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Best of the Rest of South America

By Haider Ali

Posted: 7th January 2013 15:07

More often than not, when you think about South America you will think of Argentina and Brazil – but South America is a varied continent. These are the countries which we believe are the ‘best of the rest’.

Colombia

Despite the negative media coverage that Colombia faces, it is still an amazing country for tourists to visit. Colombia is swamped with World Heritage Sites approved by UNESCO, the most famous being Cartagena (pictured) where an old derelict defence system comprised of forts and cannons make for stellar viewing.

One can decide to visit Los Katios National Park and admire extraordinary diversity of plant and animal life. It became a UNESCO site in 1994 and the 278 square mile of greenery has remained protected since. Something that will light up tourist eyes is the Gold Museum in the capital Bogota.  The museum has on display 55,000 pieces of golden items designed during the pre-Hispanic period.

You can pass through Bogota Botanical Garden or Bolivar Square and add visits to the Salt Cathedral of Zipaquira to fill your itinerary in the capital.

Costa Rica

Costa Rica literally means “rich coast” in Spanish. It’s situated in Central America surrounded by Nicaragua, Panama, Caribbean Sea and Pacific Ocean.

The state has natural beauty in abundance and one of its main tourist attractions are the volcanoes, especially Poas Volcano Crater. Since the 1980’s Costa Rica has protected its national parks with Cahuita National Park having its own beach! Ecotourism has also given tourists the chance to enjoy something different. An example of this is Cocos Island, which has been declared a World Heritage Site and is full of biodiversity and highly recommended to tourists who enjoy bird-watching and hobbies similar to this.

If you’re going to travel to Costa Rica do not forget to pack your swimming trunks and bikinis! On one side of Costa Rica lies the Pacific and on the other coast lies the aquatic Caribbean Sea. The most popular beaches worth travelling to are Zacundo Beach and Manuel Antonio Beach, which too is in a National Park, was listed by Forbes in 2011 among twelve of the most beautiful in the world.

Chile

Chile has a lovely range of places to visit. One of the first places you may wish to see is Atacama Desert which makes up a large portion of the Norte Grande. There’s a broad mix of natural beauty and archaeological sites to see in thie region. The Azata and Lluta Valleys are stunning to the point where tourists should not forget their cameras. Should you remain in the area why not have a wander around the San Miguel de Azapa archaeological museum, home to Chinchorro mummies. The oldest mummies in the world are sure to get families and their kids excited and maybe put the frighteners on a few too!

Maybe you fancy some sea and coast? Then you may want to head on to Arica, which is Chile’s coast city and full of sumptuous beaches. Arica is a popular among younger tourists, especially students who look to take advantage of resorts that are saturated with bars and clubs.

Fans of winter extreme sports like snowboarding and skiing may be intrigued by Chile’s Zona Central. The area is home to Chile’s ski resorts and attracts tourists from the northern hemisphere because the alpine season is reversed. The region is also home to some of the finest wines on the continent. Wine tourism through the routes of Casablanca and Cachapoal attract those who fancy a tipple, so get yourself down there is you love enjoy the taste of fine wine.

Bolivia

Bolivia is a unique case for tourists because it has experienced political instability but it still courts tourists en masse. Located in central South America, it is bordered by countries all around it.

The Andes mountain peak in Bolivia is the largest in the world outside of Asia. Considering the arduous journey involved in seeing the Andes, the mountains are wonderful to see. Just as great is the Lake Titicaca, which brings in many tourists who enjoy relaxing boat rides and fishing.

The lake is also home to the Uros, a pre-Incan people that live on artificial floating islands often causing intrigue among tourists as they are set in their ancient ways of life. The Incan Temple of Kalasasaya, still preserved is something tourists may want to see and the city of Potosi, which is a World Heritage Site recognised by UNESCO. So there’s a variation of things to do and see.

Round Up

Colombia offers you national parks and enjoyable days out with the family. Costa Rica is more student orientated with its lovely beach resorts and ecotourism venues whereas Chile is blessed with archaeological sites and museums providing lovely places to go for educational purposes. If it’s a relaxing time and scenic sites you’re after, do not look beyond Bolivia, which has the Andes, Lake Titicaca and the city of Potosi to keep you enthralled. Whatever you are looking for you are sure to find it at one of these destinations. 

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