With its wildly varied geography, South America is heaven for nature lovers. The region’s incredibly diversity, in fact, can provide enough options for multiple trips. From the soaring Andes Mountains to dramatic Atlantic and Pacific coastlines, from the frozen glaciers at the tip of the continent to Patagonia’s unspoiled forests and Atacama’s dramatic desert, South America offers vacation activities that range from adventurous to relaxed — but are never short on scenery.
So if natural beauty and memorable vacation experiences are your idea of the perfect getaway, look no further. Make sure these destinations are on your short list.
The Atacama Desert, Chile
The world’s driest desert provides an otherworldly setting for a nature-focused Latin America vacation. You can spend countless days exploring dramatic mountain ranges, salt flats and lagoons, as well as geysers, thermal pools and marshes. Visitors may be surprised by the wide array of wildlife here too, including llamas, lizards, foxes and flamingos. The charming town called San Pedro de Atacama serves as the ideal hub for exploration, and it’s graced with plenty of memorable shopping, dining and hotel options.
Lake Titicaca, Peru
South America’s largest lake — and also the highest navigable lake in the world — is a must-see on any nature-focused South American vacation itinerary. Perched on the border of Peru and Bolivia, Lake Titicaca blends spectacular scenery and traditional culture, providing a truly multidimensional experience for visitors.
Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
There’s a reason why English naturalist Charles Darwin was so wowed by the Galapagos Islands. The unique variety of animal species that reside here, in fact, helped to influence his theory of evolution. Today, this picturesque archipelago is one of the world’s most important destinations for wildlife lovers. Its unspoiled ecosystems offer countless opportunities for excitement — where else can you come face to face with giant tortoises, blue-footed boobies, penguins, iguanas, seals and so many other rare species? Multi-day visits can include accommodations on land or on a small cruise ship.
Ecuador’s relatively compact size makes it easy to combine the Galapagos with other regions. Coddiwomple’s Best of Ecuador itinerary
Iguazu Falls, Argentina and Brazil
It’s impossible not to be amazed the first time you see Iguazu Falls. With its 275 thundering cascades, these falls — which straddle the Argentina/Brazil border — are among the continent’s most memorable attractions.
Patagonia, Argentina and Chile
Spread between Chile and Argentina, Patagonia is a region known for its natural, unspoiled beauty and delightfully diverse options for nature-loving vacationers. On the Chile side, you can visit the postcard-perfect Torres del Paine National Park, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve graced with mountains, lakes, rivers and even glaciers. On the Argentina side, the main gateway is the scenic town of Bariloche, which sits at the foothills of the Andes Mountains, on the shores of Nahuel Huapi Lake.