8 Latin American wonders you have to see to believe
Dreaming of an adventure? Ready to soak up culture? Or itching to leap into the wilderness?
The vast continents of South and Central America are home to some of the most significant cultural wonders of the world, from modern-day monuments to Incan, Mayan and Aztec ruins.
And that’s just the start, with abundant natural treasures scattered across diverse countries, ranging from rainforest, beaches, deserts, lakes and icy glaciers.
Ready to pack your bags? Here are eight wonders to discover on your trip.
- Galapagos Islands, Peru
The Galapagos Islands are a sanctuary of wildlife unseen anywhere else on the planet. Famous for inspiring Charles Darwin's The Origin of Species, the archipelago of 21 islands is a must-see for curious minds. There are still discoveries to be made!
Located 1,000 kilometres of the Pacific coast of Ecuador, the Islands are teeming with not just life, but adventure too. There’s everything on offer, from guided Galapagos Islands tours to snorkelling in reefs and hiking volcanic trails, you’ll never forget visiting these famous islands.
Machu Picchu, Peru
Situated almost 2,500 metres above sea-level in modern-day Peru, Machu Picchu is one of the most famous South American destinations. Nestled in the Andes mountains, this relic of the mighty Incan civilisation is also recognised as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.
Travellers from around the world trek up the mountains to catch a glimpse of the site for themselves. While most opt from the short hike up the mountain after a bus or train ride, longer treks and guide along the old Inca trail are also an option for those seeking a challenge.
Chichen Itza, Mexico
Another true wonder of the old Mesoamerican world, Chichen Itza was once a centre of power in Mayan civilisation. Then the city fell into a long decline before being swallowed up by the thick jungle. Now, the mighty ruins and it’s iconic pyramid stand today as a cultural treasure.
Travelling to Chichen Itza is a day trip from the picturesque Spanish colonial city of Merida, or around two hours from the international tourist hub Cancun. The sights (and sounds) of this ‘Wonder of the World’ is a must-see for travellers of all stripes and styles.
A list of Latin American wonders would not be complete without the old capital of the infamous Mesoamerican empire, the Aztecs. With several large pyramids – the ‘Pyramid of the Sun’ stands tall at 65 metres – the archaeological site is one of the most significant in the world.
Getting to Teotihuacan is a day trip from Mexico City, with plenty of facilities and expert guides on offer at the site. If you do get a tour guide, be sure to look for official credentials. These experts will have the historical and cultural knowledge to bring this magnificent wonder to life.
Christ the Redeemer, Brazil
Atop the 700-metre Corcovado mountain in the Tijuca Forest National Park, overlooking Rio de Janeiro stands Christ the Redeemer. A symbol of Christianity across the world, the 30-metre art deco statue is another ‘New Wonder of the World’ found in Latin America.
You have many options to get to the statue from Rio, depending on your style of travel. From hiking, public bus, private vans and tours, taxis or Uber, you can visit the statue for a quick visit or a whole day.
Torres del Paine National Park, Chile
Mountains, glaciers, lakes, and rivers in southern Chile make up Torres del Paine National Park, a national park within Chilean Patagonia. Home to a menagerie of wildlife and natural wonders, the park is a world teeming life and stunning mountain vistas.
As a natural wonder, the park is an incredible destination for hikers and Patagonian adventure tours. There is everything here for hard-worn adventurers more casual tourists, all seeking to capture the natural wonderful not seen anywhere else in the world.
Uyuni Salt Lake (Salar de Uyuni), Bolivia
The world's largest salt flat at 10,582 square kilometres is the Salar de Uyuni in southwest Bolivia, near the crest of the Andes. At an elevation of 3,656 meters above sea level, the Salar was formed as several prehistoric lakes drained and transformed over thousands of years.
The flatness and brightness of the plains are striking. Satellites in the earth's orbit even use the vast plains to calibrate sensitive measurement equipment, high in the atmosphere. To get to the plains, most travel to the town of Uyuni before exploring the curious secrets of the salt lakes.
Iguazu Falls, Argentina
On the border of Argentina and Brazil are the magnificent Iguazu Falls, the largest waterfall system in the world. How were they formed? Local legend has it they were created by a jealous and vengeful the deity, who cleaved a mighty crack the river.
While the site has been used in sets in Hollywood movies like Moonraker and Indiana Jones, they have to be seen to be believed. Travelling to the falls is usually from two main towns, one on either side of the falls: Foz do Iguaçu in Brazil and Puerto Iguazú in Argentina.
So much more to explore
These are just some of the many destinations to be found across Central and South America. With so much out there to explore – from vast wilderness to sprawling cities – you can almost hear your Latin American adventure calling!