How to Rediscover South America’s Hidden Treasures| 12 November, 2018
South America is a vast continent that welcomes millions of tourists every year to the diverse and bewitching countries it contains. It’s a deservedly popular vacation destination, and has many world-famous tourist hot spots, like Machu Picchu, Easter Island, the Amazon river, the Galapagos Islands, and of course cities like Rio, Buenos Aires, and Santiago, to name but a few!
When you’re living in the heart of a continent so full of natural beauty and cultural visitor magnets, it’s easy to lose sight of the unspoiled gems all around you. If you’ve not explored the delights of South America and wish to start appreciating what it has to offer, why not try some of the less tourist-dominated regions?
Planning your vacation
In such a vast continent, taking a vacation to the north when you live in the south can be quite a significant undertaking. If you don’t want to travel too far, then wherever you live, you’ll find there are plenty of choices for taking a trip close to home. To enjoy your destination in as peaceful a setting as possible, go for an off-season break, or choose a place that has escaped too much tourist attention.
Vacations can be expensive, so if you’re on a budget, look for cheaper deals and modest accommodations to save money. Booking a trip with friends is a cost-effective way to take a vacation, or you could look at finance options. If you want to consider loans and other credit facilities, make sure you use a reliable broker like Bonsai Finance so that you can be sure you’re getting the best terms.
At the southern end of Argentina, the Patagonian region is a scenic splendor with a range of diverse landscapes. The Valdes Peninsula juts out into the Atlantic Ocean, providing an ideal spot for taking in the power of the sea and observing the wildlife that inhabits it. The Patagonian Desert is among the top ten of the world’s largest deserts and intriguingly lays in close proximity to the Perito Moreno Glacier, part of the Los Glaciares National Park, so you experience the hot and arid right next to the cold and frozen.
For climbers and hikers, El Chaltén in Santa Cruz is next to Patagonia and offers some of the best terrain and views for participating in outdoor activities, or alternatively, El Bolsón provides a peaceful environment for hiking and water sports. Further north is the world’s largest forest reserve, the Rio Azul Natural Protected Area.
Rio da Prata in Bonito is not just a great place to visit for its own sake, but during the winter months, it’s the perfect place to go and observe the extraordinary wildlife habitats of the ocean.
For a peaceful, relaxing trip to an unspoilt Brazilian town, go to Jericoacoara, a beach location that sits in a region still mostly unaffected by modern life. Ideal for sun and sand, but less populated by tourists even in the summer months. Despite its untouched charm, there are still plenty of restaurants and entertainments, so it could be a perfect location for a regular vacation off the beaten track. Olinda is another unspoilt destination, and it’s a great place to go for some cultural treats. Not only does it have many churches and museums, it’s also home to a spectacular carnival.
If you want the sun and sand vacation offered by Rio, but with far fewer people around, try Porto de Galinhas, which has been named the best beach in Brazil. It’s cleaner and less-crowded than Rio, so perfect for a more peaceful break. For the big city experience, try Fortaleza instead of Rio or Brasilia, as it has the same vibrant city atmosphere without the tourist hordes.
If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to walk on the moon, the next best thing is Chile’s Valle de la Luna, as it bears such a striking resemblance to the moon’s surface. It hasn’t rained here in over a hundred years, but despite being incredibly dry, it’s a fascinating spectacle that’s well worth a visit.
For horse lovers, a ride through the white sands of Ritoque makes for an unforgettable experience, after which you can relax in the town’s health spa.
For a change of cultural scenery, try Punta Del Este, a beach town with plenty of visitor entertainments. It’s not on the main tourist schedules, but it has all the attractions of a major tourist destination, so you can get the big city vibe without being surrounded by too many other people. Or there’s Punta Del Diablo, a similarly relaxed beach town further along the coast
Colonia is a UNESCO World Heritage site, steeped in centuries of history but with abundant modern facilities as well, or if you want a taste of the Uruguayan countryside, Salto is an agricultural region in the heart of the country that’s famed for its thermal spa, Fuerta Salto.
The Andean volcano Cotopaxi is active, but it hasn’t erupted for almost 75 years, so at the moment it’s safe to visit. Being high in the Andes, this volcano is covered in snow and glaciers, an impressive sight when you consider what could be bubbling down in its core.
Mindo is a town in the foothills of the Andes that’s home to the Bella Vista cloud forest, reserve teeming with wildlife and an exceptional array of exotic birds. It may be small, but it still has ample facilities for visitors, so is an ideal place to combine nature watching days with relaxed evenings in the town.
Laguna Quilotoa is another place you can combine outdoor pursuits like hiking, kayaking, and nature watching with a taste of Ecuadorian culture in the evenings
You could write an entire book about the hidden delights of just one of the South American countries, so these few examples barely scratch the surface. In this one continent are some of the most breathtaking natural landscapes and exciting cultural experiences anywhere in the world, so take advantage of what’s around you and rediscover the joys of South America.
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