South America is home to over 420 million folks as well as plenty of gorgeous countries, vibrant cities, and charming towns. But, could you name all twelve countries that make up this lovely continent? Don’t worry, I couldn’t either. When most think of South America they immediately conjure up images of Argentina, Brazil, and Chile. And while those are beautiful and exciting countries to visit (hello, Rio de Janiero!), I’m going to tell you about five other countries worth visiting in South America. You may be surprised at what lies below the equator!
Wedged between Argentina and Brazil is where you’ll find the beautiful country of Uruguay. Home to nearly 3.5 million people, Uruguay offers beautiful experiences and spectacular scenery for its visitors. From its beach-lined coast and colonial homes to endless museums and delicious food, Uruguay has everything you need for the perfect vacation. In fact, for being South America’s tiniest country, Uruguay sure packs a punch. For a more cosmopolitan vibe, check out the country’s capital of Montevideo. If you’re looking to party all night long, don’t miss Punta del Este. For a more scenic and historic spot (that could easily be mistaken for Spain!), be sure to visit Colonia. Not only is this country picture-perfect, it’s stable and safe too. Looking for a cool spot to stay? Check out the Gaudí-inspired hotel, Casapueblo.
If you follow lots of world travelers on social media, you may have seen photos of Salar de Uyuni, located in Bolivia. That’s right– the world’s largest and most stunning salt flat can be found in southwest Bolivia, amid the Andes Mountains. But if you think that’s all this country of nearly 11 million folks has to offer, you’re wrong. Lake Titicaca is another gem in Bolivia; in fact, it’s the country’s largest lake and the world’s highest navigable body of water. With so much natural beauty, it can be hard to find a reason not to visit this South American country. However, the country is also home to one of the world’s most dangerous roads: Yungas Road (also known as The Road of Death). This may be the road less traveled on for a reason . . . over 300 folks die each year whilst traveling its routes. Of course, there are other ways to get around that road and it’s no reason to cross Bolivia off of your travel list!
This small country located on South America’s North Atlantic coast is known for its lush rainforests and Caribbean-influenced culture. The country’s capital, Georgetown, is located on the coast and is where you’ll find striking British colonial architecture, including the stunning Gothic-style St. George’s Anglican Cathedral. Buy some local goods at Stabroek Market and learn more about the country’s history at the Guyana National Museum. As you head further inland, you’ll find many hidden natural gems including Kaieteur Falls in Kaieteur National Park. This waterfall is one of the world’s highest single-drop falls and the trail to get there is peppered with exotic wildlife, including the golden frog. In terms of the country’s safety, it’s not recommended that you travel there alone. You may also want to get certain vaccinations against diseases like typhoid, hepatitis A, diphtheria/tetanus and polio before traveling to Guyana.
This small country is located next to Guyana on the northeastern coast of South America and is known for its tropical rainforests. This warm country is very much a melting pot of culture; tourists will find Dutch, British, Indian, and even Chinese influences here. Suriname is great for outdoor adventure seekers. With rainforest and wildlife tours aplenty, you’re sure to get your hands dirty and your body moving! Looking for a city vibe? Check out the capital of Suriname, Paramaribo. Here you’ll find the Surinaams Museum, the wood-and-stone Presidential Palace, and the lovely Garden of Palms, a popular public park.
Home to nearly 50 million folks, Colombia is located at the northern tip of South America. If you’re into rainforests, mountains, and great coffee, this is the South American country for you! Colombia’s capital, Bogotá, is known for its delicious restaurants and lovely shops. Looking for old town charm? Be sure to visit Cartagena, a port city located on the Caribbean coast. Complete with cobblestone streets, tropical climate, and colorful colonial buildings, Cartagena’s Old Town is actually a Unesco World Heritage site! Hang by the beach, go to an art gallery, and surround yourself with all that the South American culture has to offer.
Are you ready to book your ticket to one of these five countries yet? From the lush rainforests to the cobblestoned cities, South America offers way more than Machu Picchu and Rio de Janiero. Prepare for tropical climates, delicious cuisines, and locals who will make you feel more than welcome. It’s hard not to get caught up in the vivacious spirit found in each of these unique countries. Brush up on your Spanish and have a great time!