brExotic travel destinations in South America are unlike those anywhere else in the world. While some of these exotic travel destinations were built by ancient peoples, others were formed by Mother Nature over millions of years. Nevertheless, these exotic places to travel inspire awe in anyone lucky enough to see them. Without a doubt, the countries of South America are top vacation destinations for travel junkies everywhere.
Exotic Travel 101: Off the Beaten Path in South America
1. Sacsayhuaman, Peru
Machu Picchu is usually the first destination that comes to mind when someone says Peru. Sacsayhuaman, located on the northern edge of Cusco, is another majestic ruin from the ancient Incan empire. Built by 20,000 Incan laborers, the temple-fortress is known for its extraordinary stonework. Hundred-ton rocks were cut and fitted so precisely that a single piece of paper would not be able to fit through the stones.
When to go: June, when the city of Cusco celebrates the feast of Inti Raymi
Quick tip: Bring sunscreen and water with you because there are only a few stores in the area.
2. Valley of the Moon, Chile
Some exotic travel destinations are so surreal, you may think you’re in outer space. Located in the town of San Pedro de Atacama, the Valley of the Moon is known for its otherworldly landscape. Over the millennia, floods and winds carved unique formations in the stones. You can also explore the valley’s white dry lakes, which are made of hardened salt deposits. Then at sunset, the valley seemingly comes ablaze with pink, orange, and gold.
When to go: Mid-afternoon until sunset
Quick tip: Bring a jacket or a sweater. It’s hot during the day, but the temperature turns chilly by nightfall.
3. Iguazu Falls, Brazil/Argentina
At the boundary between Brazil and Argentina lies the magnificent Iguazu Falls, the largest waterfall system on Earth. It is composed of 275 falls along a total width of 1.7 miles. Upon seeing the falls, U. S. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt allegedly said, “Poor Niagara!” In comparison to Niagara’s 165-foot drop, the highest drop in the Iguazu Falls is a whopping 269 feet high.
When to go: May-September
Quick tip: Spend two full days exploring both the Brazilian and Argentinian sides for the complete experience.
4. Orinoco Delta, Venezuela
The Orinoco Delta is a complex system of waterways and rivers that snake through 15,830 square miles of dense jungle in eastern Venezuela. The lush habitat is home to a rich variety of wildlife, such as the Amazon river dolphin, giant river otter, jaguar, anaconda, and countless more. It is also home to the indigenous Warao, which means “people on boats.”
When to go: October – April
Quick tip: Bring lots of insect repellent!
5. Mount Roraima, Guyana/Venezuela/Brazil
Mount Roraima is one of the ultimate exotic travel destinations for mountain climbers. A geological border between Guyana, Venezuela and Brazil, Mount Roraima is the highest tepui on Earth at 9,094 feet. Its 333-square-foot summit is home to carnivorous plants endemic to the area. Mount Roraima is of sacred significance to the indigenous Pemón Indians, who believe that the tepui is the trump of a mighty ancient tree that contained the world’s fruits and vegetables. According to tradition, an ancestor cut down the tree and unleashed a terrible flood.
When to go: December-April
Quick tip: You’ll be crossing rivers, so wear waterproof gear and extra socks.
6. Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá, Colombia
Exotic travel destinations such as the Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá are a must for those interested in history and architecture. Built in the 1930’s, the Salt Cathedral is an underground church originally built for salt miners. It was where, every morning, the miners prayed before setting off to work. The city of Zipaquirá officially inaugurated the Salt Cathedral on August 15, 1954. Today, it remains a “Jewel of Modern Architecture” in Colombia.
When to go: December – March
Quick tip: Try to get there early to avoid the crowds.
Need another reason to see the beauty of South America? See more of the continent’s natural majesty in this video: