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South America is a land of fascination, vast, diverse and cultured. Of the two Americas, this one is by far the more natural and effortless. If North America can be compared to a supermodel, preening and styled to the nines, South America is personified as a wild, windblown beauty with a white, gap-toothed smile and eyes the color of both sky and sea.

There are fourteen countries in South America, each one unique and captivating in its own fashion, each full of wonders both manmade and born of the earth. From the deserts to the wetlands, from the Amazon to Patagonia, a wide range of climates and geographic features are represented here. This is to say nothing of the cultures and people who call the continent home.

Whether you come to South America to trek the Andes, sip coffee in Bogota, party in Rio, tango ‘til daybreak in Buenos Aires, or see one of both sides of Iguazu Falls in all their glory, you’ll make the travel memories of a lifetime. Magnetic and exciting, your South American destination will stay in your heart forever.

South America Top Sights

Argentina

Huge and replete with broad differences of geography, Argentina is both physically and spiritually greater than any traveler could possibly explore in a single trip. This is the home of dignified old Buenos Aires, the rolling green Pampa, and the cold, vast Patagonia region. It was the birthplace of the sensual Argentine Tango, and today the dancers still haunt the milongas until 5 or 6 in the morning! Natural beauty is seemingly everywhere you look, with highlights being Glaciers National Park, Iguazu Falls, and Ushuaia—the southernmost city in the world.

Brazil

On of South America’s great melting pots, Brazil is full of natural intrigue, cultural excitement, and great tradition. As the 5th-largest country in the world, there are Brazilian regions far enough from one another so as to seem like different nations. There’s the green, lush Amazon, the arid and farflung gaucho country of the south, sunny Bahia, and the cosmopolitan, energetic hubs of Rio and Sao Paulo—and that’s barely putting a dent in it, so to speak. Whether you party all night in the capital, take a jungle trek, or climb hundreds of steps to prostrate yourself at the immense feet of Christ the Redeemer, your Brazilian getaway promises to be unforgettable.

Peru

Diverse, economically robust, and widely regarded as an important seat of culture, Peru is a paradise for the enlightened traveler. First and foremost, within Peru is Machu Picchu, home to some of the most spectacular Incan ruins in the world, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site with near-instant name recognition. In addition to other ruins, all fabulous enough to make you feel like the star of your very own Tomb Raider adventure, Peru holds so much else in store. Adrenaline sports are over-the-top here, the Amazonian rainforest is nearby, and, of course, the trekking is world-class.

Chile

The unusual shape of Chile makes this long, slender South American destination a nation of extremes: from the Atacama Desert to the north (the driest place in the world!) to chilly Western Patagonia in the south, and then to the enigmatic and fascinating isle of Rapa Nui, dramatic differences in landscape and climate are the most characteristic aspect here. While outdoor pursuits are (understandably!) huge here, the big cities (Santiago and Concepcion, namely) are ripe with diverse social and cultural attractions, as well as an overall abundance of things to see and do.

Colombia

Diverse, intellectual, and located in one of the globe’s sweet spots in terms of weather, Colombia is a land of surprises. The food is delicious, the culture is warm and laid back, and the sights are beautiful. Visit Cali, where the thrum of salsa is ubiquitous and dancers stay entangled ‘til well past midnight, wander the gloriously decayed old town of Cartagena, or shop for rare books in Bogota—no matter where you go, it’s a safe bet that romance will follow. And, of course, you simply must savor as much exquisite Colombian coffee as possible while in town. It’s a safe bet to say that you’d never tasted a brew quite like this.

South America

South America Travel Reviews


Sightseeing In Rio de Janeiro

Eric

Like so many other travel-happy individuals, I was drawn toward Brazil and finally made the trip. While there, I spent five fun-filled days in Rio de Janeiro, known by the locals as "Cidade Maravilhosa", Portuguese for "Marvelous City". Rio is visually stunning, with steep mountains rising directly from the white sand beaches. I stayed at a nicely-appointed hotel in the Copacabana District, just two blocks from the beach. My first day sightseeing itinerary included the Botanical Garden, a beautiful collection of plant species from all corners of the world. After lunching on a fat Libra sandwich at a nearby restaurant, I headed across the bay to Niterói to visit the incomparable Museum of Modern Art.

On the second day, I explored one of the famous favelas - Brazilian shantytowns - along with a group headed by an experienced guide. On the third day, I shopped about in the Flamengo District before riding the electric train to the top of Corcovado Peak. Here stands the famous Christ the Redeemer Statue. The views of the city and Guanabara Bay were fantastic. On my last full day I hiked along the Copacabana and Ipanema beachfronts, taking hundreds of photos and enjoying a snack on the rock cliffs of Arpoador.

I highly recommend learning some basic Portuguese before traveling to Rio. Many of the locals understand some English, but I found that I was much more in tune with the local culture because of the language lessons I had studied. Rio has plenty of public transportation - including a subway system - so getting around town was simple and the fares were relatively cheap. The ATMs located throughout the city were easy to use when it came time to get some cash. Rio is not as dangerous a city for visitors as one may have heard, so long as prudent behavior and the avoiding of flashy dress is observed.

Trip Rating:
Destinations Visited: Brazil

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