Whilst South America is a must-visit for any discerning traveller, some people remain unsure about whether it’s worth making the journey. Needless to say, it completely is: South America contains some of the most stunning scenes in the world. That’s why we’re going to use today to take a look at what we think are the top 10 tourist must-sees within this unique continent. Companies such as Imaginative Traveller offer a number of tours to the South American region.
Machu Picchu, Peru
Set on a mountain top and surrounded by stunning Andean scenery, Machu Picchu is a beautiful example of Inca citadel architecture. Machu Picchu remained lost in the mountain undergrowth for hundreds of years until it was re-discovered in 1911. The citadel maintains its air of mysticism, and it's not hard to see why it has remained so popular amongst visitors to Peru. The construction of the temple is extraordinarily advanced, hand-carved stones inter-locking with astonishing precision make up the walls, and it remains a sprawling masterpiece of vision and construction. One of the most important agricultural and residential settlements in the Inca Empire, Machu Picchu is one of the world’s most renowned sights.
Christ the Redeemer, Rio, Brazil
Christ the Redeemer is one of the most renowned structures in the world, to the extent that any movies or TV series based in Rio inevitably use it to set the scene. However, nothing compares to seeing the statue for yourself. Standing at a substantial 98 feet tall and spanning 92 feet, the Redeemer - which was completed over 11 years by French-Polish artist, Paul Landowski - is a noted symbol for the country's Christian population. Those visiting the statue on Corcovado Mountain will also be able to enjoy stunning views across Rio’s beautiful landscapes and visit the on-site chapel, which was set up in 2006 in order to allow Catholics to hold baptisms and weddings beneath the sculpture.
Iguazu Falls, Argentina and Brazil
Though less well known than some of the other attractions on this list, Iguazu Falls is a genuine natural wonder (indeed, it was number 1 on the list of New Seven Wonders of the World). Truly a sight to behold, it is located on the border between Argentina and Brazil, surrounded by lush rainforest. The waterfalls and cataracts drop between 60 and 82 metres across a course of 2.7 kilometres and it is twice as wide as Niagara.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
It might be cheating slightly to classify an entire city as a 'tourist attraction', but there's no denying that Buenos Aires is a must-visit. Substantially shaped by its European heritage, Buenos Aires is steeped in Art Deco, Art Nouveau and Neo-Gothic architecture. Florida Street, located in the downtown area of the city, is a wonderfully vibrant shopping district filled with the hustle and bustle of shoppers, live statues and a variety of tango dancers, singers and even comedy acts. If you want a taste of European style mixed in with the South American culture, Buenos Aires is the perfect location.
The Amazon Jungle, Peru, Colombia, Brazil, Ecuador, Venezuela, Bolivia
The Amazon jungle is vast, dense and almost impenetrable (to a point). Considered the most bio-diverse place on earth (with an astonishing 90 different micro-climates), the wildlife statistics of the jungle are remarkable: it is home to 1,200 different types of butterfly, 2,000 different fish and 50,000 plants, amongst many other species. Obviously, an experienced guide is essential, but visiting the Amazon remains an once-in-a-lifetime experience unlike any other in the world.
Patagonia, Chile and Argentina
Forming the southernmost tip of South America, Patagonia remains an extremely popular tourist destination, receiving around 100,000 international visitors each year. A mosaic of dramatic landforms, snow-capped mountains and vast ice fields, the region attracts everyone from hikers enjoying the glories of Torres del Paine National Park to adventure sport fans trying their hand at ice-climbing in Los Glaciares National Park. The Perito Moreno Glacier, in particular, is stunning. Covering 100 square miles of land and reaching nearly 60 metres in height, watching the glacier calving huge icebergs into the lake below is truly breathtaking.
The Nazca Lines, Peru
Dating back to between 300 and 500 AD, the Nazca Lines remain a true historical enigma. The lines - which depict a number of animals including monkeys, fish and spiders - are best observed from the air, but they remain an absolute must see for anyone visiting Peru. The most curious portrayal of the lines is a spaceman (complete with a bubble helmet) that was carved into the desert plains at the same time as the others.
The Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
For those that love wildlife, the Galapagos offer a chance to see animals that can’t be found anywhere else in the world. The collection of 13 large islands was left untouched for millions of years, with species on the islands developing their own unique characteristics thus forming the basis for Darwin’s ground-breaking ‘Origin of the Species’. The number of endemic species is substantial, and includes marine iguanas, the Galapagos giant tortoise, blue-footed boobies and the Galapagos sea lions. Like many of the sights on this list, the Galapagos Islands are truly unlike any other place in the world.
Lake Titicaca, Peru
Lake Titicaca remains another must-see in Peru. Straddling the border of Peru and Bolivia, the lake is the highest navigable lake in the world. It is steeped in mythological belief and considered to be the birthplace of Inti, the Sun God. The Uros islands located in Puno Bay are an astonishing work of creativity, woven entirely from reed found on the shores of the lake and consisting of structures from boats right the way up to whole buildings. The lake itself is a harmonious, peaceful destination that everyone in the world should spend some time in.
Easter Island, Chile
Located 2,180 miles off the coast of Chile, Easter Island is famous for playing host to 887 monolithic statues known as Moai. Believed to have been created by the Rapa Nui people between 1300 and 1500 A.D, the statues are a representation of deified ancestors and gods, and for any discerning traveller they remain a must-witness. The highest statue - which is known as Paro, stands at almost 10 metres high and weighs approximately 82 tons.
About the Author: Helene Cooper is a passionate traveller who is keen to travel all corners of the world. From South, central and North America to South East Asia, China and Hong Kong, Helene has been able to explore the majority of countries people would place on their bucket lists.
Photo Courtesy: All the photographs in this post are courtesy of Imaginative Traveller.