Published on September 19th, 2017 | by Mark Chesnut
South America’s 6 Most Exciting Places for Nature Lovers
With its wildly varied geography, South America is heaven for nature lovers. The region’s incredibly diversity, in fact, can provide enough options for multiple trips. From the soaring Andes Mountains to dramatic Atlantic and Pacific coastlines, from the frozen glaciers at the tip of the continent to Patagonia’s unspoiled forests and Atacama’s dramatic desert, South America offers vacation activities that range from adventurous to relaxed — but are never short on scenery.
Where to start? With helpful travel tips from our expert sponsor partner, Coddiwomple Journeys, we’ve narrowed the South America vacation wish list to focus on the region’s most exciting places for nature lovers. It definitely helps to rely on insight from the experts, after all — and since Coddiwomple specializes in South America, you can’t get much more expert than that. (Plus, the Boston-based tour operator offers personalized service and wonderfully customizable itineraries, so you can curate and craft the South America trip you’ve always dreamed about.)
So if natural beauty and memorable vacation experiences are your idea of the perfect getaway, look no further. Make sure these destinations are on your short list.
The Atacama Desert, Chile
The world’s driest desert provides an otherworldly setting for a nature-focused Latin America vacation. You can spend countless days exploring dramatic mountain ranges, salt flats and lagoons, as well as geysers, thermal pools and marshes. Visitors may be surprised by the wide array of wildlife here too, including llamas, lizards, foxes and flamingos. The charming town called San Pedro de Atacama serves as the ideal hub for exploration, and it’s graced with plenty of memorable shopping, dining and hotel options. Coddiwomple’s Explore Central & Northern Chile itinerary includes lots of time for guided excursions as well as relaxing, restful stays at well-appointed hotels that offer everything from swimming pools to sumptuous spas and gourmet cuisine. You can add extra excitement — and photo opportunities — by opting for outings like a sunrise balloon ride over the desert. Coddiwomple offers fully flexible itineraries that make it easy to choose your favorite activities.
Lake Titicaca, Peru
South America’s largest lake — and also the highest navigable lake in the world — is a must-see on any nature-focused South American vacation itinerary. Perched on the border of Peru and Bolivia, Lake Titicaca blends spectacular scenery and traditional culture, providing a truly multidimensional experience for visitors.
When you sign up for Coddiwomple’s Best of Peru itinerary you’ll arrive at Lake Titicaca aboard the luxurious Belmond Andean Explorer train, along one of world’s highest train routes. Once at the lake, you’ll be treated to guided excursions, including a fascinating visit to the floating, man-made islands of Uros, and face-to-face meetings with descendants of the Incas. Coddiwomple can also suggest additional activities that you can use to customize the experience and make it even more special.
Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
There’s a reason why English naturalist Charles Darwin was so wowed by the Galapagos Islands. The unique variety of animal species that reside here, in fact, helped to influence his theory of evolution. Today, this picturesque archipelago is one of the world’s most important destinations for wildlife lovers. Its unspoiled ecosystems offer countless opportunities for excitement — where else can you come face to face with giant tortoises, blue-footed boobies, penguins, iguanas, seals and so many other rare species? Multi-day visits can include accommodations on land or on a small cruise ship. Coddiwomple’s Galapagos Islands itinerary, for example, includes a cruise aboard the state-of-the-art Santa Cruz II, which features chic décor and five spacious decks. You’ll stop at a variety of interesting places, including Rabida Island (where you’ll get amazingly close to sea lions, marine iguanas, mockingbirds, yellow warblers and multiple species of Darwin’s finches) and Bartolomé Island, where you can snorkel, swim and hike to the island’s summit for a gorgeous view.
Ecuador’s relatively compact size makes it easy to combine the Galapagos with other regions. Coddiwomple’s Best of Ecuador itinerary is a perfect add-on to the Galapagos itinerary, with visits to some of the mainland’s most stunning attractions.
Iguazu Falls, Argentina and Brazil
It’s impossible not to be amazed the first time you see Iguazu Falls. With its 275 thundering cascades, the falls — which straddle the Argentina/Brazil border — are among the continent’s most memorable attractions. Coddiwomple Journeys offers an especially exciting way to enjoy both sides of the border its Best of Argentina itinerary, which includes a guided tour of the Argentina side, complete with a speedboat ride and a 4 x 4 jungle safari. You’ll also head to the Brazilian side, for a thrilling, 10-minute helicopter ride over the falls — you won’t want to leave your camera home for this trip. You can complement these activities with a variety of options that showcase the best that Argentina has to offer, including a full-day immersion in the gaucho cowboy lifestyle, and the big-city sophistication of Buenos Aires. Coddiwomple Journeys knows Argentina like no one else, and can recommend activities and attractions to match your interests.
Patagonia, Argentina and Chile
Spread between Chile and Argentina, Patagonia is a region known for its natural, unspoiled beauty and delightfully diverse options for nature-loving vacationers. On the Chile side, you can opt for Coddiwomple’s Explore Central & Southern Chile itinerary, which features a visit to the postcard-perfect Torres del Paine National Park, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve graced with mountains, lakes, rivers and even glaciers.
On the Argentina side, the main gateway is the scenic town of Bariloche, which sits at the foothills of the Andes Mountains, on the shores of Nahuel Huapi Lake.
It’s featured in the Best of Argentina itinerary, with unforgettable activities including hiking, kayaking and a full-day sailing expedition on the lovely lake. You can also luxuriate in the world-famous Llao Llao Hotel & Resort, and choose from a variety of customizable options — still more proof why Coddiwomple Journeys is a leader in South America vacations.
The Coffee Triangle, Colombia
Anyone who’s ever sipped a cup of joe is surely aware of Colombia’s legendary brews. But not everyone may be aware of the natural beauty of this South American nation’s so-called Coffee Triangle, where you can hike the wax palm forests and go bird watching (Colombia, by the way, has more species than anywhere else on earth). And, of course, you can sip some of the freshest coffee you’ve ever tasted. Here’s a scoop: Coddiwomple Journeys is about to introduce a new itinerary that will tours the capital city of Bogota and historic Villa de Leyva before whisking you off to Armenia, a hub for the Coffee Triangle, followed by a visit to the world-famous port city of Cartagena.