From tropical rainforest and mighty mountains to ancient archaeology, natural wonders and wildlife, there are plenty of reasons to love South America – here’s our top five.

Wondrous wildlife

If wildlife-watching is your thing, you’ll be spoilt for choice in South America – it’s said to be home to more species of plants and animals than anywhere else on earth. In the north, the Amazon Rainforest stretches across millions of miles and is home to a wealth of fascinating species. Further south, flamingos feed in the lagoons of the Atacama salt flats and the plains of Patagonia play host to herds of guanaco. And for the ultimate wildlife adventure, you’ll want to make a beeline for the Galapagos Islands. Here an impressive array of birds, colourful marine life and of course, the giant tortoise all vie for your undivided attention.

Mighty mountains

South America offers some of the most spectacular mountain scenery in the world. The majestic Andes flank the western coast and cross seven different countries, from Venezuela in the north to Chile and Argentina in the south. You’ll get fabulous views of their snow-covered peaks from Chile’s capital city Santiago, or you could head to Peru and visit Lake Titicaca, which sits high in the Andes 3,800 metres above sea level.

Delicious food & wine

Sampling the local food and drink is one of the most exciting things to do on holiday, and in South America your taste buds are in for a treat. Argentina is renowned for its high-quality beef, so meat-lovers will want to head to the nearest parrilla, to feast on a tender juicy steak. Empanadas are another Argentine favourite. Originating in Iberia, these samosa-like savoury pastries are filled with a variety of flavours and ingredients including beef, chicken, ham and vegetables, and are then baked or fried before serving. If fish is more to your liking, you could head to Peru and sample a traditional ceviche – a dish consisting of fresh fish and seafood marinated in zesty citrus juices. And whilst you’re here don’t forget to order a Pisco sour, Peru’s famous cocktail made with the brandy-like Pisco, egg white, lime juice and bitters.

Fascinating history

From the poignant Wall of Tears in the Galapagos Islands to fine colonial architecture and ancient Inca ruins in Peru, South America is awash with fascinating historical sites. A must-see is of course, Peru’s incredible ‘lost city’ of Machu Picchu. Perched high on a mountain top, surrounded by jungle, this remarkable complex of Inca ruins lay hidden from the world for centuries until it was rediscovered in 1911. Beautiful beaches After all that exploring, you might be ready for a lazy day or two on the beach. Perhaps the most famous stretches of sand are Copacabana and Ipanema in Brazil, but there are gorgeous beaches on the Galapagos Islands too.