A world of incredible adventure and beauty rests at your feet the minute you arrive in South America.
Ecuador & the Galapagos Islands
It’s a place of exotic ancient cultures, awe-inspiring mountain ranges and beautiful holiday islands. So, whether you’re after an Inca Empire holiday, a Galapagos trip, a Brazilian holiday or an Amazon adventure, Travellers Choice can help you plan and tailor your South American getaway to these incredible destinations – just to name a few!
It’s an incredible experience to trek in the footsteps of the ancient Incas, and Peru is the place to do it! Stretching across Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, Chile and Ecuador, the culture of the Inca Empire beckons to tourists from all over the planet, but for a true Inca experience, you need to travel to the famous Peruvian ruins of Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley. Other destinations to visit include the wondrous city of Cuzco, which is the ancient capital of the Inca world, Lake Titicaca, which is highly significant in Inca mythology and here tourists can see people living and working using traditional techniques which are centuries old.
The county's capital, Lima, is the culinary pioneer of South America. It offers an impressive range of fine dining options specialising in regional and international cuisines. Try the ceviche, raw seafood cured in citrus juices, which you can’t miss because it’s served at most restaurants. Don’t forget to have a Pisco Sour before you leave - the national drink is a frothy concoction of pisco (a type of brandy), citrus juice and egg white. Don’t worry, it’s not all sour, there is a sweetener added.
Top off your cuisine adventure with a visit to the House of Gastronomy, a museum exploring over 500 years of Peruvian food. Spend the rest of your time taking in the colonial sites around the historic centre, such as the Plaza Mayor, the Cathedral of Lima and the Church of San Francisco.
Ecuador & the Galapagos Islands
Nestled high in the foothills of the Andes, Quito is the bustling capital city of Ecuador. One of the city’s best attractions is Vulqano Park - as far as amusement parks go, there aren’t many that can boast a view of volcanos!
Speaking of volcanoes, travellers can actually visit the Pichincha Volcano, riding a gondola up one of the world’s steepest aerial lifts. Known as the Quito Teleferico, the chance to ride up high above the city and see it all thousands of meters above sea level is not one to be missed.
For something a little less strenuous, explore the city’s landmarks, many of which have roots in the colonial Spanish history of the nation. This includes La Compañía, a spectacularly intricate Jesuit church in the city, and the Basílica del Voto Nacionalan, a historic gothic church that’s over 100 years old.
There are very few archipelagos in the world that can be considered as magnificent as the Galapagos Islands
. Just off the western coast of Ecuador, Galapagos holidays offer a luxurious range of experiences. Whether you're after a 5-star island-hopping cruises, or you prefer to bask in the waters at Tortuga Bay, if scuba diving with whale sharks is your thing, or you simply want to enjoy a cocktail on a beach, the islands offer it all.
Travellers to the Galapagos Islands can also explore the volcanic geography and beauty of the islands. Make a visit to the Charles Darwin Research Station where the famous giant tortoise, Lonesome George, lived out his final years, or take a trip down to the fascinating Lava Tubes on Santa Cruz Island.
The sprawling seaside city of Rio de Janeiro is one of the most beloved tourist destinations in all of South America. The second largest city in Brazil, Rio is bursting with colour, culture and beauty. The city's most famous annual event is Carnival, and festival-goers flock from around the globe. Dance in the streets with locals, the carnival style is an explosion of feathers and sequins set to samba music.
When the action gets a little too hot, visitors can cool off at one of Rio’s majestic beaches which are also world famous! These include Ipanema Beach and the neighbouring Copacabana Beach, but no visit to Rio is complete without a trip to see Christ the Redeemer. The gigantic statue that towers over the city on Corcovado Mountain is iconic! For another phenomenal view, take the Sugarloaf Cable Car which runs between Praia Vermelha and Sugarloaf Mountain - it's not for the faint of heart, as it climbs nearly 400m high, but if you can get over your vertigo it's an activity you won't forget.
The largest and most sought-after rainforest in the world, the Amazon covers 7-million square kilometres of South America and covers a large part of Brazil. With its extraordinary ecological diversity, the Amazon (rainforest and river) can be as tranquil or as adventurous as you wish it to be when you visit.
Cruise down the Amazon River, go searching for monkeys, otters and toucans, soak in hot springs, head out on a canopy tour, view the ‘Meeting of Waters’ or visit the city of Manaus. More adventurous travellers can take a jungle survival class, embark on a rainforest hike, swim with dolphins or trek deep into the jungle to discover the hidden homes of the Huaoranis. Whatever you choose to do, the thrill comes from knowing that you’re doing it in the Amazon!
Santiago is the largest city in Chile, and a destination well worth exploring for visitors to South America. The city sits by the Andes mountina range, which is the longest mountain range in the world and visible from outer space.
When visiting the city, San Cristobal Hill is the perfect spot to take it all in from, with a view of the city beneath an enormous statue of the Virgin Mary. At the foot of the hill is the Chilean National Zoo, offering the chance to see rare and native species up close. Art lovers will jump at the chance to see the Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino, Santiago’s premiere museum of art. Lastly, La Moneda Palace is the seat of government for Chile, a sight to see, it is worth a visit for its architecture alone, as it dates back to the 18th century.
Ultimately, Santiago offers something for every kind of traveller, thanks to the Andes. Although the range stretches for 7,000km across seven South American countries, Chile is the perfect place to access it. Popular activities include skiing, horse riding, biking and hiking. If you have never hiked before don’t fear, even beginner hikers and climbers can ascend some of the peaks and discover huge volcanic craters.
It’s difficult to imagine a city more alluring, more enchanting, more nostalgic than the capital of Argentina, Buenos Aires. This cosmopolitan city offers so much by way of food, history and culture.
There are delectable alfajores, buttery biscuits sandwiches filled with dulce de leche, cooked sweetened condensed milk; asado, traditional barbecue techniques that proffer arguably the best steaks in the world; and empanadas, small pastries filled with meat, chicken, vegetables or cheese - the perfect snack. Don’t forget the wine! Argentina’s Malbec wines are renowned worldwide.
The barrios (neighbourhoods) of Buenos Aires are an absolute delight. Recoleta is known for its leafy avenues, palatial European architecture and Recoleta Cemetery where luminaries and historic figures such as Eva Peron are buried. San Telmo is famous for charming cafes, antiques stores and street tango, whilst La Boca has a strong Italian influence and is the birthplace of one of Argentina’s most successful football teams, Boca Juniors. For a change of pace, head to Palermo for chic shopping and bars.
The natural sites and sights of Argentina are, in a word, stunning. When visiting this part of the world be sure to make the journey to view the mighty Iguassu (Iguazu) Falls or head south to Patagonia. Here you'll find mountains, glacial lakes and awe-inspiring vistas.
Bogota, the capital of Colombia, is a South American gem. Located in central Colombia, the city is beloved by locals and travellers alike. With its local culture and colonial history, Bogota has some incredible architecture that has held up well over the years. The Le Candelaria district is a good place to start, with sandstone structures aplenty. Speaking of history, Bolivar Square is also well worth seeing, as it is over 160 years old.
The Colombian National Museum is a must-visit, with collections of art and artefacts that tell the story of Colombia’s rich history. For something more relaxing, take some time to explore the Bogota Botanical Garden, which is the largest in the country and open to visitors daily. Lastly, San Andresito is among the largest shopping districts in the city, with plenty of local fashion on offer, as well as electronics, toys and knick-knacks.
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