A continent of contrasts, South America split from the African landmass and joined with North America to merge a distinct set of flora, fauna and geographical features.
The South American continent is bound by the Atlantic Ocean to the east, the Pacific Ocean to the west and is the jumping off point for Antarctica to the south. After the merger with North America, the Isthmus of Panama in the north would be the land bridge by which many different animals, including humans, migrated south into this diverse continent.
Welcome to South America.
South American Rainforest
The largest tract of continuous rainforest on Earth is found in South America.
The Amazon Rainforest stands as the grandest of all rainforests, surpassing even the vastness of the Congo Rainforest in West Africa and the New Guinean Rainforest in Australasia, combined.
Its magnificence has captivated the imaginations of naturalists and adventurers for centuries, and its expanses span across nine nations. Though the Amazon can be accessed from any of these countries, Peru and Brazil stand as the premier destinations for Amazon-bound travelers due to the sheer scale of rainforest they contain. However, for the more intrepid explorers seeking unique and unconventional experiences, there are lesser-known, yet equally thrilling, alternatives to consider.
Select Guides to South America’s Rainforest
- The Best Areas of Amazon Rainforest to Visit in Peru
- The Amazon Rainforest in Ecuador
- The Best Time To Visit the Amazon Rainforest
- The Top 10 Amazon Tours in Peru
- The Top 5 Amazon Tours in Ecuador
- The Top Amazon Rainforest Hiking Tours
- The Top Family Amazon Tours
- The Top 5 Amazon Eco Tours
The Brazilian Cerrado
After the Amazon Rainforest, the Brazilian Cerrado ranks as Brazil’s second-largest habitat. The Cerrado is a tropical savanna environment with a humid climate that provides a haven for countless endemic species found nowhere else on Earth. Witnessing the incredible wildlife that calls the Cerrado home, including endangered Maned Wolves, Hyacinth Macaws, and tool-using Capuchin Monkeys, is truly an unforgettable experience.
The Pantanal Wetlands presents a unique opportunity to observe some of the Amazon Rainforest’s most sought-after wildlife, including Jaguars, Giant Otters, and Capybaras, at a higher probability.
The grassy and often treeless habitat provides ample room for Capybaras to roam in massive numbers, and animals cannot easily conceal themselves from view, making for an ideal viewing experience.
Despite being less famous than the Amazon, the Pantanal boasts a wildlife concentration comparable to the densest areas of Africa, making it an excellent alternative for nature enthusiasts seeking an unforgettable experience.
Brazilian Atlantic Forest
Over 500 years ago, when the Portuguese first arrived in South America, they encountered the Atlantic Forest.
Today, this southern Brazilian tropical forest stands as one of the most endangered in the world, home to numerous at-risk animal and plant species. Sadly, more than 85% of the original forest cover has been lost to deforestation. However, due to its importance as a habitat for countless endemic species, hundreds of businesses, NGOs, and charities are uniting to restore this invaluable UNESCO World Heritage Site.
South American Countries
The main countries that make up South America are, in order of highest population:
- Trinidad & Tobago
- French Guiana (France)
Eco Regions in South America
Embarking on a tour of South America’s diverse eco-regions offers a truly unforgettable experience, filled with awe-inspiring landscapes, breathtaking wildlife, and a range of contrasting environments.
From the lush Amazon Rainforest and endangered Atlantic Forest to the vibrant wetlands brimming with abundant animal and plant life, there are plenty of natural wonders to explore. The Andean Cloud Forest presents an opportunity to observe an incredible variety of bird species, while the Atacama Desert, Earth’s driest region, boasts stunning otherworldly terrain.
For those seeking to explore some of the world’s most iconic mountain landscapes, the Andean Mountain Range, the world’s longest mountain range, is a must-visit destination.
Last but not least, the famed Galapagos Islands off the coast of Ecuador are home to an incredible array of unique animals and plants found nowhere else on earth.
Wildlife and Protected Areas
Within these Bio Regions are the main National Parks that protect South America’s famous and world renowned wildlife for future generations.
View the famous macaws of Tambopata National Reserve and Manu National Park and see Jaguar in the Pantanal.
Tourist Attractions – Culture, History and Nature
South America’s diverse cultural heritage is a huge draw for visitors from all over the world. Exploring ancient sites offers a glimpse into a time before modernization, while also providing an opportunity to experience rich cultural traditions passed down through generations.
But it’s not just cultural heritage that draws in tourists; the natural wonders of the continent are equally awe-inspiring.
Visitors can witness the wonder of Angel Falls in Venezuela, the world’s highest waterfall, and marvel at the sheer power of this natural phenomenon.
South America History
South America boasts a wealth of archaeological sites, remnants of long-gone societies that have left their mark on the continent’s history.
Just like the pyramids of Egypt, these sites are a testament to the ingenuity and creativity of the people who built them. One of the most famous is Machu Picchu in Peru, a mystical Incan ruin that draws hundreds of thousands of tourists each year.
But Peru is home to many other archaeological wonders, like the Cradle of Gold and the Northern Kingdoms, which are quickly becoming popular tourist destinations.
Many civilizations have come and gone in South America, each leaving behind their own unique legacy. From the Chavin, who spanned 900 BC to 300 AD, to the Moche from 100 BC to 700 AD, to the Chachopayas from 1000-1450, there is much to explore and discover.
However, none have captured the public imagination quite like the Inkas, who dominated the Andean region from 1438 to 1533. And they were eventually invaded by the Spanish in one of the most significant periods of South American history.