South America is not just a place one goes to visit. Truly, it is many countries in many worlds. It is place one goes to, to realize a dream. Often a once-in-a-lifetime dream! Yet, the sheer volume of information on websites and travel guides – that is meant to make your travel research simple makes it overwhelming and confusing.
First, decide on which destination to go to when you visit South America. If you think this trip is your “once-in-a-lifetime chance”, then, certainly, pack your schedule fully and experience as much as possible. However, if you want an extensive vacation, choose from the list of countries. Here, we list down the very important places for you to visit on your South American Vacation.
Almost half of South America, Brazil is the fifth largest country in the world and the largest in South America. Known for its famous Carnival, soccer, samba, and natural sights, Brazil is a diverse country. From cosmopolitan, vibrant cities—such as Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo—to lush Amazon rainforest, Brazil offers a wide range of places of interest, including museums, international cuisine, cultural attractions, beaches, and more. Probably why this country is so popular among travelers.
What to do at Brazil
- Take the cog railway up the CORCOVADO summit at Rio De Janeiro to view Christ the Redeemer statue
- Visit the beaches of Rio De Janeiro
- Go to the magnificent Iguassu Falls on the Brazilian side
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Argentina, known for is elegant tango dance, is a country filled with lively cities and breath-taking landscapes. Its capital, Buenos Aires is known as the “Paris of South America,” and has beautiful architecture, international cuisine, cultural sites, and incomparable nightlife—combined with wide plazas and warm people. And nature lovers stand in awe at Iguassu Falls, one of the world’s most spectacular waterfalls. In addition, travelers also delight in Patagonia’s glacier-carved landscapes, stunning scenery, and wildlife, including seals and Magellanic penguins.
What to do at Argentina
- Tour Buenos Aires and visit La Boca and San Telmo, the city’s oldest and most colorful neighbourhoods
- Enjoy a show of the alluring Tango Dance with its sensuous and graceful steps. You may also get to learn some steps!
- Go to the magnificent Iguassu Falls on the Argentine side with a ride on the Ecological Jungle Train
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Chile is a country of contrast and is home to one of the most beautiful national parks in South America, Torres del Paine, with its cascading waterfalls, shimmering lakes, and jagged mountain peaks. Santiago, Chile’s capital is a cosmopolitan city offering many exciting places to visit. Chile is also home to Easter Island, one of the earth’s most isolated inhabited islands. Here, you can explore the large open-air museum with over 400 moais, ruins, and temples.
What to do at Chile
- With more than 200 shops, the Los Dominicos Market is recommended more than any other market.
- Visit the Parque de las Esculturas, which offers gardens filled with sculptures by Chile’s top artists.
- Explore Barrio Bellavista. With streets lined with trees and colorful antique homes—many of which have been converted into restaurants, theaters, and studios for artists and musicians—it’s a pleasant place, especially for a stroll during the evenings.
- If you’re looking for a neighborhood off the beaten path, look no further than the Belgrano, Buenos Aires’ Chinatown. Definitely, visit Palermo Soho and Palermo Hollywood—the trendy neighborhoods with rather excellent designer shops, cafés, and restaurants.
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From its amazing archaeological treasures to its gastronomic delights and from its rich biodiversity to its melting pot of cultures, Peru enamors visitors. The mysterious Inca culture lefts its indelible mark all across Peru. High in the Andes Mountains, Cusco is the oldest continuously inhabited city in South America and is also a home base for exploring Machu Picchu. Lima, Peru’s capital and largest city, offers colonial architecture, interesting churches, and numerous museums. Cruise through the Peruvian Amazon; fly over the Nazca Lines; walk the cobblestone streets in Arequipa; discover Coca Canyon, one of the deepest in the world; and visit the floating islands on Lake Titicaca. As a result of all these truly wonderful sights, Peru is on the bucketlist of many a tourist.
What to do at Peru
- Explore the Larco Herrera Museum with the world’s largest collection of pre-Columbian art at Lima
- Enjoy the rather upscale neighborhood of Miraflores, known for its shops, gardens and beaches, as well as home to many galleries, theaters, restaurants and pubs.
- Go around Cusco to visit the Santo Domingo Monastery, with the Inca foundations. The Cathedral here houses a magnificent collection of artwork.
- Tour the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu with a complex of palaces, plazas, temples, and homes set in a majestic setting
- Interact with the locals and also, get a chance to pet their Llamas. In addition, learn why Llamas and Alpacas are important to the Inca culture
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The Galápagos Islands
A dream for the professional and amateur naturalist alike, the Galápagos Islands are famous for their unique and active wildlife. The Galápagos Islands—with the help of Charles Darwin—revolutionized scientific thinking. As a result of his research, the world’s view on evolution changed. If they could do that to the world, just imagine what they can do to you! So, pack your bags and head where sea lions, marine iguanas, blue-footed boobies, frigate birds, tortoises, and more await you. Naturalists who are knowledgeable on the native flora and fauna will, consequently, help you make the experience magical, with their skill and expertise.
What to do at Galápagos Islands
- Visit North Seymour Island, certainly the largest nesting site of the “magnificent frigate birds” in the Galápagos
- Explore the highlands of Santa Cruz, where the giant tortoises can be seen grazing in the wild
- Santa Fé Island is a renowned for California sea lions and a large species of land iguanas
- At the Divine Bay on Santa Cruz, look out for sea turtles, reef sharks, rays, blue-footed boobies, marine iguanas, and more
- A must visit site is the Charles Darwin Research Station, established to conserve the natural habitats and especially protect the famous giant tortoises
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Costa Rica is a treasure trove for visitors wanting spectacular scenery and biodiversity, with its mountain ranges, active volcanoes, cloud forests, tropical beaches, and beautiful national parks. Roughly, 26% of Costa Rica is conservation and natural protected land. With its eco-tourism initiatives, Costa Rica stays so relevant in the current times.
What to do at Costa Rica
- Visit Rincon de la Vieja National Park, also known as Costa Rica’s Yellowstone
- Cruise through Tortuguero National Park, dedicated to the protection of endangered turtles
- Watch for monkeys, iguanas, and especially the beautiful birds in Manual Antonio National Park
- Walk on suspension bridges in the cloud forest canopy, it will seem like you have entered another world
- Dip in the Tabacon hot springs with views of the Arenal Volcano
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To conclude, South America has such a diverse array of offerings, climates, and cultures. Hence, plan your vacation well to truly enjoy a multi-country getaway!
From selecting your ideal destinations, accommodations, and itinerary to figuring out when to travel, what to pack, and how to get where you want to go, find here the South American travel kit for you to use your guide.