10 Great Natural Wonders to See in South America
From verdant valleys to colourful canyons; geysers to glaciers; the Atacama Desert to the Amazon rainforest – wherever you go in South America, you’re never short of stunning natural scenery that’ll take your breath away. Still, even in a land so diverse, awash with countless incredible landscapes, there’re natural monuments that truly stand out for the thrills they offer. To fully appreciate the inherent beauty of South America, you need to visit some of the continent’s most striking natural wonders. But how’s that possible, when they’re all so spread out? Don’t worry, we’ve got this. On escorted tours with Travelsphere, we do our utmost to ensure you have the most enjoyable experience possible, even if it means heading to multiple countries! But enough about us; we’ve put together a handy guide to natural wonders in South America, listing some of the most exciting and beautiful landscapes to see on our specially designed tours.
Also known as Guanabara Bay, the bay of Rio de Janeiro was first discovered by Portuguese explorers on 1st January 1502 – its name means ‘January River’, after the date of discovery. More than 130 islands dot this immense inlet of the Atlantic Ocean, and overlooking its pristine waters is the mighty Mount Corcovado, which is capped with a 40-metre-high statue called ‘Christ the Redeemer’ – you’ve probably heard of it. Here you’ll also find Sugarloaf Mountain – named for its resemblance to concentrated refined loaf sugar – and the world-famous Copacabana Beach (thank you, Barry Manilow). Bursting with natural wonders to explore and appreciate, the bay of Rio de Janeiro promises to be even more enjoyable with Travelsphere.
Famous for its biodiversity and the mighty river that bears its name, the Amazon rainforest is the world’s largest, most luxuriant tropical forest. From sloths to squirrel monkeys; toucans to tapirs, the Amazon is home to a bewildering array of wildlife. Covering an area of 2,300,000 square miles (6,000,000 square kilometres), the rainforest comprises about 40% of the total area of Brazil! And now, thanks to Travelsphere’s epic add-on, it’s your chance to discover new places and try new experiences in one of the world’s most important ecosystems.
A Chilean territory, Easter Island – native name: Rapa Nui – is one of the world’s most mysterious destinations. Famed for the moai – gigantic stone heads up to 30 feet tall – Easter Island is also home to world-class beaches and enormous volcanic craters, including that of the legendary Rano Kau. In 1995, Rapa Nui National Park was awarded UNESCO World Heritage Site status, which helps preserve this beautiful island for generations to come. Whether spotting abundant sea life (and even an underwater moai!) among the coral beds or hiking up green-carpeted volcanoes, you’re guaranteed a fantastic time on Easter Island.
Straddling the border between Bolivia and Peru, Lake Titicaca sits high up in the Andes and is the world’s highest navigable body of water. Believed to be the birthplace of the Inca civilisation, many ruins surround – and are submerged beneath – Lake Titicaca, whose waters are famously still and brightly reflective. Rare aquatic wildlife such as giant frogs make their home here, and the lake also welcomes ibises, flamingos, and gulls. Superb close-up views of this sacred natural wonder are yours to savour while on tour with Travelsphere.
5. Moon Valley
A lunar-like landscape of rugged mountains, distinctive rock formations, and sand dunes, Moon Valley is in every sense out of this world. Carved solely by wind and water, this valley offers spectacular natural vistas; the overwhelming shadows that the desert displays are truly something to marvel over. With Travelsphere, you get the privilege of watching the sunset over the dusky-red terrain; when the light fades, the rocks appear to change colour, making for a stunning spectacle.
Part of the Republic of Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands are also known as the ‘Enchanted Isles’ – and for good reason. As a natural wonder, what really makes the Galapagos is the sheer range of creatures that call these islands home; acting as if human beings are little more than paparazzi sneaking a quick photo now and again, many of the animals here aren’t found anywhere else in the world. From colourful fish to frigate birds; sea turtles to giant tortoises, you’ll be amazed by the islands’ astonishing biodiversity. Going Galapagos island-hopping with Travelsphere means you’ll get the chance to experience all that’s great about this mesmerising destination.
7. Milodon Cave
The 30-metre-high Milodon Cave is a fascinating place; named after the enormous extinct ground sloth species – partial remains of which were discovered here in the late 19th century – this natural monument also consists of several smaller caves and the renowned rock formation Silla del Diablo (the Devil’s Chair). Remains of other extinct animals have also been found within the caves, including those of the dwarf horse and the iconic sabre-toothed cat, as well as evidence of human habitation from as early as 6,000 BC. A life-size replica of the mylodon sloth greets visitors as they enter the monument; how’s that for a talking point among your Travelsphere tour mates?!
8. Colca Canyon
With steep walls deeper than those of the Grand Canyon, the Colca Canyon makes for an impressive sight. A colourful Andean valley with roots going back to before the Incas, Colca Canyon is a sacred place; over the centuries, myriad peoples have put sacrifices and gifts to their gods in the river, believing it to flow straight to them. The canyon is also home to the Andean condor, which has a massive wingspan of between seven and nine feet; sometimes called the ‘Eternity Bird’, it’s regarded as a symbol of longevity. An amazing natural wonder to see up close, make sure you take a trip to the Colca Canyon with Travelsphere.
We’ve already mentioned some impressive natural wonders situated within the Atacama, but nothing quite compares to the beauty and majesty of the Atacama Desert itself. Covering a 1,000-kilometre strip of land on the Pacific coast, just west of the Andes, it’s the driest desert in the world; however, far from being a desolate, arid wilderness, the Atacama is overflowing with life. The hard-white crust and turquoise lagoons of the vast Atacama salt flat help create a haven for birdlife, including pink flamingos. With snow-capped volcanoes lining the horizon, be sure to get your camera out on your Atacama tour with Travelsphere for some holiday snaps you’ll surely cherish forever.
10. Iguazu Falls
Bordering both Brazil and Argentina, Iguazu Falls is the world’s largest waterfall system. When United States First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt first saw Iguazu, she reportedly exclaimed, ‘Poor Niagara!’ – and it’s easy to see why. Consisting of roughly 275 separate cascades, Iguazu’s star attraction is undoubtedly Garganta del Diablo; throwing around 63,500 cubic feet of water into a 230-foot canyon, this waterfall creates an especially dazzling display of spray and rainbows. And thanks to Travelsphere’s Latin Wonders of the World tour, you can experience just how magnificent Iguazu Falls really is. Whether waterfalls or wildlife; caves or canopies – no matter what you expect from the scenery of South America, prepare to be amazed by the countless natural wonders that call this continent home. Count on Travelsphere to take you to some of the best natural wonders in South America, where you’re sure to be in a good group of people and have plenty of fantastic experiences you’ll never forget.