Nothing quite seems to feed the soul as much as traveling does, just ask your friendly neighborhood travel agent. And if you’re one of the lucky ones who can manage to take the time from work, then South America should be on your ‘Must-see before I die’ list. With its vast terrains, large bodies of water and rich culture, people are clamoring for a closer look at this gorgeous continent. And with these photos alone, it’s easy to see why.
Take a look at 15 devastatingly beautiful places to visit in South America:
The River Of Five Colors, Colombia
Located in the Serrania de la Macarena in Colombia, the river also known as Caño Cristales is an incredible sight to behold. Flowing in colors of brilliant red, blue, green and yellow, the water shows practically all the colors of the rainbow due to a special plant called Macarenia Clavigera. Plus you can even swim in the pools, hike the waterfalls and inspect the numerous caverns located all throughout the river’s length.
How To Get There
While the river is truly worth a visit, getting there isn’t exactly a treat. First, you must get to Bogota, then fly or take a bus to a place called Villavicencio. Then from there, you need to take another plane ride to La Macarena. And this is all dependent on when flights, and vehicles, actually make the trips. It may not be easy, but it’s surely worth it.
Galápagos Islands, Ecuador
Known to have inspired the infamous Charles Darwin theory of evolution, the Galápagos Islands, also called Las Islas Galápagos, are located in the Republic of Ecuador. These volcanic landforms consist of over 18 main islands, as well as 3 considerably smaller ones and another 100 or so islets. And it’s home to an incredible number of animal and plant species that cannot be found anywhere else in the world.
What To Do There
While there are a number of different things to do on these beautiful islands, some of the most popular entail spending time up close with the giant tortoises on Santa Cruz Island, as well as seeing other wildlife. Others prefer to check out the immense biodiversity by trekking through the Laval Tunnels, or even visit its numerous coffee farms. But whatever it is you may fancy, the Galapagos will surely not disappoint.
Moai Statues On Easter Island, Chile
While others call these statues the Easter Island Heads, for very obvious reasons, the Moai Statues in Chile stand amazingly tall and proud. They were carved by one of the islands’ supposed first inhabitants, the Rapa Nui, back in 1250 A.D. And even more interesting is that there are said to be over 800 to 1000 structures all over Rano Raraku, with some not even finished.
Why Are They So Interesting?
Aside from the fact that their purpose was to ‘honor their chieftains or other important people who had passed away,’ the faces of the statues are said to be of the early ancestors that dwelled there hundreds of years ago. They also stand around 13-feet in the air and weigh a hefty 13 tons each, making people wonder how they had been moved in the first place, given their size and weight, scientists are still trying to figure it out. Plus the fact that they have stood the test of time, weather, war and modernization is another revelation on it’s own.
Inkaterra Canopy Walk, Peru
Given the immense jungle areas located all over South America, Peru boasts of a large portion of tall trees and incredibly canopies of flora and fauna. In fact, it’s said that over 60% of Peru alone makes up a portion of the rather large Amazon rainforest. So why not put a gorgeous, and lengthy canopy to get from one area to the next?
Not For The Faint Of Heart
While these particular canopy walks were built through National Geographic and the World Bank, the 7 bridges that basically sit above the ground at almost 100 feet are definitely not for the faint at heart. And being so high up gives anyone who has the pleasure of walking through these suspension bridges a view that not many have the privilege to experience.
Iguazu Falls, Bordering Argentina and Brazil
Whether it’s due to spelling, language issues or personal beliefs, the Iguazu Falls are popular for a reason, and it’s not necessarily how you say the name. Iguazu is said to mean ‘big water,’ which by looking at the picture, they are this and so much more. The falls have attracted over a million of visitors, aside from admirers, plus the fact that it sits in between Argentina and Brazil makes it even more amazing.
What makes these waterfalls so acclaimed is not just their beauty, the fact that there are 275 separate falls that are spread out all around. If they were to be put together, they would measure an impressive 1.6 miles or more of flowing water. And if you’re wondering which country will give you the better view, the answer is, and will always be, both, of course.
Swing At The End Of The World, Ecuador
Whether you enjoyed swinging on your childhood playground or not, this is not an ordinary kind of swing. On top of a hill in Casa Del Arbol in Baños, Ecuador, sits a precarious swing that no one really knows where it came from. The tree house from which the swing hangs is actually used to watch over the volcanic activity of the Tungurahua volcano. And with a single harness tied around your waist, all you have to do is basically hold on for your life as someone pushes you to a place where you’ll probably be forced to contemplate your life’s purpose.
Is It Truly Dangerous?
While the swing may not necessarily seem dangerous at first, sitting in it and actually swinging off the edge, while pseudo hanging off the edge, might just make you feel differently. While it’s obviously adventurous, and probably a tad bit crazy, the feeling of floating above the ‘edge of the world,’ must be completely amazing. And while getting to Ecuador may take a pretty penny, it’ll just cost $1 to swing to your possible death.
Lake Atitlan, Guatemala
There’s definitely something special about seeing where the sea meets the mountains. In the Sierra Madre Mountains, you will find the impressive Lake Atitlan in all her glory. Many tourists share that it’s one of the most beautiful sights they have seen, and hiking, swimming and jumping off the nearby bridges is a must try. But it would seem that watching the sunrise is one of the more popular things to do here.
Worth The Sunrise Wake Up Call
Many places boast of magnificent sunsets, but Lake Atitlan claims to have one of the most mesmerizing sunrises of anywhere in the world. In order to witness it at it’s finest, you have to wake up no later than 3:45 a.m. and take a bus to a spot where you’ll need to trek another 45 minutes up to get the best view. But once you’re there, you may just wish that it was way longer than the 5 minutes it usually takes for the sun to go up.
Uyuni Salt Flats, Bolivia
The giant salt flat known as Salar de Uyuni, or the Uyuni Salt Flats in Bolivia is everything it seems to be. It’s mirror-like magic is created by the salt crust formed at the very top, which sits over a pool of brine. People from all over the world come to see it and must acclimatize themselves first, as you can reach different areas anywhere between 12 to 15 thousand feet above sea level. But despite the slight high from the well, the height, there’s truly nothing else like it.
Could It Be Real?
From early morning shots, to sunny daytime pools of endless blue, to the even more enchanting evenings, the Uyuni Salt Flats are a true Instagrammer’s dream. Just be completely prepared in every sense of the world because while it looks like you’re out in the middle of nowhere, that statement couldn’t be anymore true. Good thing you’ll get the kind of photos that no one else could possibly dream of.
Machu Picchu, Peru
Also known as the “Lost City of the Incas,” Machu Picchu was built thousands of years ago in true ‘Inca style.’ Abandoned by its makers during the Spanish Conquest, it was later on made a UNESCO World Heritage Site for preservation since thousands of people flock here from all over the world to see it first hand. It was also placed on the ‘New Seven Wonders of the World’ list, giving it even more reason for travelers to go and see it.
On Everyone’s Bucket List For A Reason
Machu Picchu is practically on the top of everyone’s bucket list, and it’s easy to see why. Considering that Machu Picchu sits on over 30,000 hectares and boasts of 172 campuses, which also contain a moat, a staircase, baths, and temples, amongst other things. And while the three major portions, ‘the Inti Watana, the Temple of the Sun and the Room of the Three Windows’ are the most popular, the entire place is incredible to discover.
Torres Del Paine National Park, Chile
With it’s majestic glaciers, snowy mountains, glassy lakes, endless rivers, granite peaks, to say the least, the Torres Del Paine National Park in Chile is so diversified, it’s incredible. Over 500,000 acres across, the park is home to four main historic landscapes known as the ‘Cordillera del Paine, Los Cuernos, French Valley and Grey Glacier.’
As Beautiful As It Looks
Travelers come just to enjoy two well-known treks. While the “W” trek takes around 4-6 days to complete, the “O,” on the other hand, takes 6 to 10. These hikes, which normally spans between 40 to 110 miles, also promise not to disappoint, but to amaze you with its breathtaking beauty and expanse. Plus all the animals and foliage make it that much more interesting.
Angel Falls, Venezuela
Supposedly discovered by Sir Walter Raleigh while he was on his quest to find the city of El Dorado, he happened upon these falls completely by chance. But while he wasn’t the first to ever find the falls, it was said he was the first European to do so. These incredible waterfalls begin over 3000 feet above with the water descending into the Churun River.
Above The Clouds
The Angel Falls are said to be the ‘world’s highest uninterrupted waterfall.’ Named as a UNESCO heritage site in 1994, visitors from all over the world have been flocking here since 1990. And while it’s amazing to see the falls up close, getting an aerial view may just be the perfect way to get a glimpse of these imposing waterfalls. Getting way up above the clouds to see them might just give you a slightly different look on life.
Atacama Desert, Chile
The Atacama Desert is said to be one of the driest places on earth. And while it may not be inhabitable by people per se, many make it out to it’s 600-miles of land because some have attested that ‘there is nothing else like it in the world.’ It also has it’s own salt flat, which reflects the Andes. Another area is Cejar Lagoon, which has so much salt that you can’t even swim because you just float. Pretty cool, if you ask us.
And if Lake Atitlan is known for its sunrise, the Valley of the Moon in the Atacama Desert is known for it’s spectacular sunsets. Hundreds are said to visit just to get a site of the sun setting, which is normally around 7 in the evening, with a local drink in hand. It seems that the surrounding landscapes have a mind of their own as the hues go from gold to pink until the sun goes down.
Santuario de las Lajas, Colombia
The Las Lajas Sanctuary is a Catholic church that was built because of a miraculous event that had taken place all the way back in 1754. A young mother and daughter had supposedly gotten stuck in a horrific storm within the canyon where the church is now presently located, and had seen a vision of the Virgin Mary on the Laja, otherwise known as a slab of sedimentary rock. Although originally the church was just a wooden chapel, the basilica was built and as years passed.
While the Las Lajas Sanctuary is now owned by the Roman Catholic Church, people continue to flock to the basilica whether they belong to the Catholic faith or not. And until today, people continue to claim that there have been a number of miraculous healings that occurred here, and that they still see the image of the Virgin Mary on the slab. Oftentimes, people come to pray and honor God, while others just come to see the spectacular church that seems to be hanging on the side of a cliff.
Chiloé Island, Chile
Although most people recognize the Chiloé Island due to its lovely palafitos, or stilt houses, the town is much more diverse than just where fisherman come to rest. It’s considered the 5th biggest island in South America, and while most of it’s livelihood comes from fishing, there is a lot more to see in the quant and picturesque town.
Interestingly, aside from the number of foxes and the world’s smallest deer, the pudú, it is also home to a number of birds, including penguins. This alone has travelers ready to visit to see the adorable black and white feathered birds. And the island is headset on keeping them safe from extinction.
Bayahibe, Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic is heavily known for its beautiful crystal blue waters and white sand beaches, and Bayahibe certainly does not disappoint. This particularly popular tourist destination provides all kinds of water sports, beach locations and attractions that cater to every single want and need of any kind of traveler.
The Ultimate Beach Destination
Although there are a number of exquisite beaches to visit in the world, not many can claim that they are as stunning as this one. If you find yourself lucky enough to visit Bayahibe, do everything you can to take advantage of its spectacular landscape. And that speaks of all these impressive places to visit when in South America, because who knows when the next time will be.