Inspired by National Geographic Traveler naming our Esteros del Ibera tours in their Best Trips in Latin America for 2015, we have brought together some of our favorite destinations in Latin America to make our own list. Whether it’s exploring the volcanic mountains of Arenal in Costa Rica or experiencing sunrise at Machu Picchu, these 6 destinations will have you eager to pack up and travel.
♦ Esteros del Ibera, Argentina
Recommended by National Geographic Traveler as one of the best trips in Latin America for 2015, Esteros del Ibera is a magnificent destination to explore. The stunning wetland reserve occupies a staggering 3.2 million acres and is home to a diverse range of animals and birds. From black caimans and howler monkeys to capybaras, hummingbirds and parrots; Esteros del Ibera is one of the best places to see and get up close to the wildlife. The word ‘Y Bera’ means ‘brilliant water’ in the local Guarani language and while watching the moonlight glittering on the surface of the lagoons and across the marshlands, it is not hard to see how it got its name. Located in the center of the Corrientes Province in northeastern Argentina, the Ibera marshlands and lagoons make it one of the most unspoiled areas in Argentina and the world.
♦ Machu Picchu, Peru
The spectacular location of Machu Picchu is one of the world’s most awe-inspiring ancient cities and one of the best-known archaeological sites on the continent. Despite its popularity with travelers to Peru and South America, Machu Picchu manages to retain an important air of grandeur and mystery that makes it a must for all trips to the region. One of the best pieces of evidence of the power and achievements of the Inca Empire the citadel is cut from stone stuck together without the use of mortar adding to the amazing feat of this structure. Only those that have visited Machu Picchu will know and understand its splendor which located on a high ridge and surround on three sides by the Urubamba River some 2,000ft. below it is no wonder that it features on most people’s travel bucket list.
♦ Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Perhaps one of the world’s most recognizable cityscapes, the city of Rio de Janeiro is as exhilarating as it looks. Surrounded by gorgeous mountains covered in verdant rainforests and fronted by white sandy beaches leading into the dark blue sea; Rio has without a doubt one of the most spectacular settings in the world. From the beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema to the heights of Corcovado and Sugarloaf Mountain; beauty proliferates each and every inch of this city. Rio’s anthem is a 1934 Carnival hit sang by Aurora Miranda in which it calls Rio the ‘Marvelous city, full of a thousand charms’. Having traveled in the cable car to the top of Sugarloaf, walked through the bohemian artisan streets of Santa Teresa or experienced the stirring favelas; if the song is anything to go by we can ensure that there are at least another 997 delights in Rio to explore.
♦ The Amazon, Brazil
Accounting for almost half of Brazil’s total area and in its totality covering 9 countries and roughly the same size as Australia, the Amazon is a true wonder of the natural world. No rainforest in the world is bigger, no river in the world more impressive; the Amazon is one of the planet’s greatest reserve of life forms. The Amazon’s preconceived experiences of seeing spear carrying Amazon locals around every river bend or wild jaguars relaxing in every tree is in fact far from the true Amazon experience. Exploring the Amazon will however surprise you with more inspiring quintessential adventures from canoeing through flooded forests to listening to the cries of howler monkeys in the trees above. This spectacular destination never fails to impress and will surpass all your wildest dreams and expectations.
♦ Iguazu Falls, Argentina
Situated on the border of Argentina and Brazil is Iguazu Falls, one of the Natural Wonders of the World. With 275 falls combining across nearly 2 miles with some spurting water more than 269ft. down; Iguazu is more than twice the width and nearly twice the height of Niagara Falls. The mighty ‘Devil’s Throat’ waterfall marks the border between the two countries which is surrounded by a large expanse of the national park teeming with unique flora and fauna. From the lower paths that wind through the jungle and next to the falls you’ll get a unique aspect of the size of the falls while the upper paths offer unrestricted and magnificent panoramic views. Iguazu is one of the world’s most awe-inspiring and breathtaking sights where the sheer beauty, power and noise of the cascades will live in your memory forever.
♦ Arenal Volcano, Costa Rica
The Arenal Volcano is one of Costa Rica’s most famous natural features due to its fiery, lava spewing past which has been resting since 2010. With Costa Rica being one of the most diverse countries in world, Arenal is natural wonderland with almost 75% of the country’s birdlife being found in the beautiful 29,960-acre Arenal Volcano National Park. It is however not just the birdlife that adds another dimension to this area as other creatures from sloths and white-faced capuchin monkeys to boa constrictors and coati roam this region. The Arenal Volcano is without a doubt the star of this region, rising 3740ft. up and in spite of previous eruptions its conical shape still remains. While you may not get night views of molten lava flowing down its sides, this mighty mountain and its surrounding area is definitely worth your time.
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