“If there is one continent that exudes energy like no other, it is South America. Happiness is prevalent wherever I have traveled, whether to a big city, like Buenos Aires or a small town in Chile or Peru; you can’t help but be consumed by it” – Gavin Tollman, Trafalgar CEO
Let your next vacation take you south of the equator. Here are six reasons why you should travel to South America.
1. The Cultural Landmarks
As the home of the Inca Empire, South America holds ruins that provide an integral glimpse into the past. Machu Picchu is the most iconic ancient landmark, but Cusco and the Sacred Valley of Peru also hold a number of temples and monuments. In Lima, the “City of Kings”, you can discover catacombs and the ruins of a pre-Inca pyramid. The Conquistadors brought a strong Spanish influence to South America, and that presence can still be felt in remarkable colonial architecture, cathedrals, and missions. The entire continent is rich with UNESCO World Heritage sites.
2. The Natural Beauty
You’ll find picturesque scenery everywhere you look. From white sand beaches to sprawling vineyards to colorful tropical forests to blue fields of ice, South America overflows with outdoor wonders. The Patagonia region has been carved by glaciers, leaving behind stunning fjords and glacial lakes. The raging waterfalls of Iguassu National Park rival those of Niagara Falls. And the moss-covered, fog-shrouded cloud forests feel like a magical realm.
3. The Wildlife
South America’s unique ecosystems—especially the Amazon rainforest and the continent’s mist-covered cloud forests—provide habitats for an incredibly diverse array of plants and animals. Nature reserves throughout South America offer travelers an opportunity to see wildlife up-close-and-personal in their natural setting. You might spot llamas, sloths, jaguars, penguins, capybaras, tree frogs, capuchin monkeys, or the Andean Condor.
4. The Adventure
The best South American vacations will allow you to cross a few items off the bucket list. There are a wealth of eco-adventures to be had, whether you want to try zip lining, whitewater rafting, canyoneering, kayaking or a canopy walk. You can hike up a volcano, take a dip in natural hot springs, or explore a massive glacier.
5. The Food and Drink
You’ll eat well in South America: Arepas, ceviche, empanadas, fried plantains, matambre, dulce de leche, gaucho-style asado—hearty and savory dishes best served authentic, right at the source. South America also boasts incredible New World wines. Mendoza in Argentina is famous for producing the world’s best Malbec; the major Argentinean white wine is Torrontés. Patagonia is an emerging region that’s putting out top-notch Pinot Noir. And Chile produces two French grape varieties—Carménère and Cabernet Sauvignon—that rival those of Bordeaux.
6. The Dancing
Dance is one of South America’s major cultural exports. Brazil is the birthplace of samba, and Rio de Janeiro’s vivacious Carnival—essentially the Super Bowl of samba—is the world’s largest dance-centric festival. The tango sprung out of the clubs of Buenos Aires and Montevideo. Visitors can learn the steps themselves or watch performances of the sensuous dance style. And Medellín, Colombia is a world capital for salsa dancing; again, the city’s salsa clubs invite visitors to learn.