6 Hidden Gems of South America

Highlights of South America

Next time your clients request a vacation to South America, why not show them some of the lesser-known places? Here are six travel ideas to get you started on planning a South American vacation that’s anything but cookie-cutter.

Take Clients Off the Beaten Path in South America

1. Las Lajas Sanctuary – Colombia

Gothic revival cathedral built into a cliffside.
Built into the cliffside, this Gothic revival cathedral is the supposed site of an appearance by the Virgin Mary.

Built in the Gothic Revival style between 1916 and 1949, this engineering marvel was built inside the canyon of the Guáitara River. The building you see today replaced earlier, more primitive shrines constructed of straw and wood. Supposedly, the Virgin Mary appeared on the site in 1754, and has been the site of purported miracles ever since. Between this beautiful landmark and the gorgeous views of the Colombian countryside, this is the perfect place to send clients.

2. Semuc Champey – Guatemala

In the local Mayan language, the name of this natural landmark translates to “Where the river hides under the stones,” so named for the 300-meter long natural limestone bridge that crosses the Cahabón River. The pools surrounding the bridge are renowned for their intense turquoise hue. Its remoteness makes this a lesser-known gem of the region.

3. Parque Nacional dos Lençóis Maranhenses – Brazil

Sand dunes hold fresh water creating marshes during the rainy season.
During the rainy season, the dunes of this national park become salt water marshes.

When clients ask for a Brazil trip, they most likely think of Carnival, the beaches of Rio de Janeiro, Christ the Redeemer, or hang-gliding along the Atlantic coast. Chances are they’ve never heard of the fascinating salt marshes to the north. What may appear like a white-sand version of the Sahara turns into one of the world’s most unusual landscapes during the rainy season. The dunes turn into freshwater lagoons due to the fact there is hard bedrock just beneath the stand, which effectively acts as a pool liner. Clients interested in ecotourism will relish the chance to go canoeing, horseback riding, camping, and more!

 

4. Iquitos – Peru

When it comes to Peru, Lima and Cusco hog the spotlight. It’s not hard to see why: both are stopping points to Peru’s most famous Inca sites like Machu Picchu, the Nazca lines, and Lake Titicaca. Iquitos, however, is the oft-overlooked gateway to the Peruvian jungles. Fun fact: Iquitos is the largest city in the world inaccessible by car. It can only be reached by plane or boat. The city itself is worth spending a day or two exploring. Influenced by Europeans during the rubber boom, at the beginning of the 20th century, the architecture is a mix of colonialism and more modern structures. After clients have explored this fascinating city, they can embark by river boat to the interior of the Peruvian Amazon.

5. Bariloche – Argentina

When you think “South America” you probably think of tropical jungles, beaches, etc. but if you know where to look, you’ll find plenty of places to enjoy the cooler side. That’s where Bariloche comes in. This charming lakeside town is on the border of Chile and Argentina and is the perfect getaway for some cozy, cooler weather. That’s not to say Bariloche doesn’t have its share of summer. In addition to skiing, other popular outdoor activities include fishing, whitewater rafting, birdwatching, and trekking through the mountains.

6. Cuevas de Mármol – Chile

Seaside caves of marble carved out by lapping water.
It took 6,000 years of lapping water to form these caves out of solid marble.

Nestled along the shores of Lake General Carrera, these intriguing geological formations were carved out over 6,000 years by the lapping of waves against calcium carbonate. Accessible solely by boat, these caves are best viewed between September and February. During this time of year, the waters turns a lovely shade of turquoise, thanks to melting nearby ice. Boat tours will get your clients up close and personal to the arching formations and inlets.

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