The magnificent continent of South America is blessed with breathtaking natural sights of beautiful landscapes ranging from snow-capped mountains, lush green forests teeming with amazing wildlife, beautiful pristine islands; to the clear water lakes and silvery sandy unspoiled beaches. South America offers such beautiful diverse landscape and unique sights that if we were to put down the complete list, it will be too long. Hence we are writing about a few under-rated destinations in South America which are not the most popular or most visited destinations but are remarkable for their fascinating charm, worthy of being put in picture postcards and computer wallpapers. Here is a list of top 10 such beautiful places. To your surprise, you will not find places like Machu Picchu, Angel Falls, Iguazu Falls, Galapagos Islands, Easter Islands etc for they feature on all popular lists.
Travel destination ideas in South America- Underrated but beautiful and exotic
San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina
Also known simply as Bariloche, this beautiful place in the mountains is reminiscent of Switzerland and is aptly called “Little Switzerland” for its Alpine-style architecture. This place in the Patagonia Lake District is a magical place with crystal lakes, blue mountains, lush green forests and unending meadows. This fairy tale peaceful pace is a perfect destination for boat rides, picnics, and trekking in the forests. It is situated in the foothills of the Andes on the southern shores of Nahuel Huapi Lake and is located within the Nahuel Huapi National Park. It is a heaven for skiing and mountaineering. The city is also famous for its nightlife, its famous chocolates, and fine dining. The Nahuel Hapi Lake with islands offers boating rides around the serene landscape. Due to its exceptional diverse charms, it has now become a popular destination for conventions, art exhibitions, and music festivals.
Laguna Verde and Laguna Colorada, Bolivia
Bolivia is well-known for its unique colorful lakes in the south. Laguna Verde is located at the southernmost tip of Bolivia, close to the border with Chile and Argentina. It is considered one of the most breathtaking landscapes in South America. There are several lakes in this region. Laguna Verde meaning Green Lagoon is known for its change of color from turquoise green to dark emerald. This is caused due to the sedimentary disturbances in the lake water due to heat and winds. These sedimentary pigments impart a brilliant color in the water and can be seen even from aircrafts flying overhead. It is in proximity to a dormant volcano Licancabur which is about 29,000 feet high. Nearby there is another lake Laguna Colorada which has red waters, due to specific sediments and algae. Another nearby lake Laguna Blanca is called the white lake for its color. These lakes are favorite breeding ground of many species of flamingoes.
Ilha Grande, Brazil
Ilha Grande is the most beautiful island in Brazil. It is about 150 km from Rio de Janeiro. True to its name, which means Grand Island, this island is like a paradise with Atlantic forest and pristine beaches of fine white sand and lined with palm trees. The 192 square kilometers island has more than hundred beaches. Lopes Mendes Beach has been voted as the most beautiful beach in the world. Preta and Dois Rios beaches have the ruins of old prison houses. The largest settlement on the island is called Vila Abrão, which has a 19th century Sao Sebastiao Church. The island is a protected area and cars are forbidden on the island.
Torres del Paine National Park, Chile
Torres del Paine National Park is a World Biosphere Reserve, and one of Chile’s largest and most visited national parks. It is the 5th most beautiful place in the world, according to National Geographic. This region represents a transition area from the Magellanic sub-polar forests to the Pantagonian Steppes. Paine means blue, and the three blue mountain peaks dominate the Paine mountain landscape. The park is a delightful paradise for nature lovers with giant blinding glaciers, clear roaring rivers, ice-blue lakes, emerald green forests and vast steppes. The Grey glacier is the largest of all. The park also has rare species of animals such as llama-like guanacos and birds such as ostrich-like rhea, Andean condor and several species of flamingoes.
Valley of the Moon, San Pedro de Atacama, Chile
The Valley of the Moon in the Atacama Desert of Chile is the driest non-polar desert in the world. Its soil appears as if it is from Moon. It is near San Pedro de Atacama, a small desert tourist town in the north of Chile. The city has an old monument the Church of San Pedro de Atacama. The beautiful landscape of the Atacama region has sand dunes, flamingo-dotted salt flats, steaming geysers, hot springs, sandstone canyons, alien-looking rock formation and distant snow-capped volcanic peaks. All in all an unusual out of this world experience. You can also visit the Altiplanic Lake, Lake Miscanti and the Death Valley .
Lake Titicaca, Bolivia
Lake Titicaca lies on the borders of Bolivia and Peru. It is South America’s largest lake and at 4,000 meters above sea level, it is the highest navigable lake in the world. The lake has clear blue water and sandy beaches, There are 41 islands in the lake and some have ancient ruins of the Inca civilization. The island Isla Del Sol is considered the birthplace of the Incas and is dedicated to the Sun God. There is another one called Isla del la Luna named after the moon. Also, there is a cluster of about 60 artificial islands made of reeds, inhabited by the Uros people. They live with their children in these small islands and are open to tourists visiting them. A large number of rare species of aquatic frogs and water bird are found in the islands and around the lake.
Valdes Peninsula, Argentina
The Valdes Peninsula is on the Atlantic coast in the north east of Argentina. It is a nature reserve listed on the UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is a fairly unique formation that has two natural inlets that provide shelter for wildlife of all kinds. Its coastline is a breeding ground of marine mammals like southern sea lions, southern elephant seals, fur seals and Southern Right whales; and home for Magellanic penguins. The Orca whales are known to hunt sea lions and seals in these areas. The nearest large town is Puerto Madryn and the only settlement on the peninsula is Puerto Pirámides. On the inner parts of the peninsula Rheas which are like ostriches, llama-like guanacos, grey foxes and rabbit-like maras are found in abundance. It is also home to about 181 different species of birds including the Antarctic pigeon.
River of Five Colors, Cano Cristales, Colombia
River Cano Cristales is considered to be the most beautiful river in the world. The spectacular color of the river varies from red, yellow, orange, blue to green. It is about 100 km long and is a tributary of Río Guayabero in Colombia. Cano crystals means crystal channel and the river is also called the “River of Five Colors” and “Liquid Rainbow”. Between the months of June and November, a bright red water plant Macarenia Clavigera, streaks the river floors and sticks firmly to the rocks giving the river its colors. The clear water of the river makes it possible to see the large number of aquatic plants in it, which gives the water its color. Caño Cristales is a fast flowing river and has a number of beautiful waterfalls and natural pools, where one can even bath or swim. The long beautiful riverside can be explored on horses or by trekking. It is remotely located and can be reached from Bogota by air to the nearest city of La Macarena. From there, it takes a short trip to the “Serrania de la Macarena”, the national park within which Cano Cristales is located. The park is home to 420 species of birds, 10 species of amphibians, 43 species of reptiles and primates.
“End of the World”, Ushuaia, Argentina
Ushuaia, known as the “End of the World”, is the world’s southernmost city, and is located on the Beagle Channel and borders one of the southernmost end of the Andes. It is the capital and largest city in Argentine Tierra del Fuego, the archipelago at the southern end of South America. It has scenic landscape around the city and is one of the southernmost winter sport resorts in the world. This town was initially a missionary base, penal colony and then a naval base for the Argentine navy. It is now a major tourist town with casinos and nice restaurants, and is a busy port of call for cruises to Antarctica. The city is an adventure hub for kayaking, sailing and is a key access point to skiing at Cerro Castor and Glacier Martial. The city provides beautiful sights of penguins, seals and orca whales in the Beagle Channel and Tierra del Fuego National Park. Another interesting experience is the Southern Fuegian Railway or the Train of the End of the World, which is a 500 mm gauge steam railway originally built as a freight line to serve the prison of Ushuaia. The city has a 2 km long mall that stretches from the freight port, an industrial area, and the western side is dominated by residential buildings and the airport. There are many hotels and resorts exist on the road to the Martial Glacier.
An idyllic magical place to relax and de-stress, Jericoacoara is a virgin beach on the west coast of Jijoca de Jericoacoara, Brazil. It was voted the best beach in the world by Lonely Planet in 2004. Fondly nicknamed as Jeri, it consists of long beautiful beaches, blue lagoons, calm seas and huge sand dunes. The name “Jericoaquara” means “lair of the turtles”in the local dialect. A perfect retreat, it was primarily a small fishing village about 300 km west of Fortaleza. The last 40 kilometer is off-road, among sand dunes and beaches, which makes it an isolated place. It is located inside the National Park and illumination of the streets, covered in sands, is forbidden by local law. Jeri’s famous Sunset Dune, which is a steep mountain of sand, called Por do Sol, is from where one can watch “emerald sunset”, the sun sinking into the ocean in the evening. Jeri is also known for windsurfing and kite surfing. The main kite surfing scene is in Prea that has wide sandy beach and side-onshore wind. Some must see spots are, Pedra Furada, a rock arch that has become the symbol of Jericoacoara; Lagoa do Paraiso or Paradise Lagoon, a large freshwater lake with turquoise water surrounded by fine white sand.