South America has always held a certain magic and mystique that draws visitors like moths to a flame. With a total of 13 stunning countries, this evocative continent is just heaving with some of the world’s most incredible landscapes, astounding historic sites and some truly magnificent fruits that Mother Nature has left to bear.
The easy part is going to South America especially if you can find budget airlines offering good deals. The difficult part is knowing what to see first, or what to see at all, as most people don’t have an entire lifetime to explore this incredible continent. Here are 7 of the Most Spectacular Landscapes in South America:
1. Machu Picchu
Without a doubt, Machu Picchu, dating back as far as the 15th century, is the most popular ancient site in all of Peru. Inhabited for over 100 years, Machu Picchu was built for the very first ruler of the Incan empire. After Peru was conquered by the Spanish in 1532, the city all but disappeared for centuries, but was rediscovered by American historian, Hiram Bingham in 1911.
Although there is so much still to be discovered about this city, it is thought to have been some sort of country house or retreat for the Incan nobility. Well protected from enemies from the surrounding valleys and mountains, there is plenty of natural spring water servicing the city, and there was plenty of food coming in from the surrounding areas, so it would have been completely self-sufficient.
2. Corcovado & Christ The Redeemer Statue
The iconic image of Christ the Redeemer Statue on top of the ‘’hunchback’’ granite hill of Corcovado is one of the best known landmarks of Rio de Janiero in Brazil. Scraping the sky at a whopping 38 meters high, the massive statue is perched majestically on Corcovado which is already 710m high.
The Redentor, as the statue is colloquially known, of course has a fascinating and enchanting history behind it. Covered in a mosaic of soapstone, it weighs more than 1000 metric tonnes, and was originally supposed to be part of Brazil’s Centenary celebrations, but the statue, made by engineers Heitor Silva Coast and Pedro Viana and sculpted by Paul Landowski was only finished in the 1930s. The dramatic lighting system brings the statue to life at night, and visitors can go to the small chapel at the base.
3. Iguazu Falls
Located right on the Argentinean-Brazilian border, Iguazu Waterfalls is one of the most dramatic and breath-taking examples of Mother Nature’s absolute finest creations. Making Niagara Falls pale in absolute comparison, Iguazu Falls can be heard thundering from miles away.
The impressive falls were formed from a massive volcanic eruption which left a gigantic crack open for the water to gush through, and during the months from November to March, South America’s rainy season, the sight of the cascading water which thunders through at an unbelievable 450,000 cubic feet per second is truly one to behold.
4. Lake Titicaca
The lake at the highest altitude in the world, Lake Titicaca is also one of South America’s largest lakes in volume. More than 3,812m above sea level, the natural beauty is completely astounding. The sparkling azure waters are hardly a water sport paradise, as the water is incredibly icy cold and will take your breath away, but it is still majestically beautiful.
Home to some 41 islands called Uros, which are artificial islands that are made up of floating reeds known as totora, there are a huge amount of people who live in the lake who get by raising llamas and alpacas, growing potatoes and fishing.
5. Easter Island
Located right in the heart of the Pacific Ocean, Rapa Nui or Easter Island as it is known, is without a doubt one of the most remote areas in the world. Even though the island is tiny, and almost in the shape of a perfect triangle; the longest side is only 24km long and at its widest point, only 12km wide.
Bursting with natural beauty and secretive history, Easter Island is home to the most famous and intriguing mysteries on the planet – the mysterious statue of Moai. These massive stone statues are carved from compressed volcanic ash called tuff, and some of them weigh over 75 tonnes. Nobody is quite sure who carved them or why, or how they mysteriously moved from the centre of the island to the coast, where they stand guard today.
6. Laguna Colorada
The 60km shallow salt lake with white borax islands, immersed in the red waters of the lake is an absolutely astounding sight to behold in the Andean plateaus in Bolivia. The incredible red colour of the lake is caused by the huge amount of algae that lives in the water.
The shores of Laguna Colorada are littered by stark white deposits of sodium, borax, magnesium and gypsum, and it was designated in 1971 as one of the Ramsar Wetlands of International Importance. Like a surreal painting, the bright red lake is home to an abundance of James, Andean and Chilean flamingos that live and breed here.
7. Amazon Rain Forest
Eco tourism is fast becoming one of the biggest industries in the world, and right at the top of the eco travel list is the glorious Amazon basin. This incredible area is the most amazing ecosystem in the world, completely untouched by any destructive entity (although man is trying to encroach) and never destroyed or affected by the Ice Ages, it is nestled gloriously as it always has been from 100 million years ago.
The Amazon Rain Forest is mostly situated in the bounds of Brazil, but in actual fact it stretches out in sections over no less than 9 different countries. As it is incredibly wet and difficult to navigate during the rainy season from October to May, it is best to go between June and September. The densest forest in the world is home also the world’s largest river, the Amazon River.
So, look for those cheap airlines who fly to South America, and be prepared for some of the most spectacular sights on the planet.