10 Truly Amazing Places You Must Visit in Latin America
Want to visit Latin America but don’t know where to start? Below we have listed 10 of our favourite destinations that will inspire and intrigue!
Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia
Uyuni is like nowhere else on earth. Stretching over 10,000 square km, and at an altitude of 3,656 m this is the world largest salt flat. It was formed by the drying of several prehistoric lakes which formed a salt crust several meters deep. Uyuni has a serene almost mystical feel about it and this extreme scenery makes it one of the most breath-taking spectacles in the whole of South America.
Atacama desert, Chile
The driest place in the world, this massive expanse of arid land stretches along the pacific coast in Chile for approximately 1,000km. It is virtually rainless year round, with around 1mm being recorded a year! The Atacama is home to many huge scale astronomical observatories due to its incredibly clear skies. Moon Valley (Valle de la Luna), located around 8 miles from the town of San Pedro de Atacama, is famous for its amazing sand and stone formations with bizarre colours and textures that are said to look like the surface of the moon, hence the name!
Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
Famous for having an unquestionable contribution to Charles Darwin's Theory of Natural selection, the Galapagos archipelago is made up of 19 volcanic islands and is it located 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador. An area of unrivalled natural beauty, the archipelago is preserved by numerous conservation projects and travel is limited in order to protect the rare nature of the area. It is home to the majestic giant turtles, land iguanas and many species of finch, including the famous 'Darwin Finches' who were believed to lead Darwin to his conclusions on evolution. This extraordinarily beautiful and fragile ecosystem is home to some species that can be found nowhere else on earth and is vital to scientific studies and discovery.
Machu Picchu, Peru
This iconic site stands 2,430m above sea level in a dramatic landscape of mountains, often partly covered by cloud. This ancient city was built all the way back in the 15th Century and was eventually abandoned by in the 16th century when the Spanish conquered the Inca Empire. It was not until 1911 that the first archaeological findings were released to the public, and ever since then it has become the most famous archaeological discovery of the modern day. It is described by UNESCO as “among the greatest artistic, architectural and land use achievements anywhere and the most significant tangible legacy of the Inca civilization”, a fitting tribute to an intriguing area of history.
Iguazu Falls, Argentine/ Brazilian border
These massive, majestic falls are the pride of Latin America. Standing at 80m high and 2,700 m in diameter, Iguazu is made up of 275 separate waterfalls and is nearly twice as tall as Niagara Falls! They span from the Misiones Province in Northern Argentina to the Brazilian state of Parana. The land surrounding the falls is covered in ravine forest and lush, dense vegetation and is home to an incredible diversity of rare animals and plants. Walk ways have been built around the falls so visitors can get the best view. This is part of the conservation project and does not ruin the amazing aesthetic of Iguazu.
Christ the Redeemer Statue, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
This iconic art-deco statue of Jesus Christ stands on Corcovado Mountain, over-looking the city of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. It is made from reinforced concrete and soapstone and stands at 30 metres tall with an 8 meter base beneath it. This massive feat of artistic history was built between 1922 and 1931 by various designers and sculptors. The statue depicts Christ the Redeemer standing with open arms, which is considered a symbol of peace and was chosen by a catholic organization that petitioned and raised funds to erect a symbol of Brazilian Christianity and to send out a message of peace.
Chichén Itzá, Mexico
The sacred site of Chichén Itzá is located in the Yucatán Peninsula, Mexico and was once the centre of the Mayan Empire in Central America. The site consists of stepped pyramids, temples, columned arcades, and other stone structures which date as far back as A.D. 750. Chichén Itzá was an important ceremonial and religious site as well as a sophisticated urban centre and the heart of regional trade. After centuries of success and affluence, the city met a ‘mysterious end’. The iconic stepped pyramid El Castillo first comes to mind when talking about Chichén Itzá; this amazing structure is thought to be a representation of the Mayan calendar, as it has 18 terraces on each side, the number of months in the Mayan calendar and each of the 4 sides has a stair case with 91 steps leading up to the top (365 steps in total, one for each day of the year). The advanced architecture and design of Chichén Itzá is astonishing when you take into account how many years ago it was crafted!
The Amazon Rainforest
The Amazon spans across an amazing 9 countries in total. The majority is in North-western Brazil and it extends into Peru, Colombia, Bolivia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana. The landscape covers an approximate distance of 5.5 million km squared and contains one in ten known species on earth. The Amazon’s contribution to the climate of the whole world is inarguable and increased deforestation is putting both the rainforest and the world, at risk. More than 30 million people live in the amazon which includes an approximate 350 indigenous and ethnic groups, who rely on the rainforest’s resources to survive. There are thought to be many undiscovered tribes and groups of humans who are living self-sufficiently deep in the rainforest, similarly it is thought millions of species of animal and plant are yet to be discovered! This incredible area is also home to The Amazon River - the longest river in the world which flows through Peru, Colombia, Brazil and Ecuador.
Perito Moreno Glacier at Los Glaciares National Park, Argentina
An area of outstanding beauty, this breath-taking feat of nature has to be seen to be believed! The Los Glaciares National Park is located in the Southwest of Santa Cruz Province in Argentine Patagonia and is famous for its numerous glaciers that span over 600,000 hectares. The park attracts thousands of visitors a year and is an important site for tourism in Patagonia, trips run from the closest town – El Calafate. The most famous glacier is the monstrous Perito Moreno; sitting in the middle of Lake Argentino this towering giant changes dramatically every year and, as ice shifts, you can hear thunderous booms and cracks- it is really quite extraordinary. Also, it is one of the only glaciers in the world that is growing not shrinking.
Easter Island, Chile
Easter Island is part of Chilean territory – a volcanic island that lies around 3,500km off the coast of Chile. It is famous for its 887 iconic Moai statues carved into head and torso shapes by the Rapa Nui people in around 1250 AD. These mysterious statues stand up to 13 ft tall and weight around 14 tons, it is still a mystery why these statues were carved and how the Rapa Nui people managed to move the gigantic structures into the positions they stand in now. A whole community flourished in this unlikely setting- it was thought the first settlers arrived in around 800 AD and a whole economy was formed by the Rapa Nui, who developed a unique, artistic culture, the likes of which had never been seen before. These impressive statues were a product of this distinct culture and have stood the test of time to this day.