Stretching 10,000km from the Mexico-US border down to the tip of Tierra del Fuego, and across from the Galapagos Islands to Cuba, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic, Latin America is huge. So it’s no surprise that the region is diverse when it comes to both its culture and its attractions.
There’s something to capture your attention no matter what type of traveller you are – adventurous types can find an abundance of adrenaline sports, photographers will have no shortage of people and places to capture, historians will have a chance to unpick thousands of years of events, and nature lovers will be overwhelmed with unique wildlife and variety of ecosystems.
Here’s why we love Latin America and why you should consider Latin America for your next trip.
1. It’s home to BIG bucket list destinations and off-the-beaten-path gems
Latin America is blessed with iconic sites, from the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu in Peru to the grand Perito Moreno glacier in Argentina. There are world-famous dive sites in Belize’s Blue Hole and the Galapagos Islands, the granite peaks of Torres del Paine in Patagonia are a paradise for hikers, there are mysterious ruins like Tikal and Chichen Itza, and world-famous beaches like Copacabana and Ipanema in Brazil.
For travellers that prefer to get off-the-beaten-path, there are endless alternative options, whether it’s culture or nature you want to see.
When it comes to archaeological sites, why not switch up Machu Picchu for Kuelap, a huge archaeological complex in the north of Peru. The valley surrounding Kuelap is filled with incredible places that can entertain you for a week, including Gocta Falls and the Karajia Sarcophagi. In Mexico, Belize, and Guatemala, you’re spoiled for choice – swap Chichen Itza for Uxmal or Tikal for Uaxactun.
For remote experiences with nature, go whale watching on Colombia’s pacific coast, observe diverse birdlife in Panama’s Darien jungle, or hike through remote Patagonian valleys in Futaleufu. Unique cultural experiences abound too – head to the Jesuit missions of Chiquitos in Bolivia, discover the colonial splendour of Minas Gerais in Brazil, or observe life on the remote Patagonian island of Chiloe in Chile.
2. There’s an abundance of out-of-this-world scenery
When exploring South America, there are times you’ll simply feel like you’re on another planet. The high-altitude deserts that stretch across the south of Bolivia, the north of Chile and Argentina’s northwest are like nowhere else. One moment you’ll be surrounded by dramatic red-rock canyons, and the next you’ll be driving across black lava fields or dazzling white salt plains.
While you might be familiar with the Atacama Desert or the Salar de Uyuni, the world’s driest desert and the world’s largest salt flats, the lesser-known Puna is our top choice for mesmerising scenery. Here, you can drive for 200km without seeing another soul. It’s hard to get to, as there are no real roads and no GPS. But add to that the fact most locals haven’t even heard of it and you realise just how remote it is.
Then there’s the epic Andes and other mountain scenery. Head to Patagonia for jagged granite peaks and dazzling blue lakes, or to Chapada Diamantina in Brazil for endless tabletop mountains and hidden waterfalls. The Copper Canyon in Mexico is a great place to disconnect with incredible scenery, and there’s also Colombia’s Valle de Cocora, where giant wax palms dot miles of verdant hillside, emerging from the clouds.
3. It’s a gastronomic hotspot with mouthwatering food and drink
Food and travel go hand in hand and in Latin America, you’re spoiled for choice. In Mexico and Peru, there are a number of Michelin-starred and internationally acclaimed restaurants but the street food scenes are also incredible. It’s this mix of high-end and casual dining that sets the scene for your journey. Wash down fresh ceviche with a pisco sour in Peru and, in Mexico, a world of tacos, tamales, and tequila awaits. For real foodies, Mexico’s state of Oaxaca is a must-visit. The area is famed for its rich sauces and fine mezcals.
For meat-lovers, look no further than Argentina and Brazil. Argentina’s gaucho (cowboy) culture is reflected in its cuisine – try a traditional asado (BBQ) or sample empanadas, a small pastry snack, often filled with steak or cheese. Vegetarians are well-catered for too. For the best of Brazilian cuisine, head to Salvador de Bahia. The state of Bahia is famed for its Caribbean and African influences. One of the most popular dishes is moqueca, a tomato-based seafood stew.
Then there’s the wine. The central valleys of Chile and Mendoza in Argentina house world-renowned vineyards, where you’ll be spoiled for choice. Spectacular scenery is the cherry on top. For something a little different, the north of Argentina produces speciality high-altitude grapes like Torrontes, which are crisp and refreshing. You’ll also find vineyards in Mexico, Peru, Bolivia and Uruguay.
4. There’s rich diversity in its people and cultures
The history of Latin America is long and fascinating but the Spanish and Portuguese invasions had a huge influence on the culture you see today. The conquistadors impacted everything from the languages spoken to the religion and the food. But what’s fascinating is that many indigenous languages, beliefs, and traditions remain across the region. In Peru alone, over 90 languages are spoken.
In the Amazon Rainforest, there are still tribes that have had little-to-no contact with the outside world. On Easter Island off the coast of Chile, the indigenous population are descendants of Rapa Nui who respect Polynesian culture and values. Then across Mexico and parts of Central America, you have descendants of the Maya people, and in Belize, Garifuna culture is prominent – a blend of African, South American, and Amazonian cultures (Belize is also the only English-speaking country in Central America).
While ancient traditions still LiNGER in many parts, Latin America is home to some truly cosmopolitan cities – think Sao Paulo, Buenos Aires, and Mexico City. Wherever you go, the people are one of the most important elements of any journey, and across Latin America, you’ll find yourself welcomed with open arms, whether or not you speak the same language.
5. Spot endemic wildlife and visit some of the most biodiverse spots in the world
When you think of safari, it’s easy to think of a traditional African safari. In Latin America, there’s a ton of wildlife encounters to be had. As well as traditional-style jeep safaris in places like the Pantanal, Brazil’s impressive wetlands are home to the elusive jaguar. You might not be looking out for the Big 5 but there are other big predators to seek out, both on land and in the ocean.
The Amazon Rainforest is one of the more obvious wildlife destinations, where monkeys, sloths, anacondas, capybara, thousands of bird species, and pink river dolphins can be seen. For more off-the-beaten-path wildlife experiences, try the vast open plains of Los Llanos in Colombia, go birdwatching in the Ibera wetlands in Argentina, or head to the Valdes Peninsula, where sea lions, elephant seals, penguins, orcas and Southern Right whales can be observed.
Marine life is abundant in the Galapagos Islands too, with many of the fearless species endemic to these volcanic isles. In Mexico, you can observe the migrations of blue whales, grey whales, whale sharks, and monarch butterflies. And Costa Rica is a delight for wildlife enthusiasts as sloths, toucans, macaws and monkeys reign supreme in the treetops.
One thing’s for sure, you won’t be short of options.
If that’s whetted your appetite for a Latin American adventure, that’s where we can help. Hearing what you’re most excited about and helping you to craft your perfect holiday or sabbatical is what we love.