The lost worlds of South America – where to visit

The continent of South America is one of the most alluring places to visit in the world. Whether you’re seeking the bustle of city life or an adventure off the beaten track, you’re sure to find something in one of its twelve sprawling, beautiful countries. Here are just a few of the natural treasures that South America has to offer.

Ciudad Perdida, Columbia

Peru boasts the most popular tourist attraction in South America – Machu Picchu. The Inca city is now a collection of 15th century ruins that has attracted millions of visitors over the years. Want a quieter alternative? Consider Colombia’s Ciudad Perdida. This lost city was only rediscovered in the 1970s and remains a relatively untouched relic of 11th century Tayrona history. You can only reach the mountaintop ruins by hiking there, and there are group treks on offer that will take you up to Ciudad Perdida as well as the surrounding Sierra Nevada mountains. It’s an otherworldly experience that nobody even knows about.

Chapada Diamantina, Brazil

(image credit to Turismo Bahia)

Right in the centre of Brazil’s Bahia state is a national park unlike any other. Chapada Diamantina is a vast national park that is home to some of the most beautiful cascading waterfalls, deep caves and natural pools for you to play in. The “Diamond Highlands” are renowned for the hiking trails that fall around its peaks, and so if you’re looking for adventure with a view to match, this is the place to go. You won’t be able to see it all – after all, the park covers 376,000 acres – but wherever you choose to trek, you’ll stumble across some naturally stunning scenes.

The Great Blue Hole, Belize

70 kilometres off the coast of Belize lies a diving paradise. The Great Blue Hole is the largest sinkhole known to mankind, dipping below the surface to depths of over 400 feet – which you can explore for yourself. Formed when a limestone cave flooded and collapsed over 150,000 years ago, the massive hole is now frequented by divers seeking to explore its depths. The waters are clear and sea creatures hide in the caverns (including sharks) that you’ll come across as you descend. It’s an unforgettable experience that should be on your bucket list.

Uros Floating Islands, Peru

A whole civilisation can be found floating on Lake Titicaca. The Uros people live on 42 manmade islands,builtfrom reeds that have lasted for centuries, and you can hop on a boat and visit them for yourselves. The largest island in the cluster is home to a school, a post office and souvenir shops, and you’re even able to stay in a hut for the night if you wish. Fishing and fresh meals are on offer,and you can talk to the Uros people about their history. It’s one of the most unique and unforgettable ways to immerse yourself in the Peruvian culture.

Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, Costa Rica

Ever heard of a “cloud forest”? It’s the term typically given to a rainforest that is continually blanketed by a heavy fog or mist – Costa Rica’s Monteverde reserve is perhaps the most stunning example in the world, let alone South America. There are over eight miles of trails to wander along, where you’ll be able to discover a selection of nearly 2,000 different animal species that live in the forest’s 810 acres. And, if you’re looking for a bigger thrill, take in the scenery from one of the hanging bridges, or zip line through the canopies if you’re feeling brave enough!