For the traveler in search of the ultimate dream destination, South America offers rich and varied options and truly unique experiences. Majestic mountains, lush rain forests and powerful rivers beckon the adventurous and beaches of unrivalled beauty fringe the coast line, inviting the weary. Whether you are exploring the ruins of an ancient Incan city or viewing awe-inspiring natural wonders – mountain ranges, lagoons, deserts and sand dunes – the experience exceeds your highest expectations. In its cities historical buildings stand tall and history comes alive. Their museums take you on a journey into pre-colonial and colonial times. In their night clubs you can end the day among the many happy people dancing the night away. Nature, history and lively street life are to be found all in one and the same beautiful place. The variety is endless - crashing waterfalls and virgin jungles, vibrant street parties, cultural festivals, wetlands, canyons and tropical wildlife of every kind. This continent with its many diverse countries is an unending delight.
South America extends from Ushuaia to Caracas with the country of Brazil occupying half of its territory and housing half of its population. Its geography is very diverse. One of its many outstanding geographical features is the mountain range of the Andes which runs along the western coast bordering the Pacific. This awe-inspiring range is over 7,000 kilometres long and its highest mountain, Aconcagua, is almost 7,000 metres above sea level. There are hundreds of active volcanoes and individual peaks in the Andes, but between the mountains lie some extensive flat areas, such as the famous Altiplano plateau, with its salt lakes, unique fauna and bizarre wind-swept rock formations. Climate and temperatures vary considerably. At higher altitudes temperatures decrease and glaciers are formed but dry steppe and rain forest are to be found mere miles away from them. Many fascinating animals live here, especially amphibians and some of the lesser-known creatures of the world, such as the guanaco and the alpacas, can be found roaming the slopes and planes.
The continent’s best-known rivers are the Orinoco and the amazing Amazon River which is fed by streams flowing from the Andes. This astounding river can be one to six miles wide, has more than two hundred tributaries and deposits huge volumes of water into the Atlantic Ocean. It flows through the spectacular Amazon Rainforest in the north central area of South America, the largest rainforest in the world and home to an array of creatures of great biodiversity.
The southernmost area of the continent, Patagonia, is a region of mainly steppelike plains and the location of the beautiful, Italian-style city of Carmen de Patagones. Off the southern tip of the continent is Tierra del Fuego, an archipelago with a sub-polar climate where snow can fall in summer. The popularMar del Plata on the Atlantic coast, known as “the happy city,” offers warmer temperatures in summer, December to March, for the enjoyment of its beaches.
The Incan city of Machu Pichu in Peru which dates from the fifteenth century offers the tourist evidence of the sophisticated culture of an indigenous people, which pre-existed the arrival of the conquistadors of the Spanish and Portuguese empires. The city is still being restored today to ensure its preservation. Postcolonial and modern culture, on the other hand, may be explored in the samba schools and post - Columbian museums of a city like Rio de Janeiro in Brazil.
South America is also home to some of the outstanding features in the world,including the Angel Falls in Venezuela, which are the highest waterfalls, the Atacama Desert, one of the most arid places on earth, and one of the highest lakes, Lake Titicaca, which lies between Peru and Bolivia, not to mention Bolivia’s most entrancing nature parks. So many superlatives! There is no doubt that the traveler in search of natural reserves, soaring mountains, fine-sand beaches, steaming jungles and awe-inspiring cities can find these and so much more in South America.