Aerial landscape photo of Machu Picchu in Peru
Machu Picchu was constructed in the 15th century and was later abandoned, and was later rediscovered in the early 20th century.
Photo Credit: Petrina Darrah

7 South America Travel Destinations

A Continent of Extremes

South America is a continent alive with the spirit of adventure. Across the 12 countries in South America, you can climb mountains, swim with Amazon river dolphins, walk across plains of salt, marvel at red lakes, and see live volcanoes throwing red light into the night sky.

This is a continent of extremes, so you’ll need to pack your sense of adventure along with the insect repellent — if you visit any of these South American travel destinations you’re in for a wild ride.

Narrowing down your selection of travel destinations is tough, so we’re here to help. Here are some of the best places to travel in South America.

Machu Picchu, Peru

Machu Picchu isn’t just a ruin; it’s a mountaintop citadel. Machu Picchu is the high point of many travelers’ time in South America — literally, in some cases.

The grand Incan city sits high in the Andes, layered in mist and mystery.

Machu Picchu was constructed in the 15th-century and was later abandoned, only to be rediscovered again early in the 20th-century. The buildings are astounding not only for their location, but for their complexity and intricacy — the huge stone blocks are fused without mortar.

A true marvel, Machu Picchu is without a doubt one of the best travel destinations in South America.

Adventurous spirits can reach the city via the Inca trail, one of the most famous and rewarding multi-day treks in South America.

A landscape aerial photograph of the Iguazu Falls in South AmericaThe Iguazu Falls is a chain of waterfalls that stretch for nearly two miles — they’re so big that they span the border between Brazil and Argentina.Photo Credit: iStockPhoto / espiegle

Iguazu Falls, Brazil and Argentina

The largest waterfall system in the world is the kind of jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring sight that makes you remember why you travel. Seeing Iguazu Falls is a visceral experience and a reminder of the sheer force of nature.

Iguazu is a chain of falls that stretch for nearly two miles — they’re so big that they span the border between Brazil and Argentina.

You can access the Falls from either country, with the Brazilian side famous for panoramic views of the pounding water, and the Argentinian side known for paths that weave around the waterfalls, getting you so close you’ll be drenched in mist.

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A group of flamingos are drinking water from a pondSalar de Uyuni in Bolivia is the world’s largest salt flat. You can expect to see red lakes and barren mountains streaked with many numerous colors. Photo Credit: Petrina Darrah

Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

The Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia resembles a blindingly white desert. This is the world’s largest salt flat, and one of the more surreal travel destinations in South America.

If you visit in wet season, water pools on the flats making the surface perfectly mirror the sky, creating one of the most amazing spectacles you’re ever likely to see.

Visiting the salt flats isn’t solely about walking across the snowy-white crystals — the massive expanse of salt lies in a landscape studded with rock formations and islands covered in cacti.

Tours to the Salar usually continue onward through a Mars-like environment where you can see flamingos strutting through red lakes and barren mountains streaked with many different colors. The whole experience is ethereal and unlike anywhere else in the world.

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