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Unplugged: The best remote destinations in South America to unwind and experience the culture

  • Travel

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Are you looking to explore wonderful natural spots, wander through some of the world’s most beautiful towns and villages, experience a different culture and connect with the local people? Then South America is the perfect place for you. An incredible continent to travel to, it combines spectacular landscapes with diverse cultures and some of the world’s most incredible cuisines. If you’re a lover of history, you’ll find South America to be a cultural paradise, and your biggest challenge will be deciding which landmarks to visit first. Over the centuries, the continent has been the home of a myriad of indigenous peoples, all with unique, distinct cultures that left their mark and shaped the cultural space. Although many groups were severely affected or even became extinct due to European colonisation, the culture endures and is one of the most incredible in the world.

However, while the typical tourist spots have gained popularity due to their undeniable high appeal, if you’re a seasoned traveller, you may want to go off the grid every now and then and walk off the beaten path. In fact, you can get a better feeling of the country when away from the big metropolises. You can truly immerse yourself in the best things the country has to offer and get to connect with the local people. If you want to avoid the stereotype of the often-ignorant, borderline rude and entitled tourist, visiting the more secluded spots is the perfect way to gain cultural sensitivity and see parts of the countries that most travellers would avoid.

Galapagos National Park 

The Galapagos Islands are perhaps one of South America’s most widely recognized tourist destinations. However, the National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the first of its kind in Ecuador, sees fewer than eighty thousand tourists annually, despite making up the larger portion of the archipelago. That’s because most travellers would rather go to the beach and spend their days sunbathing and snorkelling. And while that’s perfectly fine, if you’re looking for something a bit different and are looking to spot the incredible wildlife and walk otherworldly terrain, the National Park is the place to go. The giant tortoises and the Galapagos Marine Iguana are just two of the species you can admire. The lava rocks of Tortuga Bay, the coves sheltering white tip reef sharks and the islands of Santa Cruz, Baltra, Floreana, Isabela and San Cristóbal will charm you so much you’ll never want to go back home. 

The best small towns 

If travelling is your hobby, you’ve already walked the bustling streets of Buenos Aires, Brasília, Santiago and Lima more than once. And while the cities have a lot to offer, from the fantastic sights to the exciting nightlife, you may be looking for a change. There’s no easier way to do that than by visiting some of the smaller, quaint towns and rural areas. One of the best options is Machupicchu Pueblo, located at the foot of the Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu but often overlooked by tourists. There are many restaurants and accommodation that can fit all budgets. 

Another Peruvian location you might want to have a look at is Puno. Located on the shore of Lake Titicaca, where you can gaze upon the vastness of the plateaus and plains and marvel at the beauty of the Floating Islands. Music and dance are an important part of the culture, and you might get to see some of the routines performed, such as the Kcajelo, the Wifala de Asillo and the Khashua de Capachica. 

In Argentina, you can visit San Martín de los Andes, a town with a population of roughly 23,500. The location is ideal for various outdoor activities and sports, depending on the season. Mountain biking, fishing and horseback riding are ideal for the summer, but if you’re visiting during wintertime when temperatures can plummet to 0.1 °C, you should set your sights on the nearby Cerro Chapelco, one of the best skiing centres in South America.  

Chugchilán in Ecuador is one of the most beautiful places to visit in the Andes. You can gaze upon the wonder of the Toachi canyon and see the family homes and farms constructed with traditional means and materials by the people themselves. The traditional markets will offer you a wide array of paintings, traditional cheeses, carpentry, and woodwork objects. And while horseback and hiking are the preferred travelling methods, you can sometimes reach Chugchilán by milk truck, a brand new unforgettable experience to add to your travels. 

However, one of the most important things to remember before making the trip is that you’ll have to get some knowledge of Spanish. Spanish is the most widely spoken language in the South American continent, with well over two hundred million speakers. Not speaking it at all would be a considerable impediment and put a damper on your trip, so before you start packing your bags, make sure to get some Spanish lessons. Find language learning apps that work best for you with the help of a specialised software that also helps evaluate your progress by factoring in language difficulty and the time you can give to each class so that you can learn in a convenient and simplified way. A country’s language is one of the key aspects of understanding its culture, so you can never claim to have gained any knowledge of the places you visit if you don’t know the language at all. 

The Marble Caves 

Perhaps the most spectacular sight you’ll ever see in your life, these caves are located in Chile and are part of a large complex of cliffs that have been eroded by the water over the years, leading to the creation of striking, breathtaking beauty. Known for the wonderful electric blue colour palette, you can kayak through the caves to take in all the sights. Keep in mind to bring something warm to wear, as it can get chilly in the caves. 

And if you’d like a change of scenery and colours both, try the rugged, idyllic appeal of the Atacama Desert. From the orange-hued formations bewildering during the daytime to the night sky that’s perfect for stargazing, you’ll definitely feel like you’re in one of the best places on Earth. 

If you’re looking for the unplugged vacation of your dreams, don’t miss out on South America. You’re bound to make memories that will last a lifetime. 

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