With a list of must-see places across Central and South America that stretches longer than the continent itself, it can be difficult to decide which places of interest you will go and see. Aside from the well-known sites of Machu Picchu in Peru, Patagonia in Argentina and Chile, Iguazu Falls and Rio de Janeiro there are many others which are waiting for you to discover. This is why we have created our top 5 alternative must-see destinations that will be sure to add to any vacation in Central and South America.
San Pedro de Atacama, Chile
Situated in the heart of northern Chile’s most remarkable and stunning scenery, the San Pedro de Atacama desert is a world of steaming geysers, out of this world rock formations and interesting landscapes. Even though the Atacama Desert is located next to the largest body of water, the Pacific Ocean, it remains the driest desert in the world. This amazing destination throws up a number of naturally beautiful surprises that will leave you wanting to see and discover more! The El Tatio Geysers which are the highest geysers in the world; the largest salt lake in the world, Salar de Atacama and, the incredible landscape of Moon Valley which will leave you thinking you have just landed on another planet are just some of the exquisite attractions of San Pedro de Atacama. A truly unmissable destination for adventurous travelers when visiting Chile and South America, San Pedro de Atacama will blow your mind sky-high.
Beyond the scenic Pine Ridge Reserve in the Cayo District of Belize lies the largest and most important Maya site of Caracol. Rising out of the thick jungle near the border with Guatemala, Caracol was once among the most powerful cities in the entire Maya world. At its peak this impressive Maya city was said to stretch 70 square miles with nearly 40 miles of paths and walkways stretching out from the center to the various satellite plazas and residential areas. With a population that peaked at almost 150,000, Caracol had double the amount of people as Belize City has today. This interesting archaeological site in Belize along with its exciting jungle setting and abundant birdlife makes Caracol the perfect destination for travelers looking to explore the Maya history and culture in a tropical and picturesque setting in Central America.
What could be more majestic than sitting or standing atop a giant sand dune watching the sun set over a stunning landscape made up of golden yellows? By traveling to Huacachina near Ica in Southern Peru, this is just one of the unforgettable moments you will be able to enjoy in this sublime destination. Passing through the arid coastal desert of southern Peru you will arrive at this little piece of desert paradise, far removed from the Inca image of Peru. With a wonderful and jaw-dropping desert oasis surrounded by exotic palm trees, Huacachina is indescribably stunning. The breathtaking and must-see destination of Huacachina is a mystical, quiet and secluded spot to relax whilst exploring the diverse landscapes and places of interest in Peru and South America.
Lake Atitlan, Guatemala
Explorer and writer, John L Stephens, described Lake Atitlan as ‘the most magnificent spectacle we ever saw’ in his account of Central America, ‘Incidents of Travel’. From nineteenth-century literature to today, his words are as true as ever with the spectacular views and environment of Lake Atilan in Guatemala. With fishermen in small rustic boats traveling along the calm lake’s surface whilst indigenous women in traditional multicolored outfits do their washing below blooming trees on the banks, this is a picture perfect image for any traveler visiting Central America and Guatemala. Surrounded by fertile hills, volcanoes and authentic and quaint mountain villages it is no wonder that so many people have fallen in love with the beauty of Lake Atitlan.
Chapada Diamantina, Brazil
Located in Central Bahia, the Chapada Diamantina was once famous in Brazil for its precious gems. Today, it is making its name for having nature in its most beautiful and purest form. The national park is full of crystal clear creeks, rivers with excitable rapids, paradisiacal waterfalls and more than 70 grottos and caverns each with their own natural spectacle hidden inside. With a number of trails aligned with tropical plants and flowers, exploring this must-see destination in Brazil and South America surrounded by flawless nature is nothing short of joyous. The region’s unique beauty, natural tranquility and small colonial towns make Chapada Diamantina the perfect destination to enjoy and make the most of the magnificent environment in Brazil.
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