No matter how many times you travel to South America, you’ll always find a vast array of new experiences to soak up, whether they be new hidden treasures to discover of amazing new attractions to visit. Every season brings a whole new range of exceptional adventures for hikers, kayakers, fine-diners and wildlife-lovers alike.
The top new South America travel experiences?
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The latest addition to Patagonia’s extensive hiking offerings, Chile’s brand-new Route of Parks Trail is now open for business. Stretching a leg-aching 2800km across some of the most arresting landscapes in all of South America, the Route of Parks starts in Puerto Montt in the country’s stunning Lakes (Los Lagos) District and runs all the way south toCape Horn, traversing no less than 17 national parks. The trail-blazing project has been a labour of love between the Chilean Government and the formidable Tompkins Foundation, the latter donating one million acres of their purchased Patagonian land this year to help create one of the largest swathes of protected reserves on earth. An epic trail through some of the most spectacular wilderness on earth: bag this bad boy on your next South America travels and you can be among the first people to ever do so.
Navarino Islands’ new Dientes Circuit may be shorter than the Route of Parks but that doesn’t make it any less appealing. Dubbed the ‘southernmost trail on earth’ and voted the Best in Transformative Travel by Pure Awards and Best Trek in the World by Lonely Planet, the Dientes Circuit takes hikers on a magical journey through some of the most remote Patagonian backcountries of all on a trail that takes just 6 days to complete. The scenery along this trail is simply outstanding as you traverse the Dientes Massif along dramatic valleys and through pristine forests teeming with raging rivers and startling lakes. Yet aside from all the glorious nature and physical challenge, the most enticing aspect of the Dientes Circuit is that being brand new and in such a remote location, it’s a truly hidden Patagonian highlight. This is a trail that hasn’t been trodden on by millions of people over the course of decades. If this kind of anonymity tickles your fancy, then the Dientes Circuit should be right at the top of your South America travel plans.
The Delfin line of river cruisers are revered for offering outstanding Amazonian experiences yet their latest addition, the Delfin III, promises to blow them all out of the water. Pun intended! This sensational floating haven boasts 22 dreamy suites, a top-deck that’s designed for both indoor and outdoor sightseeing and wildlife spotting, and an indulgent spa and plunge pool you’ll never want to leave. This kind of high-luxury expedition suits those who love the idea of anAmazon adventure yet can’t bear the thought of dealing with the at-times harsh living conditions of this incredible tropical jungle, without a respite for days on end. A 3 or 4-day jaunt on the Delfin III offers all the luxurious indulgences you could ever want plus plenty of kayaking excursions, sunset piranha fishing, swimming with Amazon river dolphins, visits to local indigenous communities who call this place home and, of course, oodles ofwildlife-watching.
Looking for an incredibly special and unforgettable way to explore the Amazon? The Delfin is it!
Kayaking alongside the Marble Caves of Lake General Carrera, Chile
The 6000-year-old Marble Caves of Lake General Carrera, framed by some of the most turquoise glacial waters you’ll ever see, are a true sight to behold. They’re only reachable by boat and although cruising around them is amazing enough there’s also the option of kayaking, for that extra ‘up close and personal’ South America travel experience. One of the many highlights of a Carretera Austral road- trip – an epic adventure in its own right – Chile’s Marble Caves are an explosion of colour on a sunny day and some of the most ethereal geological formations on earth. Not many visitors make it this far south in Patagonia but those that do stop here to join boat cruises. Grab a kayak and pack your camera instead, and you’ll have endless chances to get away from the crowds.
Ok, so ‘hugging’ may be a bit of a stretch actually (we hear they’re not the hugging type) but you can get super close to these flying beasts if you visit the stunning Condor Park just outside Otavalo, in Ecuador. A rescue and rehabilitation centre for the South American icon and many other raptors, Parque Condor is an exotic bird sanctuary like no other. Run by a Dutch ex-pat with an inexhaustible love for majestic creatures, the park is set on high on a plateau which offers startling views of the surrounding volcanic landscape, as well as offering you an immersive experience among some of the most revered (yet hard to pin down) South Americanwildlife of all. The daily feeding demonstrations are an absolute highlight that’s not to be missed!
Descend into the darkest depths of the sea off the Peninsula Valdes in a yellow submarine and you could have the unparallel chance to boop noses with the elusive southern white whale, one of the most endangered and elusive whales of all. This one-of-a-kind half-submersible offers a very unique experience, giving you the chance for both underwater and overwater whale-watching opportunities. The Valdes Peninsula is an absolute haven for migrating whales during the southern winter and spring and one of the best spots on earth to catch glimpses of southern right whales, who head here in their hundreds to mate and give birth. Orcas are also present here all year long (famously beaching themselves to hunt seals), making the Valdes a hive of marine life activity, most especially between August and October.
Tara's holiday diving with right whales off the Peninsula Valdes
Book a table at the best-rated restaurant in Latin America, Peru
For a South America travel experience with a most delectable twist, head to Lima’s Central Restaurante, recently voted the world’s 6th best restaurant, just ahead of its compatriot, Maido (also in Lima). Over a 17-course degustation menu, your taste buds will be taken on an incredible culinary journey, discovering the biodiversity of Peru through the unique use of indigenous ingredients. The flavourings are unusual and certainly different to what many may be used to yet if you’re after a real ‘taste’ of every corner of Peru (many of which most people never get to visit) then this is the gastronomic experience you’ll want to try.
As ifLa Paz isn’t breathtakingly high enough of its own accord, now you can soar higher still and soak up the startling bird’s eye view over the highest capital on earth. With good currents, you could spend up to 40 exhilarating minutes in the air above the city, making it the sight of the mighty Andes Mountains and valleys below. Professional outfitters with licenced, experienced and English-speaking guides offer tandem-flights to thrill-seekers looking for the ultimate ride inBolivia. Once upon a time, it was mountain-bike riding down Death Road that provided a thrilling South America travel experience. Now it’s channelling your inner condor!