South America: 5 Off the Beaten Path Destinations

South America: 5 Off the Beaten Path Destinations

Have you ever wished you could avoid the masses and experience some unforgettable travel moments minus the touts? Brendan from Vagabundo Magazine has dropped by to tell us how you can do just that in South America…

Over the past couple decades South America has gone from being a region that many people avoided to being one of the hotspots for travel. While this is great news for the local economies, to many travellers, the crowds quickly become tiresome. Thankfully, there are still a number of amazing spots on the continent that few people know of and even less visit. Here are my favourites.

5) Choquequirao, Peru, South America

While thousands of people visit Machu Picchu each day there is another Inca site nearby that hardly sees a dozen. Unlike Machu Picchu, there is no train to Choquequirao, and you’ll have to spend a couple days hiking a trail which is perhaps more difficult than the Inca Trail. You will be rewarded with a beautiful set of ruins famous for their terraces and ancient coloured rock designs of llamas.

4) Cerro Cora National Park, Paraguay

Paraguay itself is likely the least travelled of the Spanish speaking Latin American countries, but one can get even farther off the beaten path simply by leaving the capital. About four hours away, near the border with Brazil, you’ll find the sparsely travelled Cerro Cora National Park.

Here there are a number of jaguars, which is the draw for many. However, be prepared to go it alone as the tourism industry is hardly existent here. One of the best days of my time in South America was hiking through this beautiful National Park.

Cerro-Cora-National-Park, South America

3) Jericoacoara, Brazil

You get bonus points if you can pronounce the name of this beautiful beach town in Northern Brazil, but you don’t need the ability to enjoy the place. While the beaches in the south get all the publicity Jericoacoara might actually be Brazil’s best beach. You’ll need to literally get off the beaten path and jump in a 4×4 to get here, but when you do you’ll be rewarded by beautiful sand dunes, soft sand, and calm pristine waters.

Only one word properly characterises Jeri: paradise.

2) Kaieteur Falls, Guyana

It’s not really all too shocking as to the reasons why so few people visit Guyana. This tiny country borders on obscure and is as poorly linked as any country in the world. However, the potential for tourism in Guyana is incredible. Atop the list of all the natural gems this country holds is Kaieteur Falls which is actually the highest single drop waterfall in the world. The falls are found in a remote part of the Amazon rain forest so you’ll need to either take a flight from Georgetown or if you’re feeling really adventurous there is a week long hike that’s possible as well.

1) Las Lajas Sanctuary, Ipiales, Colombia

In places like South America where there are simply so many churches it is quite easy to become bored with seeing the same thing over and again.

However, a visit to the Las Lajas Sanctuary near the border with Ecuador is easily the most spectacular in all of South America. Built across the valley, the church appears to be more of a castle out of some fairytale story than a cathedral in Colombia. Getting to the church isn’t all too difficult, and the truth is that so many tourists get within a couple kilometres of it without even knowing it’s there.

ipiales_view, south america


About the Author

Brendan van SonBrendan van Son is the Editor-in-Chief of Vagabundo which is a travel magazine for independent travellers looking to explore the world a little bit deeper than most.

You can also check him out on his travel blog Brendan’s Adventures.

Do you have any tips for getting off the beaten track and away from the tourist trails? Whether in S America or anywhere else in the world, we want to hear them!


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  1. May 02, 19:25 #1 Brendan van Son

    Thanks everyone… glad you like the piece. And, of course, if you’re ever looking for some tips on the region feel free to shoot me a message!

  2. April 16, 16:52 #2 Diego

    Very inspiring post Brendan! I would love to explore Cerro Cora National Park someday. I´m a Peruvian tour guide so if anyone is interested in hiking to Choquequirao I will be very happy to show the best of Peru. Another off the beaten path destiny in Peru is Huancaya a hidden paradise in the highlands of Lima: keep exploring!

  3. March 31, 17:54 #3 Aisleen Author

    Us too Alex! All sounds amazing doesn’t it!

  4. March 31, 13:05 #4 AlexBerger

    Great fuel to my intense desire to get to South America for more grand explorations!

  5. March 28, 14:36 #5 Aisleen Author

    One trip is never enough anywhere is it Andrea! Esp in somewhere like S America! 🙂

  6. March 28, 13:55 #6 Andrea

    Great tips! I really hope we can get back to South America someday – one trip around just wasn’t enough, there are so many amazing places to discover there. Brendan is a fantastic resource for the continent.

  7. March 28, 12:41 #7 Aisleen Author

    Sounds great doesn’t it Bret! I must say, Paraguay has always been high on our wish list – we love going to the less visited places around the world!

  8. March 28, 12:39 #8 Bret @ Green Global Travel

    Nice post, Brendan! We’ve fallen in love with South America over the past few years (just got back from the Peruvian Amazon) and will have to add some of these to our must-see list. The park in Paraguay sounds particularly up our alley…