5 More South American Travel Ideas

To follow up on my previous post (10 Must Visit Places in South America), I thought I’d list a few other places in South America I’d like to visit. Many long term travellers choose South America as their primary destination, I suppose because there are countless places to visit and things to do but also because it’s relatively cheap (depending on the country of course). So here are a number of blog posts which have convinced me to make South America one of my upcoming travel destinations:

Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

Jason from Alpaca Lifestyle left a comment saying I should visit Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia. I had read a bit about Uyuni before writing that post and was considering including it my wish list of places to visit but I had the impression it was just one massive salt flat and nothing else. I felt like it would be this place where it takes you forever to get there and you’re exhausted by the time you arrive and then it’s freezing cold but you go out and see this amazing landscape, these unusual salt flats which are completely unique and you’re like, ‘wow, look at that, it’s incredible’. But then after 5 minutes I’d be thinking, ‘is that it?, what else is there here?’. So you go all that way for hours and hours just to see something, have a quick look around and then move along to the next place. Jason said he’d include it in his top 5 places to visit and I can see why when reading about Uyuni on his blog. So there are lakes, geysers, thousands of flamingos as well as coral (?) and it’s all 12000 feet (3650m?) above sea level. I think what really convinced me about this places are the photos which you can see at Globetrooper, Brendan’s Adventures, Never Ending Voyage, and Uncornered Market.

Uyuni

Photo credit: mtchm

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

YTravelBlog has a guest post on their blog listing the top 5 places to visit in South America. I’m interested in visiting all of these places but am not so sure about Rio. Rio is one place I never really wanted to got to. I love big cities and the diversity that comes with it but I feel like there is too much of a contrast between rich and poor in Rio. You have the extremely wealthy living right next door to the extremely poor. I hate seeing that kind of thing. It’s one thing to have money and to live well but I feel like in places like that you’re just flaunting your wealth in front of people who have nothing. It’s fine to have money but maybe be a bit discreet about it and don’t shove it in people’s faces.

This photo below, which is not necessarily a photo of Rio (it might be in Sao Paulo), always makes me think of Rio and/or Brazil and the differences in standard of living you have there. So on one side you have these modern apartments which have a swimming pool on each floor (!) and then right next door you have these ghetto/slum/favelas type places with their cheap housing and little greenery. I can’t bear to go there and see that, it just makes me too sad. This kind of difference in living standards is probably quite common in certain parts of South America but I always though it was typical of Rio and other parts of Brazil. 

Rich vs Poor

At the end of the day though, it’s pointless to judge a city or country without every having been there so I will go to Rio and see what it’s like with my own eyes and make an informed opinion on the city.

Northern Peru

Northern Peru should be worth a visit to check out the archaeological sites at Sipan, Tucume, and Batan Grande. There are around 50 pyramids in the region which I’d love to see, even if they are in pretty bad shape. Ayngelina has nice summary of things to do in Northern Peru.

Tucume Peru

Photo credit: jhf

Bogota, Colombia

I had no trouble including Cartagena on my list of list of South American places to visit. It looks beautiful and everything I’ve read about it has been positive but what else is there in Colombia? I guess when most people think of Colombia they think of the drug cartels and the wonderful FARC who like to kidnap people every now and then. Thankfully there is a lot more to Colombia than that and it’s not as dangerous as you might think. Anyway, it can’t be too bad because after all, they have Juanes.

When I was studying French in Paris in 1999 I had a girl from Bogota in my class who was working in France as an au pair. She told me a little bit about her city but didn’t have many good things to say. I don’t know if that was just because it was her home town and she was overlooking all its good points because she’d lived there for so long or if it’s really not worth visiting but I’d like to go anyway. I always like to go to the home towns of the people I meet. It sparks the curiosity in me and I can’t stop thinking about it. One thing I remember her telling me is that the temperature is around 17 or 18 degrees every day, all year round, which I thought was kind of weird. I don’t know if that is really true or not. That’s quite cool as I had imagined it would be a hot city but I guess it’s quite elevated about sea level.

Bogota has been rated in the top 30 cities to live in and some travellers have great things to say about it so it looks I’ll be heading there at some point.

Bogota Colombia

Photo credit: NapaneeGal

Ecuador

As I mentioned in my top 10 post, the Galapagos Islands is my number 1 destination in South America. I want to go and tour around on the boats to see the different animals and birds and all the marine life and I’d like to spend quite a bit of time there. I think most tourists go for a few days or a week and that’s it but I was thinking it would be a great place to stay a while, like for a few weeks at least, maybe more. I’ve wanted to go to the Galapagos Islands since seeing a doco on it decades ago and last year I read a book called Tales of a Female Nomad by Rita Golden Geldman who is a long term traveller. She’s an American woman who pretty much gave up her comfy life in the US to travel. She went to lots of different places including Mexico and Nicaragua and she spent a lot of time in Bali but she also went to the Galapagos Islands and she wrote about how amazing it was. I didn’t enjoy all of her book, especially the later chapters on Indonesia, but the part on the Galapagos Islands was really interesting and it reinforced that it’s somewhere I’d like to go.

But outside of the Galapagos Islands, what else is there to do in Ecuador? There’s not any single place that stands out because everywhere I read about is appealing. Quilotoa Loop looks to be a popular destination, it’s a crater lake surrounded by little villages. Quito and Cuenca look to be great cities to try Ecuadorian food including the various vegetarian options. Bendan’s Adventures has a great post covering the top spots in Ecuador.

Galapagos Islands

Photo credit: mtchm

I love reading about people’s travels but I’ve probably done enough reading and thinking for now and should really just book my flight and go. I just don’t know when I’m going to be able to be able to schedule in a 6-12 month trip (I think I need that long to do it justice) in my already busy travel schedule.

About Andrea

Andrea is the founder and author of travel blogs Vagabond and Rear View Mirror. She currently splits her time between Europe and Australia. Subscribe to the RSS feed and become a fan on Facebook.