Top 10 South America Travel Destinations

by on July 24, 2012

in Multi-Country South America Tours

For those of you who are not familiar with South America, I have compiled a list of my top 10 South America Travel Destinations.  Whether you like beaches, history, nature, or big cities, there is something for everyone in South America!

Machu Picchu 6 300x199 Top 10 South America Travel DestinationsTop South America Travel Destination #1:  Machu Picchu

The “Lost City of the Incas” is the ancient civilization of Machu Picchu.  Located high in the Andes in central Peru, this archaeology buff’s heaven is surrounded by lush green peaks.  Explore the ruins with one of our knowledgeable local guides, on our Essence of Peru trip, or our Travel of the Incas tour.  Both visit the spectacular ruins as well as travel through Cuzco and the Sacred Valley, two of the main points en route to Machu Picchu.  View all our Machu Picchu tours.

Top South America Travel Destination #2:  Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires, also known as the “Paris of South America,” is a very cosmopolitan city located on the Rio de la Plata, on the eastern coast of Argentina.  Characterized by excellent cuisine, an internationally diverse population, and European architecture, Buenos Aires truly has a different feel than the other major cities in South America.  Enjoy a delicious Argentine steak, take a walk through the Cementerio de Recoleta, or watch a Tango Show, all readily available and easy to do here in this European style capital with a South American feel. View our Argentina Tours.

Rio de Janeiro from Above e1386616746363 Top 10 South America Travel DestinationsTop South America Travel Destination #3:  Rio de Janeiro

Beautiful green mountains jutting out from the earth, and meeting the cool waters of the blue Atlantic Ocean, Rio de Janeiro is a city you will never forget. One of Brazil’s largest cities, Rio is home to the Christ the Redeemer Statue, Carnival, Sugarloaf Mountain, Guanabara Bay, and millions of cheerful Cariocas.  Whether it be relaxing on your rooftop pool at your hotel, or swimming in the ocean and suntanning on the beach, Rio is an excellent option for relaxation while also having an active nightlife.  Combine both Rio and Buenos Aires in our Tango Samba Waterfalls tour!

Top South America Travel Destination #4:  The Amazon Rainforest

The Amazon is a must see for animal lovers.  Here you are able to see a variety of animals, including parrots, macaws, monkeys, alligators, and even pink dolphins!  Enjoy a cruise on the rustic Tucano or the luxurious Iberostar ship, or if you are more interested in one of the many Amazonian Lodges, go for the Amazon Eco Park, the Anavilhanas, or one of the many lodges in the Peruvian Amazon–you will be sure to have an unforgettable stay! View all our Amazon Tours.

Chile Lake e1381773304440 Top 10 South America Travel DestinationsTop South America Travel Destination #5:  The Lakes District

Located in both Chile and Argentina, the Lakes District is the region located just above Patagonia.  Lakes and mountains create beautiful vistas for nature enthusiasts.  Our Chile, Andes, and Buenos Aires tour takes you on the Lake Crossing, a full day journey across the border by boat and motorcoach.  Skiing and trekking are also available in this region.  Be sure to bring your camera to catch a glimpse of the amazing scenery!

Top South America Travel Destination #6:  Mendoza

Mendoza, located in Argentina at the base of the Andes, is a haven for wine drinkers.  The fertile lands and irrigation systems in place have allowed for a flourishing grape and wine industry.  Come to Mendoza to enjoy the delicious Malbec grapes grown, fermented, processed, and bottled into excellent Argentine wines.  In Mendoza, there are also a wealth of adventure activities such as trekking, rappelling, rafting, horseback riding, and zip line to name a few. View our In-Depth Mendoza Wine Tour.

Top South America Travel Destination #7:  Cartagena

Cartagena de las Indias, a Caribbean city located on the northern coast of Colombia.  Beautiful beaches, colonial architecture, delicious food, and an eclectic people make this coastal city an excellent vacation spot.  On your Cartagena city tour stop by the local fortress, a UNESCO world heritage site, take a cruise over to the tropical Islas Rosarios, or even party on a “chiva,” a local bus that operates as a pub crawl. Try our Colombia Intense tour to visit this exciting Caribbean hot spot!

Bartolomeo island Galapagos e1402076497298 Top 10 South America Travel DestinationsTop South America Travel Destination #8:  Galapagos Islands

Another top location for animal enthusiasts, the Galapagos is the ultimate destination.  Hop on a plane from Quito to Baltra, and begin your cruise immediately.  Ranging from smaller boats to larger vessels, see it all by doing daily trips to the various islands, viewing the blue footed boobies, aquatic iguanas, giant tortoises, and other various birds.  It is here that Charles Darwin did his studies on evolution.  Another option is to do island hopping, where you can stay on a different island from day to day, or for scuba divers, ask one of our travel consultants about a diving oriented tour. View our Galapagos Islands Cruises.

Top South America Travel Destination #9:  Salar de Uyuni

The largest salt flat in the world, Salar de Uyuni is truly a sight to see.  In the dry season you have a vast expanse of flat salt covered plains, and in the wet season, the plains flood and create a mirror effect, the reflection of the sky on the flat water is a spectacular site.  Our Classic Bolivia tour will take you to Uyuni, and you may even stay in a salt hotel!

Torres del Paine stock 300x200 Top 10 South America Travel DestinationsTop South America Travel Destination #10:  Patagonia

Located in the very south of Chile and Argentina, Patagonia is home to jaw-dropping landscapes and stunning sights.  If you are traveling through Chile, don’t miss the Torres del Paine National Park or the penguin colonies near Punta Arenas.  In Argentina, mini-trekking on the Perito Moreno Glacier near El Calafate or visit the End of the World in Ushuaia, home to the Beagle Channel as well as more penguin colonies.  Patagonia is an excellent option for the outdoorsy type or those interested in photography. View all our Patagonia Cruises.

While there is a never-ending list of fabulous and interesting top South America travel destinations, these are my top picks. Wines, nature, wildlife, outdoor activities, or beaches, South America has it all.  Be sure to contact one of our Travel Consultants to begin planning your South America adventure today!

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 Top 10 South America Travel Destinations

Annica Cameron

Former Travel Consultant at
Annica grew up in Washington State and has traveled through North America, Europe and South America. She moved to Buenos Aires after graduating from Washington State University with a degree in International Business and a minor degree in Spanish Language. This Pacific Northwesterner loves travel, good food, and meeting new people. Her favorite place she has visited thus far in South America is the beautiful city of Rio de Janeiro, and next stop on her list of places to see is the Pantanal in Brazil. You can contact her by email at Annica(at)SouthAmerica(dot)travel.

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