Colombia, at the northern tip of South America, is a country of lush rainforest, towering mountains and coffee plantations. In the high-altitude capital, Bogotá, the Zona Rosa district is known for its restaurants, bars and shopping. Cartagena, on the Caribbean coast, features a walled colonial Old Town, a 16th-century castle and popular beaches. Nearby, culture-rich Barranquilla hosts a massive yearly Carnival.
Peru is a country in South America that’s home to a section of Amazon rainforest and Machu Picchu, an ancient Incan city set high in the Andes mountains. The area surrounding Machu Picchu, including the Sacred Valley, the Inca Trail and the lively city of Cusco, is also rich in Incan sites as well as hiking, rafting and mountain-biking opportunities.
Argentina is a massive South American nation with terrain encompassing Andes mountains, glacial lakes and Pampas grassland, the traditional grazing ground of its famed beef cattle. The country is known for tango, steak and football. Its big, cosmopolitan capital, Buenos Aires, is centered on the 16th-century Plaza de Mayo, lined with stately buildings including Casa Rosada, the iconic, balconied presidential palace.
Chile is a long, narrow country stretching along South America’s western edge, with 4,300km of Pacific Ocean coastline. Santiago, its capital, sits in a valley surrounded by the Andes and Chilean Coast Range mountains. The city’s Plaza de Armas, founded in 1541, contains neoclassical landmarks and the National History Museum. The massive Parque Metropolitano offers swimming pools, a botanical garden and zoo.
Ecuador is a country straddling the equator on South America’s west coast. Its diverse landscape encompasses Amazon jungle, Andean highlands and the wildlife-rich Galápagos Islands. In the Andean foothills at an elevation of 2,850m, Quito, the capital, is known for its largely intact Spanish colonial center, with decorated 16th- and 17th-century palaces and churches including the ornate Compañía de Jesús cathedral.
Bolivia is a country in central South America, with a varied terrain spanning Andes mountains, the Atacama Desert and Amazon Basin rainforest. At more than 3,500m, its administrative capital, La Paz, sits on the Andes’ Altiplano plateau with snow-capped Mt. Illimani in the background. Nearby is glass-smooth Lake Titicaca, the continent’s largest lake, straddling the border with Peru.