South America is a fascinating continent to visit. More ancient history than you can possibly imagine, incredible cities, and the most beautiful landscapes you can think of. It's been a while since I have written about it, and even longer since I visited. It's about time then, that I take a look at destination: South America.
Why Visit South America?
You mean the opening paragraph wasn't enough to show you why you should visit South America?! Ok, it looks like I'm going to have to go into more detail then! Here's 7 reasons why you should visit South America.
Incredible Archaeological Sites
The most famous archaeological site in South America is Machu Picchu in Peru, and I included this on my list of 7 wonders of the world. You can also read an account here of how to get a train to Machu Picchu.
There are literally thousands more though, some well known like Kuelap, and others like Markawamachucka barely known at all. If you dig ancient civilisations, archaeological sites and history, you are going to love South America!
South America is also a great destination for outdoor adventure! There's plenty of hiking going on, but for me of course, it is the bicycle touring which is the main attraction.
The South American section of my cycling trip from Alaska to Argentina was among the most enjoyable and memorable. It was a real chance to get out into the wild, and enjoy nature for what it is! If this sounds like your thing, these tips on cycling in Peru might be useful.
South America has some of the most varied landscapes and terrains on earth. From the altiplano of Bolivia, to the rugged beauty of Patagonia it is absolutely stunning.
My favourite part? The mountains were incredible of course, but the Salt Pans of Bolivia stood out for me. It was a wonderful experience both camping and cycling on them!
Each country has its own culture and traditions, blending together Latin and indigenous influences. This is reflected in the food, music, architecture, and way of life. It's a huge melting pot, but at the same time, has a recognisable underlying South American trait.
Visitors from Europe often associate South American countries as being rural and less developed. I suppose I have just reinforced that a little with the photo above, but it is not the whole story!
The main cities such as Buenos Aires wouldn't look out of place in mainland Europe, and they are a hub of wonderful architecture, arts, and culture. I spent far too little time in Buenos Aires the last time I visited, and would love to go back again soon.
Then there are cities like Cusco, with colonial architecture at their heart giving them an ‘old world' feel. Most visitors to Peru will pass through Cusco at some point if they plan to visit Machu Picchu, and it's always worth spending as much time there as you can. Check out this guide on what to do in Cusco for more details.
Easy on the Wallet
The flights into South America may set you back a little bit, but once there, you are going to find it pretty easy on the wallet. Countries like Bolivia and Peru offer incredible value for money, and I spent less than $10 a day when I was cycling.
Even countries like Argentina and Chile can be quite budget friendly. You can also bring down your average daily spend even further by travelling for longer. Counter-intuitive I know, but it does work.
Beaches and Islands
I wouldn't be much of a travel blogger if I didn't mention beaches and islands at least once! There are, of course, thousands of miles of beaches, hundreds of islands, and endless places to put up a hammock and relax. My favourites though, were the San Blas islands of Panama, which I visited when sailing from Panama to Colombia on the Sailing Koala.
Thinking about it, I should have spent at least a month there, doing nothing but reading books, swimming and sleeping. That sounds like the perfect South American vacation!
Check out this post if you like cycling!: Bicycle Touring South America