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7 South and Central America travel destinations for nature lovers

Jan
25
Nina J.
There are so many places to add to your bucket list, but today I’m challenging myself to list 7 (and only 7) South and Central America travel destinations for nature lovers. I want it to be original and based on travelers’ testimonies.From Mexico to the far end of Chili, here are 7 wonders that are not often mentioned on bucket lists but which are definitely worth going to…

 

7. Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica by Arnaud 

nicoya peninsula in Costa RicaSource: Frank's Travelbox

Arnaud, citizen of the world and in love with South America’s landscapes, says: “Costa Rica attracts millions of travelers every year… In a mustard pocket square, you’ll find two oceans, forest, deserts as well as volcanos… More specifically, Nicoya Peninsula is becoming more and more popular: some hippie communities started to settle there to live up to the country’s motto “Pura Vida”: surf, yoga, wildlife watching and tropical fruit-tasting under a huge sun and 28 to 30 degrees certainly helped building its reputation…”.

 

Advices from travelers to travelers: between Paquera and Tambor, Curu Wildlife Refuge is definitely worth a visit. This farm is practicing an original approach to sustainable development by combining fair agriculture, forest sustainable management and protection of both local fauna and flora.

Did you know: mangroves are amazing to observe wildlife. This kind of forests growing along the coast are very important to the ecosystem since they act as a buffer between the sea and the land and also between salt and fresh water… Sadly, however, they are endangered due to climate change.

Since 1956, carbon emissions derived from mangrove loss in the Nicoya Peninsula itself account for emissions equivalent to 468 364 vehicles’. Several initiatives intent to address this issue. One of my favorite ones is Francisca Gutierrez Reyes’s «mangrove nursery ».

 

 

6. Lençois Maranhenses in Brazil by Maryne and Jules from the blog Explore Le Monde

lencois maranhennses in brazil america destinations

Source: Iberian Consulting

In their article on the topic, Maryne and Jules are thrilled: “It’s one of the most incredible places we saw in Brazil! Brazilians can be proud of this amazing park which is a pure wonder of nature, a must-see. Lençois Maranhenses, is a sea of dunes stretching on 156 000 hectares. “Lençois” means “sheets” in English. After the rainy season, in between the dunes, you’ll find incredible blue colored lakes of fresh water. [...] If one day someone had told us that we would walk 50km in the desert, under extreme heat, I think we would have laughed… the lesson to be learnt here is that you can always surpass your limits and that you should always believe in you!”.

 

Advices from travelers to travelers: several bloggers say that the fishermen village of Atins is not only a little paradise on Earth but also THE best starting point to explore Lençois Maranhenses. Located outside of the beaten paths (because going there requires some efforts), the small village remains very preserved and authentic. Franck and Richard from the blog OneDayOneTravel, say that “their stay at Atins was one of the highlights of their trip to Brazil”.

Did you know: the dry period, which occurs from July to December, dries all lakes and all forms of life disappear from the Lençois Maranhenses. As soon as the water flows back, fishes, shellfishes and turtles come back as if they never left. And thus travels life… Unbelievable isn’t ?

 

5. The Salar de Uyuni and Lipez in Bolivia by Whatside

destination America salar de Uyuni boliviaSource: Manuel Menal

Margaux and Hadrien from the blog Whatside explain : «14 000 km2 of salt, colored mountains endlessly, crystal blue lagoons and thousands of flamingos. And so much more to say… The Salar de Uyuni kept all its promises. During four days, we were exploring with a 4x4 something so beautiful that it is beyond words. Sleeping in a salt hotel, discovering fairytale landscapes… This travel is definitely one of our best ones in 2016 and we can’t recommend you strongly enough to go there”.

 

Advices from travelers to travelers: in order to avoid the crowd, you can start the tour from Tupiza or from Chile. That’s what Margaux and Hadrien did and they were very happy about it: “we were only four in our car, with our own cook, a driver who was really taking his job seriously and we basically didn’t see any other tourists”.

Personally, when I was in Bolivia, in October 2015, I also started the tour from Tupiza and I recall that we were always reaching the different spots before the crowd and we really enjoyed it. I assure you: it is worth it!

Did you know: because of the low population density, numerous plants and animals took control of the area. Also, although the various landscapes look somewhat desert and dry, the Reserve Edouardo Avaro is home to 190 species of plants and trees, 800 species of birds and 23 species of mammals (Source: Info Artisanat Bolivie).



4. Caño Cristales in Colombia, the rainbow river by Maroccan Nomad

cano cristales in colombia Source: Cano Cristales Blogspot

“Caño Cristales simply knocked my socks off. Although I’ve seen pictures and read articles about it -just as you are doing right now-, I couldn’t imagine how astonishing it is. Pictures won’t do justice to the river of five colors in any case. You should go there and witness the uniqueness of its beauty by yourself” says Houda Chaloun, from the blog Maroccan Nomad.

 

Advices from travelers to travelers: spend a couple of days in the village of La Macarena (not the song!). This village’s inhabitants will welcome you warmly and give you the very best they can offer…

Did you know: Caño Cristales is also called the 5 colors lake and received several times the name of the “most beautiful lake of the world”. Those colors are due to the presence of red, green and blue.

 

 

3. Semuc Champey in Guatemala by TravelInPleasure and Globeblogeurs

semuc champey in guatemala america destinationsSource: Expert Vagabond

“This place could easily be one of the most beautiful of your life. It’s an amazing place with natural baths of a turquoise color and dozens of waterfalls. More than just looking at it, what about enjoying the many activities, each better than the last: cliff climbing, bungee jumping, cave diving…?”.

Advices from travelers to travelers: plan to stay more than just the two days that are recommended to treat yourself with some tubing… The concept is simple: you just get on a tire and go down the river. According to the globeblogeurs, this activity “gives you time to enjoy the landscape and drink a beer (yeah even while you’re on the water!), and all of a sudden, it becomes more sporty when the river flow speeds up.”

Did you know: Semuc Champey means “where the water hides itself in the mountain” in maya q’eqchi ‘. Pools can be up to 3 meters deep! Source : Voyageurs du Net.


2. Parque Nacional Torres del Paine in Chile by LoveTrotters

parque nacional torres del paine in chiliSource: Viator

The Torres del Paine in Chile is the Brad Pitt of Patagonia. It’s THE most known park of the whole region. Wild beauty, raw strength, astonishing versatility, its reputation precedes him. [...] The park is 227,000 ha of wild forest which are of several colors, of imposing mountains that tear the sky, of granitic needles piercing the clouds, of living glaciers that make their way between the mountains, lagoons with emerald hues that reflect stunning landscapes, of desert plains that are whipped by the wind, cascades that spring from the crevasses of the glaciers, several microclimates that give life to an incredible fauna and flora...”.

 

Advices from travelers to travelers: The biggest difficulty if you dare to venture in one of its numerous trekking routes is to deal with extreme temperature changes. While in summer, the temperature can reach 25-30 degrees in the valleys, and drop to minus 5 in the highest parts.

Did you know: two stories attempt to explain the name of this park. One is that “Paine” would mean “light blue” in Tehuelche, one of the native languages. The other one says that Paine was the name of a famous Welsh climber. No one can tell for sure which one is true. What about you? Which one do you prefer?



1. Galapagos in Ecuador by Equateur Info

galapagos in ecuadorSource: Partir aux Ameriques

Together with a French guide, passionate by the matter, we let ourselves be amazed by the beauty of an incredible world. All our senses were awaken to get a glimpse at all this natural wonder which we’ll feel forever lucky to have seen.”

Advices from travelers to travelers: the Galapagos were the very first site on UNESCO’s list but also the first one to appear first on the list of endangered sites. That’s why it’s so important to put in action Esther’s advices to be an ecofriendly traveler.  

Did you know: made famous by Charles Darwin’s discoveries, the fauna and flora of the Galapagos are literally very different from what we have on the continent. Because it’s a very remote location, the species have evolved differently (Source : BBC Nature).

 

It was not an easy job to select only 7 natural wonders in South and Central America because there are truly a lot of them.
 
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