From the mountainous region of Patagonia in Argentina and Chile, to the historic Incan citadel of Machu Picchu in Peru, the vast Salt Flats in Bolivia, the endless expanse of the Amazon Jungle, and the beaches of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, South America is a treasure trove for travelers looking for a unique experience. And South America makes for a perfect destination for your next trip because it’s cheap and totally underrated! Travelers will delight in all of the gorgeous destinations available within this continent. Here are the 10 reasons to travel through South America.
Reasons to Travel Through South America
1 | Go from Deserts to Glaciers
In the matter of a few hundred miles, you can traverse such diverse and distinct landscapes as deserts, glaciers, salt flats, rain forest, mountains, wine country, urban centers, beaches, and more. The continent of South America contains a vast array of landscapes, each sure to impress on its own. But when you place them all together in such close proximity, it’s hard to imagine how all this assorted beauty can fit onto this one land mass!
2 | Learn Some Spanish
Whether you know conversational Spanish or just “Hola!” you’ll have the chance to practice your Spanish here in South America. Nearly everywhere you go you will encounter people who speak English, so certainly Spanish is not compulsory. But it helps to give it a try, and it’s also respectful to the local culture. People tend to be quite friendly in South America and you’ll certainly get asked “De donde?” (Where are you from?) more than a few times when you travel through South America.
3 | Stand in the Salt Flats
One of the magnificent natural attractions of South America is the Salt Flats of Bolivia. The largest and most famous salt flats in the world, Salar de Uyuni will confuse your eyes and your mind as you stand in front of them. The desert-like white landscape stretches as far as the eye can see. It is even considered by some to be one of the 7 natural wonders of the world. And when you visit you will see why! It’s a favorite photo opp destination for people when they travel through South America.
4 | Try Great Wine
South America is home to some standout wine regions. In Argentina, the Mendoza region produces some of the world’s favorite malbecs. Extending north and south of Santiago, Chile’s wine region produces a wide range of varietals from carmeneres to chardonnays, sauvignon blancs and more. If you love wine as much as I do, then you will love to taste and tour your way through these regions, rich wineries.
5 | Climb a Mountain
The Andes Mountains stretch the whole extent of the western coast of South America from Colombia, through Ecuador and Peru, along Chile, and culminating in Patagonia. This jagged mountain range dominates the landscape of these countries. The mountains are accessible from all over the continent, you can hike through Patagonia, take a city break in Santiago for a hike, climb up to Machu Picchu, or weave your way up into the clouds in Ecuador. Enjoy the mountains from sea level and enjoy the views from up on top too!
6 | Meet the Most Diverse Animals
Between the diverse species populating the Galapagos Islands, the unlimited and undiscovered litany of species in the Amazon Jungle, the penguins of the Falkland Islands, and the llamas of the Andes Mountains, there are maybe more species of animals here than anywhere else. Wherever you travel in South America, you will encounter some new and diverse species of animals that you probably have only seen in a zoo before! Embrace this opportunity to explore this a biodiverse region.
7 | Travel Longer for Less
Backpackers will delight in the gringo trail of South America. It’s easy to travel longer for less in this region of budget travel destinations. Many of the best travel spots in South America are cheap to stay in and when you travel around the continent, it’s cheap to get around too. Make the most of the region by taking your time to slowly work your way around the country. Bonus: You’ll definitely pick up some Spanish as you go along the way like this!
8 | Insta-Worthy Moments
Your friends at home will glow with envy when you post a photo from the top of Machu Picchu. They’ll love your crazy poses at the Salt Flats. They’ll congratulate you when you reach the top of Las Torres in Patagonia. And they won’t be able to resist double-tapping your photo of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro. South America is ripe with instagrammable moments, so bring your camera and get ready to strike a pose. You’ll have so many beautiful experiences here that you’ll want to share with your friends and family!
9 | See the Rainforest
One of the diverse landscapes that exists in South America is the rainforest in the Amazon Jungle. Covering over 2 million square miles, the rainforest resides mostly in Brazil, Peru, and Colombia. It also extends into Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Guyana, Suriname, and French Guinea. Basically, it’s so enormous that it has crept into almost every country in South America. The rainforest is as diverse as it is enormous, featuring over 16,000 species of trees, 2.5 million species of insects, and 1,200 species of birds. From any country and from point of entry, the Amazon Jungle offers visitors a unique and memorable experience!
10 | Stay in the Americas
As the people of South America are quick to remind visitors from the United States who call themselves Americans, we are actually all Americans. For the US-centric mindset, this is a necessary reminder that all of North and South America is the Americas. And so traveling throughout South America allows us to explore and discover more of our beloved Americas by visiting our neighbors. By stepping beyond our boundaries, we are afforded the opportunity to learn cultures other than our own, meet people who live differently than us, and appreciate the values of different societies. I think that’s a travel opportunity we would all do well to embrace.