If your appetite for a trip to South America is whetted by the stunning pictures below, simply visit the linked destination to check out the authentic travel experiences offered by Intrepid Travel.
South America’s stunning natural beauty makes it a popular destination for adventure seekers. Traveling across the continent — from the Andes to the Galapagos Islands, the Amazon to Patagonia — you will be saying “Wow!” so often that you’ll need new ways to express amazement. That’s why we’ve collected local phrases from Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina and Chile so you can say “wow” like a local.
We will start our tour of awe-inspiring destinations at the northern end of the continent and make our way south. First stop: Ecuador!
1. The Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
- What to say: Está bacán.
The Galapagos Islands have held sway over the public imagination ever since they featured in Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species. The amazing biodiversity of this island chain was central to the development of Darwin’s theory of evolution. The Ecuadorian government is working hard to ensure that the islands stay as pristine as the day Darwin first set foot on them to study finches and giant tortoises. Today, the islands and surrounding marine reserve are protected wildlife areas that can only be visited with the help of specially licensed tours. If your idea of adventure is more about creatures than creature comforts, the Galapagos are a must-see!
- Está chévere.
- ¡Qué vista más hermosa!
2. Machu Picchu, Peru
- What to say: Está bestial.
The photo above might be one of the most iconic images on Earth, but a photograph is no replacement for personally setting foot in the lost city of the Incas. A trip to Machu Picchu means an epic multi-day hike (or a far more comfortable 3-hour train ride) through jungle and mountainous terrain. The city ruins are only the cherry on top of an amazing experience in the Andes Mountains. The views will take your breath away, no matter how many times you’ve seen them in pictures.
3. Lake Titicaca, Bolivian-Peruvian border
- What to say: Está pintudo.
If you are a person of extremes, then Lake Titicaca should be at the top of your South America bucket list. Not only is it the biggest lake in South America, it’s the highest navigable body of water on the planet! An anomaly in the otherwise arid Andes, the lake is like an Andean oasis — both in terms of wildlife, which is surprisingly diverse, and people who have made the lake and its many islands central to their unique way of life.
4. Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia
- What to say: ¡Qué churo/chura!
This salt flat in western Bolivia is the ecological opposite of Lake Titicaca — it’s very very dry. The absence of any plant or animal life and its almost geometrically perfect flatness makes the Salar de Uyuni one of the most surreal and otherworldly places on Earth. For a similar experience, you could take a vacation to Mars, but this is your best bet for an earthbound substitute.
- Elay puej. (If you are in eastern Bolivia.)
5. Iguazu Falls, Argentine-Brazilian border
- What to say: ¡Es re lindo!
The Iguazu Falls are superlative in almost every respect, taking the title for the largest waterfall system in the world! Although they make up part of the border between Argentina and Brazil, most of the Falls are on the Argentinian side. If you are in southern Brazil or northern Argentina, it is undoubtedly worth taking a short plane ride to the Argentinian province of Misiones, where the Falls are just one of the natural wonders waiting to be explored.
6. Patagonia, southern Argentina and Chile
- What to say: ¡Me re gusta!
The vast region of Patagonia, which stretches across the entire southern end of South America, is a world unto itself. The area is sparsely populated and nature is clearly in charge. It’s like the Rockies, Alaska and the Alps all rolled into one exotic antipodean package. The true outdoor enthusiast cannot miss this, the ultimate wilderness.
7. Buenos Aires, Argentina
What to say: ¡Me gusta mal!
South America isn’t only about natural beauty, but also about culture. If you can only visit one metropolis on a trip otherwise dominated by the outdoors, make it Buenos Aires — the capital of Argentina and the home of tango. Although the architecture may remind you of Europe, the local porteño identity is unparalleled.