Ever crossed your mind to visit a truly magical place with stunning landscapes, amazing high-altitude mountain ranges, treacherous mountainous roads, beautiful ocean with volcanic land formations, surreal deserts, massive salt flats and magical skyline in a one of the most amazing continent in the world?
South America, a continent that will not disappoint visitors and will provide a real spiritual inspiration and rejuvenation for our body, mind and soul. It captivates travelers with its plethora of natural wonders and cultural diversities.
If you wish to clear your bucket list for this amazing continent, but yet panicking about where to go or how to begin, perhaps Travel Inspiration 360 could help you by recommending the top 10 places to visit in South America.
#1 Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia
This is perhaps one of the reason why people visit Bolivia or even South America. The Uyuni salt flat is the largest salt flat in the world with 3,600 meters above sea level in the Andes, making it almost possible, to reach up and touch the clouds from the ground. A place where people described it as “where heaven meets earth”. A truly magical place where visitors can take in the vast white expanse of salt and immerse in the stunning vistas, which provides a “Out of World” feeling.
A Tip For You: Remember to bring warm clothes and wrap well, because accommodation is usually provided in basic refuges and the weather can be very cold especially at night, but it is well worth it for the amazing scenery.
#2 Iguazu Falls, Brazil
One of the world’s new seven wonders, and largest waterfalls with 2,700 meters in a semi-circular shape. A total of 275 falls altogether that make up the entire Iguazu Falls, sitting in between the two giant countries in South America, Brazil and Argentina.
A common question from many people, which side of the Iguazu falls is better? Whether the Brazilian side or the Argentinean side offer a better view? Well, if you were to ask me, I will definitely recommend you to do both!. Simply because you fly all the way to Iguazu Falls from different parts of the world, your experience at the Iguazu falls will not be completed if you only visit one side of the falls. In fact, both are very different and each sides provide you a different views and unique sensation.
Argentinean side offer you an up close and personal feel to the Iguazu falls including the notorious devil’s throat, which means you will be very wet! haha Whereas, the Brazilian side offer you a great panoramic view of the Iguazu falls, without getting too wet. 🙂
The photos below are for your consideration. You make the call as to which side is better. 🙂
Note: The above photos were taken on 2 separate days of my visit and of course with different weather. So it will not be a fair comparison. Conclusion: both offer equally magnificent views, totally worth to check out both side. 🙂
A Tip For You: Take the helicopter ride only when the weather is sunny and clear. Rainbow is almost guaranteed! 🙂
#3 Altiplano, Bolivia
Altiplano is actually high plateau or high plain in English. A landscape that is situated at high altitude in the western Bolivia, made up of ice (snow), fire (volcano), wind (cold wind) and salt (salt flats). It was formed by the collision between Pacific Ocean plate and South American mainland that heaved up the Andean ridges flanking a high flat basin.
Beautiful as it sounds, the better way is to show you the photos I took.
A Tip For You: Must visit the Laguna Colorada and Laguna Verde.
#4 San Pedro de Atacama, Chile
Located in the North East of Chile, Antofagasta region, lies a small Chilean town – San Pedro de Atacama. Many know this place and it is one of the driest spot in the world. Visitors come to this town to visit the spectacular landscapes of moon valley and national parks that feature the Chilean geysers, hot spring and amazing scenic, which mostly caused by volcanic activities.
Nowhere on Earth is better for stargazing than the Chile’s Atacama desert, where super-observatories have open up to a new wave of astronomy tourists seeking for the spectacular and unpolluted skies. With its high-altitude plateaus, clear skies and low humidity, Atacama Desert, Chile is one of the ideal place for astronomy in the world, or maybe the best. Atacama night skies are so clear that it offers a great opportunity to learn about the night skies, seeing the constellations, crux (commonly known as the Southern Cross) and the milky way of the Southern Hemisphere sky.
A Tip For You: Bring a DSLR and learn how to take night photography before doing the tour. You will walk home satisfied with the beautiful night photos. 🙂
#5 Torres Del Paine, Chile
One of the most breathtaking national park that encompassed the mountains, glaciers, lakes, and rivers in the South Chilean Patagonia region. One of the most beautiful place on earth, and I can’t gather enough words to really express how gorgeous this park actually is. Things I am trying to describe are the azure lakes, trails that meander through the emerald forests, roaring rivers that you may cross on the rickety bridges and the radiant crystal blue glacier at Lago Grey. Variety spread from the vast openness of the grassland to rugged mountain terrain topped by the looming peaks and capped with beautiful snow.
I witnessed an avalanche in one of the mountain and it was truly “magical” (scary) to hear them. Torres del Paine is a place where you can heal your heart and give a little treat to your eyes from its gorgeous view and surreal environment.
A Tip For You: Must visit Lago Grey to see the beautiful glaciers and lagoon.
#6 Machu Picchu, Peru
Embedded within a dramatic landscape at the meeting point between the Andes and the Amazon Basin. The Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu is amongst the greatest architectural, artistic and amazing civilization built on top of the high mountains in Peru, which is now the most significant and tangible legacy of the Inca civilization.
Machu Picchu stands 2,430m above sea-level, in the middle of a tropical mountain forest, lived in an extraordinary beautiful setting. It was probably the most amazing ancient urban creation of the Inca Empire during the civilisation peak; its giant walls, terraces and ramps seem as if they have been cut naturally in the middle of the rocky cliffs.
A Tip For You: If you want photos without many people, arrived early to beat the crowd, one way is to book a room in Aguas Calientes! 🙂
#7 Lake Titicaca, Peru & Bolivia
Lake Titicaca, a belief by the Andean that it is the birthplace of the sun god, also the ancestral land of the Quechuas. It is the foundation of most infuential pre-hispanic cultures in the Andean region. It is also the largest lake in South America with an area of 8,300sqkm and the highest body of water in the world. Sitting in between the border of Peru and Bolivia, the shimmering deep blue lake is the home of the highland cultures, people lived just like in the ancient days.
A Tip For You: Must take the reed boat ride, a traditional boat that made from original materials such as wood, robes and etc. Either you ride it like an Incan or you hire the locals to do it. haha
#8 Galápagos Islands, Ecuador
Situated in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, about 1,000km from Ecuador mainland or South American continent, there are 19 islands. The entire marine reserve have been called as a unique living museum and showcase of natural evolution, which was inspired by Charles Darwin’s visit in this spectacular islands as early as 1835.
Located at the intersection of three ocean currents, the Galápagos are rich in marine species and wildlifes. The ongoing seismic and volcanic activity reflects the processes that formed the islands million years ago. As the islands are faraway from the mainland and led to extreme isolation of the islands, it resulted to the development of unusual animal life and habitat – such as the land and marine iguana, the giant tortoise, many various species of sharks, sea-lions and many other wildlife.
A Tip For You: A diving trip or a snorkeling trip is a must in the Galápagos! Swimming with the sealions, seeing the hammerhead sharks, penguins and many other species of wildlife will be an adventure of a lifetime.
#9 Perito Moreno Glacier, Argentina
Located in the area of south west Santa Cruz province next to the border with Chile lies the magnificent wonder in the world – The Perito Moreno Glacier at Lake Argentino. This glacier is famous because of its dynamic changes, it is constantly changing every day, which produces a cyclic phenomenon on a daily basis with spectacular ice falls. This is due to the pressure from the weight of the ice, which slowly pushes the glacier over the southern part of Argentino Lake. A truly magnificent scene to watch and an exhilarating experience to hear the loud sound of the falling ice into the cold lake.
A Tip For You: Remember to gear up with the crampons and try ice trekking on the gigantic glacier. You will not forget this unique experience. You will be fascinated with the whitish blue ice with filled cracks of different shades of blue, projecting a unique “out-of-the-world” sensation. There are caves, and water flowing over the glaciers, and these are only accessible if you do the ice trekking tour.
#10 Yungas Road, Bolivia
Last but not least, the most dangerous road in the world. You must be thinking why I am recommending this and it kinda sounds insane. The North Yungas Road, also known as the Death Road is a 69km road leading from La Paz, capital of Bolivia to a Coroico, a city in the North East of the country. A sad reality of this road: it is known for the extreme danger for commuters. Estimated to claim 200 to 300 travelers yearly along this road, with many cross markings on the spots where vehicles or cyclists have fallen. This is due to the extremely high drop offs up to 2,000 feet high, single-lane width with two way directional traffic, without guardrails along the road. Rain and fog can make visibility precarious, the road surface muddy, and soil and rocks to loosen from the hillsides above, all these factors contribute to make this road dangerous to travel. This is why the road was notoriously named as the world’s most dangerous road.
Keep in mind, that this is a single-lane road with traffic from opposite direction, the danger rating on this road is very high. On the other hand, this road has an extremely gorgeous landscape view. 6 hours biking down this road can be a real thrilling experience. This is also the place where we can reflect and receive an awakening call from the reality of this poor country. We might be taking things for granted with the beautiful safe roads and highways in our home country.
A Tip For You: While biking is fun at the Yungas Road, life is fragile and always pray for the safety of people using this road.
“A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for” – John A. Shedd