Adoration 4 Adventure’s collection of South American highlights from travelers.
A collection of traveler’s favorite places within the South American continent, including many “off the beaten path” destinations. To be used for your next South American itinerary, travel inspiration or just a good read.
Heading to South America? Read a local guide to Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Morro Branco, Ceara, Brazil
One of the destinations I remember most fondly from my 7-month stay in Brazil is Praia de Morro Branco. Translating from Portuguese it means “Beach of White Hill” to represent the many sand dunes in the area. It is also well known in Brazil as the filming place of a famous telenovela (soap opera) “Final Feliz” during the 1980s.
Here visitors can take an exhilarating buggy (or “
The highlight of the area for most is the Labirinto das
Easter Island, Chile
Easter Island, Isla de Pascua on your boarding pass, or Rapa Nui if you ask the locals – is a truly incredible place to visit. A five-hour flight from Chile, the South American island is one of the most remotely inhabited islands on the planet. Home to the iconic Moai head statues, Easter Island is brimming with adventure and history – it’s recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The main city, Hanga Roa, has a nice selection of bars, tourist shops, and restaurants (the pisco sours and ceviche were fantastic). The triangle-shaped island is small, about 24.5 km (15 mi) long by 12 km (7.5 mi) wide, so you can cover most of it on one of the many guided tours. You can also rent bikes and cars if you prefer to explore at your own pace.
Only 50,000 people make the trip to Easter Island each year, and they only allow one flight to the island each day. Watching the sun set into the Pacific Ocean behind the silhouette of the
Cartegena is a great mix of historical Colonial buildings, vibrant salsa scene, and Caribbean beaches. Basically, it has something for everyone! I love being able to wander around the old walled city. With all the historical buildings refurbished, everything was very pretty and photogenic, albeit expensive for a backpacker (perfect for the middle-aged tourist though!).
Out in the newer part of town, I stayed in Getsemani area. This is the bar and salsa scene where backpackers mix with locals, and lots of vibrant street art brighten things up. The main draw of Cartagena is its location on the Caribbean coast, which means that the weather is humid, but you are within striking distance from fabulous beaches and national parks, and it’s easy to get a boat to Panama!
If you prefer your activities on solid (that’s questionable!) land there is also a mud volcano that can be visited for a full body mud pack, which comes with a mama (local lady) to wash you off in the lake afterward!
Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
The most amazing destination in South America is easily the Galapagos Islands. And while many opt for a cruise to island hop and explore the whole archipelago, we based ourselves on land and enjoyed everything the city of San Cristobal had to offer.
Tourism here is quite low compared to other hubs in the Galapagos, and it is wonderful to explore away from excessively large tourist crowds. We snorkeled close enough to touch enormous sea turtles, were slapped around under water by playful sea lions and swam through schools of sharks, rare coral, and colorful fish while frigate birds circled overhead. At the end of each day, we would collapse onto the beach next to equally exhausted sea lions, enjoying an afternoon nap under the warmth of the fierce Equatorial sun.
The wildlife on display here is equal to none. Blue-footed boobies were a highlight, as
Nestled right next to the busy touristy town of Montanita is a quiet little surf town called
However, out of everything, the best thing about
Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia
The journey to Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia takes three days of travel from San Pedro de Atacama, Chile, and although you reach high altitude (over 4000m) which can easily translate into sickness, it is all worth it. The trip is amazing and culminates with the sunrise which is absolutely spectacular!
The tour takes you through a variety of places like amazing Lagunas – Laguna Blanca, Laguna Verde, Laguna Colorada – the Dali desert, thermal baths (more than welcome if you suffer from altitude sickness), geysers, canyons and cute villages. So how can it get better than that?
The days before reaching Salar de Uyuni are for preparation, a beautiful and varied one, but the most breathtaking place is this huge salt land – the biggest in the world – transformed into an endless mirror when covered by rain.
What would you expect to see in a village of 115 inhabitants and how many days would you plan to spend there? Huacachina is one of these places, where once arrived, you don’t want to ever leave! A small oasis in the heart of the desert, both its day and nightlife are fantastic!
Do you like wine or pisco? There’s a tour for you, where you can see how the liquors are made and learn how to taste the wine. Do you prefer adventure? Go on a dune adventure at sunset! Your adrenaline levels will go sky high when the buggy you’re in will take a sharp curve on the edge of a high dune. You’re also in for a treat with sand boarding! Lay down on the board (or keep it under your feet if you’re brave enough) and let go down the dune, whilst the sun is setting behind you.
Do you want to surprise your girlfriend?
Just 90 minutes from Santiago, the Chilean capital, Valparaíso used to be a wealthy city, prior to the opening of the Panama Canal. But who cares if it’s not rich anymore. Its vibrant personality and fading architectural glory earned the port a UNESCO World Heritage Site designation in 2003. Valpo, as locals called it, was then reinvented with pretty boutique hotels, amazing street art, bars, and museums. All spreading across a series of hillsides forming an amphitheater that overlooks the sea. This city has inspired a bunch of artists, intellectuals, and poets, like Pablo Neruda.
I might have been to nicer places, like San Francisco or Capri. I’ve been in safer cities like Tokyo and Seoul. I’ve been around the world, but there is no place like Valparaíso.
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