Stunning South America: 34 Places to Take Your Breath Away

Comprising the mind-blowing realms of Brazil, Paraguay, Venezuela, Colombia, Peru, Guyana, Ecuador, Uruguay, Chile, Argentina, Bolivia and Suriname, South America is simply stunning. Made up of the world’s most incredible natural sites and bringing together remarkable cultures, a trip to South America can be a life changing experience. Here are 34 things in stunning South America that will take your breath away... 

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1| Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

The Salar de Uyuni is the world’s largest salt flat covering over 6,500 square miles. And with the light of the sun, this stunning salt flat located in the Daniel Campos Province of Bolivia creates the most stunning reflections. A great place for photography and a must-see sight for anyone travelling in Bolivia. See our Bolivia tours for more info.

Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

2| Machu Picchu, Peru

The 15th Century Machu Picchu is one of the most famous Inca sites in the world. Many people trek the gruelling yet rewarding Inca Trail to Machu Picchu to reach the peaks of this mountain, but other alternative trails include the Salkantay Trek, the Lares Trek, the Vilcabamba Traverse, or the Cachicata Route.

Machu Picchu

3| Iguazu Falls, Argentina

Located along the border of the Argentinian province of Misiones and the Brazilian state of Parana, is the incredible Iguazu Falls. The dramatic waterfalls are a part of the Iguazu River which rises near Brazil’s Curitiba and runs its course mainly through Brazil. But most of the falls are seen on Argentina’s side of the border and if the sun’s in the right place, you will be able to capture the most amazing rainbows bursting out of the water.

Iguassu Falls

4| Espanola Island (Galapagos Islands), Ecuador

The southernmost island of the Galapagos Islands, Espanola is rich in amazing wildlife. Don’t miss the Punta Suarez wildlife trail where you can catch sight of Lava Lizards, Nazca Boobies, Red Billed Tropicbirds, Hood Mocking Birds, Marine Iguanas and the Waved Albatross. You can also spot California Sea Lions and Fur Seals.

5| Atacama Desert, Chile

Having gone without rainfall for years at a time, the staggering Atacama which covers 620 miles west of the Andes Mountains, is the driest desert in the world. It’s a striking and scientifically significant natural site that plays a part in defining Chile and all of its beauty.

Atacama Desert, Chile

6| Amazon River, Brazil

The Amazon is the largest river on earth with a drainage basin of 2,720,000 square miles, and much of its basin is in Brazil; it also runs through Guyana, Ecuador, Venezuela, Bolivia, Colombia and Peru. Take an Amazon River cruise to experience its vast beauty.

Amazon River

7| Floating Uros Islands, Peru

The astonishing floating islands of Lake Titicaca are some of the most unusual sights you will see in Peru. Occupied by the Uru people, the three main floating islands (Uru Chipayas, Uru Muratos and Uru Ituitos) are said to have been around since before Inca times.

Uros Islands, Lake Titicaca, Peru

8| Colca Canyon, Peru

Twice as deep as the Grand Canyon in Arizona, and officially the second deepest canyon in the world, Peru's Colca Canyon is well worth a visit. This beautiful canyon offers the most spectacular panoramas and is also home to some of the most amazing birds in the world; the Andean Condor of the vulture family. A great place for keen bird watchers.

Colca Canyon, Peru

9| Central Suriname Nature Reserve, Suriname

With almost 10,000 miles of pristine, untouched forest, the Central Suriname Nature Reserve is a beautiful natural gem that will blow you away with its unspoiled landscapes. The forest creates a diverse habit for plants and animals and the reserve is home to jaguars, river otters, sloths and 8 types of primates.

10| Cerro Rico Potosi, Bolivia

The mountain foot city of Potosi is one of the most spectacular cities to visit. The Cerro Rico Mountain – which translates as “Rich Mountain” – towers over Potosi, creating an incredible skyline. Be sure to bring your camera so you can capture the city by sunset.

Cerro Rico, Potosi, Bolivia

11| Mancora, Peru

If you’re looking for a beautiful beach town, we would recommend taking a tour of Mancora. This pretty town in the north of Peru benefits from sun all year round and the sea views are excellent. Delicious seafood defines the dining culture of the resort and the waters cultivate top waves for keen surfers.

Mancora, Peru

12| Perito Moreno Glacier, Argentina

Take a mini hiking tour to see the magnificent glacier of Perito Moreno in the Santa Cruz area of Argentina. Take a guided tour which takes you past a stunning waterfall along the way. Although the hike is only moderate in difficulty and suitable for most ages/levels, you will need to have the right outdoor equipment (including crampons) to be able to hike over the glacier.

13| Mano de Punta del Este, Uruguay

This is one of Uruguay’s most recognised landmarks; set on Brava Beach in Punta del Este, this thought-provoking sculpture is perfect for a postcard moment. With the stunning beach as your backdrop, the hand shaped piece of art by Mario Irarrazabal will be a fantastic talking point amongst your travel photos.

Mano de Punta del Este, Uruguay

14| Cotopaxi Volcano, Ecuador

The Cotopaxi Volcano creates a movie-like backdrop in the Andes; it’s the world’s highest active volcano and offers dramatic mountain views which are particularly exquisite on a clear day. As Ecuador’s highest summit, it’s well worth a visit. Hiking and mountain biking are the best ways to explore Cotopaxi.

15| Angel Falls, Venezuela

The world’s highest interrupted waterfalls are the Angel Falls in Venezuela’s Guayana Highlands; these falls are breathtakingly beautiful and you can trek the challenging Mount Roraima trail to reach this amazing natural attraction.

16| Tiwanaku, Bolivia

Tiwanaku is one of the most important precursors to the Inca Empire and the site carries one of the biggest mysteries of Inca times. Estimated to be almost 17,000 years old, the site features some incredible stone monuments that are believed to have been built for sacred ceremonies.

Tihuanaco, Bolivia

17| Coffee Triangle, Colombia

The Coffee Triangle is one of the most incredible coffee growing areas in the world; and the lush greenery and rolling hills will really take your breath away. You can explore the connecting areas of Pereira, Manizales, and Armenia, where you will get to meet the proud people of the tropical coffee making region and of course grab a fresh coffee in one of the many cafes and coffee shops.

18| Sacred Valley, Peru

Close to Machu Picchu is another amazing site not to be missed. The Sacred Valley stretches from Cusco to Machu Picchu, and contains an outstanding collection of archaeological remains and traditional towns and villages, including Pisac and Ollantaytambo.

Moray, Sacred Valley, Peru

19| Quebrada de Palala, Bolivia

To discover Bolivia’s outback, take an expedition down South through the fascinating Quebrada de Palala. The alien-like rock formations are completely captivating as you pass through the valley of carved earthen walls and eroded stone. Not too far from the famous Salar de Uyuni, you could enjoy a tour of the country’s weird and wonderful landscapes.

20|Quilatola Loop, Ecuador

The Quilatola Loop is a 3-4 day hiking trail which takes you through the remote Andean villages around the Quilotola crater lake. The scenic views are really fantastic and there are a number of hotels or hostels along the way so you can plan your stopovers.

21| Torres del Paine, Chile

With the dramatic Cordillera del Paine Mountains, lush greenery and glistening lakes such as Sarmiento Lake and Del Toro Lake, Torres del Paine National Park is a natural marvel of the world. The park is the most visited natural park in Chile, and if you’re after amazing scenic walks you simply cannot miss it.

22| Providencia Island, Colombia

If you’re looking for some luxury, head to Isla de Providencia in Colombia and it will feel like you’ve just stepped foot on a beach paradise. This island is superb for snorkelling and there are a number of 5 star resorts for those who want to wind down somewhere luxurious after a hard day’s sunbathing.

23| Caral-Supe, Peru

This mind-blowing site dates back over 5,000 years, with the ancient remains of the Norte Chico civilization which once occupied Peru. Discovered only very recently, this site is still pretty much untouched by tourist footfall and little has changed since the settlement first began all those many years ago. It’s a must visit site; you will never see anything else quite like it.

Caral, Lima, Peru

24| Wineries of Cafayate, Argentina

Taste the wines of Argentina’s best known wine region whilst soaking up some of South America’s most stunning natural surroundings. Take our 12 day South America Altiplano Discovery Tour and spend a day tasting the region’s floral, crisp whites or Cafayate’s full bodied reds made from Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon.

25| Lima City, Peru

One of the most stunning cities of South America, Lima City is worth exploring any time of year. ‘The City of Kings’ as it is known is filled with grand colonial architecture; take a walking tour in the day around the city’s different quarters and then watch as the opulent colonial buildings light up at night.

Lima, Peru

26| Bartolome Island (Galapagos Islands), Ecuador

Another amazing island of the Galapagos archipelago, Bartolome is worth visiting for its strange landscapes. Often compared to landscapes of Planet Mars, the incredible Bartolome Island is simply out of this world and a photographer’s dream. Don’t miss Pinnacle Rock where you can go snorkelling amongst the penguins!

27| Quito, Ecuador

Quito’s Andean Valley and volcanic setting alone is something to leave you speechless. But once you head into the city’s ‘Old Town’ area, you will be blown away by some of the best architecture in South America. Protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since the 1970s, Quito City is the proud and beautiful capital of Ecuador; and even through much restoration over the years, the historical centre still preserves a time-honoured sort of charm and a traditional old town culture.

Basilica Voto Nacional, Quito, Ecuador

28| Isabela Island (Galapagos Islands), Ecuador

Isabela is the largest of the Galapagos Islands and it’s an important destination for anyone looking to have a taster tour of the amazing archipelago. This island has a different vegetation zone to the other islands making it completely unique. Best for wild animals, birds and marine life, Isabela is highly recommended by the team here at Go Andes.

29| Pelourinho, Brazil

Pelourinho is the famous historic centre in the city of Salvador, Brazil. Here you will find one of the most photogenic streets of South America; brightly coloured buildings with stucco facades, cobbled paths and fabulously chic boutiques, cafes and bars.

30| Catacombs of San Francisco, Peru

In Peru’s amazing capital Lima, the underground catacombs can take your breath away in a different way. Shocking and eye-opening at the same time, the skull and bone remains of San Francisco Monastery’s underground cemetery will just blow you away. Not to be missed if you are travelling in Peru.

31| Tambopata Reserve, Peru

If you’re interested in birdwatching, the Tambopata Reserve and Research Centre is a must. Here you can catch sight of various parrot species (including the Red/Green Parrot, Blue/Gold Parrot, Red Bellied Parrot, Blue Headed Macaws and Tio Parakeets) and other bird species such as Starred Wood Quails, Antbirds, Antwens, Tiger Herons, Kingfishers, Flycatchers, Pectoral Sparrows, Tawny Bellied Screech Owls, Crested Owls and Mottled Owls. Take a look at our 5 day tour which includes a visit to this incredible birdwatching spot in Peru.

Bird of Paradise, Tambopata, Amazon Rainforest, Peru

32| Essequibo and Demerara Rivers, Guyana

Take a river tour of Guyana, the country which is suitably named “land of many waters” when translated into English. If you are travelling to Guyana, be sure to visit the two major river arteries of Demerara and Essequibo by booking a tour in Georgetown.

33| Buenos Aires, Argentina

It’s one of our planet’s most exhilarating capitals and no journey to Argentina is complete without a visit to the leading city of the Tango dance. If dancing isn’t your thing (though we urge you to try it), you’ll find the city’s atmosphere, its beautiful and colourful streets, its amazing food and friendly people to be wonderful in every way. It’s a city to remember.

Buenos Aires, Argentina

34| Santa Cruz (Galapagos Islands), Ecuador

Don’t miss Santa Cruz if you are exploring the stunning Galapagos Islands in Ecuador. Its major town Puerto Ayora is the most populated of the archipelago but head further out to the highlands and you can get away from it all whilst catching sight of the amazing giant tortoises living there. It’s a once in a lifetime experience to see these creatures roaming around amongst lush greenery.

To book your perfect South America holiday, take a look at our range of tours and destinations. To create a bespoke holiday, get in touch with our team through the Go Andes contact page.

Published: 4th May 2015

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