Six of the best places to get lost in Latin America
With its bustling cosmopolitan centres and famous festivals, Latin America might not strike many as a place of endless wilderness.
As told to Oliver Griffin, freelance writer
However, from Patagonia to the Atacama, the Amazon Rainforest and Ecuador’s Cloud Jungle, there are plenty of places to leave the noise behind on this magical continent. Peru in particular boasts some incredibly escape options, while Antarctica to the south is about as desolate as you can get. For those ready to leave civilisation behind, there really is no other option.
The plains of Patagonia are both beautiful and desolate. Travellers can trek across the untamed plains before crossing the stunning Andes to traverse between the two countries that call Patagonia home. Azure blue lakes, sat beneath great white glaciers, are ripe for exploring in Chile’s Torres del Paine National park, while to the north, in the country’s Araucania region, trees dating back to prehistoric times can still be seen. Staying at The Singular Patagonia provides visitors with the perfect base from which to get out and explore the area, on foot or by boat.
The Atacama Desert
The Atacama Desert boasts incredibly clear night skies that are perfect for star gazing. Travellers can cycle through the Devil’s Gorge, or Rainbow Valley, so named because of its multi-coloured rock formations. At dusk, hot air balloon rides are all the range and offer mind-blowing views. Staying at the Alto Atacama provides a ‘glamping' experience like no other, where guests enjoy delicious food, an evening astronomy talk, and a night cap, before falling asleep beneath starlight.
The Amazon Rainforest spans many countries in Latin America, but two great options for exploring include the Peruvian and the Brazilian Amazon. For the former, visitors can travel in style aboard the luxury river cruise vessel, the Aria Expedition. This beautiful boat includes a fluent-English tour guide and an on-deck jacuzzi; the perfect place for watching the river float by. In Brazil, staying at the Belmond Hotel Das Caratas in Iguaçu (Iguazu in Spanish), is a must. Guests are surrounded by wonderful wildlife on all sides, and have access to the nearby bird park before it opens to the public in the morning.
Hitting the southern-most continent is surely a must for anyone. Luckily, Travel on Le Boreal means visitors get to see this remote wilderness in comfort. Guests can experience once in a lifetime opportunities such as standing on the edge of a king penguin colony and being surrounded by half a million birds, as well as sailing past glaciers so large, they take the best part of an hour to pass.
Ecuadorian Cloud Forest
Ecuador’s Cloud Forest is so called because of its seasonal low-level cloud cover that drifts at canopy level, obscuring the sky above. Comprising some 3,000 hectares, mostly of primary rainforest, this location boasts thousands of birds; news species are being discovered all the time. Visitors can stay at the tranquil spa-resort Mashpi Lodge, and take advantage of the magnificent sky bikes to explore the teeming tree-tops.
Peru is home to a heady mix of landscapes and lost civilisations. Lake Titicaca in the south of the country sits at almost 4,000 metres above sea levels. Views stretch for miles, and this unique location also provides the opportunity to interact with traditional, local communities. Explorers can hike to the magical Machu Picchu (the brave can scale the higher Huayna Picchu) before boarding luxury train the Belmond Andean Explorer in Cusco and heading to Colca Canyon. This formation is twice as deep as the Grand Canyon and provides a great opportunity to spot Andean Condor with their 3m wingspan. At the end of the day, crash out at in Belmond Las Casitas.