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Top 5 South American Highlights

Our Product Manager, Carmel, shares her top South American moments spent on this magical continent contrasts.

1. Your first awe-inspiring view of Machu Picchu

Although this may be a cliché found at the top of most South American bucket lists, it’s a worthy contender. Nothing can ever prepare you for the moment that you catch your first glimpse of the majestic ruins, whether you've walked the Inca Trail and come from the top of the Sun Gate, or you're coming up through the site from the main entrance. A surprisingly emotional experience, the breathtaking views are best taken in up high, away from the crowds around the main site. Looking down at the ruins balancing on a cliff top, who could fail to be impressed by this ancient feat of construction, the likes of which are only found in a handful of locations around the world.

2. Unparalleled wildlife experiences

South America enjoys a perception (and rightly so) as a cultural destination, but what many people don’t hear about is the world-beating wildlife that abounds in the region. From the Amazon and the Pantanal, to the Galapagos Islands, and the incredible birdlife found in the wetlands and jungles of Venezuela and Guyana, the region has everything for the most avid wildlife fan. My personal favourite has to be the famous residents of the Galapagos, the giant tortoises, and I would love to see the penguins, seals, sea lions and orcas found on the Patagonian Valdes Peninsula. However, I love this review from one of our clients, of Los Llanos in Venezuela, which does so much more to describe this incredible experience than I could: “The mind-blowing experience of Los Llanos … must be one of the top, if not THE top wildlife safari experiences in the world. The variety of bird and general wild creature experiences was mindblowing: Caymans, anacondas, capybara, birds by the million, wild pigs and deer, otters, giant anteaters, freshwater dolphins to name just a few. Such an experience was world class and beats any that I have experienced in Africa

3. The Bolivian Salt Flats

The Andean country of Bolivia doesn’t deserve its obscurity, but I am grateful for it. In no other country in South America can you enjoy so much tranquillity and experience so much interaction with the locals, outside of the tourist throng. My absolute highlight of this stunning country is without a doubt the ethereal, other-worldly landscape of the Salt Plains of Uyuni, where the sky and lend blend into one white, disorientating mass. Not only does this area have the everlasting white landscape of the salt plains, which look like a sci-fi film’s idea of heaven, but you can also visit the coloured lagoon, which plays home to hundreds of bright-pink flamingos, or the explosive geysers nearby. We currently visit the salt plains on our Santiago – Lima tour (which also passes by highlight number 1 on my list!), and by booking before the 25th June you can also get a free Pisco Sour making experience in Cusco!

4. Music everywhere!

 I’m a big fan of music of all genres, and the pulsating rhythms and beats of South America tick all my boxes. Although different styles of music are found throughout the continent, Buenos Aires in Argentina, and Salvador in Brazil, stick out in my mind as two vibrant locations where music is at the very heart and soul of the city, and the local sounds beat on every corner. The Tango is, of course, synonymous with Argentinian culture, and through our offer you can experience it like a local, by visiting a ‘Milonga’ – a dancehall where couples go only to enjoy the local dance, and there are strict customs to adhere to. The spectacular Teatro Colon is also definitely worth a tour, which can be done after you enjoy your free night in the city! I was gobsmacked by some of the design features within the theatre and the impressive architecture that has withstood the test of time.

5. Awe-inspiring scenery

This final ‘highlight’ may seem like a bit of a cop-out, as any visit to South America is going to guarantee some impressive scenery. However, I’m particularly referring to the incredible glacial regions of Patagonia, from Argentina through to Chile. These two countries like to be superlative (world’s thinnest country, world’s widest street, world’s most southernmost city!), and the Southern Patagonian Ice Fields are no exception, being the largest body of glaciers outside of the Polar Regions. This phenomenal area houses the famous National Parks of Torres del Paine, in Chile, and Los Glaciares, in Argentina, home to the Perito Moreno and Viedma Glaciers. There is nothing like seeing the raw effects of Mother Nature in person, and witnessing the might of these glaciers, with the roars and cracks as pieces fall into the ocean, is a once in a lifetime opportunity.

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