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15 best hidden places in South America

Establishment with tradicional architecture in Colombia.
Establishment with tradicional architecture in Colombia.

We enjoy leaving the familiar route behind, no matter the destination we often we make an effort to include lesser-known destinations on our travel itinerary.

We’re so excited to share our top hidden gems of South America with you. South America is a treasure trove of hidden gems that merit much greater attention and recognition than they receive.

The trip can be very satisfying. In the beginning, you stay away from the crowds. There is nothing more exciting than having a popular tourist attraction nearly to yourself.

We’ve also selected stunning spots which should be on everyone’s bucket list. We have included a variety of destinations including wildlife parks to ancient ruin sites and natural beauty spots. Off the beaten track within South America allows you to discover all the amazing spots.

Let’s take a look at some of the less visited places that are in South America you need to visit on your next trip!

1. The Altiplano, Bolivia

The Altiplano located in Bolivia is without doubt one of the most beautiful destinations for you to visit within Latin America.

A lot of travelers have heard about Uyuni Salt Flats. And people are attracted to the area. Most only stay for the day snapping pictures and leave in the morning.

Have you ever thought that the region that lies behind the Uyuni is as breathtaking than the salt plains? These flats are the home of a multitude of flamingos who reside in the vibrant salty lagoons.

It is possible to see stunning landscapes and rock formations, and stay in salt-based hotels. In addition, you could traverse the Altiplano to get into Chile’s Chilean Atacama Desert or vice to the other direction.

The most effective way to experience the Altiplano is to join an excursion in Uyuni. You don’t have to make reservations for everything in advance, since it’s simple enough to organize a trip in Uyuni. If you’re working on a tight schedule or want to know more details in advance, check out this tour which is consistently rated highly.

2. The Pantanal, Brazil

The Pantanal is among the most well-known secrets in South America. Everybody visits the Amazon to view wildlife But did you know it is that Pantanal can be viewed as a wetland zone that is as big as 29, American states?

There is plenty of wildlife to see and offers plenty of chances to spot macaws and capibaras as well as anteaters, and jaguars. Additionally, the region is ideal for outdoor pursuits like hiking and canoeing.

Although the Pantanal stretches all over Brazil, Paraguay and Bolivia The most convenient method to visit is to fly towards one of Cuiaba and Campo Grande in Brazil. Although you could theoretically, rent an automobile rental and arrange everything on your own, we strongly recommend joining an organised tour.

A knowledgeable tour guide knows the best places to spot wildlife and will help you locate the animals. We would recommend Julinho who works with Pantanal Trackers who can tailor your tour to suit your needs.

3. Cocora Valley, Colombia

If you’re looking to view these wax palms, which are the most majestic palm trees in the world, you must visit Cocora Valley in Colombia. It is among our favorite hidden gems in America.

There is an area called the Cocora Valley in western Colombia close to the town of Salento. Salento is worth an visit to view the vibrant houses and the coffee plantations that are located in the region.

From there, you are able to visit The Cocora Valley on a day excursion. Based on how much time you have, and the degree to which you are interested in walking, you can make the option of going on just a stroll through the palm trees or walking along a trail that runs across the valley.

Both are excellent options but we would highly suggest to complete the whole hike if you’ve got the time. There’s the possibility to explore lush meadows as well as traversing through forests. Around half way through the trek and you’ll be able to make a stop at Casa de las Colibris, where you can sip hot cup of chocolate while watching hummingbirds move through the jungle.

After ascending up to a viewing point You then arrive within the vicinity where palm trees are growing. Some of them can reach an altitude of as high as 60 meters, which makes the Cocora Valley a stunning view.

4. Trujillo, Peru

Have you had the opportunity to hear about Trujillo located in Peru?

The majority of tourists who visit Peru travel towards Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley. If you’re interested in learning about the history of the ancient civilizations that ruled South America, though, you must visit Trujillo. Trujillo is among the many places that are hidden in America that are wonderful to visit but hasn’t been noticed by the masses until now.

Near Trujillo In the vicinity of Trujillo, there are the remnants of two pre-Inca civilisations. The first can be described as Chan Chan, the largest Adobe city in the world. The extensive ruins have earned UNESCO World Heritage status and you can expect to spend at least an hour investigating them.

Besides Chan Chan, you are also able to find Huaca de la Luna and Huaca del Sol nearby. These ruins, although situated close to Chan Chan have been dated to a different period of time and civilisation. The Moche inhabitants lived here, and both the ruins you are able to visit were the sites of their celebrations.

It is believed that the Huaca de la Luna is particularly interesting because the Moche constructed multiple temples over the one. Archaeologists have located six temples and due to the method of construction numerous designs on the outside of the temples have been preserved.

The best method in order to visit each of Chan Chan and the Huacas de la Luna y del Sol is to get taxis from Trujillo. Both locations are located slightly out from town, but are easy to access via automobile.

5. Cabo Polonio, Uruguay

Cabo Polonio is one of our top South American beach destinations. It’s a good thing that it’s not into the radar of the majority of tourists from abroad yet.

Cabo Polonio is a town in the state of Cabo Polonio is situated just 7 km from the nearest road, and the only method of getting there is through trucks that move motorists across the road and into the community. In Cabo Polonio the town itself it is possible to walk the paths and sand strips that connect houses.

A calm beach in Cabo Polonio, one of the hidden places in South America.
A calm beach in Cabo Polonio.

Cabo Polonio is well-known for its tranquil environment and its colony of sea lions. While walking down the shore, you’ll be able to see sea lions enjoying themselves in the ocean or resting on the rocks in front of the lighthouse.

While Cabo Polonio is a remote destination for many international travelers but locals know the beauty of the area. If you’re traveling during high season, be sure to reserve your accommodations early enough.

6. Chimborazo, Ecuador

The Chimborazo located in Ecuador is another excellent feature on the list hidden gems of South America. This active mountain is considered to be the most awe-inspiring in Ecuador because of its proximity near the Equator it’s summit is also the farthest away from the center of Earth.

If you’re able to demonstrate the required climbing experience, you could climb up to the top on the Chimborazo. Don’t try this if not comfortable with climbing on the ice!

For a second option and this is the one we chose to do, consider taking an entire day of hiking on the Chimborazo. It gives you plenty of chances to take in the mountain and watch the changes in scenery while you hike. It is best to climb the mountain in a car and then hike down.

In the beginning, you’ll be walking through a rugged landscape. If you’ve not had the time to adjust to the elevation and the incline, you may be a bit tense. However, once you go along the slope, breath becomes more comfortable. The scenery slowly changes to green, and you will have the chance to view Vicunas on the trek.

The best method to complete the hike is with the help of a guide who knows the region. You can locate tour guides in Riobamba.

7. Ciudad Perdida, Colombia

We’ve already visited Trujillo in Peru Trujillo, one of the most hidden gems located in South America where you can discover the remains of ancient civilisations.

Another excellent location to visit could be Lost City in Colombia.

There is only one way you can see the ruin of the Tairona people is to trek through the forest in three full days. It’s a long and exhausting, but extremely rewarding, and you will be able to take in breathtaking scenery along the route.

Additionally, you’ll travel through villages that are part of the area and see the lifestyle of the people who live in the mountains of this remote region. On the way you’ll travel through streams, splash in waterfalls and relax in hammocks.

To be able to trek towards the Ciudad Perdida, you need to take part in an organized tour. The majority of tours have offices located at Santa Marta, but since only a small number of tourists can take the trek every day, it is recommended to reserve your spot early.

We were to the area with G Adventures and can highly recommend G Adventures. The local Wiwa guide was able to teach us lots about the residents of the area and we had an unforgettable experience.

8. Potosi, Bolivia

In making the list Daniel and I debated whether Potosi is one of the lesser-known gems of South America.

Daniel who is Spanish has been taught about Potosi in the classroom, but I had not heard about it until I began making plans for my trip. Potosi used to be the most affluent place in Americas and is an excellent idea to add this fascinating location to your itinerary.

There is Potosi within the Bolivian Andes located over 4,000 feet above sea-level. As you stroll around the city, you can still see the colonial structures that was built when the Spanish established the city.

A view of
A view of “Cerro Rico” in Potosi.

The reason Potosi was able to become one of the most prosperous cities of the Americas is due to local silver mines. Nowadays, not much silver is left in the mountains, however locals continue to mine for precious minerals.

The opportunity to tour the mines is one the most memorable activities that you could do when visiting Potosi however, it is equally an extremely gruesome ones. The mine shafts dating back to the colonial era are in a better condition than those that were dug up in recent years. There are many deaths in accidents that occur in mines or accidents, and even if the mine doesn’t fall over them, they can develop lung cancer by inhaling the dust.

Potosi is among these places that will open your eyes but also has beautiful aspects. Go to The Casa de la Moneda, in which the Spanish made their money or look at the numerous monasteries and churches. It is a must to visit this city.

9. Paracas, Peru

If you’re interested in seeing wildlife, but want to leave the normal path to South America, you should go to Paracas.

Many call Paracas “the poor man’s Galapagos” because you will observe sea lions, penguins and a variety of birds without the need to buy an extravagant ticket for Galapagos.

Being able to observe wildlife isn’t the only option within Paracas. In the vicinity of Paracas is a place to visit Paracas Peninsula. Paracas Peninsula, a National Reserve known for its beaches of red sand as well as archaeological discoveries.

The Paracas civilisation was a part of the region. When you visit the museum in your area and learn more about them, and look at the “mummy bundles”, in which they wrapped their dead.

10. Jesuit Missions, Paraguay

The Jesuit Missions in Paraguay are among the lesser-known destinations that you should visit within South America.

In the colonial era In the colonial era, the Jesuit established Missions for Natives. Locals could live there, and the Jesuits could convert them to western culture and teach the natives about Christianity. In exchange they would Jesuits could ensure that they are not enslaved.

Although the Missions are now in disrepair they are still so important in the history of South America that they received the designation of an UNESCO World Heritage site. When you walk through the ruin it is possible to imagine how magnificent these structures were in the past.

If you are visiting, you are able to go with a rental car, joining a tour or touring the ruins with public transportation. The process of taking a bus is simple.

11. Mindo, Ecuador

If you’re searching for one of the top natural spots located in South America, you should visit Mindo within Ecuador.

Ecuador is renowned for its rich biodiversity that is among the most diverse on earth. The cloud forests of Mindo you will have the chance to view all the species of animals that inhabit the country.

A butterfly in a leaf.
A butterfly in a leaf.

Go to go to the Butterfly Farm, for example you will see numerous butterflies. It’s also a wonderful place to watch hummingbirds in vibrant colors fly across the sky.

Mindo could be fantastic destination if you like extreme sports. The most well-known options in Mindo is to paddle through the river in tubes. You can also locate an e-zipline close by that takes passengers across the forest of clouds.

You can also learn about the cocoa plant that is indigenous to Ecuador. In the chocolate factory you can get to know more about the process of making chocolate before trying various kinds of black gold on your own.

The greatest part? Although Mindo is considered to be one of the most elusive treasures within South America, you can easily access the town by way of Quito.

There’s plenty to do that will keep you entertained for a couple of days, however, if you’re limited on time, you can do it in a shorter amount of time.

12. Guatape, Colombia

Are you in search of an escape in South America that is still unexplored but is easily accessible from a major city?

You should then head to Guatape and locate right across from Medellin.

The town is famous for its vibrant homes as well as the breathtaking scenery that surrounds it. The region is made up of turquoise lakes as well as bizarrely-shaped islands. It’s not difficult to spend a few hours in the area to unwind.

One of the most enjoyable activities that you could do when visiting Guatape is to ascend to the highest point of El Penol. The rock is located near a lake and requires 700 steps to reach the highest point. Although it can take a while to climb but the view from the top is worth the effort.

Additionally, there is an establishment at the top, where you can sip a refreshing beverage while taking in the views.

Another thing to do is embark on a boat ride and visit the towns in the region. You may be able to spot Pablo Escobar’s home on the boat, since the drug lord would visit Guatape often.

The final option is to enjoy the town in its entirety. The majority of houses are painted bright colors, and it’s easy to lose yourself through the maze of alleyways and take in the vibrant ambience.

13. Iquitos, Peru

Another wildlife-related spot located in South America that you shouldn’t overlook. Iquitos located in Peru is the largest town in the globe that doesn’t have access to roads because it’s located within the Amazon rainforest.

While everybody is aware of the Amazon but not many travelers actually visit the region. This means that when you visit Iquitos in the Amazon, you could easily spend a whole week in the region and only encounter a few travelers.

The best way to discover the Amazon is to stay in an Amazon lodge. The majority are accessible only via boats and provide diverse tours and adventures. Fishing for piranhas, or wander the waterways in search of sloths and monkeys.

They also let you visit the village of the locals, in which you will learn about the customs and traditions of living in the region.

The wide range of activities together with the opportunity to observe a variety of wildlife, make Iquitos not only the ideal location for adventure tourists, but also a fantastic location for a family holiday throughout South America.

14. Quebrada de Humahuaca, Argentina

Do you want to venture away from the main roads in Argentina? If so, then you must go toward Quebrada de Humahuaca. Quebrada de Humahuaca, which is located in the north of Argentina, close to the Bolivian border.

If you’ve been on a trip through Argentina You’ll be amazed by how diverse the region is. Beautiful mountains surround this valley across both sides. It is important to get there early enough in the morning to watch the sun shine on one side, bringing out all the various colors of the rocks.

Another excellent thing to do in the region can be to visit the villages that are located there. Humahuaca is made up of adobe buildings and cobblestone streets. It’s an ideal place to sample the meat of llama. Also, you should stop at Purmamarca to buy handicrafts made locally.

The Quebrada de Humahuaca is also where you can find the old ruin from Pucara de Tilcara. Visit them to find out more about how the inhabitants who lived there survived this harsh and hostile environment, hundreds of years before.

15. Easter Island, Chile

Easter Island is not exactly an unknown destination. Even though many people have seen photos of Moai statues, the majority of tourists do not make it to the island This is the reason we decided to list the island as a hidden treasure in South America.

A picture of the Moai statues an intriguing place hidden in South America
A picture of the intriguing Moai statues.

To reach Easter Island, you can choose to fly departing from Santiago de Chile or catch the flight that flies every week from Tahiti. Both are costly, however, those who choose to visit this islandwill be reward with an intriguing history, breathtaking beaches and the opportunity to view plenty of Moai heads.

Easter Island is easily one of the most exotic destinations within South America. The people who lived there were much more closely influenced by the inhabitants who lived in the Pacific. The experience of watching these traditional performances of dance is among the most memorable things to do here.

In all over the island, you will see Moai heads all across the islands. Moai heads. If you’d like to know where they came from go to Ranu Raraku in the quarry on the island in which the heads were created. It is an excellent spot to look at the statues in different stages of completion and to be amazed at how the people could move them around the island.

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