South America, home to one of the seven wonders of the world (Christ the Redeemer), the Amazon Rainforest, Angell fall, and Inca Trail of Machu Picchu remains in the business of offering tourists an extraordinary travel experience. With the continent’s heritage of danger, a forgotten tale, it confidently sits among the top 3 preferred travel destinations in the world. Hence, if you are a lover of diversity or someone who looks forward to adding to his or her cultural and historical knowledge, countries such as Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, etc. have so much in store for you!
Are South American Countries Welcoming?
No region or continent is completely a paradise, but I’m afraid newspapers and news channels sometimes paint the wrong pictures all in the name of content promotion. Is it advisable to visit South America? By all means! However, before you do, there are a few things you need to know about South America.
Here are 6 Interesting Facts about South America
- Any time is an ideal time to visit South America thanks to an ever-welcoming atmosphere. In other words, there is no best time to visit, and this is pretty much underrated.
- It is home to five (5) of the top 50 largest cities in the world. They include (in ascending order) Santiago, Rio, Bogota, Lima, and Sao Paulo.
- Brazil and Paraguay enjoy electricity courtesy of the world’s second-largest hydroelectric station, the Itaipu Dam.
- Have you heard of Lake Titicaca? Probably not. Lake Titicaca holds the record of being the highest commercially navigable lake. It spans the border between Bolivia and Peru.
- The Atacama Desert is no stranger to movies. The non-polar desert is one of Chile’s pride. This area of vast, dry land (a portion of the central desert) is known to regularly go without rain for up to four years at a time. Sometimes, even more!
- In terms of religion, South America is a Christian continent. 50% and 45% of the population identify themselves as Christians and Roman Catholic, respectively. The presence of Centro Cultural Islamico (the largest mosque in South America) also makes Islam a practice in the continent.
This list is endless, and I won’t bore you with it because there is more to South America than just fascinating facts. If you plan on visiting any South American county, you might need to have a balanced review.
[Pros] On the Bright Side, South America Offers…
Amazing Food and Drink Variety
Lovers of seafood are definitely in for a treat if they find themselves in any part of South America. Indigenous meals such as Ceviche, fresh meat stew, Brazil’s Bolinho de Bacalhau, are not delicacies you get to enjoy every day. At some point, you are likely to crave any of these delicacies. When that happens, I encourage you to visit any South American restaurant closest to you. The taste is always the same.
South America does not disappoint when it comes to drinks too. The region offers a wide range of cocktail, beer, wines which are excellent matches for spicy food. The Aguaz Frescas, Caipirinha, and Pisco sour are drinks to watch out for. It is also advisable to request for a restaurant’s finest option because oftentimes, they end up mind-blowing!
If you are on a budget or hope for a cheap thrill, your focus should be on South American countries. Countries like Bolivia and Paraguay operate a low cost of living and believe me, low in Bolivia is extremely low or nothing to a European or US backpacker. Practically, all you need to worry about is your flight arrangements. $30 or less should get you through the day in most South American countries, which is why there is no need to cut corners.
Exceptional Wildlife and Attractions
South America’s ecosystem is endowed with non-arguably, one of the best wildlife in the world — the Amazon Rainforest. This tropical rainforest is home to over 1500 species of birds, 1400 species of mammals, and the best way to enjoy these discoveries is via a regulated group tour. The animal reserve or rehabilitation center of the Amazon wonderland is where visitors like myself (scared of seeing animals in their true habitat) participate in the viewing.
Galapagos Island is another renowned tourist attraction. It is widely regarded as a living laboratory because it features some of the world’s most exquisite wildlife species and beaches. Everyone wants a taste of the Island because they get to scuba dive, see the legendary Galapagos tortoise, blue-footed bobby, and diving Marine Iguana.
Wonderful Annual Celebrations
Very similar to Asia, South Americans love to party! Notable events include the annual Carnavale celebration in Rio De Janeiro (usually a festival of samba dancing mixed with music), Barranquilla (a reggae-influenced celebration), and Inti Raymi festival of colors. These events proudly welcome about 2 million tourists every year.
[Cons] You Might Need to Watch Out for…
Language or Communication Barrier
I’m very sure I left one or two clues concerning language in the ‘pros’ section. I would like to build on that. Thanks to technology and the invention of translation apps, communication barriers have become less of a turn off for tourists. Although some of these applications might not be perfect, they convey basic ideas at the least. Want my recommendation? Download any app with a minimum of 4.3 reviews on iStore or Playstore.
Petty Thefts and Scams
Petty thefts, scams, and robberies (worst case scenario) are not new in South America and to be fair, anywhere! Nevertheless, being cautious especially when in large cities, won’t hurt. When in Rome, you just have to behave like a Roman, and this has always worked for me. I employ measures such as understanding common scams (movies help a lot), leaving valuables at the hotel (might shed more light on this in the next article), paying extra attention to my environment, just to name a few.
Food and Health safety
South America consists largely of middle-income earning nations. Hence, food and service charges for basic amenities are budget-friendly. Nevertheless, you must always follow your instincts and prioritize good hygiene. The fact that there are varieties of food to choose from in South America, does not mean you hop on just any food, water or visit any restaurant. One way to stay safe is to visit restaurants with a lot of locals.
One word rarely describes South America. This is because there is a lot to discover for all type of tourists. In the past few years, this region has experienced an unusual increase in terms of tourists (mostly from the United States, Europe, and East Asia) and I do not see an end to their pull power just yet. Whatever decision you make, South America will be ready whenever you are ready!
Written exclusively for our company by Jacob Uzoma