South America is a stunning continent with some absolutely breathtaking natural sights. Below are some of the top natural wonders that this continent has to offer.
The Amazon River
The Amazon is the largest river in the world by volume (and some people also dispute that it is the longest). It runs through five countries: Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Bolivia and Brazil. Along its banks, you’ll find all kinds of fascinating sights from the Meeting of The Waters in Manaus (pictured above) to the indigenous peoples of Tupe Beach. It is one of the number one attractions for people visiting this continent.
You can take a cruise along the Amazon river in order to explore its sights. Alternatively, you could stay in a jungle lodge overlooking the river – there are many lodges located along the banks that you can rent for a night.
The Galapagos Islands
This volcanic archipelago off the coast of Ecuador is renowned for its unique wildlife, and is the place where Darwin came up with his theory of evolution. Some of the popular wildlife to spot include marine iguanas, flightless cormorants, Galapagos giant tortoises, Galapagos penguins and Galapagos sea lions. The landscape is also phenomenal, sporting coves, volcanoes, forests and rock formations.
A Galapagos cruise can be a great way to explore the diversity of these islands. Alternatively, you can stay in hotels on the islands and take guided tours by car or foot. Either way, you want at least a few days to explore the islands.
Iguazu Falls are considered to be the largest waterfall system in the world. They are positioned on the Brazil-Argentina border, stretching 1.7 miles and containing 275 individual waterfalls. The waterfalls are understandably one of the most popular tourist sights in South America.
You can get here by taking shuttle buses from Puerto Iguazu. There are guided tours that can tell you about the waterfalls and their history, however you don’t have to take a tour and can freely explore the area at your own pace if you prefer.
The Atacama Desert
The Atacama Desert in Chile is renowned for being the driest place on Earth, receiving less precipitation than anywhere else on Earth. The landscape has an otherworldly quality – Moon Valley is so-called because it resembles the surface of the moon, while other places have been used to test NASA missions to Mars. On top of taking in the impressive dunes, geysers and lakes during the day, you can also do some incredible stargazing here at night.
Many people stay in the town of San Pedro De Atacama and plan excursions from here. You can take guided tours, or you can explore the landscape yourself by renting a bicycle or car. Camping is also a possibility in Atacama.
Colombia’s Rainbow River
The Cano Cristales river in Colombia is sometimes referred to as the ‘river of five colors’ or the ‘liquid rainbow’ because of its multicolored appearance. At certain times of the day, you can see greens, yellows, red and purples in its waters. The river is made even more stunning by the fact that it contains many rapids, waterfalls and pits known as ‘giant’s kettles’.
The Cano Cristales is located in a national park and you can only access it by taking a tour. A lot of people stay in the nearby town of La Macarena and book a tour from there. You can also book tours from Bogota.
Torres Del Paine
Located in Chile’s patagonia region, Torres Del Paine is a national park that is renowned for its iconic three granite towers (pictured above) from which it gets its name. The national park also sports other sights such as bright blue glaciers, jagged mountains and plains of grazing guanacos (similar to llamas).
Many people explore Torres Del Paine by hiking or by renting a car. Like many other sights listed above, there are guided tours you can take of certain areas. You’ll find plenty of hotels and hostels across the region.
Uyuni Salt Flats
The Uyuni Salt Flats are located in Bolivia and are known to be the largest salt flats in the world. At certain times of the day, these salt flats have a mesmerising reflective quality that makes it feel like you’re standing in the sky. This can make for some truly surreal photos.
To visit the salt flats, you need to take a guided tour. You can book day tours from the city of Uyuni. There are also multi-day tours that allow you to explore a greater area.