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5 bucket list experiences to try in South America

Published September 12th, 2014

South America is on the to-do list for many for the sheer scale of ancient sights, natural wonders and captivating cultures available in this vast and varied continent. The good news is, you don’t have to be an adventurer to head to South America and feel like a pioneer venturing to a new frontier. Whether you opt for a guided tour or decide to DIY, here’s 5 bucket list experiences to try in South America.



Machu Picchu, Peru

It wouldn’t be a bucket list without mentioning one of the world’s most famous trekking destinations. If you’re planning to do the four-day Inca Trail hike, you can do a guided tour of Machu Picchu, which includes a local guide, cook and porters, or follow in the footsteps of explorer Hiram Bingham III’s 1911 trip to the hidden citadel for free – be aware, you’ll need to be fit! Once you’re there, you’ll feel like you’re on top of the world.



Glaciar Perito Moreno, Argentina

One of the only glaciers in the world that’s actually growing, Perito Moreno Glacier is made up of the most beautiful powder blue hues. Found on the south side of Los Glaciares National Park in Patagonia, the icy mass is around five kilometres wide and 30 kilometres long and other than being large and incredibly awe-inspiring, Perito Moreno Glacier is famous for the ginormous chunks of ice that break off in summer and cause huge waves to crash across Lake Argentino.



Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

Also known as the Uyuni salt flats, this is where you can see the horizon blur between the sky and the land like a mirror for amazing photo ops (hello Insta!). Seriously, it’s a super of the natural world where you just can’t take a bad pic of this phenomenon from any angle. The world’s biggest salt flat at around 12,000 square kilometres and at altitude (3,653 metres up), the flat desert of white crusts, odd islands, multicoloured mineral lakes and mirrored apparitions is a must-see.



Rapa Nui, Chile

Those sombre statues on Easter Island (or Rapa Nui or Isla de Pascua, depending on who you’re asking), also known as moai, are the enigmatic emblems of this tiny island in the South Pacific. Remote yet inhabited, Easter Island’s biggest claim to fame is its archaeological sites dotted around the sparse landscape, but with epic waves to surf and pristine waters to dive, there’s plenty to tempt adventurers of all types to visit.



Cartagena, Colombia

One for International Talk Like a Pirate Day (that’s Friday, September 19, y’all), the city of Cartagena in Colombia (full name: Cartagena de Indias) was known as a notorious spot for buccaneers seeking booty. For all its skulduggery, Disney’s princesses wouldn’t be out of place in Cartagena. Take a guided tour for all of the history of this fairytale city or simply wander the cobblestone alleys, spying colourful colonial buildings and sighing at the sight of balconies wrapped in beautiful blooms.


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Cassandra Laffey

Consumed with unrequited wanderlust, I get my fix in 24/7 cities and hippie retreats. I'm still looking for the ultimate combo of secluded beach and major metropolis, and my happy place is a 5-star hotel room all to myself - sigh.