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The 12 Best Places in South America to Visit

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Glaciers, Waterfalls, Deserts, Salt Flats & Beaches- these are just a few of the amazing landscapes you'll find on this fascinating continent. We have been to almost every country in South America (with the exception of Venezuela), and have chosen a list of the best places in South America to visit.

South America has it all. It is amazing how many different things you can visit in a matter of days and even within the same country!

We love traveling through South America so much that we decided to give you all a list of reasons why we think a trip down here can be fun, cheap & incredible. Enjoy these 12 best places in South America to visit!

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Best Places in South America to Visit #1: Iguazu Falls.

Located between Argentina and Brazil, this natural park holds one of the 7 natural wonders of the world. There are a lot of streams of water, some of them more powerful and than others but definitely all of them fascinating.

You can see them from both the Argentinian and Brazilian side. Its biggest fall, called Devil's throat, will take your breath away! We recommend you to spend at least 2 or 3 days to make sure you take the best out of them.

Iguazu Falls in Brazil, best places in South America to visit
Garganta del Diablo, Iguazu Falls in Argentina
Iguazu Falls, best places in South America to visit

Iguazu Falls is one of the most beautiful set of falls in the world.

Want more info? check out our full article of Iguazu Falls by clicking here.

Iguazu Falls in Argentina and Brazil are a beautiful destination, and a must if you travel to South America. There are many things that make this experience unique: the amount falls, the different tours available to see them, and the fact that they are shared by both Argentina & Brazil. They

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Best Places in South America to Visit #2: Perito Moreno Glacier. 

This fascinating piece of nature is located in the south of Argentina, It's currently part of the world's third largest reserve of fresh water, and attracts tourists from all over the world.

You can do many activities here, including a walking tour on ice  kayaking, and boat excursions. We spent a full 5 days in Calafate exploring all angles and tours around Perito Moreno, and we couldn't get sick of visiting this natural masterpiece.

Pasarelas de Perito Moreno, best places in South America to visit
kayaking Perito Moreno
Big Ice Excursion in Calafate, Argentina
Glaciares Gourmet Cruise, best places in South America to visit

There are so many ways to enjoy Perito Moreno Glacier.

Another amazing thing that makes Perito Moreno Glacier unique is a special show that happens once every few years. One time a natural bridge of ice forms next to the glacier. You can see spectacular ruptures of the ice into the lake next to it, but if you're lucky you'll get to witness the whole bridge collapsing. This is definitely something to add this to your bucket list, and a fantastic reason to visit South America.

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Want to learn more about visiting the glacier and the amazing things to do while in the area? Click the link below!

Calafate, Argentina is home to some of the most beautiful landscapes on Earth. Snow capped mountains, massive glaciers, and breathtaking icebergs await in this slice of Patagonian paradise.We had the pleasure of visiting here for 5 days, and loved every minute of it. There's a lot to know and plan

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Best Places in South America to Visit #3: Torres del Paine

Mountains, glaciers, lakes and rivers are part of this National Park located in the Chilean Patagonia. 252,000 visitors come here every year, and we are actually surprised the numbers aren't even higher.

Paine means "blue" in the native Tehuelche (Aonikenk) language, and it will take your breath away with its stunning landscapes, colors and peaceful atmosphere.

road to Zabljak Montenegro

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Best Places in South America to Visit #4: The Atacama Desert

Located in the north of Chile, the Atacama Desert isn't the kind of desert you may be thinking of. Instead of being just pure sand & sun, you can find valleys, lagoons, mountains and many roads. The reason of its definition is due to the lack of rain (there have been periods of up to 400 years without a single drop in its central area). 

It has a whole list of places that will blow your mind. From valleys that look just like the moon's surface, lakes with high salt concentration that will keep you floating effortlessly, and so much more!

Laguna Baltinache, Atacama Desert, reasons to visit South America
Atacama Desert, reasons to visit South America
Atacama desert, best places in South America to visit

The Atacama Desert has tons of unique nature.

If you want to visit, we strongly recommend you to rent a car, since the highlights are far from each other (sometimes even hours) so it will be much easier to move around and use your time wisely).

Best Places in South America to Visit #5: Uyuni Salt Flats

Located in Bolivia, Uyuni salt flats are the biggest salt flats in the world. They are so big that they can be seen in Google Maps even if you zoom all the way out (yes, we have tried!). With over 10,000 square kilometres (3,900 sq mi) in area, this place has much more than just salt to offer.

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Once a prehistoric lake, this surface of pure salt becomes the "world's largest mirror" after it rains, making you feel like you're literally walking in heaven. People also take pictures with props, since the flat surface makes it easy to play with the perspective.

Uyuni Salt Flats, best places in South America to visit
Uyuni Salt Flats, best places in South America to visit
Uyuni Salt Flats, best places in South America to visit

The Uyuni Salt Flats are the biggest salt flats in the world, and definitely one of the best places in South America to visit.

Around it there are several lakes, geysers and hot springs you can visit when taking a 2 or 3-day excursion. You can even see flamingos!

Want more info? Check our full article of Uyuni Salt Flats.

Best Places in South America to Visit #6: Christ the Redeemer

This huge icon of Brazil is one of the seven new wonders of the world. The huge statue of Christ is located in the heart of Rio de Janeiro, and takes all the attention because it has been built at the top of a hill, making it the easiest spot to find from pretty much anywhere on the shore.

It became a symbol of Christianity and the city, and it's so popular that now over 1.8 million people visit it every year, so if you are planning on taking a picture with it, you will have to share the pic with other people or try to be as creative as possible with the spot you can find.

Christ the Redeemer, Best Places in South America to Visit

Christ the Redeemer is one of the 7 wonders of the new world.

Want more info? check our full article of Rio de Janeiro.

Best Places in South America to Visit #7: Machu Picchu

Another wonder of the new world. This Inca citadel is located nearby Cuzco, one of Peru's main cities (our favorite one from Peru). It was built in the 15th-century and remained hidden for the Spanish conquerors, keeping it well preserved.

To get here you can take a train from Cusco or Ollantaytambo into Aguas Calientes (the town next to Machu Picchu) or you can do a fun 3 or 4-day tour from Cusco, through the Jungle.

Trek to Machu Picchu, Best Places in South America to Visit
Cloudy Machu Picchu, South America
Machu Picchu, Best Places in South America to Visit

Machu Picchu is another of the seven wonders of the world, and is a truly incredible experience.

Want more info? Check our full article of our way into Machu Picchu.

Hi there! If you are here, it's probably because you are planning a trip to one of the new 7 wonders of the world, and wanting to hike Machu Picchu. Whether you've seen it through your friend's travel pictures or in an article somewhere, something we can all say is

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Best Places in South America to Visit #8: Baños de Agua Santa

This city of Ecuador is a fairy tale. Surrounded by waterfalls, hot springs and mountains, it's a beautiful place to get in touch with nature. One of its main features is Ruta de las Cascadas (route/trail of the waterfalls), a whole path that takes you through some of Baños' most fascinating waterfalls.

One of the main ones, called "Pailón del Diablo", is a powerful 80-meter high waterfall and the cool thing is that you can literally go behind it and touch the stream of water with your own hands as it falls. Amazing, right?!

Baños, Best Places in South America to Visit
Baños swing, reasons to visit South America

"Casa del arbol" is another must. Visit here to jump onto the most fun swing you'll see!

Want more info? check our full article of Baños.

Imagine you wake up surrounded by waterfalls, hot springs and mountains, everyday. Imagine you can actually see all of this from the window of your room. Sounds good? Then you definitely have to visit Baños Ecuador (full name: “Baños de Agua Santa”, meaning Baths of Sacred Water).Located close to volcano

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Best Places in South America to Visit #9: The Amazon Rainforest

Where to start? the Amazon rainforest is usually called "the lungs of the planet" since it represents over half of the planet's remaining rainforests. It has an area of 5,500,000 km2 (2,100,000 sq mi), shared by 9 countries in South America.

It also has the largest and most biodiverse tract of tropical rainforest in the world, with an estimated 390 billion individual trees divided into 16,000 species. Brazil holds 60% of its total territory, but there's plenty things to do in each of the 9 countries that contain it.

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Best Places in South America to Visit #10: Colca Canyon

Colca is a huge canyon in the south of Peru. Its depth of 3,270 metres (10,730 ft) makes it one of the deepest in the world. There are many trails and incredible landscapes to see in here. Some people call it the Grand Canyon of South America.

With pre-Incan roots, and towns founded in Spanish colonial times, you can still see people of the Collagua and the Cabana cultures living here. The local people maintain their ancestral traditions and continue to cultivate the pre-Incan stepped terraces, called andenes.

Colca Canyon, reasons to visit South America

Best Places in South America to Visit #11: Angels Falls

If you like to see world records and unique places, then this is for you. This waterfall is the world's highest uninterrupted waterfall, with a height of 979 metres (3,212 ft) and a plunge of 807 m (2,648 ft).

Angels Falls is part of Canaima National Park, a site declared World Heritage by UNESCO, in the Gran Sabana region of Bolívar State, Venezuela. If you are a waterfall person like us, you will love it in here.

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Best Places in South America to Visit #12: The Galapagos Islands

Located 906 km (563 mi) west of Ecuador, the islands are known for their large number of endemic species that were studied by Charles Darwin during the second voyage of HMS Beagle. His observations and collections contributed to the inception of Darwin's theory of evolution by means of natural selection.

Some of its most exotic animals include the Galápagos tortoise, with an average lifespan of more than 150 years, the marine Iguana, which is the only iguana adapted to life in the sea, and the blue-footed boobies, a type of seabird that has unique colored feet.

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South American Bonus: Kaieteur Falls

Kaieteur Falls is the world's largest single drop waterfall by the volume of water flowing over it. Located in Guyana (although claimed by Venezuela as theirs), its first impression is always breathtaking.

It's 226 metres (741 ft) high when measured from its plunge over a sandstone and conglomerate cliff to the first break. It then flows over a series of steep cascades that, when included in the measurements, bring the total height to 251 metres (822 ft). 

While many falls have greater height, few have the combination of height and water volume, and Kaieteur is among the most powerful waterfalls in the world with an average flow rate of 663 cubic metres per second (23,400 cubic feet per second).

Want to travel somewhere a little bit off the grid? Want great food, diverse culture, and beautiful nature? Then the Guyana’s should be on your list. Here are some things to know about when visiting Guyana in South America.Where is Guyana in South America?Many people can't pin Guyana on the

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South America has a great variety of things to do & see. You can find all climates, glaciers, waterfalls, deserts, beaches and so much more. We have been all over and there's no country in it that doesn't have something unique to offer.

These are the 12 Best Places in South America to Visit in our opinion, but there is still so much more to see! If you want to learn more about incredible destinations in South America, check out the rest of our South American Travel Guides!

Ready to start planning you trip? Let us help! Now with Scratch Your Mapa Travel Planning you can sit back and relax while we do the hard part. Unlike other travel agencies, we have flat fees so we can focus on saving you money, instead of profiting from a higher bill. Want to learn more? Take a look at our travel planning services!

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