Attractions of South America e-Book

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6 Must See National Parks of South America

It's time to get out your hiking backpack and experience the National Parks of South America for yourself. Some are easy, others will demand every effort from your part. Explore as you've never done before and meet your friends and family with amazing tales full of life and passion.


1. Galapagos National Park (Ecuador)

Giant Tortoise - Galapagos Islands, Ecuador The Galapagos National Park are an absolute must when you travel in Ecuador. The archipelago has been isolated for many years and nature has created astonishing endemic creatures.

Taking a tour in the Galapagos National Park is not cheap but it's worth every cent. It is absolutely fantastic! Unforgettable, a highlight when you travel in South America.

The giant tortoise is the most famous creature on the islands followed by the sea iguana (both can only be found on the Galapagos). Besides marveling at all the beautiful land animals you can also swim with dolphins, snorkel between sharks or dive with manta-rays.

Read more about the Galapagos National Park

2. Cotopaxi National Park (Ecuador)

Cotopaxi, the highest active volcano of the world - Ecuador Cotopaxi National Park is a few hours away from Quito, the capital of Ecuador, and is one of the most beautiful parks of South America. Its treasure is Cotopaxi, the highest active volcano of the world with a height of 5,897 meters (19,347 feet).

I can highly recommend doing the 3 day hike from the entrance of the park to the refuge at 4,800 meters (15,700 feet) at the foot of the volcano Cotopaxi. The level is moderate if you're in good shape. The scenery is amazing.

If you're really up for the adventure of a lifetime then you have to climb Cotopaxi. It takes about 7 hours to reach the crater from the refuge.

Read more about the Cotopaxi National Park


3. Torres del Paine National Park (Peru)

Torres del Paine National Park - Chile Torres Del Paine is a wonder of nature. Declared Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 1978, the Torres del Paine National Park, (located in the Chilean Patagonia) is one of the most mesmerizing places on the planet.

The park is located in the South of Chile and can be visited from the nearby cities Punta Arenas and Puerto Natales. For those of you seeking an unmatched travel adventure Torres del Paine will challenge your wildest dreams.

The major attraction of the park is the Paine Massif  composed mostly of granite and has been around for about 12 million years. The Torres del Paine are three sheer granite towers, that make a challenging and much wanted prize for experienced climbers.

Read more about the Torres del Paine National Park

4. Manu National Park (Peru)

Manu National Park - Peru The Manu National Park in Southwestern Peru is a huge biosphere park and a haven for biologists and nature researchers. The park protects over 2 million hectares (4.5 million acres) of territory rich in fauna and flora species.

You can reach the park either by taking a bus from Cuzco or by flying over the mountain peaks of the Andes in a one motor plane.

Manu hosts many protected animals; 800 species of birds, 200 species of mammals (there are more than 100 species of bats), 120 species of fish and reptiles. If lady luck travels with you then you'll be accompanied by the giant otter, black caiman, the majestic jaguar, the spectacled bear, the tapir, the ocelot, a bunch of primates and ... my favorites... capybaras.

Read more about the Manu National Park


5. Pantanal Matogrossense National Park (Brazil)

Pantanal - Brazil The Pantanal is one of the most immense, pristine and biologically rich environments on the planet. It extends through millions of hectares of central-western Brazil, eastern Bolivia and eastern Paraguay and is often referred to as the world’s largest freshwater wetland system.

With its extraordinarily concentrated and diverse flora and fauna, and a landscape spanning a variety of ecological sub-regions, the Pantanal stands as one of the world's great natural wonders.

The Pantanal Matogrossense National Park hosts 263 species of fish, 95 species of mammals, 162 species of reptiles and is the best place in South America to spot a jaguar. You know you have to see this for yourself.

Read more about the Pantanal Matogrossense National Park

6. Iguazú National Park (Argentina)

Iguazu Falls - Argentina and Brazil Iguazú National Park lies on the border of Argentina and Brazil, near the point were 3 countries meet - Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay. The park measures 550 sq km (341 sq miles), hosts more than 2,000 plant species, 400 species of birds and many mammals and reptiles.

The main attraction of Iguazú National Park is Iguazú Falls (Cataratas del Iguazú in Spanish, Cataratas do Iguaçu in Portuguese). It is here that the river Iguassu tumbles down to the Paraná river in a staggering 275 mesmerizing waterfalls. They stretch out over a distance of 3 kilometers (1.860 miles) following the borders of Argentina and Paraguay.

The Iguazú Falls are 80 meters (262 feet) high (they're higher than Niagara Falls and wider than Victoria Falls) and they are without doubt the most beautiful waterfalls on our planet.

It's quite a spectacle, enchanting and exciting at the same time and is obviously one of the most visited attractions of South America.

Read more about the Iguazú Falls


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© All photographs by Mark Van Overmeire*

*© Photograph "Torres del Paine" by Loic Bernard | Agency:
© Photograph "Playtime for Wild Monkeys" by Christina Craft | Agency:
© Photograph "Iguazu Falls" by Patrick Roherty | Agency:

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