Top 10 photo locations in South America
It’s a tough challenge to make a selection of only ten locations when it comes to photogenic places in South America. The variation in landscapes, wildlife and history makes it an, almost, unachievable task to whittle it down to a top ten; it helps that we know South America like the back of our hand, so we’ve put together a shortlist for you. If you have a personal favourite photo location in South America, let us know in the comment box below.
1. Machu Picchu, Peru
Everyone is familiar with the dramatic shot of the citadel of Machu Picchu, astride a series of man-hewn terraces carved into a rainforest-clad mountain saddle at 2,430m in the Andean foothills. A visit never disappoints: the steep stone staircases, bridges, temples houses and palaces are easy to explore, and beg to be photographed. Top tip: reach the sun gate early in the morning, if you’re walking the Inca or mini-Inca trail and witness the early morning light for an incredible shot.
2. Uyuni salt flats, Bolivia
The visually stunning Salar de Uyuni salt lake is situated on the southern plains of the altiplano, at 3,656m. The lake stretches as a blinding white sheet of surreal, ethereal beauty. It’s covered with hexagonal patterns and when it rains, the water reflects the ice blue sky and clouds. Top tip: visit the locomotive graveyard just outside of Uyuni for some unique pictures of dozens of abandoned, rusted out, steam trains.
3. Corcovado Mountain, Brazil
The statue of Christ the Redeemer, atop Rio de Janeiro’s Corcovado Mountain, is one of the most recognisable and evocative icons of Latin America. Top tip: whether you take a picture from the city down below, or from the top itself, the views are incredible and highly photogenic.
4. Torres del Paine, Chile
Torres del Paine National Park is fast becoming one of the world’s most popular places for walking holidays. The vertical triple towers of Torres del Paine are the stars of the show, and the most recognisable mountain structure of the region. But the icy glaciers, flowery meadows and glassy lagoons around it are just a photogenic. Top tip: visit in winter (mid-May-mid-Sept) when there is a higher chance to spot condors or puma, in spring (Oct-Nov) for blossoming trees and in autumn (March-April) for the most beautiful autumn colours.
5. Galápagos Islands, Ecuador
The wildlife of the Galápagos Islands are incredible: lumbering giant tortoises, nesting albatrosses, comic boobies and wrinkly iguanas all have made their home here and are not afraid of people at all. This makes for an extremely unique experience to get involved in, from swimming with hammerhead sharks to sharing the beach with frolicking sea-lions. Top tip: despite animals being very used to people on the Islands you still need to be mindful not to get too close when taking photos of wildlife.
6. Lençois Maranhenses, Brazil
The combination of undulating sand dunes with shimmering blue lakes makes an incredible photo spot, and Lençois Maranhenses certainly is one of a kind. The inviting oases in far north-eastern Brazil are no desert mirages: thanks to a unique phenomenon, the summer rains collect amidst the sand dunes to create a mesmerising scene. Top tip: this phenomenon is best appreciated between May and September.
7. Easter Island, Chile
Easter Island’s enigmatic moai, or giant stone heads, are the most distinguishable features on the island. The rocky, treeless and unproductive grasslands are beautiful in a haunting-kind-of-way, and the coast is defined by rocky coves and the occasional sparkling white beach. Top tip: there are many organised walks that will take you to see the moai at sunrise to capture a truly dramatic shot.
8. Perito Moreno Glacier, Argentina
The Perito Moreno Glacier stretches 30km long, 5km wide and 60m high and sits right in the heart of Patagonia. Its sheer size makes the eye (or the camera) struggle to take it all in. What makes it unique, in the world of ice, is that it’s constantly moving – up to 2m per day. This causes building-sized icebergs to break off and splash into the waters below. Top tip: spend a day here and you might catch a glimpse of the ice breaking off and capture that unique photo.
9. Iguazú Falls, Argentina and Brazil
The Iguazú Falls, which straddle the border between Argentina and Brazil, are a must-see for anyone visiting the highlights of the continent. The 275 separate cascades form a curtain of foaming water which crashes through tangled subtropical jungle over a vast granite amphitheatre, protected by national park status. Top tip: to create a soft, misty effect of the falls you need to reduce your ISO setting, turn the aperture right up and set your shutter speed to around one second. Have a play around with the settings until you’re happy; a tri-pod or a very steady hand will help!
10. Atacama Desert, Chile
The Atacama’s inhospitable desert landscape is harsh and rugged, but volcanoes and geysers steam and hiss it into life. Pink flamingos haunt the featureless white salt flats, cacti stride towards the horizon and oases splash the tawny landscape with vigorous vegetation, especially after rare flash rainfall. Top tip: Visit the salt flats where flamingos lend to a sprinkle of pink to an already colourful scene.
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Our exciting range of articles on Latin America explore everything from iconic destinations and lesser-known cultural gems to delicious traditional recipes. You’ll also find exclusive travel tips, first-hand client reviews and the chance to get your personal questions answered by our travel experts.View Extraordinary Inspiration
Sally Dodge - Travel Expert
A former Journey Latin America tour leader, Sally spent 7 years working, travelling and living throughout Latin America before returning to the UK to help people arrange their own adventures to this wonderful destination.
Chris Rendell-Dunn - Travel Expert
Anglo-Peruvian Chris grew up in Lima and spent much of his adult life in between London and Cusco as a tour leader, before settling permanently in our London-based Tailor-made and Group Tours sales team.
Paul Winrow-Giffin - Travel Expert
After graduating in Computer Science, Paul spent seven months travelling from Colombia to Argentina and came home hooked on Latin America.
Juliet Ellwood - Travel Expert
After graduating with a degree in Anthropology and History and having been fascinated by Latin America since childhood by the book featuring photos of Nazca, Juliet first visited the region in 2003. Since then, Juliet has visited the majority of countries in Latin America but has particularly extensive experience with Peru, a country she loves for many reasons but not least, its incredible archaeological richness and delicious food!
Lina Fuller - Travel Expert
Lina's passion for the continent where she was born really took off when she moved to Córdoba (Argentina) to study, spending the holidays travelling between Argentina and her native Colombia.
Hannah Donaldson - Travel Expert
Having spent part of her childhood in Colombia and worked in Brazil and Costa Rica, Hannah's ties to Latin America run deep. Hannah is a much valued Travel Expert in our Tailor-made Holidays and Group Tours sales team.