Encompassing 12 countries, French Guiana, and the Falkland Islands, South America has emerged in the last 20 years as a mecca for ecotourism and adventure travel.
With nearly 7 million miles of rainforests (the Amazon), wetlands (the Pantanal), mountains (the Andes), and waterfalls (Iguazu), you could explore the continent’s sparsely populated interior for years and never see all the awesome sights.
There’s simply no way to adequately summarize an entire continent’s incredible attractions in a digestible blog post, so consider these my personal picks for the 20 best places to visit in South America.
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Best Places to Visit in South America Guide
- Iguazu Falls (Argentina)
- Peninsula Valdez (Argentina)
- Perito Moreno Glacier (Argentina)
- Tierra del Fuego (Argentina)
- Lake Titicaca (Bolivia)
- Salar de Uyuni (Bolivia)
- Brazilian Amazon (Brazil)
- Pantanal (Brazil)
- Chilean Wine Country (Chile)
- Torres del Paine National Park (Chile)
- Cartagena (Columbia)
- Tayrona National Park (Columbia)
- Galapagos Islands (Ecuador)
- Otavalo (Ecuador)
- Quito (Ecuador)
- Ballestas Islands (Peru)
- Machu Picchu (Peru)
- Peruvian Amazon (Peru)
- Sacred Valley (Peru)
- Pampas (Uruguay)
1. Iguazu Falls
Located in northern Argentina, where it straddles the border with Brazil, Iguazu ranks high among the world’s biggest waterfalls.
Measuring 197–269 feet tall, 1.7 miles wide, with 275 drops and an average flow rate of 62,010 cubic feet per second, this one of the most famous places in South America and is truly a spectacle to behold.
They’re surrounded by the lush rainforest of Iguazu National Park, a subtropical paradise that is home to more than 2,000 species of vascular plants and cool animals such as tapirs, howler monkeys, and jaguars.
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2. Peninsula Valdez
Located on Argentina’s Atlantic coast, Peninsula Valdes earned UNESCO protection because it’s one of the best places in South America to see marine mammals.
Whale watching is particularly amazing: Southern right whales calve there from June through November, while orcas can regularly be seen hunting seals and sea lions on the shore.
You’ll also have a good chance of seeing elephant seals, Magellanic penguins, and land-based species such as the guanaco (or Patagonian llama) and rhea (a cousin of the emu).
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