The saying goes “God created the world in 6 days, the 7th day he devoted to Rio”.  Chances are he/she spent at least half of the remaining days on the rest of South America!  From the beaches of Copacabana to Condors soaring over the high Andes, this is one spectacular continent.  If you want to see ‘everything’ in a once-in-a-lifetime journey you’re best to take a small group journey on a well-planned itinerary (distances are vast!).  Having a tour escort with you to ‘smooth the way’ also helps; this is South America after all.  Others may prefer to explore a few spots more in-depth or focus on some of the incredible natural wonders.  You won’t miss out on history and culture – it is everywhere you go!

Here are our 5 top natural wonders:

About 1000km off the coast of Ecuador, the Galapagos islands and their unique wildlife were Charles Darwin’s inspiration for his theory of evolution.  Today you can still encounter creatures found nowhere else on earth, and thanks to a lack of predators you can get up close without disturbing them.  The islands range from volcanic black rock to white sandy beaches, and it’s all best explored on a cruise with onshore excursions accompanied by expert naturalist guides.

Find out more about Yacht Isabela II & Yacht La Pinta, small ship cruising in the Galapagos.

This remote high altitude desert lies between the Pacific Ocean and the Chilean Andes, with vast salt pans, colourful rock formations and steaming geysers.  The little town of San Pedro de Atacama is picture perfect, but we love the eco-lodges – our favourites are Alto Atacama and Tierra Atacama.  Take guided explorations by 4WD, on foot, mountain-bike or even horse-back, with all the comforts awaiting you back at your lodge!

Click here to read more about our ‘Sensational Atacama’ package.

Size does matter!  The Amazon is the world’s largest rainforest, its river the largest by volume, and its species the most diverse of any ecosystem on earth.  Take a cruise from Iquitos (Peru) or Manaus (Brazil), or stay in an eco-lodge deep in the Peruvian, Brazilian or Ecuadorian Amazon.  The biodiversity is stunning, from pink dolphins to colourful parrots and vociferous howler monkeys, and the local guides are passionate about preserving this pristine environment.

Find out more about Sacha Lodge set in pristine rainforest of Ecuador’s Amazon.

While a lot of the Amazon’s wildlife is elusive, the wildlife of the Pantanal (mostly in Brazil) is much more on view.  The seasonally flooded grasslands and tropical forests of the Pantanal are home to a myriad of wildlife from jaguars to caiman and capybaras to name a few. The fabulous Araras Ecolodge is set in its own private reserve and is the ideal base from which to explore.

Check out ‘Wildlife of the Pantanal’.

At the most southerly and sparsely populated southern end of South America lies Patagonia. Shared between Argentina and Chile, this stunning region encompasses the end of the Andes, the wild archipelago of Tierra del Fuego and the spectacular Torres del Paine National Park.  Cruise the Chilean fjords and glaciers or base yourself in a luxury eco-lodge.

Read more on ‘Complete Patagonia’.

You can’t fail to be inspired be South America, this is nature on a very grand scale.