Any trip to this beautiful part of the world is bound to be an adventure. The 30,000 miles of scenic coastline, the towering mountains and dense rainforests, the awe-inspiring Amazon River, and the sheer number of remarkable species of plants and animals inhabiting the region are reasons enough to venture to this location that was civilized long before it was discovered by European explorers.
And what marvelous civilizations they were! The Maya, Inca and Aztec people all developed advanced civilizations with complicated social structures and religious practices. They built amazing cities and structures, many of which remain today as reminders of the greatness of their cultures. Tours of Peru’s Machu Picchu and Cusco, Guatemala’s Tikal and Belize’s Caracol are glimpses into the past that provoke many questions about these people and their way of life, many of which remain unanswered.
The adventure traveler will have a heyday here. Hiking, cycling, ziplining, diving, windsurfing, horseback riding are all activities that will challenge even the most adventurous tourist. The eco-tourist will be amazed by the complicated ecosystem on an Amazon River cruise. A visit to the Galapagos Islands, just off the coast of Ecuador, will astound nature lovers with its variety of animal and plant life – tortoises, sea lions, sharks, penguins, and birds of all kinds can be observed in this protected habitat.
But you don’t have to be a sports nut or a biologist to love a trip to Latin America. Iconic landmarks like the massive statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio, the powerful Iguazu Falls in Argentina, the enigmatic Moai statues on Chile’s Easter Island, and the Oliveira Bridge in Brazil are all worthy of a visit (and a photo!)
The countries of Latin America have a rich history for sure, but they also have modern cities with great shopping, dining, and nightlife. Carnival in Rio de Janeiro is known as the “biggest party in the world.” If you happen to be in Chile on New Year’s Eve, don’t miss the celebration in Valparaiso. Mancora, Peru is a small beach town (growing fast as it’s popular with surfers), and surfers are always up for a party! Buenos Aires, Argentina is an interesting city with more of a laid-back European atmosphere. Craft ale bars are popular here. It’s also considered one of the most modern cities in the region and gets high marks for its art museums and public gardens and parks.
Other Latin American cities that deserve a mention:
- Havana, Cuba, is a city where vintage cars and a charming, laid-back atmosphere will take you back in time.
- Medellin, Colombia offers free walking tours of the city, and amazing cable car rides to Parque Arvi, a nature preserve and archeological park. You can take a day trip from here to El Penol, a huge monolithic rock offering one of the best views in all of South America.
- Salvador, Brazil, has a unique African influence, from dancers and artwork to traditional food stands selling African delicacies.
- Valparaiso, Chile, is the dominant port for international trade in the country. As a result local residents hail from all over the world, giving it a very cosmopolitan vibe. Oh, and it’s also known for the vibrant graffiti murals lining the streets.
- La Paz, Bolivia, is the highest major city in the world. It is a bustling urban jungle, constantly under construction, and providing a sharp contrast to the peaceful countryside surrounding it.
No traveler to Central/South America will ever be bored!