National Geographic’s Top Tours in Latin America

by Paul Cardwell on August 18, 2012

I love Top 10 Lists.  Whenever I’m cruising the web and a news article that starts with “Top 5″ or “Top 10″ catches my eye, I can’t help but be drawn in.  It doesn’t matter if its “Top ten cars of 2011″ or “Top ten beauty tips”, for some reason I can’t help but need to know what claims the number one spot (as well as 2-10).  So when an entity as respected as National Geographic comes up with the “Best Tours in Latin America”, I can’t bring myself to look away.  So, what did they choose and, more importantly, are they right?

Machu Picchu, Peru

Machu Picchu- One of the most visited tourist attractions in South America

From Belize to Tierra del Fuego, they include a wide variety of trips and excursions:-

Guyana: Behind the Guiana Shield



Delve deep into the relatively untouched interior rainforest via canoe, planes, and 4x4s to visit indigenous lodges and learn about their culture.

Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay: Tour del Sur

A challenging overland journey, this trip proves to show the very best of eastern South America.

Belize, Guatemala, Honduras: The Maya Kings

The Mayans once ruled over much of Central America, and on this journey you’ll delve deep into their lost civilization’s monuments, ruins and historical artifacts.

Ecuador: Galapagos Land and Sea

Galapagos: Iguana
Iguana on the Galapagos Islands

Called Charles Darwin’s laboratory, Galapagos is perhaps one of the most spectactular places on Earth for wildlife viewing.  Here you’ll hike, kayak and cruise through the archipelago that gave birth to the modern theory of evolution.

Peru: Saddle Up for the Inca Trail

Hiking and bus riding to ancient Machu Picchu is common, but here you’ll have the opportunity to go on horseback through various ecosystems before reaching the historical city of the Incas.

Colombia: Lost and Found City

Less well known than Machu Picchu, Colombia’s Ciudad Perdida (Lost City) was built over 600 years before the Incan destination and today lies hidden in dense tropical rainforest at the end of a rigorous 3-day trek .

Argentina,Chile: Patagonia Adventure

Patagonia: Lake Pehoe
Lake Pehoe in Patagonia

Just like Che Guevara in his Motorcycle Diaries, travelers explore the vastness of Patagonia by motorbike through the Lake District, across the Andes and to Tierra del Fuego at the end of the world.

The above are what National Geographic thinks are the top trips in Latin America.  These are all amazing journeys, and worthy of anyone’s trip of a lifetime.  However, there are several key destinations that I would like to add to the list, so here are my (additional) top trips in Latin America:

Costa Rica’s Natural Treasures

Costa Rica: Frog
Frog in Costa Rica

Costa Rica boasts 5% of the world’s animal and plant life in only .25% of its landmass.  They have devoted more than 25% of their national territory to their National Park system and these protected areas ranging from sea level to 13,000 feet and across many different biomes are not to be missed by any nature lover.

Ecuador’s Volcanoes

Ecuador is host to multiple active volcanoes settled in rain forest, cloud forest and the high paramos.  Mount Cotopaxi hosts one of the only Equatorial glaciers on Earth at a latitude of O’40″S.  Next, move over Everest, nearby Mount Chimborazo’s summit is the point on Earth closest to outer space thanks to the Equatorial bulge of the planet.

Iguazu Falls

Iguazu Falls-Brazilian side
Iguazu Falls-Brazilian side

Found along the border of Brazil and Argentina, Iguazu Falls is one of the most spectacular sights in Latin America with 275 separate waterfalls anywhere from 60 meters to 82 meters high along a 2.7km long divide.

Peru and Brazil: The Amazon

No list of top Latin America trips would be complete without an expedition down the world’s mightiest river.  The Amazon is the world’s largest rainforest and host to thousands of plant and animal species, and nowhere will you find better examples than cruising down the river’s muddy waters through Peru and Brazil.

So there you have it.  National Geographic’s top tours combined with my own, even if not necessarily a Top Ten list (who could presume to put these in order of importance).  Which is your favorite?  What is your number one trip of a lifetime in Latin America?


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