South America was a land of mystery, 600 years back. Apart from everything we now know it still retains elements of its former mystery. So for those of you seeking to discover the unknown, the unexpected or the not understood I’ve compiled a list of five places in South America you should start looking.
01. Easter Island, Chile
The remote Polynesian Easter Island lying in the Pacific Ocean is one of the world’s most mysterious destinations. The main attraction is the Moai. These monolithic statues depicting human faces draw people from around the world and are iconic symbols of Easter Island. Found in the Rapa Nui National Park, this UNESCO World Heritage Site will enthral you with the sheer majesty and the human feat of ingenuity that placed the Moia around the island. It costs £31 to enter the National park.
Daily flights (except Tuesday) from Santiago de Chile will take you to the island in just over five and half hours. For the water-sports enthusiasts there is scuba diving and snorkelling. Another popular area to visit is the elaborate cave systems at Ana Kakenga. It’s recommended to allow yourselves between 2-3 days to be able to take in all this island has to offer.
02. The Nazca Lines, Peru
Located near the southern Peruvian town of Nasca, the Nasca Lines are a mysterious set of geoglyphs made by shallow inscribing in the desert floor. This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its archaeological significance. Dating back to 300 BC, these animal, human, mythological figures, and plant patterns sprawl across the Pampas de Jumana. Their purpose is still not known for sure; theories from religious ceremonies to alien landings have been put forward.
You can best see these figures from the air so there are many tours available from the nearby Nasca airport. It will cost you on average of £50 per person for 30-45 minute flight. Be aware that flights are cancelled regularly because of the weather. You will witness some of the most breathtaking sights that can be seen on the planet.
03. Salt Cathedral of Zipaquira, Colombia
If you are looking to get away from the busy life of the capital, Bogota, then head to the Salt Cathedral at Zipaquira, situated about an hour’s drive from Bogata. If you’re on a budget the bus will cost you £1. Expect to pay triple that amount if you go by taxi. This mountainous region holds what is now not such a well held secret. The Salt Cathedral is located in a working salt mine (in the abandoned section).
The caverns left from the mining where made into a Roman Catholic Cathedral which draws local and international visitors alike. The entrance fee is £6. There are 12 Stations of the Cross; this is a place of pilgrimage for many. The impressive size of the structure hewn by man and machine will captivate you with its subtle lighting. There is a tangible ethereal feel to this place; it’s a place that promotes peaceful contemplation and reflection. This place will definitely live on in your memories once visited.
04. Machu Picchu, Peru
If there is one place that is synonymous with South America, it has to be the ruined Inca city of Machu Picchu. This is a must see for any travel itinerary when visiting Peru.
This UNESCO World Heritage Site also known as the “Lost City of the Incas” is situated in the remote mountainous region (7,975 feet) near the city of Cusco in southern Peru. It was also included in the list of the New Seven Wonders of the World. The city is partially ruined but in its heyday was the site of traditional Inca temples, a fortress and dwellings.
Admission will cost £28-£34, booking in advanced is essential, as only 500 people are allowed on the site daily. Train travel to Aguas Calientes from Cusco will be in the region of £30-£237 depending on what package you purchase. The sheer beauty of this place will delight you whilst exploring this historical city.
05. Mount Roraima, Guyana, Venezuela, and Brazil
This destination is really for those of an adventurous nature, for hiking and climbing. This mountain situated near the city of Santa Elena de Uairen, it can only be climbed up from the side of Venezuela. All tours and guides (£10 daily) can be booked for the 6-8 day journey. The climate here is changeable and you’ll need all the equipment to survive in the wild.
Reaching the top of the mountain, you will notice a cairn which marks the spot where the 3 countries meet and will also be rewarded for your climb by spectacular views. For the less adventurous helicopter rides are available from Santa Elena airport for a staggering £940; which take in Mount Roraima and also Angel Falls. For a considerable physical effort you will be congratulated in knowing you have visited an area unique to this continent and become one of the elite who have ventured to conquer this mountain.