South America is a continent that stretches from north of the equator to some 500 miles shy of Antarctica. It is a continent of lush rainforests, ice-blue glaciers, the towering Andes and white-sand beaches just to name a few South American wonders. The incredible natural wonders are enhanced by the varied cultural highlights: ancient Inca sites, Spanish colonial towns, and metropolitan cities like Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires that have a vibrant, unique culture.
MACHU PICCHU – PERU
This amazing mountaintop of ancient Inca ruins in Peru deserves its title as one of the new “Seven Wonders of the World”. The site and the trip there is considered a spiritual trek by many – the most memorable ways to reach Machu Picchu is via the Inca Rail. If you have the time and energy, you can also hike the Inca Trail, walking on paths that the Incas took to get to this sacred site.
Don’t miss Cusco, the ancient capital city that lies at the base of the mountain which holds Machu Picchu. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage site and the continent’s oldest continuously inhabited city. You’ll find flawless Inca-built walls lining cobblestone streets.
THE AMAZON – BRAZIL
There may be no greater South American wonder than the Amazon River. It’s unimaginably vast and at 4,000 miles long is the second longest river in the world. Journey into the rainforest for the great diversity of wildlife like exotic birds, playful monkeys and a unique indigenous culture. Don’t miss the “Meeting of the Waters” – the point where two of the Amazon’s largest tributaries converge, but never quite mix and is home to rare Amazon pink dolphins.
IGUASSU FALLS – ARGENTINA/BRAZIL
On the border between Argentina and Brazil, these are some of the most spectacular waterfalls on earth. They are made up of a system of 275 waterfalls more or less – the exact number varies by season. It spans an area almost 2 miles wide. Go to the Argentinian side where there is a series of rustic looking boardwalks that will take you close to the action. You’ll get soaked! The Brazilian side has astounding panoramic views of the falls, but not an opportunity to get close. If you have time, see Iguassu from both sides.
THE GALAPAGOS ISLANDS
Part of Ecuador, who fiercely protects the islands, a visit to the Galpagos is a bucket-list wildlife destination for any animal lover. Sea lions, giant tortoises, albatrosses, iguanas, blue-footed boobys and the world’s only tropical penguins call these islands home. Because they have no natural predators, these creatures allow you to get up close and personal. You’ll be practically tripping over sea lions and giant tortoises.
RIO de JANEIRO
The two major metropolises on the continent – Rio de Janeiro in Brazil and Buenos Aires in Argentina, are home to first-rate museums, top-notch restaurants and over-the-top nightlife. Rio, known as the “Marvelous City” lives up to its name. Experience dramatic scenery with views from atop Corcovado Mountain (where the Christ the Redeemer statue is located), famously flamboyant Carnival, held annually to celebrate excess right before the symbolic fasting of Lent, 23 beaches culminating in a 45-mile stretch of sand. And, don’t forget the samba-infused nightlife!
Buenos Aires has a definite European, old-world feel. You’ll find colorful neighborhoods, late-night dining, sidewalk cafes, sultry tango clubs and French and Italianate architecture. This is a city that’s great for night owls: restaurants prime reservations start at 9pm, after dinner bars at midnights and the clubs really don’t get going until 2am. Don’t miss a tango show. This famous dance is possibly the city’s greatest contribution to the world. These professional tango dancers are supremely entertaining; showing off this glamorous form of dance.
You could travel to South America a dozen time and never have the same experience twice. To learn more about the South American wonders that await you, reach out to one of our travel experts by calling 1-800-444-8691 or stop into a AAA Travel branch.