South America Travel Guide
South America or Latin America is a continent nestled between the Caribbean, the South Pacific, and the South Atlantic Oceans. It is the wilder part of the Americas and a continent of superlatives.
The world’s biggest rainforest and the largest river (Amazon), the highest mountain range outside Asia (the Andes), remote islands (Galapagos Islands, Easter Island and Fernando de Noronha), heavenly beaches (such as in Brazil’s Northeastern region), wide deserts (Atacama), icy landscapes (Patagonia & Tierra del Fuego), the world’s tallest waterfall (the 979-m Angel Falls, in Venezuela) and one of the largest (Iguaçu Falls, Argentina and Brazil), as well as several other breathtaking natural attractions.
Humans have left their mark on the continent too: from ancient ruins (Machu Picchu and other Inca cities; the Moai in Easter Island) and the oldest rock paintings in the Americas (at the Serra da Capivara) to world-class metropolises (São Paulo, Buenos Aires, Bogotá, Caracas, Santiago, Lima and Rio de Janeiro), outstanding modern and European architecture (Brasilia, Buenos Aires), and charming cities built in the Andes (Caracas, Medellín, Quito, Santiago de Chile). Strong African heritage (in Salvador, Rio and Montevideo), genuine indigenous culture (Belém, Manaus, Cuzco, Lima, La Paz), and Eastern influence (São Paulo’s enormous Japanese community) mingle with the fingerprints of Iberian colonizers. Ushuaia, the world’s southernmost city, and some of its biggest festivities, such as Rio’s Carnival and Belem’s Cirio de Nazaré, the Tango World Championship, and the Vendimia festival in Argentina, are also part of this incredibly diverse and attractive continent.
Countries and territories
Once known for being a ‘European nation in South America’, Argentina offers a dynamic and rich cultural life in its cities, and sparsely-populated grasslands, mountains and glacial parks in the south.
This landlocked country is arguably the only one in Latin America with an ethnic majority of indigenous people, and a culture that is much affected by the high altitude of the Andes.
South America’s only Portuguese-speaking country is also its biggest, offering the Amazon rainforest along with vibrant cities such as Rio de Janeiro.
A long, thin sliver of land on the western side of the Andes which stands out on any map, this country contains big parts of the Atacama, one of the driest deserts in the world.
After decades of violence, Colombia is now a much safer destination, offering coffee, jungles, volcanoes and two coastlines with a strong Caribbean feel.
Straddling the Equator, this small country offers incredible diversity across its four regions: the Amazon Rainforest, the Andes, the Pacific Coast and the unique Galapagos Islands.
While most only think of the 1982 war and the ongoing dispute with Argentina, this piece of the UK in the South Atlantic has much to offer, including Antarctic wildlife and far-reaching views across remote landscapes.
The French part of South America is also part of the European Union and the launchpad of Europe’s main spaceport.
The only English-speaking country on mainland South America, featuring highlands, waterfalls and rainforest.
Possibly the least visited country on the continent, in flat Paraguay you can see Jesuit missions, some major rivers and the impressive Itaipú Dam and hear the native Guaraní language.
The historic heartland of the Incas, this country still offers a lot of Inca heritage (Machu Picchu being the most visited site) plus the Nazca lines, made by an earlier culture for a still not entirely clear purpose.
This former Dutch colony offers a unique mix of Caribbean, Asian, Dutch and Latin American.
As futbol-crazy as its neighbors of Argentina and Brazil, Uruguay also offers beaches, lovely historic towns, and a laid-back lifestyle.
You may think only of oil and socialism, but Venezuela also offers jungles, waterfalls, major cities like Maracaibo and Caracas and Lake Maracaibo, one of the biggest lakes or bays (depending on whom you ask) in the world.
South America Vacation Rentals
Via : Wikivoyage