The tropical regions of South America are full of sandy beaches and exotic jungles…but travel farther south and you will find a very different landscape, full of incredible rock formations and glaciers. For the adventurous traveler, Patagonia and the surrounding regions are undoubtedly the best South America destinations. The southern part of the continent is home to some incredible landscapes. And although less diverse than their northern relatives, the wildlife here is pretty impressive as well. In the spirit of celebrating this beautiful region, here is a list of some of our favorite southern South America vacations!
Uyuni Salt Flats, Bolivia
Travel to Bolivia and visit the largest salt flat in the world! The Uyuni salt flats cover over 10,000 square kilometers (more than 4,000 square miles). Tourists visit this South America destination to marvel at the salt flat itself and to for the incredible views it offers. When covered in water, the flat acts as a mirror, and its extreme flatness and size seem to erase all perspective of distance and size.
Atacama Desert, Chile
When you travel to the Atacama Desert, you may get the feeling that in reality you’ve arrived to another planet. This is the world’s driest non-polar desert, and it is full of strange, unique landscapes. Travel from the town of San Pedro de Atacama to some of the desert’s major sights: El Tatio Geysers, Valley of the Moon, and so much more.
Easter Island, Chile
This island, located far off the coast of Chile, is one of the world’s most remote inhabited islands. The main attraction on Easter Island are its ruins, in particular the enormous, stone moai statues that can be found along the coast. Once you’ve taken in your fill of the ruins, you can also enjoy the island’s beaches.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Also known as the Paris of South America, Buenos Aires is the capital city of Argentina. Explore the wide avenues and French architecture of the downtown area before branching off to the other tourist neighborhoods. La Boca, the colorful neighborhood of immigrants. San Telmo, and its historical bars and cafés. Recoleta, and its famous parks and cemetery. And last but not least, the trendy restaurants and shops of Palermo. And don’t forget to visit Say Hueque Argentina Journeys!
El Calafate & El Chalten, Argentina
Next on our list is one of the most famous South America destinations in Patagonia. El Calafate is a small town in southern Argentina, located near the famous Perito Moreno Glacier, one of the world’s only advancing glaciers. We recommend traveling to El Calafate for a couple of days and then continuing on to the nearby village of El Chalten for some incredible hiking.
Torres del Paine, Chile
Once you’ve explored the Argentine Patagonia, it’s only fitting that you would visit one of the most stunning Patagonia national parks in Chile. Torres del Paine is an indescribably beautiful park in southern Chile. With glaciers, lakes, mountains, and wildlife galore, this is one of our South America destinations that you definitely won’t want to miss.
Let us know in the comments which of these South America destinations you’d most like to visit. And feel free to add to our list! (And if you are more interested in a warm, relaxing vacation destination, check out this post on the best South American tropical vacations!)
By Michelle Lenze