1. Machu Picchu is an Incan citadel set high in the Andes Mountains in Peru, above the Urubamba River valley.Machu Picchu stands 2,430 m above sea-level, in the middle of a tropical mountain forest, in an extraordinarily beautiful setting. It was probably the most amazing urban creation of the Inca Empire at its height; its giant walls, terraces and ramps seem as if they have been cut naturally in the continuous rock escarpments. The natural setting, on the eastern slopes of the Andes, encompasses the upper Amazon basin with its rich diversity of flora and fauna.Embedded within a dramatic landscape at the meeting point between the Peruvian Andes and the Amazon Basin, the Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu is among the greatest artistic, architectural and land use achievements anywhere and the most significant tangible legacy of the Inca civilization. Recognized for outstanding cultural and natural values, the mixed World Heritage property covers 32,592 hectares of mountain slopes, peaks and valleys surrounding its heart, the spectacular archaeological monument of “La Ciudadela” (the Citadel) at more than 2,400 meters above sea level. Built in the fifteenth century Machu Picchu was abandoned when the Inca Empire was conquered by the Spaniards in the sixteenth century. It was not until 1911 that the archaeological complex was made known to the outside world.
  2. The exquisite Iguazu Falls are also known as the Iguassu Falls and the Iguaçu Falls. The magnificent spectacle of these 275 individual drops has awed tourists, locals and indigenous inhabitants for centuries. They originate from the Iguazu River and are located on the border of Brazil (in the state of Paraná) and Argentina.The semicircular waterfall at the heart of this site is some 80 m high and 2,700 m in diameter and is situated on a basaltic line spanning the border between Argentina and Brazil. Made up of many cascades producing vast sprays of water, it is one of the most spectacular waterfalls in the world. The surrounding subtropical rainforest has over 2,000 species of vascular plants and is home to the typical wildlife of the region: tapirs, giant anteaters, howler monkeys, ocelots, jaguars and caymans.Across a width of almost three kilometres the Iguazú or Iguaçu River, drops vertically some 80 meters in a series of cataracts. The river, aptly named after the indigenous term for “great water” forms a large bend in the shape of a horseshoe in the heart of the two parks and constitutes the international border between Argentina and Brazil before it flows into the mighty Parana River less than 25 kilometres downriver from the park. Large clouds of spray permanently soak the many river islands and the surrounding riverine forests, creating an extremely humid micro-climate favouring lush and dense sub-tropical vegetation harbouring a diverse fauna.
  3. Easter Island, a Chilean territory, is a remote volcanic island in Polynesia. Its native name is Rapa Nui. It’s famed for archaeological sites, including nearly 900 monumental statues called moai, created by inhabitants during the 13th–16th centuries. The moai are carved human figures with oversize heads, often resting on massive stone pedestals called ahus. Ahu Tongariki has the largest group of upright moai.Rapa Nui, the indigenous name of Easter Island, bears witness to a unique cultural phenomenon. A society of Polynesian origin that settled there c. A.D. 300 established a powerful, imaginative and original tradition of monumental sculpture and architecture, free from any external influence. From the 10th to the 16th century this society built shrines and erected enormous stone figures known as moai , which created an unrivalled cultural landscape that continues to fascinate people throughout the world.Rapa Nui National Park is a protected Chilean wildlife area located in Easter Island, which concentrates the legacy of the Rapa Nui culture. This culture displayed extraordinary characteristics that are expressed in singular architecture and sculpture within the Polynesian context. Easter Island, the most remote inhabited island on the planet, is 3,700 kilometres from the coast of continental Chile and has an area of 16,628 hectares while the World Heritage property occupies an area of approximately seven thousand hectares, including four nearby islets.
  4. Torres del Paine National Park is located in Torres del Payne district, Ultima Esperanza province, in Magallanes y Antartica Chilena Region, Chile. Its official surface is 227.298 hectaresThe park was founded on May the 13th, 1959 as Turismo Lago Grey National Park. Two years later the park was named as Torres del Paine National Park. Nowadays the park takes place in the National System of Protected Areas of Chile.CONAF (National Corporation of Forest) administrates the area since 1973 and maintains a permanent occupancy at the park since 1975. The park rangers, women and men that live in the park, is essential to preserve the biodiversity of the area, their natural and cultural resources for the benefit of future and present generations.In April 1978, the Park was stated as Biosphere Reserve by the UNESCO and since then it belongs to the selected group of representative areas from the different ecosystems of the world.About 12,000 years ago came to Southern Patagonia the first band of forager society, who years later were known as Aonikenk or Tehuelches (” People of the South” in Mapudungun) . These bands belonging to early man never occupied territories of the Torres del Paine National Park, however adjacent areas to the Park. To date the oldest record that holds human life inside of this area is 6,500 years ago.The first adventurer to transit these lands was the Baqueano Santiago Zamora (1870-1890), who became an expert on the region. Later came Ignacio Serrano Montaner (1846-1888) . Years later, the Chilean government sent to the area Tomas Rogers (1879-1890) to scout .The first tourist expedition to Torres del Paine was organized in 1879 by Lady Florence Dixie, who along with a group of friends were the first tourists who came from Europe to contemplate the Paine mountain range. Then scientists Otto Nordenskjold (1895) and Carl Skottberg (1908) conducted reconnaissance expeditions.
  5. The Galápagos Islands is a volcanic archipelago in the Pacific Ocean. It’s considered one of the world’s foremost destinations for wildlife-viewing.Situated in the Pacific Ocean some 1,000 km from the South American continent, these 19 islands and the surrounding marine reserve have been called a unique ‘living museum and showcase of evolution’. Located at the confluence of three ocean currents, the Galápagos are a ‘melting pot’ of marine species. Ongoing seismic and volcanic activity reflects the processes that formed the islands. These processes, together with the extreme isolation of the islands, led to the development of unusual animal life – such as the land iguana, the giant tortoise and the many types of finch – that inspired Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection following his visit in 1835.The Island’s interesting volcanic geology, as well as its rich flora and fauna have been admired and studied by numerous travelers, scientists, and nature-lovers. Scientists are still faced with the mystery of how such a large diversity of species could develop in a remote location like the Galapagos Islands.The main reason for tourists and nature lovers to visit the Galapagos Islands is the multitude of animals, freely romping about that are known to most people only from the Discovery Channel.If you are interested in who first set foot on the islands -whether it was the Incas, refugees, pirates or seafarers – find out more about the human history of the Islands. Speaking of men on the Islands, Charles Darwin, was one of the first to visit as he was fascinated by the natural history of the archipelago. His five-week stay gave him the impetus to develop his famous Theory of Evolution.
  6. The Atacama Desert is a plateau in South America, covering a 1,000-kilometre strip of land on the Pacific coast, west of the Andes mountains. It is the driest non-polar desert in the world.According to estimates, the Atacama Desert proper occupies 105,000 square kilometres or 128,000 square kilometres if the barren lower slopes of the Andes are included. Most of the desert is composed of stony terrain, salt lakes, sand, and felsic lava that flows towards the Andes.Geographically, the aridity of the Atacama is explained by it being situated between two mountain chains of sufficient height to prevent moisture advection from either the Pacific or the Atlantic Oceans, a two-sided rain shadow.According to the World Wide Fund for Nature, the Atacama Desert ecoregion occupies a continuous strip for nearly 1,600 km along the narrow coast of the northern third of Chile, from near Arica southward to near La Serena. The National Geographic Society considers the coastal area of southern Peru to be part of the Atacama Desert and also includes the deserts south of the Ica Region in Peru.Peru borders it on the north and the Chilean Matorral ecoregion borders it on the south. To the east lies the less arid Central Andean dry puna ecoregion. The drier portion of this ecoregion is located south of the Loa River between the parallel Sierra Vicuña Mackenna and Cordillera Domeyko. To the north of the Loa lies the Pampa del Tamarugal.The Coastal Cliff of northern Chile west of the Chilean Coast Range is the main topographic feature of the coast.[11] The geomorphology of the Atacama Desert has been characterized as a low-relief bench “similar to a giant uplifted terrace” by Armijo and co-workers. The intermediate depression forms a series of endorheic basins in much of Atacama Desert south of latitude 19°30’ S. North of this latitude the intermediate depression drains into the Pacific Ocean.
  7. Salar de Uyuni, amid the Andes in southwest Bolivia, is the world’s largest salt flat. The beautiful Uyuni salt flats (or Salar de Uyuni) is with its 10.582 square km (4.085 square miles) the world’s largest salt flat. It is located in the Department of Potosi in southwest Bolivia, near the crest of the Andes, at 3.650 meters above sea level.Some 40.000 years ago, the area was part of Lake Minchin, a giant prehistoric lake. When the lake dried, it left behind two modern lakes, Poopó and Uru Uru, and two major salt deserts, Salar de Coipasa and the larger Salar de Uyuni. The Uyuni Salt Flats are roughly 25 times the size of Bonneville Salt Flats in the United States and is estimated to contain 10 billion tons of salt of which less than 25.000 tons is extracted annually.Every November, the Uyuni salt flats is also the breeding grounds for three species of South American flamingos – Chilean, James’s and Andean. La Isla del Pescado (Fish Island) located on the salt flat and full of giant cactuses is named this way as the ´island´ has the shape of a fish. It is the only sign of life for miles.Laguna Verde, Laguna Colorada and the hot springs can also be visited during the Uyuni Salt Flats tour when entering the National Reserve Eduardo Avaroa. Laguna Verde (Green Lagoon) is a beautiful green colored salt lake close to the Chilean border at the foot of the Licancabur volcano. Its color is caused by sediments, containing copper minerals. It is located approx. 4.300 meters (14.000 ft) above sea level. Laguna Colorada is a red colored salt lake, also because of the presence of minerals. In these lagoons live flamingo’s creating a very unique scene of spectacular beauty!
  8. Angel Falls is located in the Guayana highlands, and it is just one of the five great adventure regions in Venezuela . The water comes in a free fall of 979 meters from the Churum river hovering of the edge of the “Auyantepuy” Table mountain, this the largest Tepuy in Canaima Venezuela. This height makes it the highest waterfall in the world.Angel Falls is 15 times higher than Niagara Falls with its total of approximately 52 meters.This fall is named for Jimmy Angel, an adventurous pilot from Missouri, United States, who flew to the air circus Lindberg. James Crawford Angel is a modern legend. He saw the waterfall for the first time in 1933 with his partner while searching for the legendary McCracken River of Gold, or the Golden City.James returned again in 1937 with his wife and his friend Gustavo Henry Gardener where they had an emergency landing on top of the Auyantepuy. The aircraft was able to reach safely to the top of the Tepuy and stayed there for 33 years until it was taken down by a helicopter.Jimmy Angel and his three companions managed to descend from Tepuy and return to the civilization walking through the jungle for 11 days. Angel’s plane is currently in the Aviation Museum in Maracay, and nowadays on top of the Auyantepuy you will find a replica of Jimmys airplane.
  9. Las Lajas Sanctuary is a basilica church located in the southern Colombian Department of Nariño, in the municipality of Ipiales, and built inside the canyon of the Guáitara River.El Santuario de las Lajas is a neo-Gothic church (cathedral) which was built on the bridge spanning the river gorge between 1916-1944 in such a way that the gorge cliff with the image of the Virgin forms the back wall of the church. The church was built to commemorate the appearance of the Virgin which legend has it, her image appeared on an enormous vertical rock 45m above the river. As you walk down the hill you will notice the multitude of plaques along the cliff wall placed by pilgrims from Colombia and abroad as thanks for the miracles that have occurred and are accredited to the working of the Virgin.The church was built between 1916 and 1949, but it has a much longer history. The church was inspired by a miracle said to have taken place in that canyon hundreds of years earlier, in 1754. A woman named Maria Mueces was caught in a strong storm along with her deaf-mute daughter Rosa. On sheltering between the lajas (a type of flat sedimentary rock, much like shale), Rosa pointed to the rock face and cried out that the mestiza was calling her. Sure enough, lightning illuminated an image of the Virgin Mary on the rock. A shrine was soon constructed, honoring the miracle, and was eventually improved, and connected by a bridge over the canyon in 1802.
  10. Fernando de Noronha: A tropical island, 545 km away from the coast of the Brazilian State of Pernambuco, some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, a bit more than 2,000 inhabitants and where the tourism is developped in a sustainable way, creating the opportunity of an equilibrated meeting between man and nature in one of the most important ecologic sanctuaries of the world. Of indescribable beauty, the Fernando de Noronha Marine National Park, located at a distance of about 340 km off the Brazilian coast, is formed by volcanic peaks of a submerged mountain chain. Nearly 70% of the main island of Fernando de Noronha, 21 smaller islands and islets of the archipelago, as well as most adjacent waters to a depth of 50 metres are part of the property. The Atol das Rocas Biological Reserve, the only atoll in the South Atlantic, is located about 150 km west of Fernando de Noronha. It is an elliptical reef including two small islands surrounded by a marine reserve. With these two protected areas, the property covers an area of 42,270 ha and a buffer zone of 140,713 ha.At the heart of a vast ocean surface, the Brazilian Atlantic Islands form an oasis of fertile waters, which are extremely important breeding and living places for tuna, shark, turtle and marine mammals, and which play a crucial role in the natural fish restocking of the region. Two species of sea turtle breed there: the hawksbill and green turtle, for which the Rocas Atoll is considered the second most important breeding site of Brazil. These islands are home to the largest concentration of tropical seabirds in the Western Atlantic, and include the only examples of Insular Atlantic Forest and the only oceanic mangrove in the South Atlantic.
  11. Los Glaciares National Park is located in the area known as Austral Andes in Argentina, in the south west of Santa Cruz on the border with Chile. By his magnificent natural beauty, it constitutes a wonder in the world, and was declared “World Heritage” by UNESCO in 1981.This park shows a scenario of mountains, lakes and woods, including a large portion of the Andes practically under ice and snow to the west, and the arid Patagonian steppe to the east.Its name refer to the glaciers that are born on the Ice Caps – the largest continental ice extension after Anctartica- which occupies almost half its area. Also known as Patagonic Continental Ice, creates 47 big glaciers, 13 of which flow to the Atlantic. There are also more than 200 smaller glaciers, unconnected to the Ice Caps. Los Glaciares National Park is located in the area known as Austral Andes in Argentina, in the south west of Santa Cruz on the border with Chile.All over the world glaciers are over 2500 mts over sea level, but here, in Santa Cruz, they are originated on the Ice Caps, at 1500 mts over sea level, and flow down to 200 mts, having the possibility of an unique approach and view.As a result of the enormous pressure of the antique ice and the subsequent thaw, three big lakes, two of them inside the NP appeared: Lago Argentino and Lago Viedma, the waters of which flow as Rio Santa Cruz to the Atlantic Ocean crossing the province.
  12. During certain months of the year, Colombia’s Caño Cristales turns shades of red, blue, yellow, orange and green in a vibrant natural display that happens nowhere else on Earth.Until the mid-2000s, nearby guerrilla activity rendered Caño Cristales almost completely inaccessible. But today, the Colombian military controls a 30km area around La Macarena, the dusty town that serves as the gateway to Caño Cristales, making the region open and safe for tourists. (It’s important to note: the area beyond the 30km safe zone is still designated a red zone by the Colombian government; they cannot guarantee anyone’s safety within it.) Reached by flights from either Bogotá or Villavicencio, the airport in La Macarena is so tiny, its luggage truck is pulled by a mule. Motorised boats then run from La Macarena along the Guayabero River, where bright red macaws and shiny, rust-coloured howler monkeys live along the banks. Some people mistakenly think Caño Cristales’ colour comes from algae or moss. The real culprit, however, is a picky endemic aquatic plant called macarenia clavigera, which requires precise conditions, including just the right water level and just the right amount of sunlight, to take on its bright hues. Colours can only be seen from June to December; from January to May – the dry season – Caño Cristales is closed to travellers to give the area’s ecology a break. The rivers can also stop running altogether, forcing the macarenia clavigera plants into colourless hibernation.



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