What if you could combine two of South America’s major attractions into one tropical paradise? Then you’d be in Alter do Chão, a small village in the state of Pará, in the northern part of Brazil. Located on the Tapajós river, just a few miles upstream from where it merges with the Amazon, it has access to some of the most beautiful and secluded beaches on the continent. The weather is mild and tropical the year round, making it a good destination for the whole year (though between April and December, the river rises and the beaches are significantly smaller).
Up on the top right corner of South America (northwest for those cartographly inclined) are three sections of land: two countries and a territory that seem curiously out of place. Not geographically, as they clearly are part of the continent, but that only makes it more odd that they typically are associated with the Caribbean. These would be the Guianas, or Guyanas, depending on your spell checker.
If you are looking for a special place to holiday, and are very much into relaxing by the beach, scuba diving and surfing, then THE place for you to visit is Fernando de Noronha, of the coast of Brazil. It’s actually a special administrative region of Brazil, covering 21 tropical islands. The sights and sites are more than abundant enough to take up your whole vacation; and there are things to do for the whole family.
If you want to get away from the crowds that overcome most of the popular beaches in the Caribbean, then Guyana is definitely your place to go. The country boasts miles of Caribbean beaches, most of which remain uninhabited, and in their pristine natural state. A good example would be Shell Beach, which runs almost 150 km (nearly 100 miles) in the north west part of the country, near the border with Venezuela.
Who hasn’t heard of the romantic tales surrounding the Spanish Main? And the Pirates that plied the waters of the Caribbean, swashbuckling and riding the high seas? Of course part of the mysticism of pirate lore is that the Caribbean is a tropical paradise. Sparkling crystal water of soft white sands, warm tranquil weather and nature just a few steps away. Who wouldn’t be entranced?
Easter Island is famous in its own right. But there are a lot of things that aren’t common knowledge about it. Starting with why it’s on a blog about South America. While geographically, Easter Island is in the middle of the Pacific, administratively it’s a Chilean Province, and you need to go to Santiago to get there.
The official name is not Easter Island, but Rapa Nui, the native name given to the volcanic island by its original Polynesian inhabitants. Rapa Nui means “navel of the world”, and it’s symbolic of its location in the middle of the open Pacific Ocean. The nearest land mass is over 3000Km away, and is the uninhabited Chilean island of Alejandro Selkirk, part of the Robinson Crusoe archipelago.
Some people see the soft white sand of a tropical beach, with its tranquil sea breeze and beckoning shade of a parasol … and then run off into the pounding surf to stand on aboard and mock the sharks. These people are surfers.
Traditionally Hawaii and the California coast have garnered most of the surfer’s attention, but other places are starting get on the map that offer alternative experiences that are often more thrilling and challenging, depending on your vision of the sport. A lot of those are in South America.
Nowadays, Venezuela is becoming most known because of its eccentric and news-generating President, Hugo Chavez. But there is much more to this Caribbean nation than one man, of course. On the crossroads between the romanticized Spanish Main and the impenetrable vastness of the Amazon, there is a feast of activities and sites to see throughout Venezuela.
There are several well-known romantic vacation spots, such as Maracaibo and Curaçao (the latter being the namesake of a special spirit that is popular throughout South America). Most of the Venezuelan attractions are along the Atlantic coast, which is part of the Caribbean, and they are almost all stunning white beaches with palms waving in the breeze, hammocks swaying lazily with a travel snoozing under a straw hat. Across a small stretch of water are the Carabbean islands, with Trinidad and Tobago being the closest.
Uruguay is a bit of a surprise, and seems rather proud of being the little country that could. On the north of the Rio de la Plata, but full of Argentines; it’s the combination of both Argentina and Brazil. And sandwiched between those two South American giants, it has a lot to live up to.
On the Brazilian part, it has wonderful beaches, among them is Punta del Este. It’s become famous as the place the “in” crowd of South America go to holiday and party. You can come across models, footballers and politicians all strolling down the streets peppered with haute couture stores.
Surinam is one of the “top three”, three countries in the extreme north of South America, previously known as the Guianas, and somewhat separated from the rest of the continent in history. Unlike the rest of South America which was colonized by the Iberian countries, and provided something of a shared heritage among them, Surinam was colonized by Dutch settlers. There is a broad mix of languages among its people, but Dutch is the most common, and as a consequence, Surinam is not part of Latin America.