Latin America is one of the best places in the world for long-term, independent travel. Caribbean beaches, the Andes mountain range and the Amazon Rainforest are some of the highlights, but there’s so much more in between. Romantic Spanish colonial towns, exotic waterfalls, great food (and a lot of average food) and an atmosphere of adventure also greet travellers to Latin America. I spent 8 months travelling overland from the madness of Mexico City to the lonely beauty of Patagonia. Here are some places you shouldn’t miss.

Mountains and Glaciers

Latin America is full of dramatic mountain scenery. Patagonia is undoubtedly a highlight; it’s full of glaciers, mind-blowing mountain views and world-class hiking. The mountains and glaciers near Huaraz, Peru almost match those in Patagonia for beauty. Click on a photo to read the post↓↓

perito-morenotorres-del-painehuascaran

Lakes

Lake Titicaca, the mystical home of the Incas, is a must-see while travelling in South America. There are lots of other surreal looking lakes to be found, especially in southern Bolivia. Laguna 69 (Peru) is otherworldly and is one of the highlights of any trip to South America. Click on a photo to read the post↓↓

lake-titicacalaguna-69laguna-verde

Colonial towns and cities

Cobblestone lanes, immaculately restored (or left to crumble) churches and quaint houses are hallmarks of Latin America’s colonial towns and cities. They are often romantic, occasionally bursting at the seams with tourists and traffic but always interesting. Click the photos below to read posts about some of my favourite colonial towns in Latin America. Click on a photo to read the post↓↓

baricharaantiguacusco

Jungles and Cloud Forests

The Amazon Rainforest is a highlight of any trip to South America; but which country should you visit it in? We chose Ecuador and it was an excellent (and cheap) choice. Cloud forests, especially those in Panama, Costa Rica and Colombia are magical worlds of grey skies and green trees. Again, click on the photos below for full posts (I can probably stop reminding you of that now…). Click on a photo to read the post↓↓

amazoncocora-valley

Beaches

Most of our beach time was spent in Central America. We spent a week relaxing in the Corn Islands, a pair of small islands off the coast of Nicaragua. The pacific coast beaches, especially the ones around San Juan del Sur (Nicaragua) and Manuel Antonio National Park (Costa Rica) were great but by far the best beaches were found during our boat trip through the San Blas Islands (Panama). Click on a photo to read the post↓↓

big-cornsan-blas-islandsmanuel-antonio

Natural Wonders

Waterfalls, volcanoes, cenotes and salt flats – Latin America is home to a huge variety of natural wonders. Semuc Champey is one of the most amazing places I’ve been and the Uyuni Salt Flat, the largest in the world, is a strange expanse of cracked white salt. Click on a photo to read the post↓↓

semuc-champeysanta-ana-volcanouyuni-salt-flat

Ruins

The Mayans and the Incas left behind some phenomenal architecture throughout Latin America and visiting their ruined cities is an experience which is hard to beat. There were also plenty of other civilizations which left their mark on Latin America, including the Aztecs, Zapotecs and Moche. Click on a photo to read the post↓↓

chichen-itzamachu-picchupisac

Deserts

Much of South America’s Pacific coast is desert – a lot of it is barren and uninteresting but there are some highlights. The dunes near Huacachina, a tiny oasis town in Peru, are perfect for a sandboarding adventure and the Atacama Desert features some truly surreal landscapes (there will be a post on that coming soon). The Tatacoa Desert in Colombia is also worth checking out. Click on a photo to read the post↓↓

tatacoahuacachina

Getting Around

Transport in Latin America varies greatly from region to region. Chicken buses (old, uncomfortable American school buses) are the vehicle of choice in most of Central America, while comfortable night buses, often with a meal and a movie included, are more common in South America. We also went on 2 big sea voyages; the first from Panama to Colombia via the San Blas Islands and the second was a relaxing 3 day boat trip through Patagonia. Click on a photo to read the post↓↓

patagoniachicken-bus

Are you planning a trip to Latin America? Check out all my posts on Central America and South America.

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Jon Algie

Jon Algie

A travel blogger from New Zealand who hates talking about himself in the third person and has no imagination when it comes to naming websites.