Highlights from Around South America Francais Lugares de destaque na América Latina Highlights from Around South America Die Höhepunkte aus Süd Amerika Lugares destacados de Sudamérica Höjdpunkter i Sydamerika

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Highlights from Around South America

Latin America is a BIG place and each country offers its own set of unique experiences. These are some of the most popular things to do around the continent. From partying at the carnival to lying on beautiful beaches to hiking on glaciers this is a continent that offers something for everyone. And this is just the beginning! Go an explore all this continent has to offer!

Chile - Torres Del Paine

Torres del Paine is a national park covering 181.000 hectares located in the extreme south of Chile. It received its name from the 3 mountain peaks that are present within the park.

There are several hikes that you can do within the park varying from a few hours to a few days. It is possible to do the hikes alone but having a tour guide to point out interesting things along the way will greatly enhance the experience. When considering a trip to the park it is important to ensure that you have the correct clothing. Average temperatures in summer are around 11C and around 0 during the winter. In general the best time to visit the park is between October and April where there are about 16 hours of daylight.

Besides for the spectacular landscape it is possible to view various kinds of wildlife such as including 110 species of bird and 25 species of mammal.

Uruguay - Punta del Este

Punta del Este is a beach town in Uruguay where the 'rich and famous' of Latin America gather to spend their summer vacations.

While it is possible to go throughout the year, summer is when the city explodes, with more than 400,000 tourists arriving between December and March. During this time the average temperature is around 28 degrees and the city is packed with events like fashion shows, art exhibitions, concerts, as well as restaurants, bars, nightclubs and casinos.

The beaches extend over 40 kilometers and there is something for everyone. It is possible to do a variety of water sports including surfing, windsurfing, boating and of course swimming.

Paraguay - Iguazu Falls

In Mbaracayú Forest Nature Reserve, located in northeastern Paraguay, almost on the border with Brazil, there still exists populations of both fauna and flora that are endangered, such as the taguato ruvicha or the harpy eagle in the woods bordering the river Jejui-mi.

It is home to 411 species of birds, of which 30 are under some degree of global threat and 89 species of mammals such as jaguareté, puma, mborevi, among others. It also protects a large number of amphibians, reptiles, fish and insects and a wide variety of plant species.

All this has meant that UNESCO has designated this place as the Core Area of the Mbaracayu Forest Biosphere Reserve , one of the few places in the world that boasts such recognition.

Bolivia - Salt Plains

The Bolivian Salt Plains (Salar de Uyuni) are an enormous area of land covered in salt that used to be a lake located almost 600 km away from La Paz – the capital city in Bolivia.

It covers an area of over 10,000 square kilometers. The plains are located in southwest Bolivia at an altitude of 3,656 meters above sea level. This height can cause altitude sickness so its advisable to chew coco leaves when traveling there as it helps reduce the effects.

It is possible to visit the Salt Flats throughout the year. Keep in mind that the rainy season occurs during the South Hemisphere summer (November to April) and may cause some difficulty in arriving there. The Salt Flats are quite difficult to get to as the tours leave from a small town which you need to arrive at by taking the train or bus. Once there you can choose a tour that lasts between 2-4 days. It is advisable to double check the safety of the vehicle that you will be traveling in!

Brazil - Carnival in Rio

The carnival in Rio is one of the most famous in the world and dates back to 1723. It is held in the summer for 4 days before Lent every year.

It usually falls in February or March. An estimated 2 million people participate in this carnival per day which makes it the biggest carnival in the world. There are 3 parts to the carnival – the parade and the parties and the balls.

The parade: The parade is a competition where samba schools are competing against each other and judged. A samba school is a community of people that meet on a regular basis to practice samba. Every year each school chooses a different theme and incorporates it into their costumes and floats. Each school is allowed between 3000 - 5000 members and 6 to 8 floats. Each samba school spends up to 75 minutes on the runway. The parade starts at 9pm and can continue until 6am the following day.

Street parties: In Rio there are also street parties where a band follows a specific route and its fans follow behind them singing and dancing. People dress up and alcohol flows. Street parties are fun as they don't cost anything and you can choose whether to fully participate or watch from the sidelines.

Carnival balls: During this time there are also carnival balls which usually features live music and may provide an opportunity to see local and international celebrities.

Peru - Machu Pichu

Machu Pichu is an Inca city located 2,430 meters above sea level that dates back to the 15th century and is probably the most famous symbol from the Inca period.

It is 80 kilometers northwest of Cusco in the middle of a tropical mountain forest. It was declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983. It covers 32,500 ha. The annual average temperature is 16 degrees Celsius with the wet season occurring between October and April. It is possible to hike from Cusco to Machu Pichu and covers a distance of 45 kilometres and takes about 4 days.

There are other options of a 2 day hike or you could just take the train which takes about 4 hours. At the moment there is a limit on how many people are allowed into the city per day in order to ensure its preservation.

Ecuador - Galapagos Islands

The Galapagos Islands are located 700 kilometres off the west coast of Ecuador. In order to reach them you need to fly first to Ecuador and than to the islands.

There are 14 main islands to explore. It was designated the First World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1978. They were first discovered in 1535. They are famous for the large number of species that are found only on the island and that were studied by Charles Darwin in 1835 and contributed to Darwin's theory of evolution.

The dry season on the island falls between June and December and the warm (rainy) season falls from December to May with an average temperature ranging from 21 - 29 degrees Celsius. It is possible to view some of the islands independently but to take full advantage of the experience it is advisable to join an organized boat tour.

Colombia - San Andres Island

San Andres is an island located 750 km away from the mainland and is a 90 minute flight from Colombia.

It was declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 2000. The average temperature throughout the year is 27 degrees Celsius. It is renowned for scuba diving and boasts crystal clear, warm waters. The northern most part of the island is the busiest and where most of the resorts, restaurants and nightlife is located. Sound Bay is one of the best beaches on the island with gorgeous sand and sea and is not as crowded. The island has beaches, coral reefs, cays, geysers, coves, lakes as well as mangrove forests.

San Andres has some excellent diving opportunities. It has one of the longest coral reefs in the world with a variety of fishes and colored corals.

Costa Rica - Arenal Volcano

The Arenal Volcano National Parks is almost 30,000 acres and hosts one of Costa Ricas most impressive volcanoes. Arenal is an active volcano located in the north west of Costa Rica and reaches a height of 1,633 metres.

It was dormant for years and than in 1968 it suddenly erupted burying 3 small villages and leaving 87 people dead. The volcano continued to erupt but since October 2010 the activity has decreased. In addition to the Arenal volcano there are 6 other active volcanoes and 60 dormant or extinct volcanoes in Costa Rica.

Other activities in the park include rain forest hikes, whitewater rafting, horseback riding, hot springs and canopy tours. Average temperature is between 21 degrees Celsius and 27 degrees Celsius.

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