Inca and the wool was reserved for Incan royalty.

    This is the lake that feeds the Tambopata River, which runs through the fantastic Tambopata National Reserve (mentioned above) to feed this incredible section of Amazon Rainforest.

    Lake Titicaca is also a great place to appreciate Incan belief, as the lake was thought to be the birthplace of the Sun.

    Some travel bloggers who explored Lake Titicaca are Brooklynn from Nosleeptillpeace.com and Taylor from Traveloutlandish.com.

  33. The Sucuri River, Brazil

    Sucuri River - Best Places in South America

    The Sucuri River is found within the Pantanal Wetlands mentioned farther up the page.

    Surrounded by the wildlife-rich environment, the Sucuri River offers crystal clear water and a perfect opportunity to see underwater life.

    Enjoy spotting many different aquarium fish, plants, and different animals in their natural environment while you snorkel and swim the river. Because of the visibility, you will feel like you’re snorkeling inside an aquarium.

    There are snorkeling tours down the river where you can enjoy relaxed exploration to enjoy the wildlife.

    The fish you will see include pacu, piraputangas, and even the famous tetras. In addition to water-living life, you can spot monkeys and other animals in the forest.

    Because of the clear water, this is an excellent spot for some underwater photography or videography, so don’t forget to bring your waterproof case or camera.

    The river is found in Mato Grosso do Sul and is ranked as one of the world’s clearest rivers. As it’s located in one of the world’s most wildlife-rich areas, we rank this as one of the best places to visit in South America.

    Some travel bloggers who explored the Sucuri River are Lotte & Leonie from Loleplanet.com and Aleah from Solitarywanderer.com.

  34. The Machalilla National Park, Ecuador

    On the Ecuadorian coast, you can find the fantastic Machalilla National Park. The park protects forest of South America’s Pacific Coast, which continues to be one of the world’s most threatened habitats. The park is very significant as this is the only coastal national park in Ecuador.

    Machalilla National Park protects just under 100,000 acres (40,000 hectares) of dry tropical forest, offshore islands, a long stretch of beach, and 50,000 acres (20,000 hectares) of coastal waters.

    The park protects many different animals and plants. Living in the forest are different monkeys, brocket deer, colorful poison dart frogs, sloths, peccary, jaguar, and many different birds and colorful butterflies. The coastal waters are then home to humpback whales, sea turtles, manta rays, and a high diversity of fish.

    This is also a great place to head out on whale watching tours as humpbacks make their annual migration to the park from June to October.

    In addition to beautiful scenery and wildlife, the park contains some important archaeological sites. Evidence of humans living in the area have been found from 800 BC.

    The most popular island for visitors is the Isla de la Plata just off the coast. This is a great place to see frigatebirds, pelicans, iguanas, and the different boobies.

    To visit the park, many people base themselves in the port town of Puerto Lopez.

    Some travel bloggers who explored the Machalilla National Park are Kaz from Travelbeckons.com and Tom and Renee from Nowisthetimetotravel.com.

  35. The Kaieteur Falls, Guyana

    Another incredible waterfall, Kaieteur Falls is a lesser known attraction in the small country of Guyana on the Guiana Shield of northeastern South America.

    The Kaieteur Falls is one of the world’s highest single drop waterfalls at 820 feet (250 m). Although Angel Falls is considerably taller, Kaieteur Falls has a cascade with much more water and can be 400 feet (122 m) wide over the wetter months.

    The waterfall sits in the fantastic Kaieteur National Park. As one of the oldest in South America, this park is home to some fantastic wildlife. Even near the falls there’s a chance to see the vibrantly colored Guianan cock-of-the-rock with its beautiful red plumage. Other animals to find include golden frogs, peccary, otters, brocket deer, and different monkeys.

    Because this is lesser known than other attractions in South America, Kaieteur Falls and the surroundings have not been disturbed by people. This is a novelty when compared to the world’s other large waterfalls. Here, you can appreciate a pristine natural attraction in much the same state as when it was first discovered.

    You can reach the falls after a short 45 minute flight from Georgetown, which is Guyana’s capital city. Because Guyana was once a British colony, Guyana is the only country in South America where English is the official language.

    Some travel bloggers who explored the Kaieteur Falls are Ted from Travelingted.com and Tommy from Thewanderingwalker.com.

  36. The Amazon Theater, Brazil

    Amazon Theatre - Best Places in South America

    The Amazon Theater is the perfect example of why many cities and gateways to the Amazon Rainforest exist and are now open to tourism.

    Positioned in the Brazilian Amazon Rainforest gateway city of Manaus, the theater was built to show off the city’s prosperity during the rubber boom.

    Manaus is the largest city in the Amazon Rainforest and grew to prosperity due to the rise of the bicycle and automobile that increased demand for rubber. At the time, this was sourced from the rubber trees native to the Amazon Rainforest.

    Built in the late 1800s and fuelled by the rubber boom, the Amazon Theatre was constructed from the finest materials the world could provide.

    The theatre was made from imported Scottish steel, Italian marble, and French windows and furnishings. French statues and elaborate Italian artwork and chandeliers dot the inside. The theatre was then finished with a large dome decorated with thousands of ceramic tiles.

    The Amazonas Philharmonic Orchestra make regular performances at the theatre and it’s quite an experience to enjoy the concerts in the middle of Amazonia.

    Along with the fantastic botanical gardens, this is one of the main city attractions in Manaus. However, one of the best things to do from Manaus is to head out and explore the Amazon River and Rainforest. One of the favorite excursions is a tour aboard the Tucano Expedition Cruise.

  37. Ollantaytambo, Peru

    Ollantaytambo Ruins - Best Places in South America

    Not only significant because of its pre-Incan origins, Ollantaytambo was one of the few places where the Inca won a battle against the technologically superior Spanish conquistadors.

    Ollantaytambo is one of the main archaeological attractions to visit from Cusco in Peru. Found in the Sacred Valley of the Incas, the structure is nothing short of astonishing. The giant terraces and stone work give a sense of grandeur as you imagine the area at the peak of its activity.

    This was once the royal estate of Emperor Pachacuti and also housed other members of Incan royalty.

    As the site for a famous battle between the Inca and the conquistadors, this is where Manco Inca Yupanqui defended the Inca using the knowledge of the region and irrigation.

    Basing themselves up high, the Incan warriors flooded the plain below and rained down arrows and boulders upon the Spanish forcing them into retreat. Pizarro himself announced the retreat, but would later return to take the stronghold with more soldiers.

    The giant structure is a spectacle to behold. Some of the blocks to build Ollantaytambo can weigh over 50 tons each. There are also other Incan sites in the region you can explore while also enjoying some beautiful views.

    Some travel bloggers who explored Ollantaytambo are Dylan & Natalie from Adventureoftwo.com and Mayssam from Willtravelforfood.com.

  38. Lencois Maranhenses National Park, Brazil

    Another lesser known attraction, on the outskirts of the Amazon Basin the Lencois Maranhenses National Park offers some incredible sand dunes and beautiful lagoons.

    Rivers flow through the area pushing up the sand, which is then blown to form the impressive dunes.

    The rivers also create their own spectacular scenery with blue waters contrasted by golden sand. There are also different areas where you can enjoy a swim.

    Rainwater collects between the dunes over the wetter months from January to June. The rain forms beautiful blue and green lagoons, which last for a few months and create some incredible and unique scenery.

    The best time to visit is between July and September, as this is when the lagoons have been filled and there is less rain.

    Although desert-like in appearance, because of the rain and rivers the lagoons are home to interesting wildlife. Different turtles and fish live in the waters and you can spot interesting migratory birds.

    The gateway town to visit the dunes is called São Luís. Here, you can organize guided tours to explore the national park.

    Some travel bloggers who explored the Lencois Maranhenses National Park are Katalin & Karol from Ourlifeourtravel.com and Louise from Traveltheunbeatenpath.com.

  39. Aparados da Serra National Park, Brazil

    A beautiful protected area, the Aparados da Serra National Park in Brazil offers magnificent waterfalls, lush vegetation, and an impressive canyon.

    Covering 25,328 acres (10,250 hectares) of Atlantic and Araucaria forest, the park is found in southern Brazil about 125 miles (200 km) from Florianópolis. The park protects an area where different habitats meets, which increases the diversity of animals and plants you can find.

    Within the protected area, you can find river otters, maned wolves, ocelots, puma, different parrots, toucans, and howler monkeys.

    The Aparados da Serra is home to some of Brazil’s largest and deepest canyons. Some of these are over 3,000 feet (900 meters) deep.

    There are different trails through the park and this is where you can find some of the best walking and hiking trails in all of Brazil.

    A travel blogger who explored the Aparados da Serra National Park is Léia from Bonjouretbonvoyage.com.

  40. Florianopolis, Brazil

    Florianopolis - Best Places in South America

    One of Brazil’s smaller cities compared to Rio, Sao Paulo, or Salvador, Florianopolis has been popular for many years among the beach and surf loving community.

    There are two distinct sides to the city, which include the industrial part and the relaxed side with the historic center and island. The suspension bridge linking these two areas is then an iconic feature of the region.

    Florianopolis offers a more relaxed atmosphere than the larger cities and is a great contrast for your time in Brazil.

    The island also offers lively nightlife when evening comes, great restaurants, shops, and many adventure activities. The region also hosts different pro surfing competitions.

    Because of the international visitors, you can find a diversity of different restaurants serving international cuisine in addition to the Brazilian favorites.

    A favorite area is the large island lagoon named the Lagoa da Conceição, which also offers one of the area’s oldest neighbourhoods nestled by the water.

    This is where you can find many of the island’s activities and popular beaches. Enjoy kitesurfing on the lagoon, exploring the sand dunes, surfing, walking trails, and enjoying the beach.

    Some travel bloggers who explored Florianopolis are Kiersten from Theblondeabroad.com and Andrew & Emily from Alongdustyroads.com.

  41. Choquequirao – The Cradle of Gold, Peru

    Built to rival Machu Picchu, Choquequirao (the Cradle of Gold) was thought to have been commissioned by the Inca Pachacuti’s son, Túpac Inca Yupanqui. The structure of Choquequirao is similar to Machu Picchu and much less well known.

    Choquequirao is also thought to have been one of the last strongholds against the Spanish conquistadors. Adding to its historical significance, this is thought to have been a political and administrative hub for the Inca Empire.

    Choquequirao is composed of different rooms and buildings. You can find areas reserved exclusively for the Incan elite, as well as different areas for workers, artisans, and the terraces and farming areas that surround many Incan sites.

    The site has different structures devoted to Incan deities and worship. There are areas for the gods, for earth, and for water.

    Although a more recent archaeological attraction, and by no means as well known as Machu Picchu, you can enjoy multi-day hikes to see Choquequirao and even combine a trek between Choquequirao and the better known Incan citadel.

    Some travel bloggers who explored Choquequirao are Clare from Ilive4travel.com and Sara from Paintplayandtravel.com.

  42. Sacsayhuaman, Peru

    Sacsayhuaman - Best Places in South America

    Easily visited from Cusco, Peru’s main tourist destination, Sacsayhuaman is a UNESCO listed pre-Incan structure.

    This is a fortress from the Killke culture. It mystified the Spanish conquistadors who thought Andean cultures were not advanced enough to build such a structure.

    Sacsayhuaman is built high on a hill overlooking Cusco city and consists of around 200 individual structures covering 7,413 acres (3,000 hectares).

    It is thought that the fortress took decades to build and must have involved 20,000 workers, as many of the stones weigh over 100 tons each.

    When taken over by the Inca, the fortress provided a perfect place to watch over the city below. Before the Spanish conquest, Cusco was the administrative hub of the entire Incan empire.

    The structure of Sacsayhuaman is one of the main archaeological attractions to see from Cusco. This is an especially popular site in June as it’s the location of the famous Inti Raymi festival, which is one of the major events in Peru.

    Held to honor the Inti or Sun god, the celebration is held each year on the 24th of June and re-enacts similar festivities as the time of the Inca Civilization. This starts with a procession from the main square to Sacsayhuaman fortress.

    Some travel bloggers who explored Sacsayhuaman are Sue & Dave from Traveltalesoflife.com and Victoria from Farflunglands.com.

  43. Mendoza, Argentina

    Mendoza - Best Places in South America

    Argentina is the largest wine producer in South America and one of the largest worldwide. As a great base for visiting the surrounding vineyards, Mendoza itself offers an attractive city with a relaxed feel where you can enjoy some great restaurants, boutique cafes, and city parks.

    Argentina has thousands of wineries and the Mendoza region is one of the largest wine producing areas in Argentina. The region is responsible for producing the majority of Argentinian wine. As this is Argentina, the main grape variety grown is Malbec, however, you can find a diversity of others.

    In addition to enjoying the vineyards, you can enjoy some incredible scenery while traveling the region. Mendoza offers the same climate as the world’s other main wine growing regions, such as France, Italy, and California. There is even the Argentinian Wine Route to enjoy and Menoza is a main point of the itinerary.

    The proximity to the Andes mountains not only provides a perfect wine-growing climate, but also offers some spectacular views.

    Some travel bloggers who explored Mendoza are Tim, Julie & Family from Earthtrekkers.com, Christine from Ochristine.com and Chloe from Wanderlustchloe.com.

  44. The Termas Geométricas, Chile

    Located in Chile’s Lake District in an area called Pucon, you will find some fantastic thermal spas. A favorite is called Termas Geométricas with its Japanese inspired design with bridges winding past the pools, waterfalls, and forest.

    In the area, you can find 17 hot springs which lay in a canyon covered with lush green vegetation. Dotted around the area are the pools and waterfalls, which you can find using the intricately designed boardwalk.

    Although the walkway has been designed to offer a contrast to the natural backdrop, the man made structures still blend with the landscape.

    For example, although the changing room huts are made with the same red wood as the pathways, they have been planted with vegetation on the roof extending the natural backdrop.

    Some travel bloggers who explored the Termas Geométricas are Viki from Chronic-wanderlust.com, Melissa, Ronnie & Family from Thefamilyvoyage.com and Kim from Blueskylimit.com.

  45. Paraty, Brazil

    Recognised by UNESCO and one of Brazil’s favorite destinations, Paraty offers beautiful beaches, mountainous scenery, and a fascinating Historic Centre. The town is an old Portuguese fishing settlement and makes a fascinating area to visit.

    Offering some beautiful colonial Portuguese cobblestone streets and buildings, enjoy walking the Historic Centre admiring the colonial architecture.

    You can also visit the Parque Nacional da Serra da Bocaina from the town, which protects a remnant of the wildlife-rich and highly threatened Atlantic Forest. This is a great place for birdwatching where you can see exotic species like parrots and toucans, but also different monkeys.

    The beaches provide some great places to relax. There are 200 beaches in the area and 65 different offshore islands. Some of the favorite beaches include Trindade Beach, Pontal and Sono Beach for some nice places to relax.

    Some travel bloggers who explored Paraty are Kacy from Badsentences.com and Owen from Myturntotravel.com.

  46. Sao Paulo, Brazil

    Sao-Paulo - Best Places in South America

    As a giant and sprawling city, Sao Paulo is one of Brazil’s liveliest places. This is the largest city in the southern hemisphere and offers fantastic things to see and do.

    Although not as attractive as Rio, the city offers some fantastic restaurants, shopping, boutique cafes, excellent nightlife, and a diversity of cultural attractions.

    As one of the world’s most culturally diverse cities, there are enough things to eat, see and do in Sao Paulo to satisfy most people. Enjoy different art galleries, museums, city parks, markets, and more.

    Sao Paulo should also be on every foodie’s list, as there are some fantastic restaurants and street food to try. Sample famous São Paulo pizza owed to the largest Italian population outside Italy and delicious pastels for dessert. There are a multitude of top rated restaurants with Italian, Portuguese, Arabic, Asian, and indigenous influences.

    Sao Paulo is definitely a city destination and lacks the beaches and islands of Rio de Janeiro. However, this is also a gateway to the incredible Atlantic Forest mentioned farther up the page. Enjoy multi-day or day trips to the wildlife-rich forest while basing yourself here with delicious cuisine and nightlife waiting for your return.

    Some travel bloggers who explored Sao Paulo are Irene & Rick from Globaltrekkers.ca and Jacob & Emily from Justglobetrotting.com.

  47. The Zona Cafetera, Colombia

    For coffee lovers, the Zona Cafetera offers a chance to see where your coffee is grown. Colombia is a main exporter of coffee and the Zona Cafetera provides the perfect place to learn more about the favored drink.

    You can enjoy visiting the coffee farms while sampling many cups of fresh arabica coffee along the way. There are many cafes throughout the region to enjoy some of the world’s freshest coffee.

    While at the farms, you can see the coffee beans growing in the fields. You can then enjoy a tour that takes you through the process of how this ends up in your favorite coffee mug.

    The main cities of the Coffee Region are Manizales, Armenia, and Pereira. From these gateways, you can explore the region to visit the valleys, farms and terraces.

    Some travel bloggers who explored the Zona Cafetera are Nathalie & Phil from Marquestra.com and Randi & Michael from Justapack.com.

  48. Banos, Ecuador

    Banos - Best Places in South America

    A popular area of Ecuador, Banos is known for the many different hot springs, beautiful scenery, and adventure activities. This is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Ecuador and is often visited in combination with the Galapagos and the Amazon Rainforest.

    Activities to enjoy in the region include river rafting, horse riding, rock climbing, mountain biking, and kayaking. However, the main draws are the incredible scenery and the fantastic thermal springs the region was named after.

    The scenery is lush and offers some fantastic views. You can find over 60 different waterfalls and some can be watched while enjoying the hot springs themselves. The largest and most famous waterfall in the region is called Pailón del Diablo, which was named after the shape of the pool below.

    Do note that the nearby Tungurahua Volcano is still active and residents are familiar with frequent eruptions. Make sure you stay informed of volcanic activity as evacuations are not unheard of.

    Some travel bloggers who explored Banos are Hannah from Intrepid-introvert.com and Abby & Kayleb from Abbysatlas.com.

  49. Huaraz & the Huascarán National Park, Peru

    Cordillera Blanca - Top Places in South America

    One of the most visited and attractive parts of the Andes mountain range, the Huascarán National Park protects an area of the Andes known as the Cordillera Blanca.

    Within and surrounding the park, you can find some beautiful glaciers and lagoons. Even if you’re not interested in intensive hikes or mountain climbing, some of these can be visited on day hikes from the gateway city of Huaraz.

    The area protects Mount Huascaran, which is Peru’s largest mountain and gives the national park its name.

    There are different animals and plants to see around the park, including the famous vicuñas. These are the ancient ancestors of the alpacas and llamas. The vicuñas were so highly prized among the Inca that the wool was reserved for Incan royalty.

    Some travel bloggers who explored Huaraz are Leah on Travel-lush.com and Kinga from Adventurecatcher.com.

  50. Jericoacoara, Brazil

    Another beautiful area of Brazil, Jericoacoara is situated on the northern coast and offers some fantastic scenery and many places to relax.

    Jericoacoara is a fishing village that has become attractive for visitors due to its fantastic scenery, beautiful beaches and laid back atmosphere.

    To give an example of life here, the town has only had a constant supply of electricity for the last 20 years and there are no street lights.

    With the small restaurants and cafes lining beautiful beaches where warm and welcoming water laps the sand, it’s hard to find a better place to disconnect and relax.

    There are many beautiful lagoons to enjoy and the Jericoacoara National Park is nearby. Enjoy the iconic hammocks placed above the warm water to sip on a cocktail while admiring the beautiful surroundings.

    Some travel bloggers who explored Jericoacoara are Heini from Tarinoidentaival.fi and Fiona & Guy from Compassandladle.com.

Ash - Author & Travel AdvisorAbout the Author: Ash Card is a frequent visitor to the Tropics and has a passion for helping visitors get the best experiences from tropical locations. Ash is a contributor to both TourTheTropics.com and ThinkJungle.com writing about tropical destinations, rainforests and wildlife. Feel free to contact Ash for tour help in the tropics. When not helping tourists with tours and info, Ash can be found salsa-ing the night away or posing near waterfalls.
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  • I’m glad you chose my post, but it should be on n° 27 instead of 39.

  • Thank you for adding me in the blog! This is great blog post, I feel that this list covered a lot of the important places to see in South America. I have been to many of them, and my favorites are Buenos Aires, Cartagena de Indias Machu Picchu and Galapagos 🙂

    • Thanks Pauline. I’m glad you liked the post. They are some great choices.

  • Thank you for including me in this compilation also! South America has so many hidden gems, and this list gave me some great ideas and inspiration!