Showcasing some of the world’s most astounding natural landscapes, there is a wild beauty to Central and South America that can scarcely be matched elsewhere on the planet. From ancient ruins that will have you feeling like Indiana Jones to stunning lakes, fabulous festivals and the lofty peaks of Patagonia, Latin America has something for everyone – particularly those with a taste for adventure. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but take a look below for some of our favourite spots to explore.
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1. Chichen Itza
Chichen Itza boasts great grassy plazas, towering pyramids, temples, platforms and stone walls; making up one of the most extensively restored Mayan sites in all of Central America. There’s also a network of sacred caves within the complex, a large collection of ancient pottery.
2. Costa Rica
One of the most biologically diverse regions on the planet, Costa Rica realy is a nature-lover’s paradise. Blessed with pristine Caribbean and Pacific coast beaches, Costa Rica also has incredible volcanoes, lush cloud forests, marshy lowlands and a variety of flora and fauna. Visit the Monteverde Cloud Forest, beautiful Manuel Antonio and Tortuguero National Park.
3. Monteverde Cloud Forest
Monteverde Biological Reserve protects six eco-communities with hundreds of species of mammals plants, birds and insects. Although rapidly dwindling, this precious area is hugely important – see the best of it and see the local wildlife with trails through the forest canopy and night walks.
4. Lake Atitlan
Surrounded by steep volcanoes, the waters of Lake Atitlan shimmer in blues, greens and greys, and it’s no surprise that it’s one of Guatemala’s most popular destinations. With local villages that retain traditional Mayan culture, this is a fascinating place to visit. Use the nearby town of Panajachel as a base for excursions around the lake.
The colourful and vivacious capital of Cuba has influences ranging from the Spanish conquest to the African slave trade, and was a vacation paradise for wealthy North Americans in the 1950s. Seemingly stuck in something of a time warp, Cuba’s eclectic capital city will flood the senses.
6. The Amazon
Covering most of the Amazon Basin of South America, the Amazon is the world’s largest rainforest, and home to some of the most incredible (and varied) plants and animals on the planet. Incredibly varied in the life it supports and breathtakingly beautiful too, the Amazon is sadly being destroyed by deforestation to make way for farmland. Visit this amazing place, learn more about it and help to save one of the earth’s most important natural habitats.
7. Machu Picchu
Probably one of the most iconic peaks in the world, Peru’s Machu Picchu is a firm favourite with travellers everywhere. Take the Inca trail or the Lares Trek to the ancient site, which was only rediscovered in the early 20th Century. Enjoying an impressive setting on a mountain ridge above the Urubamba River the well-preserved Inca ruins of temples and stone walls are an incredible site to behold.
8. Iguazu Falls
Straddling the border of Argentina and Brazil, the UNESCO-listed Iguazu Falls is comprised of over 250 separate cascades, making it one of the largest waterfalls of the natural world. The walkways enable visitors to get close to the misty spray rising from the churning waters.
9. Rio de Janeiro
Widely known as the party capital of the world, you’re in for a good time if you’re visiting Rio. Take a cable car up Sugarloaf Mountain and Corcovado, the famous statue of Christ, for incredible city views.
10. Lake Titicaca
The largest lake in South America by volume of water, Lake Titicaca is a lake in the Andes on the border of Peru and Bolivia. It’s an architectural paradise, with crumbling architecture, rolling hills and epic mountain backdrop making all your photos postcard-quality. See the locals in their distinctive traditional dress and explore the floating islands too!
11. Uyuni Salt Flats
The world’s largest salt flat, Uyuni is a surreal place. Extraordinarily flat, the flats mirror the dramatic skies, making it the ultimate place for mind-bending photos!
12. Atacama Desert
The driest desert in the world, the Atacama is a place of extremes. Some areas of the desert receive 1mm of rainfall a year, others have never received any in recorded history! The dry, moonlike landscape has made areas like the Valley of the Moon (pictured) the ideal place for filming outer space scenes in films. Soak up the spectacular scenery of northern Chile from the small oasis village of San Pedro de Atacama.
Shared by Argentina and Chile, Patagonia is a stunningly rugged region famed for its glacial fields, pristine lakes, pristine forests and towering mountain peaks. This is nature in all its untamed glory!