Traveling the Americas is an experience like no other. You will find no place on earth as naturally diverse as the Americas. Travelling the countries south of the United States can quickly become an addiction; the North and South American continents are filled with more sites to visit than anyone could see in their lifetime.
At any point in the year, each country offers an experience unique to itself. Any traveler will fall hard in love with the wonderments of the destinations west of the Atlantic. Mist covered peaks, turquoise waters, thundering falls, towering volcanoes, vast rainforests and stretches of bone-dry desert are abundantly paired with human-made treasures: buzzing markets, colorful cities, cherished towns, and vibrant lifestyles.
Its history is old and new at the same time. Indigenous traditions are paired with new lifestyles, creating a symphony of ever-developing cultural diversity. There is no end to what you can discover in the Central and South American regions.
The world sings praise of the dazzling array of natural wonders as diverse as musical Latin rhythms. Discovering every country on this continent is an odyssey in its own right. Your amazement and sense of adventure will urge you to dive in and get swallowed by each location’s individuality.
There is, though, always a need for a place to start. Fly With Class has chosen five locations in which any traveler may begin the never-ending experience.
Costa Rica is a hidden oasis where you can travel to new heights and rest in serene waters. Experience true Pura Vida in Costa Rica, where you have the time, freedom and permission to truly live. In a tropical choose-your-own-adventure land, travelers have a plethora of choices: start by surfing the waves, hiking the rainforest trails, zip-lining through the canopy, climbing high-altitude trails, or rushing through white-water rapids, and finish with a sun-dazed afternoon at the beach, a nap in a shack, or by wandering the streets of small villages. The wildlife is just as colorful as the scenery, and animal sanctuaries throughout the country with volunteer programming means you can spend your holiday making the world better (and cuter).
Can’t decide what to do? That’s alright, you don’t have to. The country’s diminutive size means you can travel it all in a relatively short time.
In this little slice of paradise, you’ll find world-class infrastructure and visionary initiatives for environmental sustainability, all protected by the heart of local Costa Ricans. With no standing army since 1948, this peaceful green jewel’s incredible biodiversity is protected by its citizens’ desires to be a world leader. This environmentally-conscious backdrop is only the foundation of a country full of beaches, towns, cafes, and restaurants worth uncovering.
Visiting Ecuador is like setting your adventure level to the highest level possible. If you’re to start anywhere in the Latin-American countries, start in the country that has it all: sun-drenched beaches, stretches of Andean peaks, clusters of Amazon rainforest, fascinating wildlife and a quite-famous chain of volcanic islands.
Adding to the appeal is Ecuador’s relatively small size, its ease of travel, and, best of all, its people. There are plenty of options for everyone: Adrenaline junkies will get their thrills on the “Swing at the End of the World” after hiking volcanos; Relaxed travelers will find serenity in lodges and haciendas after visiting sea-turtle filled beaches and picturesque villages; Wildlife lovers, especially, will enjoy the wonders of legendary Galapagos Islands and the vastly-different-but just-as-amazing wildlife-watching experience the Amazon Rainforest has to offer.
Cultural splendor will only be added to the experience—with historical centers like Quito and Cuenca offering a way to delve into old, Spanish-inspired civilization. Food, music, nature, art, and villages are all waiting to be discovered in beautiful Ecuador.
Traditional around every corner, Peru is the place where you can trek for the view of a lifetime. Home to Machu Picchu, Peru is the core of South America where the oldest traditions meet the newest cultures. Museums throughout the country detail the sophistications and skills, and the cuisine celebrates the passion, of lost civilizations. Re-forge your connection to history in a country with a 5000-year story by visiting pre-Inca Chan Chan and the ancient geometric lines of the Nazca desert.
For even casual travelers, Peru is a paradise. Festivals can swallow you for whole days, giant sand-dunes take you away from downtown Lima traffic, and the food – oh, the food – is full of dazzling choices. Explore the bounty of food markets and find out how Spanish, African, and Asian tastes influenced Peru’s “fusion” foods that have existed way before the modern culinary world said they did.
Peru’s rich culture is bound to amaze even the most experienced traveler. Peru’s history is potent and still pulsing, and is begging you to be a part of it all.
Bolivia is not for the faint of heart. It is a country that will push you to your own personal limits. It is a land where you can discover as much about yourself as you do about the country. New to scientific endeavors, new species are being discovered every day in this naturally beautiful and rugged place. Bolivia is home to South America’s largest percentage of indigenous people, so the old culture is still as alive in the city streets as it is in the most secluded villages.
Three places stand out beyond any other in Bolivia: First: Salar de Uyuni, the world’s largest salt flat offering an eerie and evocative sight. When the surface is dry, the Salar is a pure white expanse against nothingness – just blue sky, white ground, and you. When there’s a little water, the surface perfectly reflects the sky and horizon disappears, truly becoming the place where earth meets sky, and you stand in the clouds; Second: Lake Titicaca, a shimmering deep blue expanse known as, in Andean belief, the birthplace of the sun. It is the largest lake in South America with the highest navigable body of water in the world, making it a must-visit place for all with access to a boat; And thirdly: Sucre, Bolivia’s most beautiful city and symbolic heart of the nation, where Bolivia’s independence was proclaimed.
Bolivia is a magnificent retreat with spectacular panoramas. Reflect on your journey and be stunned by how a rugged country offers so much.
Locals here say, “Those who hurry waste their time.” Chile is where adventure happens on the way to having an adventure and where travel is easy if you don’t rush. It is a place to savor and take your time. Chile is nature on a colossal scale. It is the longest North-South trending country, preposterously thin and unreasonably long, stretching over 2 600 miles. It is a land of extremes: it is home to the driest desert on earth and reaches to the cold, southern glacial shields. Chile guards some of the most pristine parts of the planet.
Be sure to visit the remote enigma of Easter Island where 887 Moai, carved by Rapa Nui stand tall; See the Southern Patagonia where you can hatch your greatest travel plans; Climb the soaring granite pillars of Torres Del Paine, South America’s finest national park; Drive to otherworldly San Pedro de Atacama, where quartz and copper are the culprits of everyone’s positive energy and good vibes; Bathe in swirling columns of steam at El Tatio Geysers, the world’s highest geyser field; Walk the manicured boulevard lined with palm trees in Viña del Mar, the vineyard by the sea; Be charmed and have a spontaneous seaside adventure in Valparaíso, the “wonderful mess” that inspired Pablo Neruda; and visit Santiago, the mountainside metropolis with a gorgeous view.
There is an endless number of places to visit and things to see and do in Chile. Just remember: take your time and stop for a glass of world-class wine every so often.
It is, without a doubt, necessary for any and every traveler to visit the Americas beyond the USA at some point in their lives. Any of the astounding number of beautiful locations will fit the desires of everyone who chooses to take a trip to Central and South America. There is no reason not to take the time and visit the New World in all its glory as it continues through its history.