If you are looking for a good holiday destination, Latin America has it all. Wonderful beaches, weather to suit all types of people, and friendly locals are what make this continent an incomparable place to visit.
To help you plan your itinerary, here I suggest five fascinating places that are well worth seeing at least once in your life.
Macchu Picchu (Perú)
Macchu Picchu has been considered a World Heritage Site by UNESCO since 1983. It is one of the most beautiful sanctuaries of the world. The name comes from Quechua and means “Old Mountain.” It is a real masterpiece of engineering and architecture. Even though indigenous people didn’t have the technology that we have today, they were able to build this impressive monument with advanced techniques. It is said that, if you tilt your head as you look at the mountain, you can see the face of an Inca gazing into the sky (try doing it with this image).
La Patagonia (Chile/Argentina)
This place is located at the southern end of the Americas, and its territory is shared between Argentina and Chile. The beauty of La Patagonia makes it perfect for sustainable and ecological tourism. Its name comes from the word Patagón, which the explorer Magellan used to refer to the inhabitants of the region. Latin America is usually famed for having warm weather and people wearing short t-shirts… well, if you go to La Patagonia, make sure you wrap up. Fortunately, you will have plenty to do to keep yourself warm: you can go there and complete the W-circuit, which is perfect for trekking lovers, or you can also board a ship and watch the unique southern right whales. There is plenty to do in what is one of the most beautiful places in Latin America.
Galápagos Islands (Ecuador)
The Galápagos Islands are an archipelago located about 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador. It is estimated that these islands were formed about 5 million years ago as a result of the tectonic activity in the area. In fact, many of the islands are just the tip of volcano summits. In the past, the islands were the refuge of English pirates, who hid gold stolen from Spanish galleons here. It is also famed for having big tortoises and large lizards that are said to have existed since the dinosaurs inhabited the earth. You can swim in the sea off its beautiful beaches, go scuba diving, or just walk around and appreciate its unique landscape.
Chichen Itza (México)
One of the most important archeological sites of the Yucatán peninsula, Chichen Itza was inhabited by the Maya culture before the arrival of Spaniards in Latin America. The temple of Kukulkan, named after a feathered snake deity, is one of the New 7 Wonders of the World. The name comes from the Yucatec Mayan language and means “at the mouth of the well of the Itza.” If you happen to be there on March 21 or September 22, which mark the equinoxes of spring and fall respectively, you can see the sunlight forming a snake shape descending from the stairs of the temple.
Selva Amazónica (South America)
The Amazonia (or the Amazon rainforest) is the largest reserve of natural resources in the world. Its surface comprises 2.5 million square miles and its territory is shared by nine countries! More than 20 percent of the planet’s oxygen is generated in this region. That is why people call it “the lungs of the world”. Depending on the country that you visit, you can find ecological tourism projects that allow you to navigate through the river and see the many animal species that inhabit the jungle. You can also visit the ethnic groups that live in the Amazonia and get to know their dances and customs. This is the perfect destination for nature lovers.
Having the opportunity to visit these places is also a good reason to consider learning Spanish. If you don’t know the language, you won’t be able to interact so easily with the locals and will miss out on many of the interesting stories that surround these places, narrated by the very people who have inherited the culture from their forefathers. As they say, “If you visit a country without learning its language, then you haven’t really visited it.”
¡Buen viaje a todos!
Hero Image (Sea Lion, Galápagos Islands) by Paul Krawczuk (CC BY 2.0)