Seven of the best natural wonders in South America
Dreaming of our next holiday is high on the agenda at the moment. With travel restrictions in place, there’s plenty of time for planning that next big trip and if natural wonders float your travel boat, there are few better places to begin your search than South America.
We’ve scoured the continent and come up with some real gems to get your travel juices flowing – and to give an idea of just how many breath-taking sights South America has to offer, we haven’t even touched on huge beasts like the Amazon Rainforest, Amazon River or the Atacama Desert, as they’re simply so vast it would be impossible to pinpoint a specific section to visit.
Iguazú Falls, Argentina and Brazil
Nestled on the Argentina-Brazil border, the Iguazú Falls (or Iguaçu in Portuguese) are a truly stunning collection, making up the largest waterfall in the world.
Hundreds of waterfalls, spanning around three kilometres, make for an awe-inspiring sight. The view can be enjoyed from either Argentina or Brazil, while the falls are also accessible from nearby Paraguay.
Rainbow Mountain, Peru
Remember making pretty patterns out of different coloured sand in bottles as a child? Peru’s breath-taking Rainbow Mountain is the real-life version – and it’s incredible.
Also called Vinicunca, the mountain is part of the Andes and towers 5,200 metres above sea level, meaning climbers are only allowed to stay at the peak for 10-20 minutes due to the incredible altitude.
In many respects, it’s a relatively new tourist spot, with Andean snow and ice hiding the spell-binding colours beneath until 2015.
Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia
The world’s largest salt flat, Salar de Uyuni, spanning 10,000 square kilometres, can be found in south-west Bolivia and depending on the time of year you visit, you’ll get a very different – but no less exceptional – experience.
Most of the year, the sheer expanse of white could easily be mistaken for an incredible blanket of snow, but during the wet season in January and February, a thin sheet of water nestles on the surface, transforming the flats into a gargantuan mirror.
Nearby, Laguna Colorada is also worth a visit to experience its vibrant red colours, caused by sediments and algae.
Perito Moreno, Argentina
Having visited waterfalls, a mountain and salt flats, Argentina’s Perito Moreno glacier is next on the agenda.
Found in Los Glaciares National Park, it covers an eye-popping 250 square kilometres and is something of a scientific marvel as, despite the known consequences of global warming, the glacier is actually growing.
Adventurous explorers can take on treks across Perito Moreno, or you can simply choose to admire from afar.
Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
Beauty, nature and an integral role in Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution makes the Ecuadorian archipelago of the Galapagos Islands a must-visit when in South America.
Located in the Pacific Ocean, these 19 volcanic islands boast incredible biodiversity, thanks to a lack of predators, and are a treasure trove of unspoilt nature.
The fact that they are tricky to reach makes them all the more alluring.
Lake Titicaca, Bolivia and Peru
Nestled in the heart of the Andes mountains, Lake Titicaca is an Instagrammer’s dream.
Swathed in beauty from every direction, it’s impossible to not be completely entranced by the beauty of the water itself, the snow-capped peaks reflected in its surface, or the islands hugged by the lake’s colossal arms.
By water volume, it’s the largest lake in South America, so there is plenty of it to enjoy.
One of South America’s spectacular ‘tepuis’ – or table-top mountains – Kukenan is located in Canaima National Park in Venezuela.
At over 2,500 metres high, it’s a tricky climb; while Kukenan’s neighbour, Mount Roraima, is bigger but less challenging and so more popular among visitors, the quieter nature makes Kukenan all the more alluring. It also boasts the beautiful Kukenan Falls at its southern end.