South America is home to an abundance of national parks. These are often located in remote locations filled with fascinating wildlife and diverse ecosystems.
Brazil – Fernando de Noronha National Park
The indescribable beauty of Fernando de Noronha Marine National Park is a slice of paradise located off Brazil’s north east coast. This UNESCO World Heritage marine park was formed by the volcanic peaks of a submerged mountain range. It is an ecological sanctuary with diverse ecosystems and a jagged coastline ideal for scuba diving, snorkelling, surfing, and exploring its undeveloped beaches.
Swim in its clear warm waters to see rays, dolphins, sea turtles, and beautiful reefs. One of its highlights is found at Baía dos Golfinhos (Dolphin Bay). Here, hundreds of spinner dolphins (that jump out of water and spin on its axis) put an incredible show of agility.
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Peru – Manu National Park
Feast your senses in the kaleidoscope of colours and sounds of Peru’s Manu National Park. This largely unexplored park, is situated in the southwestern corner of the Amazon basin. It is biological wonder with fascinating ecosystems which are home to over 20,000 vascular plants, 1,200 species of butterflies, 1,000 known birds, and 200 kinds of mammal. It is also home to several indigenous tribes including tribes who still today, not had contact with the modern world.
To get there, you can fly from Cuzco to Boca and then transfer to riverboat for a 5-6–hour journey into the park. Although, the tourist infrastructure is rustic and simple it is the most authentic Amazon experience accessible to tourists
Take a tour of Manu National Park by adding it to your itinerary!
Colombia – Tayrona National Park
Tayrona National Park is one of Colombia’s natural treasures situated on the northern Caribbean coast. It is known for its verdant green jungle, mountainous peaks, and its pristine stretch of golden coastline. This national treasure is flourished with incredible flora and fauna many of which are endemic to the region such as the poison dart frogs and the giant boas. It is a birders paradise home to an abundant birdlife such as the blue-knobbed curassow, keel-billed toucans and the manakins.
The park is popular with locals and the backpackers so choosing a time outside of holidays and weekends is recommended. Having private transfers and good accommodation helps you avoid the crowds.
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Argentina – Tierra del Fuego National Park
Nestled between the Beagle Channel and the southernmost point of Argentine Patagonia, lies the wild and rugged landscape of Tierra del Fuego. This protected national park is one of its kind with its unique combination of marine, wood, and mountain environments. The park sprawls across 170,000 acres (68,000 hectares) of land, most of which consists of jagged peaks, craggy mountains, and dense Patagonian forests.
Its fauna includes mammal species such as guanaco and Fuegian foxes which are found exclusively here. Birders will enjoy the flurry of birdlife found in this region. These include the austral parakeets, woodpeckers, thorn-tailed rayadito, and austral thrush found in the forests, as well as the black – browed albatrosses, the flying steamer duck and oystercatchers.
For hiking lovers, splendour in the natural beautify through its many trails perfectly marked, including difficult, intermediate and easy trails. Visit the many beauties offered in Zaratiegui Bay, Acigami Lake and Lapataia Bay which are the most visited sites of the park. Don’t miss the “concheros” (shelly deposits) – archaeological evidence of humans who lived thousands of years ago!
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Argentina – Peninsula Valdes National Park
The Peninsula Valdes is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a global nature reserve known for its prime whale-watching opportunities. It is set in the dramatic landscape consisting of over 400 KM (249 miles) of coastline and connected to mainland Argentina by a narrow strip of land. Its dynamic coastal zone features rocky cliffs, hidden coves, shallow bays, lagoons, as wells as sand dunes and pristine beaches.
Thanks to its mushroomed-shaped peninsula, its gulfs are largely sheltered from the rough South Atlantic Ocean making it the ideal conditions for breeding and nursing Southern Right Whales and other marine mammals like elephant seals and Orcas. This natural sanctuary is home to an abundance of wildlife, with huge colonies of elephant seals, Magellan penguins, sea lions and home to over 181 bird species which, flamingos, rheas, and owls.
Take a tour of Peninsula Valdes National Park by adding it to your itinerary!
Chile – Torres del Paine National Park
Torres del Paine National Park is one of Chile’s most beautiful destinations. Located in Patagonia, you can arrive via its gateway of Puerto Natales, whether you’re coming from Punta Arenas or El Calafate in Argentina. It is a dream location for nature lovers or adventure seekers. The picturesque scenery takes your breath away- with the majestic Torres Peaks as the centrepiece, as well as the many turquoise lakes that dot the national park. Vicuñas, foxes and a variety of birds can be spotted around the park – and if you’re lucky, you can even spot a puma!
Whether you go for a day, or stay a few nights, you will not regret adding it to your itinerary. Thanks to its protected status and remote location, it is still one of a few spots that have not been overrun by tourism. Go trekking (W-Trek and various day treks to the different lakes), horse riding, biking, birdwatching, kayaking and fly fishing. If you’re an artist or photographer, the park overflows with beauty that is sure to offer endless inspiration for your next masterpiece.
Being in Torres gives you a glimpse of being on the edge of the world – in the stunning, untouched wilderness; where you can’t help but stand in awe of the natural beauty that surrounds you.
Explore Torres del Paine and add it to your itinerary!