Just when you think you have seen it all, South America awaits. This wonderful continent in the South will provide the luxury traveller with something truly special. Each country has its own character and charm with some of the most amazing natural landscapes to be encountered anywhere in the world. Take a look at the following five activities just to wet your appetite and begin to explore your first, or next, great South America trip.
An amazing Amazon adventure
The Amazon rainforest and river may not automatically conjure images of luxury but rest assured a decadent Amazon Adventure is not only possible, but infinitely bucketlist worthy. As the Amazon River is among the biggest and most beautiful in the world and home to a surrounding rainforest resplendent with plant and animal biodiversity, the regions holds a distinct allure for the adventurous traveller or wildlife lovers. Consider navigating that stretch of water on a river cruise where no attention to detail has been spared. A boutique Amazon river cruise will offer you the very best in gourmet dining, activities geared for the active adult, and suites that will help you unwind after even the most adventurous of days in this pristine jungle. Luxury Amazon cruises such as the Aqua or the Delfin are available in the northern Peruvian Amazon basin (out of Iquitos) while the Anakonda navigates the Ecuadorian Amazon in style from its base in Coca.
The Galapagos Islands are not to be missed
As far as places best explored by cruising in South America, the Galapagos Islands tops the list. As a luxury traveller, you will appreciate the uniqueness of the Galapagos wildlife and contrasting geography and its scientific and historic importance. A highly protected region of Ecuador, the islands themselves are off limits to those who can truly afford such a fascinating experience.
With 13 major islands and 7 smaller ones, a small ship cruise allows you to visit several sites each day and with a range of vessels to choose from, there is literally something for everyone in this travel genre. The Sea Star Journey, the Cormorant and Ocean Spray are three boutique Galapagos Cruises that combine well appointed cabins with five star amenities and extras such as on board jacuzzis to make your exploration a true indulgence.
A luxury spin on marvellous Machu Picchu
While Machu Picchu tops most South America bucket lists, you can certainly distinguish your experience of it with some elegant touches. If the challenge of the Inca trail inspires but the thought of camping doesn’t, consider the 2 day Short Inca Trail journey which includes one intense day of hiking and an overnight stay at your choice of hotel in Aguas Calientes, the town below the ruins. Or for the more athletically inclined can opt for the 7 day Luxury Salkantay Trek, that makes its way through picturesque valleys whilst staying in charming mountain lodges. If the train to Machu Picchu is more your style, upgrade your experience with a ride on the Hiram Bingham Train, the first class rail journey in the romantic heritage style, affording you spectacular views on the way to the archaeological site with fine dining.
Patagonia - your luxury lodge stay or cruise at the end of the world
Now if you missed Patagonia on your first visit to South America, you must make it there next time around. Patagonia is the southernmost region of both Argentina and Chile, the very bottom tip. Why this area inspires so many is obvious, the incredible natural landscapes wonders, glaciers, fjords and stillness at the world’s extreme south. With equally magnificent attractions on either side of the border, a Patagonia travel experience is one not to be rushed as the distances are vast. You can unwind peacefully in luxury lodges with an interactive and inclusive philosophy such as Explora, Tierra Patagonia and the recently commissioned Awasi in Torres del Paine national park. In El Calafate in Argentina your stay at Eolo will immerse you in the local Gaucho tradition and if you’re game, can board a small ship expedition ship Australis for various navigation routes through the fjords, channels and straits including the Beagle Channel.
Iguazu Falls translates to big water and it is by far the most impressive and majestic waterfall in the Americas and the world. Set on the border of Argentina and Brazil, there are nearly 300 individual waterfalls spanning nearly 3 kilometres and surrounded by dense forest, a truly natural wonder. A luxury traveller will enjoy staying in either the Sheraton Hotel on the Argentina side, where you can see views of the cataract from the falls view room and dining rooms, or relaxing in the Belmond Das Cataratas on the Brazilian side. There you will marvel at the properties sense of colonial style that reflects local traditions of the land from a privileged location closer to Iguazu and within the national park.
Katherine Garces is Founder at Boutique South America.