South America is a vast continent boasting an impressive slew of vibrant cities and natural wonders even the most seasoned traveller will appreciate and fall for. From gawking at tempestuous waterfalls to feeling the pulse of Rio de Janeiro through boisterous festivities, Quotient recommends the top South American experiences to enjoy.
Gawk at the epic Iguazu Falls in Brazil and Argentina
Iguazu Falls is really one of the planet’s most awe-inspiring waterfalls – straddling both Brazil and Argentina, this natural wonder immediately stands out with its immense size and thunderous roar. Iguazu National Park itself is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is home to some 2,000 plant species, including more than 80 types of orchids. While the cascades are the main draw here, the surrounding rainforest is also spectacular as it teems with fauna such as the colourful toucan as well as 400 species of birds; you might also be lucky enough to stumble upon anything from tapirs to jaguars. On the Argentinian side, one of the highlights is the impressive Devil’s Throat, a U-shaped gorge that visitors can admire and even get mist sprays of, via a walking circuit.
Admire the rich wildlife in Galápagos
The Galápagos Islands seem a world apart from any other place on earth, retaining a certain charm ever since Charles Darwin stepped ashore here. As you explore the otherworldly scenery here, you will come across volcanic landscapes that reveal species like no other on earth; expect to get close and personal with the renowned giant, prehistoric-looking tortoise, the fearsome-looking marine iguana, sea lions lounging lazily on the beaches and comical-looking blue-footed boobies prancing around.
Celebrate the Carnival in Rio, Brazil
Few cities in the world boast the incredibly seductive charm of Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro. With its iconic cityscape, shimmering Atlantic waters, powdery-white sands and rugged mountains jutting from the ocean, the capital of Brazil for nearly 300 years until 1960 proves that resistance to wanderlust is futile. Come the Carnival (possibly the biggest party on the planet), the streets instantly become engulfed in colours, performances and dances – and amazingly intricate costumes. With dazzling strobes and hypnotic Afro-Brazilian beats, the festival boasts a unique energy and a soundtrack of samba and bossa nova rhythms that will keep you entertained for days. In 2017, the Carnival will take place from 24th February to 1st March.
Explore the wine country in Mendoza, Argentina
With the imposing Andes on the west and the South Atlantic Ocean to the east and south, the remarkable region of Mendoza is not only a visual delight but also promises both traditional and modernist wineries set among vines that run into the snow-capped Andes mountains. The beauty of the area is that the city itself can give you a glimpse into the Argentine culture while the surrounding area brims with activities such as hiking, climbing, white-water rafting and snow sports during winter.
Traverse the surreal-looking Salt Plains in Bolivia
As the largest salt flats in the world, Salar de Uyuni doesn’t fail to impress. A natural wonder, this beautiful plain surrounded by extinct volcanoes, lagoons and snow-capped peaks allows visitors to immerse in a dreamy yet eerie landscape, formed as a result of transformations between several prehistoric lakes. Salar de Uyuni is also a dreamland for photography — the infinite vastness of the sparkling salt flats makes for a gigantic mirror, producing astounding reflections that trick the eye and presenting endless plays on perspective.