South America Off the Beaten Track
Off the Beaten Track Highlights of South America:
- Tango in Montevideo
- Lush landscapes of Paraguay
- Whale-watching on Colombia’s Pacific Coast
- Salkantay and Lares Treks to Machu Picchu
- Wine tasting in Cafayate or Carmelo
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South America is awash with amazing places that are famous the world over, from Iguazu Falls to Machu Picchu, the Amazon to Rio de Janeiro. But dig a little deeper and you’ll find there’s so much more to discover, particularly if you’ve already ticked off the continent’s top highlights and want to experience the lesser-known sites of South America. Whether secret foodie haunts or elusive towns and left-field experiences; find out more about discovering an alternative side to South America.
Lesser-known countries in South America
If looking to discover an entirely under-the-radar country in South America, you might want to pay a visit to Uruguay. Did you know that tango dancing originated in the streets of Montevideo, the capital, at the same time as Buenos Aires in Argentina? Or that there are fantastic family-run wineries dotted throughout the countryside, with one particular speciality being the full-bodied Tannat grape? You’ll also find world-class beaches in Punta del Este, quaint colonial towns like Colonia de Sacramento and super-luxe hotels too. Then there’s the landlocked nation of Paraguay, even lesser-visited than Uruguay but with so much scope for adventure. Come for hikes through Atlantic forests in the Reserva Cordillera San Rafael, or dips at the foot of a waterfall in the Ybycuí National Park, among many more reasons to visit Paraguay.
Alternative places to visit in South America
South America boasts a long list of prestigious places that are designated UNESCO World Heritage status or ranked as some of the best travel experiences in the world. However, there are many more sites to explore that work as a fantastic alternative to these popular attractions. For instance, in Peru, visiting Machu Picchu is of course unmissable, but there’s another intriguing archaeological site just 40 miles away: Choquequirao, dating back to the 15th century. Then, in Colombia, the Caribbean coastline is a favourite for beachgoers seeking sun and sand; but venture to the Pacific side for blissful seclusion, untamed rainforests and even Whale-watching tours. Plus, if you’re keen to witness the unique cultures of South America, there are plenty of places to find them, including Chiloe, a fascinating archipelago in Chile where myth and legend play an important role in the local culture to this day.
Experience South America differently
If you want to go off the beaten track in South America, a great way to do it is by taking alternative routes and opting for unusual activities that let you experience South America differently. If you’re tempted by the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu but want to try something else, opt for the Salkantay Route or Lares Trek? These are two of the lesser-known ways to visit Machu Picchu, but no less awe-inspiring. In addition, you won’t be the first person desperate to explore the Amazon Rainforest – and once is certainly not enough – so contemplate heading to the Colombian or Bolivian Amazon as a different option to the more popular entry points. What’s more: if you’ve already been wine tasting in Mendoza, head to Cafayate in Northwest Argentina for equally good grapes, and having navigated the urban sprawl of La Paz in Bolivia, why not wander through the streets of bustling Santa Cruz instead? Or, after marvelling at the Salt Flats of Uyuni, swap them for those of the Atacama Desert in Chile; there are so many alternative experiences in South America it is just impossible to list them all!
Take a look at our collection of customisable off the beaten track tours below, handpick the hotels and activities that you want to incorporate into your trip, and start planning your unforgettable South American adventure!