The tropical regions of South America are full of sandy beaches and exotic jungles…but travel farther south and you will find a very different landscape, full of incredible rock formations and glaciers. For the adventurous traveler, Patagonia and the surrounding regions are undoubtedly the best South America destinations. The southern part of the continent is home to some incredible landscapes. And although less diverse than their northern relatives, the wildlife here is pretty impressive as well. In the spirit of celebrating this beautiful region, here is a list of some of our favorite southern South America vacations!
Travel to Bolivia and visit the largest salt flat in the world! The Uyuni salt flats cover over 10,000 square kilometers (more than 4,000 square miles). Tourists visit this South America destination to marvel at the salt flat itself and to for the incredible views it offers. When covered in water, the flat acts as a mirror, and its extreme flatness and size seem to erase all perspective of distance and size.
When you travel to the Atacama Desert, you may get the feeling that in reality you’ve arrived to another planet. This is the world’s driest non-polar desert, and it is full of strange, unique landscapes. Travel from the town of San Pedro de Atacama to some of the desert’s major sights: El Tatio Geysers, Valley of the Moon, and so much more.
This island, located far off the coast of Chile, is one of the world’s most remote inhabited islands. The main attraction on Easter Island are its ruins, in particular the enormous, stone moai statues that can be found along the coast. Once you’ve taken in your fill of the ruins, you can also enjoy the island’s beaches.
Also known as the Paris of South America, Buenos Aires is the capital city of Argentina. Explore the wide avenues and French architecture of the downtown area before branching off to the other tourist neighborhoods. La Boca, the colorful neighborhood of immigrants. San Telmo, and its historical bars and cafés. Recoleta, and its famous parks and cemetery. And last but not least, the trendy restaurants and shops of Palermo. And don’t forget to visit Say Hueque Argentina Journeys!
Next on our list is one of the most famous South America destinations in Patagonia. El Calafate is a small town in southern Argentina, located near the famous Perito Moreno Glacier, one of the world’s only advancing glaciers. We recommend traveling to El Calafate for a couple of days and then continuing on to the nearby village of El Chalten for some incredible hiking.
Once you’ve explored the Argentine Patagonia, it’s only fitting that you would visit one of the most stunning Patagonia national parks in Chile. Torres del Paine is an indescribably beautiful park in southern Chile. With glaciers, lakes, mountains, and wildlife galore, this is one of our South America destinations that you definitely won’t want to miss.
Let us know in the comments which of these South America destinations you’d most like to visit. And feel free to add to our list! (And if you are more interested in a warm, relaxing vacation destination, check out this post on the best South American tropical vacations!)
By Michelle Lenze
In Say Hueque, we believe that traveling should be a transformational experience, as a matter of fact, we strongly believe it. That’s why we choose Explora as one of our partners because they understand the meaning of this, they share with our enthusiasm for unconventional trips with an inclination for the adventurous.
The concept behind Explora is to provide trips to remote destinations in South America, unique due to their close interaction with nature and local culture. Since 1993, they have opened several properties, offering unique experiences. Currently, Explora is present in Torres del Paine National Park, Easter Island and the Atacama Desert in Chile, in the Sacred Valley of the Incas in Peru, in Salta and El Chaltén in Argentina, and in Uyuni, Bolivia.
But what gives Explora such a different taste? Its care for details, taking pleasure in simplicity which defines the luxury of essentials, and commitment to sustainable development. These characteristics make Explora as a top-notch choice for travelers passionate about explorations and first-class quality service.
Explora takes care of every little detail of the experience you are going to have. For instance, guides are -and have to be!- enthusiastic about nature in order to be able to share and transmit their love for the surroundings. Being with a guide that is in love with the place where he is a completely different experience because one feels more inclined to appreciate the whole experience as other already values it. Their carefully chose guides are also bilingual (Spanish and English) and stand out for their warmth and kindness.
Another key element of Explora’s uniqueness is their explorations: they choose exclusive routes developed by their outdoor team, that allows travelers to get to know destinations in-depth, including popular sites and less explored areas. Other complements that make this experience complete is their detailed choice of food and beverages, adapted to every need.
Explora Patagonia was designed as the perfect base to explore Torres del Paine National Park, as it offers an exclusive location -anchored like a ship by Lake Pehoé- with unparalleled views.
Travelers can choose among 40 explorations –either hiking or horseback riding– to some of the circuits of the renowned W and other less explored routes to get to know the typical geography and wildlife of Patagonia. Their rooms have a perfect combination of simplicity and comfort, in order to ensure a deep rest after exploring. For a 30% discount, make a reservation for October 2019.
2. Machu Picchu & Sacred Valley
Explora Valle Sagrado was designed as a headquarter from where to explore Cusco, Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley of the Incas. All their programs include accommodations, transfers, meals and beverages, and a selection of more than 30 explorations developed by our outdoor team, either walking, by van or riding a bike.
Explora’s explorations take travelers through the colonial history of Cusco and the architectural magnificence of the Incas in Machu Picchu, isolated villages, archaeological sites such as Ollantaytambo, Moray, Chinchero and Pisac, to Andean pampas and mountains or Apus, considered by locals as guardians of people and nature. Have you made up your mind? Make the most of their promotions by taking your kids for free, or getting one night and the guided exploration to Machu Picchu for free too.
3. Explora in Atacama, Chile
Located in the oasis of San Pedro de Atacama, Explora Atacama was built in a 17-hectare plot as a base from where to explore the desert, the Andes highlands, and its surroundings.
Huge sand dunes, salt pans, impressive volcanoes, and cloudless skies inspired the design of each of their explorations. These can be completed hiking, cycling, horseback riding or through a combination of hiking and by van.
What should you expect to do in Explora Atacama? Horseback riding through red soil esplanades, walking on landscapes that seem like taken from another world, cycling through the Andes highlands, reaching summits of more than 5,000 m.a.s.l. (16,404 f.a.s.l.) or taking it easy in the Puritama hot springs are some of the experiences you can enjoy. Interested? Get up to a 1000 USD discount and kids free traveling before January 31st, 2020.
Bolivia–the rooftop of the world–is a land of tropical destinations, spectacular landscapes, vibrant festivals, unique cultures, and whatnot. The land is truly an oasis of untouched natural beauty that lies on high elevated lands.
There’s no getaway destination like Bolivia, the home of Andean City, where the lands are filled with green forests, shimmering lakes and lots of cultural extravagance to see.
If you are planning a trip that will immerse you in nature’s beauty, like none seen before, then we suggest you pack your bags and book a ticket to Bolivia.
Here are the five best places to see when you find yourself on the rooftop of the world:
One of the most breathtaking sights in Bolivia is the one that is Lake Titicaca. Lapping the shores of Copacabana, this lake is vast and a unique shade of blue. The surrounding area of the lake is also the birthplace of an empire. In Lake Titicaca, you can enjoy a panoramic view, as you polish off freshly caught troche and explore the surrounding areas.
And if you want to get up and close with Lake Titicaca then we suggest take a boat ride from Copacabana to Isla del Sol and delve into the Inca ruins hidden among the scattered islands.
La Paz is one of the heartiest metropolises in Bolivia. This hub of a city is situated against the backdrop of snow-capped mountains. You can have fun-filled days and nights in this Bolivian city that has a number of bars, cafés, plazas, historic architecture and colonial edifices to offer, among many other things.
There’s not a second to waste when you are in La Paz, because there is just so much to soak in this pulsating city.
A city with four names, Sucre will take you back to the colonial Spain of the 16th century, with its classic historical buildings. In fact, you can even stay here and experience living in a home that would otherwise be difficult to find in the rest of the world.
It’s not called rooftop of the world for nothing. Bolivia has places so unique, and experiences so other worldly that you just cannot look away. Salar de Uyuni is one of the flattest places in the world. Walking on it is like walking on a glass that reflects the clouds.
If you are lucky enough to experience rain in Bolivia, then we suggest you rush to Salar de Uyuni and experience it as its most spectacular form.
The beauty of the natural lands of Bolivia is not the only thing to look forward to. The natives, the cultures, and their festivals are a sight to behold as well. Brave the dizzying heights of Altiplano region of Bolivia, and make way to the mining town that hosts one of the most famous festivals in all of South America.
The carnival offers a fiesta that cannot be missed, and memories that remain unforgettable for the rest of your life.
So are you ready to experience the greatness of Bolivia? Plan your itinerary now and set off for the journey of your life.
If Bolivia is on your bucket list, you definitely have an adventurous soul. Bolivia is one of the two land locked countries in South America. It has the Andes and the Amazon and an isolated, otherworldly landscape that will take your breath away. And although it offers big cities, this might be the ideal attraction for many off-the beaten-path travelers. It’s a unique and exciting destination, combining adventure, culture, nature, and geology. So read on for the latest blog post in our ongoing series of Know Before You Go: Bolivia Edition.
Bolivia’s main airports are in La Paz city, which has an impressive altitude of 3,650 meters. From there you can travel by land to Oruro and then to Uyuni (there are many trains and buses, and they recently announced the launch of new flight routes – ask your travel advisor!). One of the country’s most amazing natural wonders are the Uyuni Salt Flats. You can also enter into the Salt Flats from the Chilean Border from San Pedro de Atacama. La Paz city is 68 km southeast of the Lake Titcaca and is perfect for visiting the island of the Sun & the Island of the Moon for a cultural experience and Tiahuanaco site with its ancient pre-Inca architecture in the middle of the high Andean plateau.
In La Paz, don’t miss the “Witches market” for getting into the traditional Aymara world of rituals and spells, and the Valley of the Moon with its geological natural formations.
Planning: Travel & Health Insurance
Having a travel agent will save you time and will be there to you support you for any inconveniences along the way, should they pop up unexpectedly. A good travel & health insurance plan is also strongly recommended. You must check for visas and vaccines needed to get into the country.
Altitude & Weather
Bolivia’s weather is extreme in the Andes and in the high Andean plateau. Very sunny days can see dramatic temperature drops once the sun goes down. During winter time (June and July) temperatures typically dip be below freezing!
In Bolivia you can’t avoid the high altitudes, it’s over 3,400 – 4,200 meters (and even more if you go to Uyuni Salt Flats). Altitude sickness might cause breathing troubles, cause headaches, dehydration, nausea and/or dizziness, it might be difficult to sleep, or you might find yourself feeling very tired. These symptoms might go for the first couple of days, so we strongly recommend paying attention to your body and taking it easy: walk slowly, eat light: digestion is much slower, drink water: its more efficient if you take constant sips, protect yourself from the sun (good sunglasses, sunblock and hat), etc. Coca tea helps with headaches and is a very good digestive. You can also eat and drink sugary foods as glucose helps with altitude sickness. Some people might travel with high altitude medication: you can visit your doctor at home to get advice and a prescription if necessary.
Clothing & Packing
Pack smart and light! Definitely bring comfortable walking shoes, layered clothing, a waterproof jacket (specially if go in the wet season from December to February), a warm fleece, and inner layers. Uyuni Salt Flats excursion temperature at night might see below freezing temperatures, so if you don’t travel with a sleeping bag, make sure you rent one, as accommodation tends to be very basic in this region. Don’t forget gloves, a hat, scarf, moisturizer and a towel, as some of the basic accommodation might not provide one. Bring small flashlight and a basic medical kit & personal medication. Always have a padlock for securing your bags, and use a money belt (for cash, credit cards & passport).
Public transportation in Bolivia is pretty basic and can present an adventure in and of itself. Timetables are not always accurate and seat numbers are sometimes double booked. Some public buses will stop along the way and pick up all the passengers they can, all of them, so it can get very crowded. In the Salt Flats tour get ready for serious off road traversing!
Roadblocks and protests sometimes happen and this is part of the experience as well. This is good reason to go for organized trip, as your agent/operator will be of great help in case the itinerary is affected. If you are in La Paz, order a cab from the Hotel.
Security & Safety
In general, Bolivia is a safe country to travel, but its always good to be careful; when hanging out in big cities have the usual precautions: watch out for pickpocketing in crowded places like markets and buses. Leave your expensive jewelry and watches at home – it’s of no use when you’re in the mountains! You do not need to carry your passport around but do carry a photocopy just in case.
Beware of people spilling anything on you and then try to clean it, this is a popular way to distract you and then go through your stuff while you have your attention somewhere else. This happens not only in Bolivia but in other South American destinations.
About alternative tours in La Paz don’t go to the Prison Tour: it’s illegal and dangerous and has no safety warranties at all. Just don’t do it!
If you want to do the Death Road bike tour from La Paz to Coroico, use a well-known company and be careful, be sensible and drive smart. The accidents along this infamous road are more from cars; buses and trucks, as for the bikers the accidents have been from irresponsible reckless maneuvers.
Food & Water
Agriculture in Bolivia is traditional in the Andes were “super foods” such as Quinoa and Kiwicha (amaranto) have been cultivated for several generations. Bolivian Jungle valleys have naturally ripened sweet and organic fruits. But you must always peel it and eat only cooked vegetables. And if you want to explore some of the local specialties, guinea pig and llama meat must be on the menu!
Coca (Erythroxlylum Coca) leaves are chewed and are part of the tradition. Bolivia is a big producer and even though cocaine is one its 14 alkaloids (which is totally illegal) the leave and tea consumption is legal, popular and common. It grows in the inter Andean Valleys at altitudes between 700-2000 meters). We recommend to try he popular local Coca Tea that which is an excellent digestive and as mentioned above, helps combat altitude sickness. But avoid drinking tap water or using ice. If you want to be very safe brush your teeth with bottled water as well.
Toilets & Bathrooms
As you get further out of cities, bathrooms will be less frequent, or maybe in pretty bad condition that you might prefer the popular “natural toilet”. Always be prepared and carry toilet paper or moist wipes and hand sanitizer. Better safe than sorry!
In Bolivia you will encounter Spanish, Quechua and Aymara. These last two are native pre-conquest languages. In the cities, a majority of people you will meet are bilingual (bilingual meaning Spanish and Quechua or Aymara speakers). Along the tourist routes, you will most likely encounter some people who can speak English, or at least understand for basic communication. However, bringing a Spanish pocket travel phrasebook will be very handy. In the Uyuni Salt Flats tour, drivers do not speak English. So the better prepared you are with some key phrases, the better off you’ll be.
If this guide has piqued your interest, be sure to read more about our Bolivian itineraries, and contact us today to learn more and start planning an unforgettable getaway!
https://sayhueque.com/Chile has established itself as one of the best adventure destinations in the world and a big part of that is the Atacama Desert found in Northern Chile.
However, vast desert terrain doesn’t call just Chile home; it spreads from the Northwest of Argentina, the Northeast of Chile, and throughout the South of Bolivia. This area is some of the driest land in the world, so be sure to bring your chapstick and lotion, step off the grid, and explore the desert.
Argentina—Salta & Jujuy Region
One place you can’t miss when you travel to Argentina is the town of Purmamarca. Besides being a charming desert town with many colorful local textiles and hand-crafted gifts, the Hill of Seven Colors is an amazing piece of natural art situated right outside the town. Also in this region, Argentina has its very own salt flats.
Salinas Grandes, located in the midst of the colorful desert peaks is a vast deposit of salt. Unique to the much bigger Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia, Salinas Grandes has small pools dug out that are filled with water year-round. Although hard to grow crops and raise animals in the rocky hills of the Salta and Jujuy region, the area is chalk full of domestic llamas!
Crossing over into Argentina’s best frenemie, Chile is home to the famous Atacama Desert. This desert is known for its impressive Geysers, rock formations, and lagoons. Lago Cejar has almost the same salt concentration as the Dead Sea, so floating in its waters is a once-in-a lifetime experience! Best of all, the Atacama Desert has been named as the best place in the world to stargaze. The only thing out there dotting your views of dusty landscapes are the occasional native vicunas galloping by.
As you travel into Bolivia, there are even more desert treasures awaiting you. The seemingly never-ending miles of stark sandy territory are spotted with brightly colored lakes—vivid red, green and purple waters brightly contrast the white salty earth. The region is very carefully preserved; the only way you can visit is with a Bolivian guide in a private four-wheel drive vehicle.
The only life forms out there will be you and hundreds of flamingos in the salt lakes. The views in this desert wonderland are completely surrealistic; no wonder Salvador Dali got so much inspiration from his travels there! The salt flat itself, Salar de Uyuni, will make you feel like you’re on another planet. An enormous white field of salt stretching for miles, it’s the largest on the planet. Bring your sunglasses!
For more information on the north of Argentina and beyond, check this out. Or, to travel to Argentina for yourself, get in touch with us at Say Hueque today!
Written by Chloe Moore
We know, we know: the idea of vacation in and of itself makes your wallet cringe. It’s redundant to go on vacation when you’re worrying too much about the budget to actually enjoy your surroundings. Whether it’s with your whole family, just one other person or a solo trip, the commercialized “getaway” has many, many dollar signs in front of it. Add an international vaca on top of that, and you think you’ll probably be close to bankruptcy. Well let me tell you, that’s not always the case.
Argentina, and South America in general, have much more affordable vacation opportunities than, say, Las Vegas, Australia, Europe, etc. Even a trip to Disney World could end up being much pricier than a trip to see glaciers in Patagonia. It’s all about where you go and who you book your tours with.
We’ve laid out for you 5 extremely affordable trips to Argentina that take you into the exotic and drastic terrain of our country, Chile and Bolivia without forcing you to give up your kids’ college funds.
Salta and Jujuy – Explore Salta & Jujuy (6 days)
On the Tour Salta and Jujuy – Best of the Northwest trip, you will quickly discover why Salta is known locally as, “La Linda” (The Beautiful). One of the best-preserved colonial cities, Salta is the perfect base for your adventures in the northwest of Argentina. Tour the stunning Humahuaca Gorge and giant Salt Flats on the Safari to the Cloud adventure, and discover the local culture of the traditional Andean towns. And with nearby wineries, white water rafting and horse riding available, why not stay a few more days?!
El Calafate and El Chalten – Discovering Glaciers and Hiking Fitz Roy (6 days)
El Calafate and El Chalten are home to the famous Perito Moreno Glacier and Fitz Roy Mountains, and they embody the true spirit of adventure in Patagonia. On this 6-day adventure, you will tour Perito Moreno Glacier (the most famous in Patagonia) before continuing to the lovely mountain town of El Chalten. The heart of Patagonia and a hiker’s paradise, Chalten is home to the Fitz Roy Mountains and Cerro Torre, and you will have plenty of time to hike the mountain trails or horseback ride with Argentine gauchos before sampling a delicious Patagonian “asado” (barbeque) and locally brewed beers.
Buenos Aires and Iguazu Falls (6 days)
Enjoy the perfect combination of South American culture, tango and jungles on this 6-day tour of Argentina. Discover sophisticated Buenos Aires’ eclectic neighborhoods before touring Iguazu Falls National Park. Shared by Argentina and Brazil, this UNESCO World Heritage site is a “must-see” during your stay in Argentina. Would your trip to Argentina be successful without seeing the majestic Iguazu Falls?!
Atacama Desert (Chile) and Uyuni (Bolivia) 6 days
Starting at San Pedro de Atacama, a laid-back oasis town on the edge of the driest desert on the earth and continuing with the immense sea of salt, in the South of Bolivia, this tour will stay with you for all the years to come!
Bariloche and the Lake District (4 days)
Beautiful Bariloche is located in the heart of Argentina’s Lake District and is the ideal base for exploring the nearby lakes, hiking trails and rich culture of Patagonia. Take in the stunning mountain views as you tour Bariloche’s “Circuito Chico”, walk through the Llao Llao Forest and then cruise Lake Nahuel Huapi and visit the traditional island communities before rewarding your efforts with some of the region’s locally brewed beer or handcrafted chocolate.
For more tips on planning an affordable trip, check this and this out. Trips abroad don’t have to be crazy expensive–at least with Say Hueque they’re not! Stop dreaming about trips to Argentina and start planning!
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