When talking about South America tourism, you’ll most likely hear people excitedly talking about Rio de Janeiro and its globally famous carnival, or the ruins of Machu Picchu, or the stunning Atacama Desert. There is a whole lot of wonderful food to taste and diverse cultural landscapes to discover in this vibrant land. However, between all the common tourist spots, the wildlife of South America offers enchanting sights and thrilling encounters, forming memories we’re sure you will treasure more than any souvenir.
The Galapagos Islands Gallery
Among South America’s several distinct ecosystems, the volcanic Galapagos Islands are a unique jewel. Flocked off the coast of Ecuador, they boast fourteen unique species among their animal and bird inhabitants, a fact even Charles Darwin found noteworthy. You can get pretty close to them, too – there aren’t many predators and the area is fairly isolated, so the local wildlife is actually pretty accustomed to human visitors.
The Amazon Kaleidoscope
No South America trip is complete without visiting the great Lungs of the World. The Amazon Basin, which includes both the mighty river and the fabled rainforest, spans nine countries: Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, Colombia, Venezuela, Suriname, Guyana and French Guyana. Whichever point you want to start your journey from, the 44,500 animal and plant species in the forest and river are certain to afford you some unforgettable sights.
The Patagonian Wilderness
If you draw a line between Puerto Montt (Chile) and Bariloche (Argentina), everything to the south is considered Patagonia. Most famous for its postcard landscapes and hailed as a trekkers’ paradise, Patagonia also offers some unique opportunities for wildlife lovers. At Punta Tombo (Argentina) or Magdalena Island (Chile), you can find the Magellanic penguin, and if you visit June through mid-December, you might also spot some Southern right whales.
Playing With the Big Cats
The elusive great cat, the jaguar, lives in the dense forests down to the tip of Argentina, but is an extremely solitary predator. Expeditions into the Brazilian Pantanal region offer the thrill of following their trail. Your best chances of having a successful jaguar spotting are June through October.
Go Fish – If You Dare
Do you think you have what it takes to get a piranha to bite into your bait? These frightening, toothy, ferocious little hunters live in the Amazon River. If you’re brave enough, or crazy enough, you can sign up for a controlled excursion and test your fishing skills against them under the careful supervision of a naturalist guide.
A Different Kind of Dolphins
If you travel deep into the Amazon’s tributaries, particularly out of Iquitos, you’ll see the beautiful pink dolphins which thrive in the great river. They’re unique to the waters of Venezuela, Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador and Colombia, and are considered a vulnerable species.
South America is a land of wonderful, passionate discovery. This list is just a little teaser! All this and much more awaits those who decide to visit South America, so what are you waiting for? Grab your bags!