Unknown to Europeans until 1492, South America is full of weird and wonderful curiosities from ages past. Here’s our top 5 wonders to visit on your gap year travels in South America.
Machu Picchu, Peru
Machu Picchu is one of the most beautiful and enigmatic ancient sites in the entire world. The incredible ruins are made even more spectacular by their dramatic positioning, perched on top of a forested Andean mountain top, shrouded in the clouds.
Known as The Lost City of the Inca Empire, Machu Picchu was hidden from the world until 1911, when it was rediscovered by an American archaeologist.
One of the most visited sites in all of South America, many hike the Inca Trail through the Andes to reach the city at sunrise and experience the aweinspiring view of Machu Picchu laid out below their feet. Truly magnificent.
Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia
The rolling landscape of Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia truly is otherworldly. Basically this place is just salt; miles and miles of endless salt. It really is mindboggling, and utterly surreal.
This strange, alien world is scattered with naturally occurring salt mounds and salt cubes, which provide excellent, if not clichéd, photograph opportunities. Incredibly, when it rains, a thin layer of water sits above the salt to create a gigantic mirror effect, which reflects the vast blue sky above.
Easter Island, Chile
This place is WEIRD. A tribe called the Rapa Nui, who eventually ended up eating each other, somehow got to this remote island in the middle of the South Pacific Ocean and set up a community.
Nobody knows exactly where the Rapa Nui came from or how they arrived on Easter Island. Even more mysteriously, before departing from the mainland, they packed huge blocks of stone into their boats, which they then carved to make massive statues of heads, which they placed all around the island. Very strange.
Amazon Basin, Brazil
The Amazon Basin isunbelievably huge. Although 40% of the Basin is in Brazil, there are few countries in South America left untouched by this massive ecosystem: Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana all have a piece.
The Amazon Rainforest is one of the richest and most complex environments in the whole world, home to all sorts of weird and wonderful plant and animal life. According the WWF, one in ten of all known species on planet earth can be found in the Amazon. What’s more, this area is so vast, there are parts of the forest that have still never been explored.
Last but not least of our top 5 wonders in South America are the Nazca lines in Peru. From the ground, this region looks normal enough. Once you take to the air however, the secrets of this land are soon revealed.
Etched into the dry grounds of this landscape are a series of ancient geoglyphs; huge drawings and symbols that scar the earth’s surface. Ranging from complex geometric shapes to depictions of animals, plants and humans, it is estimated that these prehistoric images took hundreds of years to create, although others speculate a more otherworldly influence…