If you’re planning a trip to South America and are trying to decide where to visit, here’s a look at three South American countries that should be on your bucket list. Each of these offers a wealth of outdoor adventure, rich culture and history, and of course, gastronomic riches for food travelers.
Argentina is one of the most beautiful countries in the world, from both a natural landscape and a cultural perspective. The captivating Tango dance was born in Buenos Aires, and that seductive vibe is easily found throughout the city. Lots of European influences are visible in the city’s architecture and parks, while much of the city is a bustling metropolis with new high rises, high end shopping, and more.
Eat some of the best steak in the world at one of the local parrillas, or steakhouses.
When it comes to wine, Argentina literally put the Malbec grape back on the map. After the grape struggled in France, Argentina decided to try their hand at growing it, and it turns out the climate in Argentina is ideal for growing this tenuous grape. Spend some time traveling through Mendoza, which is the capital of the Malbec region.
Go hiking in the Andes Mountains, which stretch nearly the entire length of Argentina’s western border. Iguazú Falls in the north is also mesmerizing. As you head south you’ll find the landscape changes dramatically as it becomes the gateway to Antarctica. Check out the Peninsula Valdés in Patagonia, a UNESCO World Heritage Site noted for its conservation of marine mammals. Located at the southernmost tip of Argentina, the Tierra del Fuego archipelago is stunning, especially Ushuaia, the most utilized departure point for Antarctic cruises.
While the ancient Incan city of Machu Picchu is one of the main draws to visiting Peru, there are plenty of other places to visit and things to do as well. And, if you are a food traveler, you probably already know Peru has climbed the culinary ranks, holding a number of spots in the San Pellegrino’s Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants awards over the last few years.
While in Peru, spend a few days at an eco-lodge on the Apurimac River in the Amazon basin. Visit Sandoval Lake and the 1,000-square-mile Tambopata National Reserve, which is considered to be one of the most wildlife-rich conversation areas on the planet. Huaraz dates back to the Incan Empire and is filled with ancient archaeological sites, but also lots of natural attractions, including Huascarán National Park.
Don’t miss cities like Cusco, a World Heritage Site and the historic capital of the Inca Empire from the 13th to the 16th centuries. If you want to relax on the beach, consider spots like Mancora, where you can choose from a variety of beaches like the idyllic Pocitas Beach or Vichayito Beach, known for its diving and kitesurfing.
Sandwiched between the Andes and the Pacific, Chile is one of the most exciting countries in South America. You’ll find lots of coastal towns great for surfing and relaxing, wine regions and an extensive national park system.
Easter Island is one of the biggest draws to travelers visiting Chile. It’s quite a haul to get there – nearly halfway to Tahiti - but well worth the journey! Aside from the nearly 900 Moai statues that many correlate with the island, you’ll find diving and surfing opportunities on Easter Island as well.
Torres del Paine is one of the most beautiful national parks in the Patagonian region of Chile. You’ll find mountains, lakes, and glaciers throughout the region. Don’t miss seeing the country’s volcanoes as well – like Villarrica located in the small town of Pucón. The Atacama Desert is another popular region for visitors to Chile. It’s considered the driest spot on earth, receiving only about four inches of rain each year. Here you can see the third largest salt flat in the world, the Tatio Geysers, and more.
Cities like Valparaiso are big tourism draws as well – you’ll find brightly colored houses and beautiful Pacific Ocean views.
Where would you start your own exploration of South America?
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Erin is a travel and food writer who currently splits her time between the Netherlands and Belize. She's traveled to 60+ countries on 5 continents with a passion for culinary travel, luxury hotels, and all things Disney. Her writing has appeared in numerous online outlets including Gadling, BootsnAll, CNN, Art of Backpacking, TravBuddy, CBS, and more. She was the major author of Belize's official visitor magazine, Destination Belize 2013; wrote the official AFAR Guide to Belize; and is also AFAR Magazine's local Belize expert.. In addition to writing for other publications, Erin maintains several blogs, Our Tasty Travels, No Checked Bags, Pooh's Travels, and the brand new Caye To Belize. Follow Erin on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google Plus.
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