Best of the Best - Top Ten Travel Photos From Each Continent: South America

For the second installment in my Best of the Best series, we'll turn our attention toward the equator and beyond to the continent of South America. Blessed with nearly every type of geographical feature imaginable - including that rather large rain forest in its center - I had no shortage of shots that could make this list. But since I've committed to just the top ten, I'll stick with that number and hope that what follows matches your expectations. Just know that there's plenty more where these came from. Once again I'll start from the 'top' and work my way south.

1) Cuyabeno River, Amazon Rain Forest, Ecuador

Cuyabeno River, Amazon Rain Forest, Ecuador

 

In Ecuador's far northeast, the Cuyabeno River -  a tributary of the Amazon, pictured here in June 2019 - opens into a wide lagoon, offering paddlers and watchers alike the opportunity to witness blazing sunsets before the rain forest's night shift takes over.

 

2) Ollantaytambo, Sacred Valley, Peru

 

Perched high in the Andes outside of the former capital of Cuzco, Ollantaytambo is considered a "living" Inca town. Seeing these massive terraced ramparts spilling down the steep slopes of the valley back in February 2010 had me wondering just how many llamas were need to build them.

 

3) Inca Woman, Chinchero, Peru

Chinchero, Peru

 

Peru's Sacred Valley is known for its handicrafts and colorful markets. During my visit in February of 2010 I saw the perfect little 'abuelita' going about her business, which struck me as an authentic moment in what could be considered a rather touristy area.

 

4) Praia de Mangues, Ilha Grande, Brazil

Praia de Mangues, Ilha Grande, Brazil

 

This pedestrian-only paradise is just a few hours drive and short boat ride away from the swarming metropolis of Rio de Janeiro. But in terms of tranquility it couldn't be any more different. This lush island on Brazil's Costa Verde stole my heart in March of 2013 and even with so many new places to visit, I truly hope that someday I may return.

 

5) Port of Paraty, Brazil

Port of Parati, Brazil

 

This World Heritage Site town is a colonial gem situated in the emerald green, island-studded waters of the bay of the same name. Once the terminus of Brazil's 'Gold Route', today it is a charming town of whitewashed buildings and cobblestone streets, and remains as one of my favorite places that I've ever visited, which for me was in March of 2013.

6) Casapueblo, Punta Balena, Uruguay

Casapueblo, Uruguay

 

Just outside of Uruguay's jet-setter playground of Punta del Este, is Casapueblo - a unique hotel built by a local artist that showcases an architectural style that I would describe as "Early Dr. Suess". I didn't actually stay there, but its images have stayed with me since my visit in January 2008.

 

7) Gypsy Cove, Stanley, Falkland Islands

Gypsy Cove, Stanley, Falkland Islands

 

You would think that this remote, unspoiled cove at the edge of the only real settlement in an already far-off place would be the very epitome of tranquility. However I found it a bit unsettling how many restricted areas warning of land mines dot these islands from the Falkland Conflict nearly 40 years ago. Still, the barren hillsides and green sea made for an interesting day's diversion back in January of 2008.

 

8) Bahia Ensenada, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina

Bahia Ensenada, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina

 

Looking much more like Switzerland than the farthest reaches of Argentina, this beautiful bay is located inside Tierra del Fuego National Park, just outside of the southernmost city in the world - Ushuaia, which is cleverly dubbed 'the end of the world' - though this photo was taken in January of 2008 and 12 years later we're still here.

9) Rainbow Over Punta Arenas, Chile

 

Puntarenas, Chile

 

Apparently, the rainbow ends in Chile, or at least it did in January 2008. While the town of Punta Arenas itself isn't tremendously noteworthy, the scenic grasslands and penguin-filled coves that surround it are. It is also close to the incredibly beautiful Beagle Channel, which is a convenient shortcut to the Atlantic Ocean should the need arise.

 

10) Cape Horn, Chile

Cape Horn, Chile South America

 

The notoriously treacherous waters that surround this far-flung destination were relatively calm on my visit in January 2008, but it's not hard to see how early sailors would be intimidated by the rough seas and jagged profile of this final outpost at the tip of South America. With only the even-rougher waters of the Drake Passage separating it from the icy Antarctic peninsula, I definitely felt a sense of smallness at this intersection of the Atlantic and Pacific.

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