South America isn’t short of spectacular landscapes, many of which I’ve been lucky enough to visit over the past ten years. Stunning salt flats, dramatic table-top mountains, thousands of waterfalls and snow-capped volcanoes, there’s something for everyone. Not to mention the world’s longest river, the Amazon which drifts through thousands of acres of primary rainforest.
There are some places which stand out in my memory as really special, unforgettable areas to explore. So here are my top 5 landscapes not to miss when travelling in South America.
5 landscapes you have to see on your South American trip
The tepuis of Venezuela and Angel Falls
One of the first places I visited in South America, this region is one you really can’t miss. Maybe it was walking behind a waterfall at Canaima lagoon, maybe it was the tannin-stained water or maybe it was the other-worldly feel to such a remote area, but this place made a real impact on me. If you’re worried about safety in Venezuela, trips usually fly in and out of Canaima from Ciudad Bolivar. You’ll be canoed down rivers with small rapids, table mountains and moody skies towering above you before you reach the beautiful Angel Falls, tallest waterfall in the world at 3,211 feet.
The multi-coloured rocks and salt flats of North-West Argentina
If you’re looking for something different to see on your trip to Argentina, don’t miss the north-western corner of the country. It has a different, more Andean feel and a host of spectacular rainbow coloured rocks, plus an immense salt flat called Salinas Grandes. Travelling up the Quebrada de Humahuaca will bring you first to the pretty little village of Purmamarca, which is home to the Hill of the Seven Colours (Cerro de Siete Colores). You can carry on exploring the villages of Tilcara and Humahuaca further up the valley, or instead take the stunning Paso de Jama up to the dazzling flats of the Salinas Grandes. It’s a really memorable trip and one that I’ll never forget.
The Amazon rainforest (which covers Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru)
I’ve visited the Amazon in two countries, Brazil and Ecuador, but if I had to recommend one place to see it at its best, it would be the Uakari Lodge in the Mamiraua Sustainable Development Reserve, 1,000 km upstream from the jungle city of Manaus. It’s world-renowned for its research and conservation work and works closely with local floating villages to preserve the delicate balance of both dry and flooded forest rainforest. Hear the howler monkeys’ eerie cries, paddle through the inlets on wildlife-spotting missions and follow guided hikes through the dry sections of rainforest learning all about the native flora and fauna. It’s a magical place and I’d love to go back one day, maybe in the flood season for a different experience.
The Bolivian Pantanal
Did you know the Pantanal wetlands actually span three countries in South America? Brazil might be the most famous, but you can also access the Pantanal from Bolivia and Paraguay. We went for the Bolivian option, which is much cheaper than a trip in Brazil. Towering jabiru storks with their distinct black bills and red and white plumage, families of capybara and caiman were just some of the wildlife we spotted. Read more about my Bolivian Pantanal adventures here!
Chapada dos Guimaraes, Brazil
Brazil might be best known for its beaches and vibrant cities, but you’re also spoilt for choice when it comes to beautiful landscapes. Inland you’ll find a number of Chapadas, home to strange geological formations and table mountains. Chapada dos Guimaraes is one of these, only an hour or so from the busy city of Cuiaba. It’s the perfect mix of exploring and relaxing, especially if you stay in the gorgeous Pousada do Parque like we did.
I’d love to hear more about your favourite areas to visit in South America. Leave me a comment below – maybe I’ll make it there on a future trip :)