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When wanderlust takes you to South America, you could spend a lifetime unearthing its beauty. We’ve whittled it down into seven, bite-size wonders.
The seven wonders of South America are borderline impossible to choose. With rainforests that provide 20% of the world’s oxygen and remnants from ancient Incan cities, it’s a continent swimming in sensational beauty. Boasting world-famous waterfalls, drool-inducing cuisine and a feverish passion for soccer that resonates across its cities, the fiestas are loud, the dancing’s dramatic and nobody goes to bed before sunrise. From its European past to its fiercely proud people, one visit to South America and your jaw will be on the floor.
In 1835 Charles Darwin step afoot the Galapagos Islands and its unsuspecting fauna – free from humans and hunters – showed little trepidation. Which explains why Darwin manhandled so many of its inhabitants. From riding tortoise to yanking iguana tails, he took full advantage of their curiosity. Cruise through the Galapagos’ 19 islands and you’ll get delightfully close to the wildlife, including blue footed boobies, fl amingos and massive tortoises.
Lake Titicaca: Peru
Observe a simpler way of life with Lake Titicaca’s homestays. You’ll stay on a floating island made out of reed straw in a village that flanks South America's largest lake. Stay in these basic dwellings that run on little to no electricity, dine on hearty broths cooked on primitive stoves and listen to traditional Andean folklore. At night, when blackness descends, sleep beneath a mountain of blankets, dozing to the light rapping of wind at your door.
The Amazon: Brazil, Peru & Ecuador
The Amazon Rainforest is the Pantanal’s colossal neighbour to the north. A jungle of numbers, there are 10 million species of animal. Embark on a river cruise and count 3000 different fruits or 2.5 million insect species. If snakes don’t give you the heebie-jeebies, paddle the Amazon in a wooden canoe, scouring for anacondas as you go, or step inside an Amazonian tribal village and observe how civilizations exist on the most primitive of resources.
Iguazu Falls: Brazil & Argentina
Visually astounding, the Iguazu’s 275 waterfalls are accessible from both Brazil and Argentina. The Argentinian side boasts an exhilarating boat ride to the base of the falls. Oh boy are you in for a drenching! Take togs (and a poncho!) because your driver will steer bow-first into the mouth of the water’s roar. As breath-taking as it is saturating, it won’t be until you swing around for a second thrashing that you realise you’ve just touched 450,000 cubic feet of water.
The Salt Flats: Bolivia & Chile
Turn your world upside down at the crystal-white salt flats of Atacama in Chile and Uyuni in Bolivia. A never-ending horizon of emptiness, interrupted only by sun-scorched mountains and a fluttering of fauna, the salt sheets are as reflective as glass. Look to your feet and you’ll feel like you’re walking on sky. Baked in heat and emanating a starkness that verges on unnerving, the serene beauty will soon soothe your nerves.
Brazil’s Pantanal is South America’s largest wetland and a mammoth reservoir of biodiversity. Drive a 4WD and bump your way along boggy tracks, dodging red-eyed caiman and five-foot iguanas. For the environmentally-aware, you can stay at Eco-Lodges and observe Pantanal sustainability. You’ll gain a greater understanding – and respect – for preserving one of Brazil’s greatest assets, as well as a comfortable bed for the night.
Patagonia: Argentina & Chile
If you like your nature rugged and in some cases extinct, explore Patagonia. Home to the formidable Torres Del Paine, the terrain’s sliced with jutting mountains, jagged glaciers and icy blue waters. This barren landscape offers a mixed bag of eclectic eye-pleasers. Framed by Torres Del Paine's three imposing pillars, sedentary glaciers crawl towards the sea. And as the former stomping ground of dinosaurs, there is something distinctly primeval about Patagonia.
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