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Extraordinary places

New frontiers: Exploring remote spots in Latin America

Discover the wonders of South America on an exclusive journey that takes you to places many will never see. Marvel at natural phenomena, see ancient cities and delve deeper into indigenous traditions and rituals.

By Triona McBride

South America claims the world’s longest mountain range (above water), the tallest waterfall and the most biodiverse place on the planet – and this continent has many secrets that travelers haven’t even found yet.

For adventurers who are eager to visit some of Earth’s most unusual sights, and get off the beaten track, South America is among the most intriguing. These destinations may take a lot more effort to reach, but the rewards are evident.

Depart Guayaquil in the early morning to reach Chimborazo (below left), a volcano that is also Ecuador’s highest peak. This volcano is situated at the farthest point from the centre of the world and stands at 20,565 feet.

There’s no other way to the top other than a hike, so bring tough footwear. On your way up the snowy ridges, you’ll see alpacas, llamas and the rare vicuña up close. It’s a challenging hike, but not a climb, and the otherworldly landscape makes for fantastic photos.

If you’re staying in Lima on your South America vacation and want to get out of the city to somewhere quiet, travel less than three hours to reach Marcahuasi. There are rock formations here which have gained worldwide fame, but no one actually knows how they got there.

Many look like animals or human heads, and some have suggested they were carved by aliens. The area is also very spiritual, said to have healing energy from the 20 vortexes located there.

To truly see one of the world’s most unusual and empty places, travel to Salar de Uyuni, the Bolivian salt flats (below). They stretch for nearly 4,000 square miles in the southwest of the country, and you will need to travel for at least ten hours from the nearest city to reach them.

The pure white crystal salt formations are mesmerising and although the photos won’t do it justice, you’ll take many. From December to April, there’s a rainy season in this South American country, which means the flats are covered in water and create a mirror-like image.

Isla Pan de Azucar is just off the coast of Chile and situated inside a protected national park. The island itself is home to around 2,000 Humboldt penguins as well as Peruvian pelicans, cormorants and sea lions.

You can tour the island by boat, but you won’t be allowed off. However, the rest of the national park in South America of the same name has some beautiful trails to explore, with walks up to 12.5 miles. With no one else for miles, you’ll often have the place to yourself.

Venture into the Chilean Fjords of Tierra del Fuego (top image) and you’ll realise what isolation is. The southernmost glacial inlets on Earth, you’ll see magnificent wildlife and spectacular scenery against the backdrop of the awe-inspiring Andes Mountains.

These can only be visited by boat, but you’ll have a cosy bed to return to after days amid the cold. See penguins at play, spot some sea lions and perhaps even a whale.

Ushuaia is the outpost at the end of the world, but it’s a fantastic place to begin or end your once-in-a-lifetime trip.

Set Sail

Lima to Valparaiso with Silversea

Duration: 8 nights

Where: Lima, Peru | Paracas, Peru | Matarani, Peru | Arica, Chile | Antofagasta, Chile | Isla Pan de Azúcar, Chile | Isla Chañaral, Chile | Valparaiso, Chile

Ship: Silver Cloud

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Published 12.08.22