South America’s … far flung destinations

| April 19, 2018

South America is a vast continent of vibrant cultures, diverse landscapes and thrilling experiences. From sailing through the Amazon and meeting penguin colonies to seeing ancient statues carved from volcanic ash, these far flung destinations are well worth a visit. Many places that might appear far away or remote on a map are in fact easy to reach thanks to the excellent – and ever expanding network of flights on offer.

Traditional floating house on the Amazon River, Iquitos


Easter Island, Chile

Renowned for its mystical moai statues, Isla de Pascua – Easter Island – is located in the South Pacific Ocean, 3,512 kilometres off the Chilean coast. The island has a volcanic origin but the history of the statues and island, before Dutch explorers arrived in 1722, is largely unknown. In the late 19th century, Easter Island – known as Rapa Nui by the islanders – was annexed by Chile, and became a Unesco world heritage site in 1995.

Although you can only see the moais’ heads, their full bodies are submerged. The colossal statues, of which there are more than 850, were carved from solidified volcanic ash from the Rano Raraku volcano. On average they weigh over 14 tonnes and measure taller than 13 feet. Scholars and researchers have struggled to identify their meaning and history but the idea of them is similar to other Polynesian cultures. You can add Easter Island as an extension to any of Cox & Kings’ Chile group tours. The flight from Santiago to Easter Island takes just under 6 hours.

Moai statues, Easter Island

Moai statues, Easter Island

Iquitos, Peru

Iquitos is the springboard into the Peruvian Amazon, accessible only by boat and plane, and the starting point for river cruises. As you sail along the upper reaches of the Amazon basin, keep an eye out for pink and grey dolphins that like to swim alongside the boats. With an expert jungle guide, you can explore the inlets of the flooded Pacaya-Samiria Reserve on a motorised skiff. The habitat here has an abundance of birdlife, flora and fauna. Look out for monkeys and sloths that move through the trees, each at their own pace. If you’re extremely fortunate, you may be able to see the Amazon’s black jaguar.

After a day’s wildlife spotting, you can relax in your cabin, watching the jungle float by and listening to the cacophony of birds. Once the sun has set, you will be spoilt with incredible stargazing in skies that are clear of any pollution. Discovering the Peruvian Amazon from Iquitos is an excellent addition from the Treasures of Peru solo group tour. There are direct flights from Lima, taking just under 2 hours.

Caiman in the Peruvian Amazon, Iquitos

Caiman in the Peruvian Amazon, Iquitos

Salta, Argentina

With stunning scenery and just as stunning wines, Salta, in north-west Argentina, isn’t often included in holiday plans, but it should be. Once the southernmost reach of the Inca empire, the colonial towns are beautiful, while the surrounding Andean villages feature traditional adobe houses. The altiplano, also known as puna, near to Salta offers a variety of dramatic scenery: dusty red hills, rugged canyons, the shimmering salt flats of Salineras Grandes and the Hill of Seven Colours in the Humahuaca gorge.

The Train to the Clouds, so-called as the narrow gauge journey is the sixth highest train in the world. The train climbs more than 3,000 metres up to an altitude of 4,200 metres. After exploring the striking landscapes, quaint villages and beautiful colonial towns, enjoy the local salteñas – savoury empanada pastries filled with beef, pork or chicken – and a glass of the fine Torrontes white wine. You can add Salta to any private tour of Argentina. The direct flight from Buenos Aires takes just under 2 and a half hours.

Quebrada de Humahuaca, Salta

Quebrada de Humahuaca, Salta

Cartagena, Colombia

Cartagena is Colombia’s most picturesque city; the beautiful Spanish colonial buildings have vines climbing up their façades and balconies blooming with bougainvillea. Wandering the cobbled streets of the Old Town lined with the colourful houses, you can feel the charm of the place. Situated on the Caribbean coast, the weather and beaches mean that your holiday here can be as relaxing as you like. Alternatively, you can explore the town’s extensive fortifications, convents and churches that remain from Spanish colonial times. 

From Cartagena, you can easily access the jungles and beaches of the Tayrona National Park, Mompox – where you can walk to the Ciudad Perdida – or you can take a boat from Tolu to visit the tranquil islands of the San Bernado archipelago to snorkel in the clear waters or walk around the idyllic islands. You can fly to Cartagena direct from Lima in under four hours, making it an easy addition to any tour of Peru.

Colonial Cartagena

Colonial Cartagena

The Falkland Islands

Comprised of East and West Falkland and a further 700 islets in the South Atlantic Ocean, the Falklands are a prime location for bird watching and spotting marine wildlife. Home to five species of penguins – namely the rockhopper – and 65% of the world’s black-browed albatrosses, you can also spot walruses and whales. The best way to get a feel for the Falkland Islands is by foot, taking in the scenery and meeting the local inhabitants – sheep! The Falkland Islands have more sheep than people. Stanley is the capital, situated on East Falkland and where the majority of people live.

The best time to visit the Falklands is between October and April during their summer. Even still, don’t forget your raincoat: the Falklands have a polar tundra climate meaning it rains on average 250 days per year! There is a weekly flight from Santiago and Punta Arenas – or you can take an RAF military flight from Brize Norton. Only 490 km east of Patagonia, it is an easy addition to Cox & Kings’ Splendours of Chile escorted tour.

King penguins, Falkland Islands

King penguins, Falkland Islands

To find out more about Cox & Kings’ holidays to South America please see here. LATAM offers a daily flight direct from London Heathrow to São Paulo. From São Paulo, you can connect with 17 destinations in Chile and a further 120 across Latin America.

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