The diversity of landscapes and activities in South America is staggering, and with so much on offer it can be difficult to plan an itinerary. Our pick of the top seven sights to see in South America will give you a starting point; you can also get in touch with our knowledgeable adventure travel sales team at email@example.com or +44 1728 862230 and let us do the hard work for you. As well as offering small group tours, our experienced Tailor Made team can help you design your own itinerary, and soon you’ll be jetting off on a personalised adventure of a lifetime!
Sporting some of the most spectacular mountain scenery in the world, the Torres del Paine National Park in Chilean Patagonia is arguably the most beautiful park in South America and a firm favourite for hikers and climbers. Its landscape comprises deep lakes, sparkling glaciers and cascading waterfalls – and of course the three soaring granite peaks from which the park takes its name. It’s also an important habitat for wildlife – when visiting you’re likely to be greeted by a herd of guanacos, relatives of alpacas. For many visitors the highlight is following the famous W-Walk, a 76-km trek through stunning valleys and dense forests. While it can be challenging, the unparalleled views make all the effort worth it.
Head north to Los Glaciares National Park, and you’ll find the towns of El Chaltén and El Calafate. El Chaltén is quickly becoming the trekking capital of Argentina, and there are many trekking circuits with varying grades of difficulty out into the surrounding snow-capped mountains and granite peaks. Day hikes to the viewpoints of Mount Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre are popular, but there are also excellent multi-day hikes with overnight wild camping.
El Calafate will be your base for exploring the immense Perito Moreno Glacier. With an area of some 250 square kilometres, it’s actually one of the few glaciers in the world which is still advancing. Incredibly, it’s the third largest reserve of fresh water on the planet, bested only by the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets.
The sprawling hilltop city of Machu Picchu is the most famous remnant of Inca civilisation and one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. No trip to Peru would be complete without an ascent up the mountainside to this ancient citadel, 2,430m above sea level. Machu Picchu was long thought to be legendary; it wasn’t until 1911 when the American historian Hiram Bingham stumbled upon it and brought it to international attention.
Although it’s possible to take a train to the top, you’ll see more if you go on foot. The Inca Trail, located in the Andes mountain range, is perhaps the most popular route for reaching Machu Picchu, and along the way you’ll pass through stunning scenery, from snow-capped peaks to abundant cloud forests, as well as various other Inca sites. Join us on the Inca Trail or browse other trips to Peru here.
The mighty Iguazu Falls on the Brazil-Argentina border is often revered as the world’s most magnificent waterfall. The name ‘Iguazu’ loosely translates from the native Guarani language to ‘big water’, and it lives up to its name; hundreds of waterfalls cascade along a distance of 2.7km, around half of which fall into a deep and narrow chasm called the Devil’s Throat, creating a permanent cloud of mist.
Rio de Janeiro
Here’s a city with something for everyone, from golden beaches to street-side cafes to historic museums to fascinating architecture to captivating samba nightlife. Brazil’s capital Rio de Janeiro is beautifully situated, with the stunning Sugarloaf Mountain rising up out of Guanabara Bay and the beaches of Ipanema and Copacabana cutting beautiful curves in the shoreline – all overlooked by the 30m-high statue of Christ the Redeemer, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.
Arrive in time for arguably the world’s greatest party, the Rio Carnival, and enjoy a whirlwind of colour and costumes as the entire city lets loose for seven days straight, or browse our other trips to Rio de Janeiro here.
Salar de Uyuni
Bolivia’s extraordinary Salar de Uyuni is a dazzling dry lake stretching over 4,050 square miles of the Bolivian Altiplano, made of blinding white interlocking salt crystals; it’s the world’s largest salt flat and an incredible feat of nature. It’s particularly striking when, at certain times in the year, water overflows from nearby lakes creating a shallow reflective layer which perfectly mirrors the blue sky above and effectively making the horizon disappear!
In the Pacific Ocean some 1,000km off the coast of Ecuador rest the Galapagos Islands. These are the 19 islands that inspired Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, due to the remarkable biodiversity on display here. Because the islands lack any natural predators, the greatest abundance of natural wildlife in the world has had the chance to blossom; from blue-footed boobies and frigate birds to Galapagos land iguanas and the Galapagos giant tortoise, this is a nature lover’s paradise.
Get up close and personal with the Galapagos Islands’ incredible array of wildlife with one of our adventure tours.
San Pedro de Atacama is a small oasis town in northern Chile, a quirky little place and the perfect base from which to explore the phenomenal Atacama Desert that surrounds it. With other-worldly rock formations, jagged ravines, vast salt flats, steaming geysers and deep blue lagoons, it’s unlike any other place on Earth. Its appeal lies in its stark, remote nature; for travellers hoping to get off the beaten track, you can do no better. Under clear night skies, in the silence and separation, at times it can feel like standing on another planet.
Find our adventure holidays to the Atacama Desert here.
Get in touch with our expert sales team at firstname.lastname@example.org or +44 1728 862230 to discuss your next adventure to South America.