Tourist jewels in Latin America, 5 destinations forgotten by agencies that are worth the detour

The experience of the pandemic has shaken travelers. Although a range of daredevils had already formed who dared to go for something non-traditional, forgotten by agencies and which involved explaining the destination in more detail so that friends understood where they were traveling, COVID urged to walk around the less crowded environment. With this trend came new adventures. New tourists are waiting to be surprised new spaces, fewer people, different experiences that plunge into gastronomic and cultural discoveries, a little lonely, closer and less passingwith a closer encounter with the locals and greater appropriation of indigenous knowledge.

A recent survey by Booking.com reveals that 24% of travelers want to step out of their comfort zone to rejuvenate and feel rejuvenated. Similarly, more than half of tourists (52%) go in search of more rural and lesser-known experiences. In these cases, the travel community will opt for destinations where nature stands out and can visit natural parks (46%), warm climates (39%) and mountain places (41%). We’re going on a journey through routes close to the continent to explore something of everything that is close to us, but we know little.

Guatemala

Semuc Champey National Park is a natural paradise which is located in Cobán, Alta Verapaz, in the Republic of Guatemala. It is part of the Guatemalan system of protected areas. It is located in a valley with steep slopes, bordered by a tropical border with a very varied flora.

It is considered a natural bridge about 300 meters long, in which there are lagoons with a depth of one to four meters. Below, the Cahabón River flows and at the end of its course, the water from the lagoons falls forming a 40 meter high waterfall. An orientation table allows you to admire the natural complex almost as if you were flying in a drone.

Your name, in the language q’eqchi’ It means “where the river hides”. The origin of its name is due to the fact that the Cahabón river enters a limestone cavern and continues its journey under the basins. These caves served as places of sacrifice for the ancient Maya.

The subtropical forest that surrounds the entire route is a perfect environment for an enormous ecological wealth to multiply. It is possible to see birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians and fish. Its flora, at the same time, is infinite. Every year new species are added that classify the premises.

East valley of turquoise water embedded in the middle of the tropical forest It is located about 11 km south of the small town of Lanquín and a six-hour drive from the country’s capital.

Impossible not to be impressed by the coffee, cocoa and banana plantations in the middle of an unparalleled tranquility. Before the visit do not forget to go through the small local markets. Zephyr Hostel on one of the slopes of Lanquín offers a splendid view on a terrace and its local cuisine is homemade and delicious.

Even if it doesn't look like it, it's Brazil.
Even if it doesn’t look like it, it’s Brazil.

Always with beach and happiness. Dancing in the colors, enjoying the ocean and its warm waters. Brazil is the eternal coast, the sense of joy, the water and the jungle, the warmth that lurks in all seasons. However, what if you find out that it can snow, that there are alpine houses and that a mountainous redoubt hides what is called “the Alps of Brazil?

They are two almost mirror places: Gramado and Canela present this unexpected surprise of the geography of Brazil. Two events in the year take them completely: Easter and Christmas, where decorations of all kinds are displayed in the houses and the city vying for prizes and photos of tourists.

Porto Alegre.
Porto Alegre.

The towns are a few hours drive from Porto Alegre. A route that predicts what is to come, between mountains, cornice paths, lakes and waterfalls, mist that leaves below as you climb in height. A whirlwind of curves and counter-curves ensures views so close to Patagonia that they amaze.

A visit to the local vineyards allows you to know something of what is beginning to be produced taking advantage of this particular climate. On another side, gastronomy specializing in chocolate and cheese fondue awaits you in the restaurants. The Caracol waterfall, hidden in a local park after a trek suitable for children and beginners, dazzles with its height. The Lac Noir is conducive to water sports, ideal for letting go while catching sight of this Tyrolean side of vernacular architecture. A park announces the residence of Santa Claus who, if he is lucky, is ready to take a picture with the little ones.

Atacama Desert
Atacama Desert

An experience of sand and sun, almost like in Africa, but just crossing the Cordillera. A desert that exposes its face to the stars in such a friendly way that NASA has installed one of its famous telescopes there.

Interestingly, it is a desert rich in experiences. When you just imagine a store in the middle of nowhere, almost like a Bedouin, you’re wrong about Atacama. There are geysers to explore, natural hot pools among the rocks, volcanoes, springs, flora sightings, gorgeously colored sunsets and a night full of messages.

Awasi is one of the experiences that reveals the place in all its magnitude, with a chef who has reinvented the local cuisine of the ancestors, recovering the ancestral cultures of the inhabitants of the region (yes, food also grows in this desert). A local guide accompanies you from arrival to departure so you can reel off the sounds of the absolute silence of nothingness in Puno.

The audience is limited. The city is calm and friendly. Nearby Calama has the richest copper mine in Chile. You can get there by plane. From there, an hour and minutes separate the desert.

The silence of the night is deep. Like the contemplation of the sunrise between the smoke of the geysers that set music in the morning with the underground boiling of their bubbles.

Sacred Valley, Peru.
Sacred Valley, Peru.

Machu Picchu wins all the prizes. When visiting the Inca heritage, the site is always the same. Probably nobody knows Urububamba until you get there and someone starts telling you about the town. However, it hides a great deal of Inca culture beyond what is known in most marketed Of the place.

The Sacred Valley of the Incas is one of the most important destinations in South America. It is home to beautiful traditional towns settled since colonial times such as the community of Maras. There, the Incas built ancient citadels such as Pisac, Ollantaytambo and Chinchero, where they cultivated a wide variety of agricultural products on terraces such as Moray.

The Sacred Valley was inhabited by small Andean communities until the Inca conquest (mainly during the reign of Emperor Pachacutec from 1438 to 1471). With the arrival of the Spaniards, the rebel Inca Manco Inca fled through the Sacred Valley, burning Chinchero and settling in Ollantaytambo where he fiercely fought the invaders. Faced with his imminent downfall, he settles in the inaccessible jungle and establishes his reign in Vilcabamba.

Urubamba is one of the most important cities of the Sacred Valley of the Incas. It was born during the colony and is considered the corn capital of the world. This is possible thanks to the fact that it is watered by numerous rivers that are born in the peaks of glacial mountains. All this territory was appreciated by the Incas because of the fertility of their land. It is one of the best places to relax. You will see many foreigners there who have decided to leave their country and stay there.

A luxury night train.
A luxury night train.Andean Explorer IG

Ollantaytambo is located 97 kilometers northeast of the city of Cusco. In Inca times it was a fortified city with temples, defensive walls as well as urban and agricultural sectors. We know that it served as an administrative checkpoint. It is considered one of the most important archaeological sites in Peru and South America. Many people consider that after Machu Picchu, Ollantaytambo is the Inca citadel of the greatest perfection. The city of Chinchero is located 28 kilometers from the city of Cusco. It is one of the highest elevation points in the valley: 3,772 meters above sea level (12,375 feet). There was the palace of Emperor Túpac Yupanqui, which was destroyed by the Spaniards. In its place they built the colonial church of Nuestra Señora de Monserrat. This church built in the 17th century includes canvases from the Cusco school. The town is also famous for its craft market where you can still barter.

An ideal way to visit the region is the so-called Orient Express of America: the Belmond Andrean Explorer which, in a sophisticated way, allows a visit as in the days of lovers of discovery.

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When planning tours in the Americas, the opportunities that Bolivia has to offer are sometimes overlooked. However, in the southwest of Bolivia, in the department of Potosí, is the Salar de Uyuni, a saline desert so vast that it can be seen from space. One of the most impressive natural sites in the world, a huge mirror of salt that makes the impossible possible: walking on the sky. Like any majestic destination, the Salar de Uyuni has its palace. The Palacio de Sal hotel is completely built in salt and located on the banks of the Salar, with a privileged view of its sunrises and sunsets. It is the first in the history of its kind, it is the place ideal for recharging one’s batteries with the energy that only nature can provide.

Although the Palacio de Sal was born in the twilight of the 90s, it was in 2004 that the decision was made to move the hotel, which was inside the salar, to its limit. In this way, a place of luxury and comfort could be built on 4,500 m2. The new location does not invade the natural formation that the Salar represents, nor interfere with the daily lives of those who live and work there. Today, from the sky, you can see the imposing silhouette of the Andean Cross that forms the hotel and conveys the gift of culture for all who visit it.

Salt hotel.
Salt hotel.

The salt desert experience is ranked among the most extreme in South America. It has an area of ​​more than 10,000 kilometers in the Bolivian Altiplano. It is the largest salt desert in the world, born from the evaporation of ancient prehistoric lakes.

December to April is the perfect time to experience the so-called “mirror effect” worthy of the best photos. This is also the rainiest period, so excursions may be cancelled.

The site is unavoidable, but the access logistics are complex. It is advisable to pre-contract the arrival at the salar beforehand. Ideal if, in addition to going to this white desert, you choose to give nearby attractions a chance with a slightly longer stay that allows you to visit deserts, volcanoes, geysers, hot springs and high altitude lakes.

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