Spanning a myriad of cultures, landscapes and languages, Latin America is a treasure trove of fascinating travel destinations. The opportunities here are endless, and you're as likely to find yourself riding with gauchos on a ranch in Argentina as you are strolling along Ipanema Beach in Brazil, or exploring the ruins of Machu Picchu in Peru. A comprehensive tour of Latin America will take you through a wide range of sights and adventures, starting with these highlights.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
The Argentinean capital feels more European than South American and that's part of its charm. Buenos Aires is ideal for indulging in Argentina's decadent, deep red wines and sampling the local cuisine that has been heavily influenced by Spanish and Italian flavours. Top tourist destinations in this flamboyant city include Casa Rosada, the rose-hued presidential mansion; and Cementerio de la Recoleta, a bizarre maze of marble and granite tombs belonging to many of Argentina's most famous and infamous former residents.
Machu Picchu, Peru
A perennial favourite on pretty much everyone's travel bucket list, Machu Picchu is one of those once in a lifetime, fairy-tale-like destinations. Perched high above the Urubamba Valley in Peru, this former Inca stronghold dates back to approximately 1450; 42 years before Columbus discovered America. Located on the site are the remarkable Temple of the Sun, the Room of Three Windows and the Hitching Post of the Sun.
Patagonia is the wild southern frontier of Argentina (also stretching into Chile). Worlds away from Buenos Aires, this section of the country is largely untouched, unspoilt and utterly breathtaking. Soak in the majesty of the jagged mountains and rugged plains of Patagonia by travelling along Ruta Nacional 40. Don't miss hidden gems like the hiking paradise that is Parque Nacional Los Alerces or the former Welsh village of Gaiman.
The Amazon Rainforest, Brazil
Lush, tropical and full of life, the Amazon Rainforest has allured travellers and adventurers for centuries and no trip to Latin America is complete without entering this wild, uncharted landscape. Carved by the mighty Amazon River, the best way to tour the rainforest is by boat. Tours, boat trips and other excursions depart from the city of Manaus. Once you reach the rainforest, you can embark on any number of adventures including night treks, kayaking and more.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Rio has a well-earned reputation as the party capital of Latin America. However, there is a lot more to the city than its non-stop festive atmosphere and legendary nightlife. Start with a leisurely stroll along Copacabana and Ipanema Beach, where you'll quickly discover how the â€˜Brazilian bikini' got its name. Don't miss an opportunity to climb the stunning Sugarloaf Mountain or visit the famous Christ the Redeemer that watches over the city with open arms.
Torres del Paine National Park, Chile
A mixture of mountains, glaciers, lakes and rivers, Torres del Paine National Park tops the list of things to see in Chile. This natural wonderland is so diverse that it's home to both pumas and penguins. With a range of camping and lodging options available within the park, Torres del Paine is a true hiker's paradise. If you'd rather not discover the park on foot, then you can try your hand at horse riding.
Lake Titicaca, Bolivia
Bolivia is a fascinating country that boasts 36 official languages in addition to Spanish. Just beyond its colourful capital of La Paz lies the stunning Lake Titicaca with which it shares with Peru. At an elevation of 3,800 metres, the enormous lake is surrounded by the seemingly endless expanse of the Andes Mountain Range. This photographer's paradise is dotted with tiny fertile islands. This is where Latin America meets the native cultures of this breathtaking land.
This is, of course, just a sample of what Latin America has to offer. The key to a successful tour of this amazing region is to celebrate its variety, alternate between culture capitals and stunning natural scenery. You could even try tailor made holidays to Latin America to create your ideal holiday. Visit multiple countries to discover the subtle differences in cultural influences, languages and lifestyle. Finally, always remember to leave your itinerary room in to get off the beaten track and explore some of the lesser known parts of Latin America.