Magnificent Peruvian scenery | Chris Gooley
For those who are thinking of where to go in South America: discover ‘the Tuscany of Argentina’, world’s largest ancient mud city, sleep in a salt hotel, and subterranean lakes of crystal clear blue waters…
South America is once again grabbing our attention with Argentina’s 200th anniversary of independence from Spanish rule (in July 2016), British Airways’ new direct flights to Santiago de Chile, the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, and Peru launching cable cars to Machu Picchu.
Enough reason for us to share six places to go in South America that you probably haven’t heard of before. From Chile to Brazil and Colombia to Bolivia, have a look at these less visited destinations in South America that you can add to your 'where to go in South America' wish list.
The Lost City of Teyuna
High in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of Colombia you can find a collection of ancient ruins that are The Lost City of Teyuna (in Colombia known as Ciudad Perdida). They are a breath-taking treasure that was once home to the thriving civilisation of the Tairona, who lived 650 years before the Inca’s at Machu Picchu. No wonder that it’s less visited, because to get there you must cross the dense jungle of the Sierra Nevada for four days and climb 1,200 steps!
Wondering where else to go? We combine a trek to The Lost City of Teyuna with Bogota and Cartagena of the West Indies, famous for its colourful districts and exotic Caribbean beaches on our new 10-day Colombia’s Lost City Trek walking holiday.
From sun-drenched (quiet) beaches, colonial towns and lively culture, the Bahia area of Brazil is one of the country’s least-visited yet most striking corners. Think Salvador, where the country’s European and African heritage blends, and Lençóis, charming because of its cobblestone streets. There are spectacular caves, flat-top mountains and beautiful waterfalls at Chapada Diamantina, Brazil’s largest national park. If that isn’t enough yet, you also find a subterranean lake of crystal clear blue waters that is known as Poço Encantado (Enchanted Well).
The best thing of it all? These unique places are all within close proximity of each other so you don’t lose precious holiday time (and money) by taking long transfers or domestic flights.
There is a 14-day Best of Brazil’s Bahia active adventure holiday with World Expeditions to an area that the Brazilians have kept to themselves so far…
Nestled in Argentina’s wild northwest corner, the hidden gem of Salta remains one of the country’s most picturesque cities. Salta is known for its Spanish colonial heritage and rich Andean history. Nearby is the wine town of Cafayate, an area of outstanding beauty that has been dubbed ‘the Tuscany of Argentina’. If you’ve ever heard of the white wine grape variety ‘torrontés’, this is where it comes from. The surroundings of Salta are a desert-like area, which is blessed with dramatic canyons and gorges that have been cut by wind and rain over the centuries.
You can get out to Salta in Argentina and explore the region in just 4 days on our Salta and Jujuy Highlights extension.
In the likely case that you have ever fancied spending a night at a salt hotel, look no further! Your dream can come true on the world's largest salt flat in Bolivia: the stunning Salar de Uyuni. The salt hotel is located near the island of Isla Incahuasi, which you can find in the centre of the Uyuni salt flat. With walls, floors and furniture made out of salt, it definitely lives up to its name. The island is made of rock formations and is home to a species of cactus aged at 700 years. It’s within easy travel distance of Bolivia’s thriving capital La Paz and Potosi, one of the highest cities in the world with an elevation of 4,090m. For even more adventure, an additional highlight of the region are the mummies of Coquesa that are still being remembered today by the local population.
Kuélap, Chan Chan & more
One of the most impressive buildings anywhere in the Andes will soon become much easier to reach thanks to a new cable car that is scheduled to open next year. The ancient citadel of Kuélap with its impressive buildings of the pre Incan Chachapoyas culture allow you to travel back in time in a northern part of Peru that remains little visited. (This is also where you can go to find the world’s largest ancient mud city of Chan Chan.) But there is more to less travelled northern Peru such as the pyramids of Tucume, spectacular mountain scenery of Cordillera Blanca, royal tombs at Sipan, and the possibility to foray through a cloud forest to the spectacular Gocta falls.
Chile is one of the largest countries in the world so when planning a visit you probably feel that it’s hardly possible to combine all the highlights in one trip. While in fact, you can! Enjoy the very best of Chile’s dramatic scenery in one holiday. A region you probably haven’t heard of, but which is definitely a highlight, is Maipo Valley and its vineyards.
In these vineyards the once extinct Bordeaux grape was rediscovered and subsequently reintroduced to the world by the Viña Carmen wine. Maipo Valley is Chile’s best known wine-producing region and you can explore the area by bicycle.
If you are into cycling, think of the lunar-like landscapes of Atacama Desert’s Valley of the Moon as well. Other must-visit places in Chile are the famous Lake District (ancient forests and indigenous wildlife), and the Petrohue River with its emerald-water at the foot of the glacier-capped Osorno Volcano (yes, rafting the river is an option!). And while you’re in Chile anyway, of course you must go for a trek in Torres del Paine National Park - the jewel of the crown to every trip in Chile.
Want to find out more about these lesser known and little travelled places to go in South America? Or want to learn about where else you can go in South America with World Expeditions? Please have a look around at our website or get in touch with our team of travel experts in one of our offices around the world.
Which part of South America are you keen to explore? Let us know in the comments below.