As they are known in Spanish, Salto Angel, is the largest single drop waterfall in the world, plunging almost a kilometer from the Auyantepuy plateau in the south eastern Venezuelan province of Bolívar. It’s scenic location and wonderful surroundings lead it to be a finalist as one of the seven natural wonders of the world.
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?
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.
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.
Perú has always an important role in the history and development of South America. Starting with the rise of the Inca Empire with its capital in Cuzco, later the Spanish established the seat of the Viceroy for South America in Lima. The port of Callao was the most important on the continent, and the principal link of communication with Spain. It was from here that the Conquistadores landed and then traveled to what would later be Bolivia, Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Ecuador.
Sandwiched between Argentina, Brazil and Bolivia, Paraguay could often go unnoticed if it weren’t for one very large and spectacular thing: The Iguazú Falls, or Foz do Iguaçu in Portuguese. Comparing them to the Niagra falls is to fall sort on the description; they are much bigger and spectacular than that.
But gushing about the falls aside, Paraguay has plenty of interesting places and activities that make it worth a visit. By South American standards, it’s a relative small country –barely the size of Germany- which is located predominantly in an arm of the Amazon basin called the Chaco valley.
Guyana has managed to stay out of the well-beaten South America travel trail, and it’s hard to see why. There is a wonderful array of attractions and reasons to visit this country, yet it has slipped the mind of most tourists. This makes it ideal for anyone looking to have a pristine look at one of the undiscovered treasures of Latin America. But hurry! After this article, it might be too late…
Colombia has two things that have made it famous, and both of them are actually not deserved: coffee and drug cartels. Yes, Colombia produces a lot of coffee, but Brazil produces a lot more, and frankly, a lot better. And while Colombia has been struggling with a virtual civil war financed by the drug trade, the conflict has stayed mostly on the fringes of society, and the country has blossomed despite it. Now its pretty much coming to an end, and Colombia is as safe to visit as any other Latin American country.
Not only is Brazil the largest country on the continent, it’s also one of the largest in the world, both in population and land mass. This means there are lots of things to see. Most of the country is dominated by the Amazon rainforest, which accounts for well over half of the total land surface. Most of it remains unexplored to this day, with indigenous populations dotted throughout living as they did before European influence.