South America is a continent full of vibrant cities, tropical getaways and incredible beauty, in countries ranging from Brazil to Ecuador. Sadly, I’ve not yet had the chance to visit South America, and there are many places across the continent that I’d love to visit. In this post I will be writing about some of these places, including well known landmarks like Easter Island as well as some lesser known cities like Paraty!
Bãnos, Ecuador, is a city named after its public hot baths fed by Tungurahua, a nearby active volcano, and they are a huge attractions for tourists visiting the city. Bãnos is also home to a swing at the “end of the world”, which is located at a stunning viewpoint showing the Tungurahua volcano I mentioned earlier. One of the most well known attractions in Bãnos is its cathedral, named the Nuestra Señora del Agua Santa (Our Lady of the Holy Water), which is dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Bãnos is definitely a city for the adventurous, which I’m not at all close to, but I think it’s a stunning city and I’d love to pay it a visit. I mean, after seeing the photo above, how could you not want to visit?!
Bogotá, the capital of Colombia, is a huge city with a population of somewhere near 8 million people located at an altitude of 8000ft. Bogotá is home to many beautiful markets, one in particular being the Passage Rivas, a craft market with many traditionally Colombian souvenirs. A main neighbourhood in Bogotá is La Candelaria, a district full of colourful buildings and cobbled streets, which is apparently equivalent to Old Town in many other cities. I’d love to visit Bogotá because I feel like it is the perfect mix of modern and historic, and it seems like a very pleasant city.
Cartagena, a Colombian city which is actually quite different from the last, is located on the coast of Colombia, and it has a very tropical climate. A main attraction in the city is the Las Murallas de Cartagena, the well-preserved old city walls that used to protect Cartagena from its past pirate rivals. These walls are assumed to be the most complete set of fortifications in South America, and they surround Cartagena’s Old Town district. There are many different neighbourhoods found throughout Cartagena, as well as many popular markets, such as Las Boveda and Portal de Los Dulces. Cartagena is full of colourful buildings, cobbled streets, and flower draped balconies (a common theme throughout this post) and the city sounds like the perfect destination for a photographer like me.
Once the capital of the Inca empire, the largest empire in the entire world back in the early 1500s, Cusco is one of the most visited cities in South America. This Peruvian city sits at an altitude of 3400 meters, at the centre of the Sacred Valley near Machu Picchu. Cusco’s Centro Histórico is a place where both tourists and locals visit, and its heart is the Plaza de Armas (another thing that you’ll hear a lot about in this entire post). A well known neighbourhood in Cusco is San Blas, a very hilly artisan district which boasts views of the nearby Andes mountains. Cusco is home to many llamas that roam around the city, as well as an impressive amount of Incan ruins (hence why Cusco was the empire’s capital). Many people see Cusco as just a stopover city on their way to Machu Picchu, but I think it is much more than that and I’d love to pay the city a visit.
Easter Island, Chile
Isla de Pascua in Spanish, or Raps Nui in the native language, Easter Island is one of the most mysterious (and famous) places in the entire world. It’s also one of the most remote and isolated islands in the whole world, as it is almost 3400 km off the coast of Chile. Easter Island was created by a volcanic explosion, and it was named after the date that a Dutch explorer first landed on the island, Easter Sunday. As you probably already know, Easter Island is home to the massive and enigmatic statues called Moai, which were made by natives to the islands very very long ago. The island was opened the public a mere 51 years ago in 1966, and it is now a popular spot for travellers looking for less touristy destinations. I’d love to visit Easter Island to be able to appreciate the island’s native culture, as well as visit one of the most well known yet not often visited destinations in the world!
Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
The Galapagos Islands are one of the most popular places to visit for wild-life viewing, as they are home to many plants and animals found nowhere else on the planet. The group of 19 islands are about 1000 km off the coast of Ecuador, and they are officially a UNESCO World Heritage Site. I’m not much into wildlife viewing or even beachy destinations in general, but the Galapagos Islands are so spectacular that I’d have to make an exception for them… and I would love to visit!
La Paz, Bolivia
La Paz, Bolivia is one of the highest cities in the entire world, sitting at an astonishing altitude of over 3500 meters. It is said that it is unlike any other city in the world, and that the city’s culture is very well preserved. One of the most popular neighbourhoods in La Paz is Centro, a kind of downtown area full of bustling markets, famous attractions, museums, and plazas. A couple of La Paz’s other areas include Sopocach, one of the city’s oldest residential neighbourhoods that is said to attract a vibrant crowd of people; and Zona Sur, a wealthy district full of luxury boutiques and restaurants. El Alto, which is technically its own city, sits atop the plateau where La Paz is located, overlooking the city. As you can see from the photo above, La Paz is absolutely beautiful and I would love to get the chance to visit it one day.
Lima, the capital of Peru, located on the country’s Pacific coast, is a popular destination for both business and pleasure travel. The city is said to be neat, clean, and very well kept. The Historic Centre of Lima, the city’s centre, is full of many churches and other buildings from the city’s colonial period as well as more than 1600 balconies on the nearby buildings. Lima also has a Plaza del Armas, yet it is different then the one in Cusco and its military is said to have a strong yet reassuring presence within the plaza. The most touristy district in Lima is Miraflores, which is home to the Malecon, a six mile walkway shown in the photo above.
Machu Picchu, Peru
One of the most famous ruins in the entire world, Machu Picchu, located in Peru, is the lost city of the Inca tribe. It is said to have been discovered by modern civilization only a little over 100 years ago, which is actually believable since it is found on an incredibly steep mountain (yet low for Peruvian standards). Machu Picchu was built somewhere around 1450 A.D., which is impressive since it was built so long ago with such undeveloped technology, and it is was built quite high in the Andes mountains! The ancient ruin is a bucket list destination for many people, obviously including me. Getting to the ruin does require some experience with hiking, which I have none of, but I would work on for this view.
Paraty is a Brazilian city that hasn’t been fully discovered by tourists… yet! The city is surrounded by huge mountains (as with many South American cities) and a sea speckled with islands. Paraty was originally built with the blood, sweat, and tears of slaves, whose sacrifice is now sadly ignored and pushed aside when people speak of the city’s history. Putting the city’s unfortunate history aside, it is full of vibrant homes and churches, perfect for pictures. Paraty is located right between Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, and it is the location of a few well known movies. From what I’ve seen of Paraty, it seems like a really charming city and I’d love to visit someday.
Rio De Janiero, Brazil
The most famous city on this list is probably Rio de Janeiro, a Brazilian city that has gained a lot of fame over the past few years as it has been the host of both the World Cup of 2014 and the Summer Olympics of 2016. Rio is the most visited city in the entire southern hemisphere, and it is full of world renowned landmarks. One of those landmarks is the Christ the Redeemer statue, one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World, found atop the Corcovado mountain. A couple of well known beaches in Rio, as it is on the coast, include the Copacabana Beach, and the Ipanema Beach. Rio’s Santa Teresa neighbourhood is one of the most colourful districts in Rio, and the tramway that runs throughout the neighbourhood is one of the oldest in the world. Rio is definitely one of my top must-visit cities in not just South America but the entire world.
São Paulo, Brazil
São Paulo is one of the top ten largest cities in the world, and it is Brazil’s finance centre located in southeastern Brazil. It’s one of the most developed cities in the world, yet there is a big and quite clear difference between the rich and the poor in São Paulo. Paulistanos, São Paulo’s residents, are a very diverse group; the city is home to the largest community of Japanese and Italian people outside of Japan and Italy, and it is also home to the largest openly gay community in South America! I think that because of the diversity in this city, it would be a great place to visit to be able to experience many different cultures in an already very “cultured” country.
Chile’s capital and largest city, Santiago, is a huge metropolis hidden away by the Andes. It is home to many historic buildings and many modern buildings, as well as tons of fine restaurants and top class hotels. As with Lima and Cusco, Santiago is also home to a Plaza de Armas. Santiago’s Parade Ground, in English, is surrounded by the Cathedral Metropolitana, Correos Central (post office) and the Municipalidad (city hall). Santiago is one of the most well known cities in South America and I’d love to one day get the chance to visit.
That’s it for my post today! Hope you enjoyed. Leave a comment below letting me know which of these cities you have visited, or any cities on this list that you’d like to visit!
If you have been keeping up with my posts in the last couple of weeks, you’d know that I’m currently in Toronto! I have taken lots of photos in the last week or so and I plan to write a ton of posts about my trip. I am going to start posting about this trip next week so make sure to look out for those posts. I haven’t written them yet but I think they will be some of my best posts yet 🙂
Thanks for reading!