The Ultimate South America Bucket List!

Typically, I avoid the words: “Bucket List.”  I dislike the idea of people racing around the globe, checking items off some arbitrary “list.”  My own preferred mode of travel is long & slow: meaning, I tend to spend at least a month in each country I visit, to really get a feel for it.  Yes, I usually see the highlights of each country ~ but I spend enough time to soak in off-the-beaten path spots too.  All that said, why the heck did I create this “Ultimate South America Bucket List?!”  If bucket lists are anathema to the way I travel, why create this?? 

The Ultimate South America Bucket List, Girl Who Travels the World

Why Create a Bucket List?

A lot of what I do with my travel writing is try to bring order to chaos.  In other words, I attempt to distill down big ideas or big places, making it easier for other travelers to identify what they do & do not want to see.  Creating a visual list can help get the “big picture.”  As South America is a place I’ve fallen in love with (& that many Americans aren’t necessarily drawn to), the main reason I created this list is to demonstrate just how many incredible adventures & mysterious places await in the wilds of this continent…. 

Map of South America Bucket List Spots

Cusco, Peru

Galapagos Islands

Machu Picchu

Uyuni Salt Flats

Buenos Aires

Medellin

Patagonia

San Pedro de Atacama

Rio de Janeiro

Iguazu Falls

Easter Island

The Ultimate South America Bucket List

Bucket list travel implies a highlight reel: & the 18 destinations listed below are indeed a “highlight reel” of South America.  Each is fantastic enough to warrant ample time & exploration.  If I’ve written about a place, I link to the article(s) ~ & you can click to read more.

  • PERU: 1) Machu Picchu, 2) Rainbow Mountain (also called, “Vinicunca”), 3) Cusco, the ancient capital of the Incas.
  • ECUADOR: 4) The Galapagos Islands.
  • COLOMBIA: 5) Medellin, 6) Guatape, 7) Cartagena.
  • URUGUAY: 8) Punta del Este.
  • BOLIVIA: 9) Uyuni Salt Flats (if you can’t make it to Bolivia, check out Argentina’s Salt Flats here).
  • ARGENTINA: 10) Iguazu, 11) Buenos Aires, 12) Patagonia.
  • BRAZIL: 13) The Amazon (you can also visit the Peruvian Amazon),14) Rio de Janeiro, 15) Sao Paolo.
  • CHILE: 16) Easter Island, 17), Santiago, the capital of Chile, & 18) San Pedro de Atacama. 

There are 12 countries total in South America, & only 8 represented here.  The missing countries are: Venezuela, Paraguay, Guyana, & Suriname.  Why are they missing from the list?  Venezuela is left off because it’s a very dangerous & inadvisable place to visit right now, due to major civil unrest.  As for the others, I’ve never visited them & know little about them, & they would definitely fall more into the “off-the-beaten” path category.

The Ultimate South America Bucket List

Because I’ve written so extensively about many of the destinations on this list, I’m keeping the remainder of this article short ~ & showing you photos of a few of these spectacular destinations instead.

The Ultimate South America Bucket List, Girl Who Travels the World

The largest salt flat in the world, in Bolivia: Uyuni.

The Ultimate South America Bucket List, Hiking the Iconic Mirador Las Torres on a Budget, Girl Who Travels the World

Spectacular Torres del Paine National Park, in Chile.

The Ultimate South America Bucket List, Solo Female Travel at Iguazu Falls, Girl Who Travels the World

Rainbows over Iguazu Falls, on the Argentina side. I have no clue how to use Photoshop ~ so I assure you, this is 100% real!

The Ultimate South America Bucket List, Guide to Galapagos Islands, Tortuga Bay

If you LOVE animals & unspoiled beaches: fly to the Galapagos Islands pronto!

What is My Favorite Country in South America?

People often ask me what my favorite country is, & while this is near-impossible to answer: I’d say within South America, my “favorite” country is Peru, followed closely by Colombia.  Peru for its sense of majesty & mystery ~ Colombia for its warm & gregarious people.

The Ultimate South America Bucket List, Girl Who Travels the World

One of my favorite shots of Machu Picchu, taken at sunrise.

The Ultimate South America Bucket List, Girl Who Travels the World

Rainbow Mountain in Peru.

The Ultimate South America Bucket List, Girl Who Travels the World, Cartagena, Colombia

This is a common sight in colorful Cartagena, Colombia: beautiful, Caribbean women carrying fruit on top of their heads!

The Ultimate South America Bucket List, Girl Who Travels the World, Easter Island, Chile

Mysterious stone statues on Easter Island, off the coast of Chile.

The Ultimate South America Bucket List, Girl Who Travels the World, Atacama Desert at Night

Glamping under the stars in Chile’s Atacama Desert.

The Ultimate South America Bucket List

Thanks for reading this “Ultimate South America Bucket List!”  You can find some of my favorite hotels in South America in the article below ~ & if you want to know what my #1 favorite hotel is in South America…I actually have two, & they’re both in Peru! 

One is the El Albergue Hotel in Ollantaytambo, & the other is the JW Marriott El Convento in Cusco….

Read Next: Top 10 Best Hotels in South America

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