So…where were we? Read The Ultimate South America Bucket-list – PART 1
If you’ve already got a South America tour under your belt, you’ve no doubt ticked a few of the PART 1 highlights off your bucket list. That’s the beauty of this continent: you can actually see a lot in a relatively short trip. Even if you visit remote destinations like Antarctica and the Galapagos Islands, it certainly doesn’t mean you can’t add a few extra treats while you’re at it. Going to the Galapagos, for example? Spend a few days in Quito and visit Otavalo, or add a super Amazon jungle trip to your itinerary. Heading to Antarctica instead? Los Glaciares National Park is just up the road!
With a bit of organizational effort (on our part) and a lot of excitement (on yours) you can conquer The Ultimate South America Bucket-list like a pro.
Ready to set off again? Here we go!
1. Tackle the W-Walk – Torres del Paine, Patagonia
This multi-day hike speaks to the active explorer, the one who doesn’t mind just a little bit of pain in order to gain some fantastic rewards. Tackle this hike and you’ll experience Torres del Paine and those incredible granite towers. Along with glaciers, deep canyons, raging rivers, vivid lakes and some of the most dramatic snowy peaks in the continent. This is my favourite national park in all of South America. The sheer variety of landscapes is incredible. On a multi-day W-Walk, you get to experience the best of Torres del Paine: sensational landscapes by day, and spectacular canopy of stars by night.
2. Swan dive into Lake Titicaca
The world’s highest navigable lake is freezing cold all year round, making this challenge all the more appealing, no doubt! Head to the high Andes, right on the border between Peru and Bolivia, and spend a few days discovering the top attractions on Lake Titicaca. From the reed Uros Islands to family stays on Amantani and the picturesque Inca ruins on Isla del Sol. Every corner and every view an absolute delight. But if you leave without taking at least ONE swim IN the lake, you can’t tick this one off the list yet. Back you go!
3. Take a wine tasting tour in Mendoza
With all these brilliant but exhausting hikes included in our list, you may start to wonder if there’s far too much pain and not enough pleasure in South America. You’d be horribly mistaken if you did. Travel to South America is nothing, if not pleasurable. Most especially when you spend days on end sampling the delights of South America’s best wine regions. There are countless places for wine tasting in South America, but Mendoza shines a little brighter. It’s not just the vinos that are superb here but the landscapes are also nothing short of extraordinary. Go on a wine tasting tour of Mendoza and you won’t just delight your taste buds. Every one of your senses will be jumping for joy.
4. Stalk a jaguar in the Pantanal
When it comes to the Ultimate South American Bucket-list, jaguars rate highly because the basin of the Amazon is the only place in the world they still exist. These are some of the most elusive creatures in all of South America and a rare sight to behold. Yet your best chance of spotting one is by taking a trip in Brazil’s Pantanal. This is the world’s largest wetlands and, unbeknownst to many, actually the best wildlife spotting mecca in the country. The northern region of the Pantanal is your best bet for spotting jaguars, although you’ll be creature-happy no matter where you go. As far as accommodation is concerned, remember that a few sacrifices in the Pantanal are well worthwhile. Add an extra few days to your trip, head deeper into the Pantanal and don’t mind the level of comfort getting slightly lower. The further you are from civilization, the higher your wildlife spotting chances will be.
5. Take a tango lesson in Buenos Aires
The Argentinian tango is one of the many intangible treasures in South America. A cultural highlight with few rivals, the tango would have to be one of the most famous, widespread and exported ethnic customs to have emerged from Latin America. Tango, in Buenos Aires, is not just a past-time: it’s part and parcel of the local identity. That’s what makes this city and this dance so very unique. You need not venture into a dance club or cabaret show. All you have to do, if you want to catch a glimpse of a couple dancing the tango, is simply take a walk. People dance everywhere: outside cafés, in parks and along the footpath. It is intoxicating to witness. Include a tango lesson in your itinerary when visiting Buenos Aires, and even if you barely manage to take two steps, you’ll get a true taste of Argentina’s heart and soul.
6. Unravel the mystery of the Nazca Lines
A mysterious collection of ancient geoglyphs forever etched on the desert ground of southern Peru. Aliens? Gods? Pokémon-Go hunters?!! Come and make up your own theory! Travel to Nazca and take a light-plane ride over the mystical Nazca lines, one of Peru’s most distinguishing and unique highlights. Over 10,000 lines comprising dozens of drawings, some hundreds of metres long. Sure, there are scholars that presume they were made by the ancient Nazca people over 2,000 years ago. But the amazing thing is that nothing is yet known for sure. One of the world’s true mysteries still waiting to be unravelled.
7. Watch a football match in Buenos Aires
Want to know how passionate Argentinians can get? Travel to Buenos Aires during football season, catch a local match at La Bombonera Stadium and let the crazy Argentinians show you what fanatical love of a sport is all about. You can see revered teams like Boca Juniors, River Plate, Independiente and San Lorenzo in action. Cheer, sing, dance and have an absolute blast of a time, as the enthusiasm of thousands of people sweeps you off your feet.
8. Stand alongside the Moai statues on Easter Island
These 500-year-old oversized heads with the poker faces are some of the most iconic sites on the entire continent. Arduously carved by the Rapa Nui tribe, these monolithic figures were thought to be all there was to it. But recently, archaeologists made an incredible discovery: not only do the head have bodies, but the bodies are covered in tattoos! A site which has mystified the world for years is one of Chile’s most remote yet rewarding destinations.
9. Transit the Panama Canal as a part of your bucket-list
Mankind’s most impressive feat of engineering, and one of the most exciting boat trip destinations you can enjoy. Hop on a ship and traverse the newly expanded Panama Canal, and you’ll become a part of our world’s maritime history. Panama is actually a phenomenal hidden gem in Latin America. Need more reasons to go? How about endless tropical islands framed by pristine reefs (some of the best SCUBA diving in the whole region is right here) along with a wickedly vibrant capital city and plenty of wildlife viewing opportunities.
We could continue listing our favourite activities on the Ultimate South America Bucket-list guide, for pages on end. Or…we could take you on a whirlwind multi-country South America tour and let you fill in the gaps. Because for every famous attraction and renowned site, there are a million more personal and unforgettable experiences you can discover for yourself.
Chimu Adventures can create a tailor-made package for you. Click here for more information.
Author: Laura Pattara
“Laura Pattara is a modern nomad who’s been vagabonding around the world, non-stop, for the past 13 years. She’s tour guided overland trips through South America and Africa, travelled independently through the Middle East and is now in the midst of a 5-year motorbike odyssey from Germany to Australia.”