Latin America is a culturally and geographically diverse place. Here’s 20 places (in no particular order) you absolutely have to visit at least once in your lifetime.
Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia
Driving across Bolivia’s alien landscape of white salt crust dotted with cactus-studded black islands is a magical experience not to be missed. South America’s largest and highest salt flat is worth going off the beaten track for.
Machu Picchu, Peru
Machu Picchu is the lost city of the Incas nestled on a mountain in the remote Andes of Peru. One of the seven ancient wonders of the world, enough said!
Perito Moreno Glacier, Argentina
The sight of vast pieces of ice calving off this Argentine glacier and smashing into the lake below is truly awesome. This is one of the few glaciers in the World that is growing. Take a boat ride right up to the ice, or don crampons and hike upon it.
Easter Island, Chile
Lying around 2,000 miles off the coast of Chile, this island has more in common with Polynesia than the Chileans who colonised it. The locals are very welcoming and still perform ceremonial rituals below the giant statues or moai.
Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
Quite simply one of the best wildlife spotting regions on planet earth. Spot the only penguins north of the Equator, swim with sea lions, watch the dance of the blue-footed boobies and try and identify Darwin’s finches.
Fernando de Noronha, Brazil
This small archipelago off Brazil is often overlooked and fantastic for snorkelling and scuba. Head off to these remote Atlantic isles for a true off-grid experience.
Torres del Paine, Chile
The snow-capped mountains and lakes of the Torres del Paine National Park is best explored by foot. The mountain scenery is probably the best in South America and home to guanacos, condors and pumas.
It’s colourful, fun, and exciting with wonderfully friendly people all overlooking the clear blue waters of the Caribbean Sea. A colonial gem steeped in history and with a real tropical vibe.
Lençóis Maranhenses, Brazil
Vast rolling sand dunes punctuated by hundreds of turquoise lagoons. Head up to North-east Brazil for this stunning landscape like no other.
Chichen Itza, Mexico
Probably the most famous pre-Columbian ruins in Latin America, built by the Maya people. It was part of a vast civilization that colonized much of Central America then mysteriously vanished before the Spanish arrived.
San Blas, Panama
Like a row of pearls off Panama’s northern coast. Take a sailing boat trip to paradise. The pristine Archipelago includes picture-perfect coral islands with white sand and coconut trees surrounded by a sapphire sea..
Lake Titicaca, Peru & Bolivia
The highest navigable lake in the world, with its deep blue waters and interesting locals and history sandwiched between Bolivia and Peru. Don’t just do a one day trip, consider staying with the Aymara people on the island of Taquile.
Valdes Peninsula, Argentina
Unmissable wildlife encounters, from colonies of sea lions, penguins and seals to orcas that come to feed near the shore. A true wilderness surrounded by the rich waters of the Atlantic Ocean.
Atacama Desert, Chile
The north of Chile is an arid but beautiful landscape, with fascinating wildlife that is protected in a series of national parks. Explore the spectacular geological wonders, spouting geysers, flamingo lagoons and an amazing night sky full of stars.
Arenal Volcano, Costa Rica
Watch the smoky, active volcano and natural fireworks of lava tumbling down its slopes from the hot springs of Tabacon. Take a dip in the thermal springs, go zip-lining over the forest, spot colourful birds.
Iguazu, Argentina and Brazil
One of the seven natural wonders of the world and not something to be missed lightly. Stroll among cascades through tropical forest. Hear the thunder and feel the spray of water from the Devil’s throat walkway. It’s worth spending two days to enjoy both sides of the falls.
Amazon, Brazil, Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia
Meet indigenous tribes in their home which boast more plant and animal species than any other ecosystem and is the heart of our planet. Stay in remote lodges with creature comforts. Explore with knowledgeable local guides to help identify hundreds of birds and other animals.
Lake Atitlan, Guatemala
British novelist Aldous Huxley once called this lake ‘’the most beautiful in the world’’. Few can disagree. Visit the colourful indigenous communities who live around the lake, or hike up into the volcanic landscape.
Chan Chan, Peru
Often overlooked, Chan Chan is the largest Pre-Columbian city in South America. Lying in the Moche valley it was the capital of the Chimú Empire. Built entirely of adobe or mudbrick, it was probably abandoned after a tsunami during an El Niño year.
A vast wetland and wildlife haven where caiman nonchalantly cross the road and myriad birds, monkeys, armadillos and jaguars can be seen. In some protected reserves, jaguars are habituated to humans that they nonchalantly walk across the road.
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