Making up almost 18 million square kilometers of the Earth’s surface and home to a population of well over 420 million people, something that cannot be put into numbers is the amount of unique experiences possible within the continent of South America.

Simply put, the possibilities are endless and the joy is never-ending. Remarkable cityscapes, impossibly beautiful scenery and a limitless array of wildlife make South America one of the most wondrous collections of countries in the world. Here are 10 places that need to be visited to make the most of an adventure in the Western Hemisphere.

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10 Salar De Uyuni, Bolivia

Spanning a remarkable 10,000 square kilometers, Salar de Uyuni is the world’s largest salt flat and at first glance appears to stretch across the Bolivian landscape forever. 

Despite being predominately desert, the area features a huge range of stunning scenery including reflective lagoons, active volcanoes and even vibrant wildlife including pink flamingos and grazing llamas.

9 Iguazú Falls, Argentina and Brazil

A powerful natural wonder of nature that has been astounding visitors for centuries, Iguazú Falls is one of the biggest tourism draws for both Argentina and Brazil.

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When visiting from the Argentinian side, be sure to experience the Paseo del Diablo, a hiking tack that grants access to the very top of Devil’s Throat, the tallest point of the incredible destination. The Brazilian side is not short of incredible sections as well so try and visit both if you have the time.

8 Cayo Sombrero, Venezuela

One of the best ways to spend a day almost anywhere in the world is relaxing on a pristine beach. When in Venezuela, this can be accomplished perfectly at Cayo Sombrero, one of the most delightful beaches in all of South America.

Pure white sand, crystal waters and vibrant sea-life combine to create a wonderful day of doing as much or as little as you like. Get here via boat and stay until all exhaustion and stress has departed via underwater exploration, sandy strolls or naps wrapped in a blanket of warming sunshine.

7 Torres del Paine, Chile

The Chilean port city of Puerto Natales acts as the gatekeeper to Torres del Paine National Park and is the perfect place to spend some time in preparation for the unmatched adventure that awaits when exploring the area.

Once inside Torres del Paine, there are several multi-day hikes and plenty of single-day options that showcase the breathtaking scenery Chile is renowned for. Every season here provides a different experience, meaning it is a destination that can never be visited too many times. Each time will open visitors eyes to something new and equally wondrous as the previous experience.

6 Chapada Diamantina, Brazil

Where to start with this magical Brazilian National Park? Perhaps the Paí Inácio Hill at the northern edge, featuring unrivaled panoramic views of the untouched scenery. Or the Fumaça Waterfall and its enchanting mist-filled climax. Maybe Lapâo Cave and it’s striking sandstone and quartz structure.

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Wherever you find yourself in Chapada Diamantina, it is guaranteed to be a truly transformative experience. Each jaw-dropping lookout point is able to be reached on foot and exhaustion will overwhelm travelers well before they cover even half of the terrain here.

5 Iquitos, Perú

An ideal place to set up base before tackling the jungles and villages of the Northern Amazon, Iquitos has its own beauty and charm that will see it resting long in the memory of all who travel there.

Join the hustle and bustle of the huge open-air street market, wander between the old houses on stilts that line the Itaya River and watch the world go by in the Plaza de Armas surrounded by the unique buildings lining its borders. From Iquitos, the Amazon opens up like an inviting book with plenty of local tour guides more than willing to show you the most wonderful spots.

4 Salvador, Brazil

The capital of Bahia, Salvador features some incredible Portuguese colonial architecture resting along a stunning coastline. Cobblestone alleys wind their way towards beautiful town squares and colorful buildings splash the scenery with vibrancy and joy.

The cuisine here is heavily influenced by African flavors. The national dish, Pupusas, are hand-made tortillas stuffed with beans, local flowers, pork, and cheese. Also in strong supply are tamales, hearty soups, sweet breakfasts and much more that make Salvador a sensational stop for foodies in search of the real deal.

3 Machu Picchu, Peru

Set high in the Andes, Machu Picchu was originally constructed in the 15th Century before being abandoned in the following years. The most common route to this ancient wonder is through Cuzco which is a highly desirable destination all on its own.

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A visit to Machu Picchu is best timed at either sunset or sunrise thanks to the colors that play off the stone walls and illuminate the surrounding landscape with a beauty unable to be seen anywhere else on Earth.

2 Cotopaxi National Park, Ecuador

Hikers with a sense of adventure simply cannot miss this stunning National Park and its resident active volcano. A challenging 6,000 meter ascension awaits those who lace up the hiking boots and take on the steady incline. By no means an easy journey, the end result is more than worth it.

If the strong winds and strenuous climb all seem a bit too much on arrival, there are plenty of guides willing to transport visitors to the top via a sturdy jeep. However you do it, just be sure to get to the top and take in the views granted by the dizzying altitude.

1 Angel Falls, Venezuela

Knows to the local tribes as Kerepakupai, or the Deepest Fall, Angel Falls in Venezuela is a destination that transcends travel and wipes everything else from the mind of all who cast their eyes upon it.

Located in Canaima National Park and measuring 979 meters in height, this is the tallest uninterrupted waterfall on the planet. Hike to the base for a close up look at this wonder of the world or take to the sky for a flight never to be forgotten but whatever happens, make sure to see this before leaving South America.

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