The 7 places to visit next …in Latin America
Stretching along the Andes past Incan ruins and through Amazonian rainforest to Patagonian wilderness and spectacular coastlines, Latin America is not somewhere that can be fully appreciated in one visit. But once you’ve ticked off the key attractions, where should you go? Katie Cosstick recommends where to visit next.
Freshwater otter, Pantanal, Brazil
If you’ve been to Machu Picchu… go to Kuélap
Machu Picchu is the reason why many first visit South America, but once you’ve been, what else can you see? Earlier this year a cable car opened at Kuélap, a pre-Inca fortress in the north of Peru. With 20-metre-high walls and stretching more than 600 metres along a soaring ridgetop, the cable car has certainly made it much easier to visit. From the hundreds of structures still remaining there are breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and valleys but with none of the crowds that you’ll find at Machu Picchu.
Kuelap in Peru’s Andes
If you’ve been to the Atacama desert… go to the Uyuni salt flats
One of the driest places on Earth, the Atacama desert offers some extraordinary landscapes, so where could compete? The world’s largest salt flat, the Salar de Uyuni, is just over the border in Bolivia and is truly like nowhere else. The contrast of the brilliant white salt against the clear blue sky creates a seemingly endless horizon. Photo opportunities are plentiful: the vast expanses appear to defy laws of physics and after any rainfall, the shimmering salt acts as a huge mirror, reflecting the sky above.
Salar de Uyuni
If you’ve been to the Amazon… go to the Pantanal
The Amazon basin covers 5,500,000 sq km across eight countries and is the world’s largest rainforest. Much of the wildlife is hidden in the canopy so once you’ve seen its mighty waters, head to Brazil’s Pantanal, the world’s largest freshwater wetland. Due to the lack of dense vegetation, it’s much easier to spot wildlife: capybaras, giant anteaters and howler monkeys are all common and it is one of the best places for sightings of the elusive jaguar. The Pantanal is also home to over 650 species of bird including toucans, kingfishers, parrots, hyacinth macaws and the metre-tall jabiru stork.
Landscape view of Pantanal wetland
If you’ve been to Buenos Aires… go to Santiago
Buenos Aires is arguably the most captivating and exciting city in South America but Santiago, in neighbouring Chile, is emerging as a contender. The Sky Costanera observation deck, within South America’s tallest building, opened at the end of 2016 and offers 360-degree panoramic views of the city and surrounding mountains. Numerous boutique hotels have opened in converted mansion houses, which, along with the bustling street cafes and growing numbers of sophisticated restaurants, all add to the city’s charm and vibrancy.
Santiago with the snow-capped Andes behind
If you’ve been to the Galapagos… go to the Falklands
A paradise for lovers of wildlife, the Galapagos islands are home to many endemic species, which have limited fear of humans so allow for excellent viewing at close quarters. Due to their remote location, the Falkland islands – 500 km off the southern Patagonian coast – are much less visited but are home to an equally fascinating array of sub-Antarctic animal and plant life including elephant seals, black-browed albatrosses, various penguins and other Southern Ocean bird species. It’s not so easy to get there though: a weekly flight departs from Punta Arenas, Chile’s southernmost city, or you can take an 18-hour charter flight from RAF Brize Norton.
King penguins at Volunteer Point, Falkland islands
If you’ve been to Cuba… go to Colombia
As it opens up to tourism from the US, Cuba is changing fast with more people flocking to visit than ever. Colombia, largely untouched by mass tourism, offers an equally intriguing mix of landscapes, colonial heritage and unspoilt Caribbean beaches. In Bogotá, the fascinating capital, visit the Gold Museum, which holds the world’s most complete collection of ancient gold artefacts. The coffee region of central Colombia has been recognised by Unesco as a unique cultural landscape and it’s possible to stay in charming haciendas to see the century-old techniques of coffee growing. Colourful Cartagena is a true colonial gem with some of the best-preserved architecture on the continent.
La Candelaria neighbourhood, Bogota
If you’ve been to Costa Rica… go to Guyana
The launch of British Airways’ flight to San José has made Costa Rica an easy and increasingly popular destination for nature lovers. Guyana, South America’s only English-speaking country, might not have the direct flights but visitors are rewarded with an unspoilt wilderness covered by pristine rainforest and open savannas. Wildlife includes jaguars, giant anteaters, otters, black caiman and abundant birdlife. The coastal capital of Georgetown is characterised by Dutch wooden architecture and many rum distilleries while further inland you can stay in remote field stations, cattle ranches and community-run lodges. The highlands are also home to the world’s tallest single-drop waterfall: the mighty Kaieteur Falls.
Blue and yellow macaws, Guyana
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