Christ the Redeemer, Rio De Janerio
Are you an Amazonian warrior goddess at heart? How about a glamazon of another calibre; more at home with a cocktail and your toes dipped in the golden sands somewhere along the Pacific or South Atlantic? None of this appeal to you? If you're feeling more active, the jagged peaks of Patagonia may be what you’re after.
In a continent as varied and diverse as South America, there’s almost nothing you can’t find across its plains.
Mountain ranges? The Andes rise like a spine throughout much of the continent’s length and encompass glaciers, lakes, forests, volcanoes, and grassland throughout.
Beaches? Copacabana. Ipanema. Actually - all of Brazil. Actually - anywhere near the coast... need we go on?
Deserts? The Atacama.
Rainforests? Ever heard of the Amazon…?
Have we convinced you yet?
Kicking off the tour of South America to the very south, the glaciers, mountain ranges and fjords of sparsely-populated Patagonia have left the outdoorsy traveler slack-jawed time and time again. The old adage “The End of the World” wasn’t born from nothing - the Argentinian/Chilean shared region has long been described as just that. It is a land unmarred by development or overpopulation - beloved by mountaineers, thrill seekers and anyone with a love of the outdoors alike.
Following the jagged spine of the Andes north, the sleepy Argentinean town of Mendoza sits pretty amid its Argentinean foothills. And the best part about Mendoza? Wine! All of it. Accounting for two-thirds of Argentina’s burgeoning wine industry; Malbec, Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon are all hot tickets out here. Simply rent a bike, grab a map and take to the streets for one of the most off-the-beaten-track wine tours you’ll ever do. There’s just nothing else quite like it. On the other side of the Andes, Pisco is the Chilean tipple of choice. The Pisco vines stretch for miles on a jaunt to one of the world’s driest deserts, the incredibly-beautiful Atacama. Seated at an outdoor table clutching a Pisco sour in San Pedro de Atacama, watching the stars sparkle from one of the clearest skies in the world – is there anything better?
Iguazu Falls, Brazil Side
Further east, the characteristic metropolises of Argentina’s Buenos Aires and Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro call your name. Between the two, a stop at the magnificent Iguazu Falls, the world’s largest waterfall system, is definitely one to check off the bucket list.
And in Rio, sparkling blue waters and kilometres upon kilometres of golden sands, punctuated by jagged mountain outcrops, await. A hike to meet the illustrious Christ the Redeemer, watching over the city from a viewpoint second to none, can be followed easily by a visit to the famed Copacabana Beach to face-off with a tanned and gold-chain wearing Brazilian gentleman at a volleyball net.
The ancient wonderland of the Amazon can be accessed from Brazil, Peru or Bolivia. There’s nothing quite like lying back on a boat, watching capybara, exotic birdlife and crocodiles interact on the shores not three feet from your boat. Swimming in crocodile, snake and pink dolphin infested waters has never held such allure.
The rolling, overpopulated yet magical mass of La Paz is a perfect spot for taking in typical South American life. And who can forget the majesty of Machu Picchu; arguably the jewel in the southern continent’s crown. A four day trek along the stony steps of the Inca trail, following in the footsteps of the ancient tribesmen centuries before you, will have you feeling like you can conquer anything.
Of course, there are too many awe-inspiring and bucket-list included experiences on the plains to quantify.
Snow-capped peaks to sand, sun and sub-tropical temperatures and everything in between; South America may be one of the most varied land masses in the world.
And for now, it’s one that tourism, and people waving selfie sticks around, have not yet found in their droves. That reason sounds almost as good as any to get there before they do too.