South America is a vast region of America, full of thriving cultures and magnificent landscapes. For tourists who are looking for something a little different for their next trip, here are some of the best destinations to visit:
Easter Island, Chile
This small island is famous for its massive head statues, known formally as Moai, but it's so much more than that. The island is home to the Rapa Nui, a culture of people who built the statues and have remained on the island for over a millennium. Learn more about their way of life and history, surrounded by green hills and formidable dormant volcanoes. We recommend visiting in the off-season (April to November) when the island is less crowded, so you can enjoy the attractions without needing to compete for space.
If you want to experience the authentic culture of Argentina, visit Humahuaca. This small town is very close to the northern border and has a long history that dates to before the Spanish invaded the country. But the main draw to this town is the stunning colorful mountains. The earth is a variety of hues, from reds and oranges to greens and yellows, caused by the mineral deposits in the soil. Hike along the trails and see its beauty up close, and then relax in the plaza, enjoying local cuisine and artisanal handicrafts that make the perfect souvenirs.
José Ignacio, Uruguay
It is the perfect coastal getaway for those who love to relax on sandy beaches but also love to surf among the waves. The town can get very sleepy over the winter months, but it becomes a thriving hub in the summer as Uruguayans, and international tourists flock here. Enjoy some of the most excellent seafood in Latin America, browse the local designer boutiques, and learn more about the art of the region from galleries that open only in the summer. José Ignacio is a place you will fall in love with, and want to keep returning, year after year.
Also known as the "City of Eternal Spring," this is the perfect tourist destination to visit all year round. The city has worked hard to reinvent itself after the violent drug wars caused by Pablo Escobar, and it now lives a calm existence. Take one of the cable cars up the mountains to look down at the red-brick city, or enjoy one of their many local parks. Stroll around Comuna 13 on one of their famous graffiti tours, and when you're done, indulge in the city's most exquisite delicacy, the well-known "Bandeja Paisa."
A couple of hours away from Lima, this is the perfect coastal spot to relax. Many tourists aren't aware that it exists yet, so you get to experience this lively fishing town in all its glory. It is full of rare and unique wildlife, including flocks of flamingos and sea lions. Spend your days eating world-class ceviche overlooking the beach or explore some of the local Incan ruins that remain.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Rio de Janeiro is a holiday destination for any traveler - Rio has it all. The city is perhaps best-known for its Christ the Redeemer Statue that overlooks the city, one of the modern seven wonders of the world. It also has stunning natural features, including Copacabana and Ipanema beach. Wander through the local art museums which showcase traditional and modern art side by side, and feast on a range of local delicacies. The city comes alive with dancing almost every night, but if you are lucky enough to plan your trip from February 21 to 26, you can get swept up in the excitement of Carnival.
Sucre is the home of Bolivia's independence and some of the countries' most notable architecture. The city is famous for its white colonial buildings, as well as it's rich cultural history. Many women still roam the streets in their brightly colored traditional clothes, and the local markets are full of enticing handicrafts and foods. Wander through the cobbled streets, and if you're lucky, you may get to witness a beautiful dance performance by locals as part of their September International Cultural Festival.
South America is continuously evolving and becoming more and more tourist-friendly, but there are still some local pockets that haven't been commercialized just yet. Take your time to wander off the beaten path, so that you can explore the real Latin America in all of its glory.
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