South America has its highs and lows like nowhere else. From the beaches of Copacabana to condors soaring over the high Andes, this is one spectacular continent. If you would like to cover “everything” in a once-in-a-lifetime adventure, we highly recommend a small group journey on a tried and tested itinerary (there are vast distances to cover!), and a host accompanying the group to “smooth the way”.
Others may prefer to explore a few spots in more depth or focus on some of the incredible natural wonders. South America specialists World Journeys can tailor-make an itinerary to suit your budget, your wish list, and the travel time you have to play with. Wherever you set your sights, start by speaking to the experts at helloworld Travel and the wonders of South America will be revealed.
5 Top Experiences in South America
THE GALAPAGOS ISLANDS
About 1000km off the coast of Ecuador, the Galápagos islands and their unique wildlife were Charles Darwin’s inspiration for his theory of evolution. Today you can still encounter creatures found nowhere else on earth, and thanks to a lack of predators you can get up close without disturbing them. Each island is different, ranging from volcanic black rock to white sandy beaches, and it’s all best explored on a cruise with onshore excursions accompanied by expert naturalist guides.
THE ATACAMA DESERT
This remote desert lies on a high plateau between the Pacific Ocean and the Chilean Andes. The lunar-like landscape of vast salt pans, colourful rock formations and steaming geysers is truly spectacular. The little town of San Pedro de Atacama is picture perfect, but we love the ecolodges – our favourites are Alto Atacama and Tierra Atacama. Take guided explorations by 4WD, on foot, by mountain bike or even on horseback, with all the comforts awaiting you back at your lodge!
Size does matter! The Amazon is the world’s largest rainforest, its river the largest by volume, and its species the most diverse of any ecosystem on earth. Take a cruise from Iquitos (Peru) or Manaus (Brazil), or stay in an ecolodge deep in the Peruvian, Brazilian or Ecuadorian Amazon. The biodiversity is stunning, from pink dolphins to colourful parrots and vociferous howler monkeys, and the local guides are passionate about preserving this pristine environment.
While a lot of the Amazon’s wildlife is hidden by dense forest, the wildlife of the Pantanal (which lies mostly in Brazil) is much more on view. The seasonally flooded grasslands, savannas and tropical forests of the Pantanal are home to a myriad of wildlife from jaguars to caiman and capybaras along with a plethora of water birds, plants, fish and reptiles. The fabulous Araras Ecolodge is set in its own private reserve and is the ideal base from which to explore.
At the most southerly and sparsely populated southern end of South America lies Patagonia. Shared between Argentina and Chile, this stunning region encompasses the end of the Andes, the wild archipelago of Tierra del Fuego and the spectacular Torres del Paine National Park. Whether you cruise the Chilean fjords and glaciers or base yourself in a luxury ecolodge, there is so much to explore – this is nature on a very grand scale.
Have we missed your favourite South America experience? Let us know what it is in the comments below.