From deserts to glaciers, culture to amazing parties, South America really does have it all. This vast continent spans diverse landscapes, taking in various peoples and cultures, each as vibrant and intriguing as the last. It has countries steeped in history, with fascinating stories, delicious food and unique wildlife.
If South America isn't already on your list for 2020, here are 7 great reasons why it should be!

One of the world’s most recognized sites, Machu Picchu really is somewhere you should visit at least once in a lifetime. This Incan city was built in the 15th century and abandoned sometime after for reasons shrouded in mystery.

The city was forgotten for centuries and became the stuff of legend, only discovered again in the early 20th by intrepid explorer Hiram Bingham. Today, visitors can explore these extensive ruins, walking the streets of the old city, seeing the temples and other sights, in a magnificent setting in the middle of the Andes.

The Historic Sanctuary - National Archaeological Park of Machupicchu (SHM-PANM) is a cultural and natural area inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. With an area of ​​37302 hectares, it is one of the areas with the greatest biodiversity in Peru and houses more than 60 archaeological monuments articulated through a complex network of Inka roads.

The most important monument of the SHM-PANM is the llaqta or Inka City of Machupicchu, which was planned and built around 1450 AD during the Inka Pachakuti government. The work demanded the participation of specialists in architecture, engineering and astronomy, in addition to a large number of labor. More than 50% of the effort required in its construction was used in the preparation of the land, foundation and drainage system. Its construction responds to the need of the Inka State to have a religious, political and administrative center within a sacred space considered the link between the Andes and the Amazon.

The llaqta of Machupicchu was abandoned during the second half of the 16th century; however, it was never lost since it was visited and occasionally inhabited. There are colonial documents that refer to the llaqta of Machupicchu as the "Seat of the Incas" or the "Old People of the Inga Named Guaynapicchu." In 1874, the engineer Herman Göhring produced a cartographic document in which they are presented for the first time place names "Machu Picchu" and "Huaina Picchu." In 1911, Professor Hiram Bingham visited the llaqta and was impressed with its beauty and majesty. The following year, he returned with a multidisciplinary team of professionals who conducted excavations and research in the area.

Since the 1930s, the Peruvian State has been promoting research, conservation and enhancement of the Historic Sanctuary and the Machupicchu llaqta, which represents a masterpiece of art, architecture and engineering in perfect harmony with nature and is the most important legacy of the Inka civilization to humanity.

Machpicchu, Peru World Heritage Site
MachuPicchu, Peru | UNESCO World Heritage Site

Chile is a very narrow country that spans thousands of kilometres from North to South, traversing the moon-like deserts of Atacama all the way through to the glaciers and snowy mountains of Patagonia.

This rugged and breathtakingly beautiful region is a Mecca for hikers and nature lovers. Here you can hike beside turquoise-blue lakes, jagged peaks, and ancient glaciers. This area is also home to a variety of unique wildlife, such as the Guanaco, the llama’s larger cousin, and the impressively large Andean condor.

Patagonia Glaciers
Patagonia Glaciers

Brazil is known for its music, beaches, and above all else, its parties! The biggest party of them all is Carnival, and this is a great reason to visit this vibrant country and see it at its most colourful.

Carnival is a festival held each year in the lead-up to Lent. Carnival is celebrated across the country, but there’s no denying that the biggest and best is in Rio de Janeiro (Rio for short). Here, there are massive parades with hundreds of floats, samba dancers, drummers and more.

Rio de Janeiro Carnival

Rio Carnival Janeiro 2019 HD

South America not only boosts Incan ruins, amazing festivals and incredible landscapes. It is also home to some of the world’s best wine regions, particularly in Argentina. Here you can visit the famous vineyards of Mendoza, Catamarca, Salta and Rio Negro.

The most famous Argentinian varietal is the Malbec, though they also produce other excellent wines such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Bonarda and Syrah.

Why not pair your wine with the local cuisine, which is ranked among the best in the world? Enjoy epic steaks, chimichurri, empanadas, and more as you sip your world-class vino.

Argentina Wine Tasting
Wine Tasting

Not so long ago, Colombia was synonymous for war, drugs and violence. These days it is one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations, where tourists come to enjoy its beautiful nature, vibrant culture and sophisticated cities.

This is a remarkable transformation, which is no more evident anywhere than the city of Medellin in central Colombia. Once the base for drug lord Pablo Escobar and the murder capital of the world, today Medellin is home to a large community of expats, drawn because of the year-round spring-like weather, trendy bars and nightlife, and cheap living.

Visitors can enjoy all this as well as some fascinating museums, and easy access to the lush mountains in the area.

Montevideo is the capital and largest city of the small South American country of Uruguay, which is tucked on the Atlantic coast between Brazil and Argentina.

Uruguay is not well known outside of the continent, but its capital is a vibrant, eclectic city with stunning architecture and fascinating culture. Its central business district is full of art deco and neoclassical buildings, while its chic beaches are fringed by Miami-like high rises.

Montevideo is an arts and cultural centre, packed with elegant, historic theatres, museums, and tango bars.

The Galapagos lies 850 miles off the coast of Ecuador in the Pacific Ocean. These islands are famous for being the location where Darwin first developed his theory of evolution after observing the unique species of finches across the island.

More than just finches, due to their isolation, these islands boost a large range of unique and fascinating species such as  the Marine iguana, the massive Galapagos tortoise, the Blue-footed booby, and Darwin’s famous finches.

Along with one-of-a-kind wildlife experiences, visitors to the Galapagos can enjoy diving, snorkelling, hiking or simply relaxing on the beautiful, balmy beaches.

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