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12 Places to visit in South America

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Our regular readers already know the entire team at SA Expeditions has been to Machu Picchu, so we left that one off the list.

Here are 12 other awesome South American destinations our team has visited and can recommend from firsthand experience. Get ready to add to your bucket list, because you’re going to want to see these places for yourself.

In no particular order...

1. Glacier National Park, Argentina (Patagonia)


Patagonia covers an area the size of Texas and is split between Chile and Argentina on the southern tip of South America. Full of fjords, glaciers, and pampas, it’s the ideal place for outdoor enthusiasts. On the Argentinean side is Glacier National Park, home to 47 glaciers including the Perito Moreno and Upsala glaciers. Our co-founder  Nick is pictured here with the Upsala Glacier in the background.

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2. Lake Titicaca, Peru


The highest navigable lake in the world and legendary birthplace of the Incas, Lake Titicaca is a destination for natural Andean isolation and intriguing local cultures. Whether you want to explore the floating Uros islands or the traditional lifestyle of the Quechua-speaking locals, be sure to give yourself some time to adjust to the altitude—it’s 12,000 feet above sea level.

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3. Iguazu Falls, Argentina & Brazil


At Iguazu, you don’t see waterfalls, you experience them. With 275 individuals falls spewing off cliffs along the border of Brazil and Argentina, Iguazu is a rush. From Brazil you get stunning panoramic views of the site, while from Argentina you can cross walkways right to the edge of the river. Our destination manager Riva is pictured here in front of the falls and their ever-present rainbow.

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4. Inca Trail, Peru


The classic 4-day Inca Trail covers 28 miles and concludes at Machu Picchu early in the morning of the final day. Once used by the Incas to access their hidden citadel, the trek today takes you through stunning Andean scenery and past numerous ancient ruins.

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5. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil


Rio de Janeiro has been getting a lot of press recently, with the upcoming annual Carnival celebrations about to begin and the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Summer Olympic Games coming ever closer. Rio has the perfect mix of urban vitality and natural beauty, and has several must-see sights, including Sugarloaf Mountain (where our marketing manager Laura is pictured) and Christ the Redeemer statue (pictured in the background).

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6. Amazon Rainforest


The Amazon Rainforest is one of the most biodiverse places on earth, simply packed with interesting plants and animals. In this photo, Laura isn’t bored—she’s taking a photo! Look to the left of the canoe. See some eyes looking back?

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7. Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia


This surreal landscape is the massive salt flat of Salar de Uyuni. Located in Bolivia, Uyuni is the largest salt flat in the world. It’s difficult to get to, but well worth the extra travel hassle. Our co-founder David is showing the salt who's boss in this photo. You can visit similar landscapes in the Atacama Desert in Chile.

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8. Torres del Paine, Chile (Patagonia)


Once you visit the glaciers in Argentina’s Patagonia, cross the border to visit Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park. It's home to 181,000 hectares that contain the famous granite pillars, the popular W-trek, and several glacial lakes of its own, making it a trekker’s paradise.

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9. The Galapagos Islands, Ecuador


Some say travel isn’t about where you go, but who you meet while you’re there. Here our destination expert Staci is making friends with a blue-footed boobie who didn’t feel like moving off a path on North Seymour in the Galapagos.

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10. The Sacred Valley, Peru


Ah, the Sacred Valley. The beautiful agricultural region surrounding Cusco and scattered with traditional villages and ancient Inca ruins. This area is often skipped by tourists on their way to Machu Picchu, but we really must insist you spend a day or two here! This photo shows Staci checking out the massive stones at Sacsayhuaman, which overlook the city of Cusco.

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11. Easter Island, Chile


Located 2,300 miles from mainland Chile and 1,300 miles from the nearest inhabited island, Easter Island is truly isolated. Its ancient Polynesian society left over 300 mysterious statues called moai scattered across the island. Without wheels, how they moved the moai from the quarries to their current outposts is unknown. Our destination expert Kristina checked them out, but was unable to solve the mystery.

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12. Beaches of Colombia


Colombia has some of the best beaches in the world—and very few tourists sunbathing on them. Adventurous travelers who want to try something new should add Colombia to their list. Since all our tours are customizable, just let us know where you want to go and we'll make it happen.

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