15 Top Hidden Gems in South America: Destinations Revealed!

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June 29, 2023
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Are you on the hunt for unforgettable South America destinations ? ✌️

Look no further! From the towering peaks of the Andes to the lush rainforests of the Amazon, South America offers a stunning variety of landscapes and experiences. But with so many incredible destinations to choose from, it can be a challenge to pinpoint your ultimate journey.

That's why we've compiled a list of 15 hidden gems in South America that showcase the best of what this amazing continent has to offer. From historic colonial towns to marvelous natural wonders, these unique South American escapades are sure to leave a lasting impression.

So pack your bags and get ready to embark on your journey through South America! 🥾🍃😍

1- Hidden Gems in South America: Argentina's Purmamarca 🇦🇷

Have you ever heard of the Hill of 7 Colors? 😍 Situated in the Jujuy Province, just north of Salta, lies the quaint village of Purmamarca. This destination, considered one of Argentina’s most stunning, is a testament to the unforgettable South American destinations we offer at Travel Differently.

The town’s adobe houses and Spanish colonial church are charming, but it's the backdrop of the spectacular Cerro de los Siete Colores that makes the area particularly picturesque. 🌈 Purmamarca is a glorious spot and an excellent place to shop for woven goods; a bustling market sets up on the village plaza every day, reminiscent of the bustling public markets in South America we've highlighted in our blog.

Make sure to take the easy but rewarding walk around the cerro (hill), the striking colors of which are best appreciated in the morning or evening sunlight. 😍

2- Venturing through South America: Colombia's Mundo Nuevo 🇨🇴

Welcome to a little bit of Heaven on Earth! 🤭

Mundo Nuevo is an organic farm and lodge, dedicated to sustainability and education towards the preservation of the earth's natural resources. This destination embodies our mission of promoting eco-tourism in South America.

With stunning views over the Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta and the Caribbean Sea, the lodge is the perfect place to stay at! 🤩 It provides you with a space to rest, enjoy homegrown food, and meet like-minded people.

Depending on your preference, they offer a variety of accommodation, ranging from hammocks and 6-bed dormitories to private bedrooms with ensuite bathrooms and even a lovely house! 🥰 Discover more about this and other prime South American locations to visit on our Colombia page.

3- Marvelous Natural Wonders of South America: Chile's Marble Caves 🇨🇱

Patagonia is filled with awe-inspiring landscapes, but some, like the Marble Caves 😍, remain less-known destinations in South America. Located near the tiny village of Puerto Rio Tranquilo, in southern Chile 🇨🇱, these caves have been carved by nature for over 6,000 years.

This unique geological formation cannot be directly accessed by land. It requires a short ride by speedboat or, with good weather, a half-day kayak trip🚣🏻‍♂️. Discover more about this and other thrilling adventures in South America on our Chile page.

4- Unique South American Escapades: Mexico's Huasteca 🇲🇽

Mexico is much more than its resort towns of Cancún, Puerto Vallarta, and Los Cabos – and even than its chaotic but cool capital city. We'd like to share with you another stunning region of Mexico that deserves some recognition as well! 😍 But not too much either, it must remain off the beaten track 🤫

La Huasteca Potosina Mexico! It's a region within the state of San Luis Potosi northeast of Mexico City, and it’s part of the bigger region of the Huastecas. This region offers great outdoor exploring. The Tamul Waterfall is an otherworldly vision of turquoise waters perfect for canoeing, while at the Micos Waterfalls you can bike on a zip line over the falls. 🙌

Discover more about this and other epic South America road trips on our Mexico page.

5- Hidden Gems in South America: Colombia | Providencia 🇨🇴

😯A Prime South American Location to Visit! 😱 If you're on a journey through South America, and especially if you're seeking an off the beaten path destination, then Providencia Island is your ultimate South America travel guide!😍

💙 Providencia, one of the unforgettable South America destinations, is home to the clearest blue seas you would ever see – it's why the sea surrounding the island is also called the Sea of Seven Colours. The island is famous for scuba diving, its beautiful white sand beaches, and just generally being a gem of an island 😍🏝

The highlight for us is the Cayo Cangrejo (Crab Cay), the small island that’s also part of the National Park. You can hike up to the top of the island to get the most amazing panoramic view of the Sea of Seven Colours !🤩🙌🏻

6- Hidden gem in Brazil 🇧🇷 : Lençois Maranhenses


It's the spectacular Lençóis Maranhenses National Park in Northern Brazil 🙌

Lençóis Maranhenses, one of the unique South American escapades, is a very special desert to visit in Brazil, where during the wet season rainwater gets accumulated between the sand dunes. 🌊

This results in a variety of blue and green freshwater lagoons. It’s hard to imagine a more surreal landscape than this place; you will find it almost unreal when you will first see it. 😍

In addition, the beautiful desert of Lençóis Maranhenses is not a place where you will have to deal with a lot of tourists around you. 🙏

Since the access to this park is quite difficult, you will probably swim alone in these lagoons. We recommend you get to the small coastal village of Atins. From there you can hire a guide to do a multi-day hike in the desert, and you can spend a night in an oasis in the middle of the desert. 🏝️

Be warned that hiking in the desert is quite tough. Even if you leave at 4am in the morning, being close to the Equator you will already have the sun over your head by 8am, and there’s no shade to hide from the sunlight. The only way to get refreshed is by taking a dip in all the lagoons along your trail.

After the trail, the reward is spending a night in the middle of the desert, where only a bunch of families live.

7- Hidden gem in Colombia 🇨🇴 : Quebrada Las Gachas

The amazing red river in Guadalupe is not something you’ll find in a travel book ! 🤭

In fact, it is even a bit of a secret among locals – many Santandereanos have never visited this spot either! 😮

The gem here is Quebrada Las Gachas, a small red river framed by bright blue skies and rolling green hills.

What makes the river iconic is not just the red color but also the scattered jacuzzi pools! 🥰

These river holes vary in size, depth, and shape.

Some of the pools can fit multiple people while others can only fit one. A few of the pools you can stand in but some are too deep for that! The shallower pools are quite warm while the larger and deeper river holes will be cooler 😍.

Be careful of the extremely slippery green algae when walking along the river rock.

8- Hidden gem in Colombia 🇨🇴 : El desierto de la tatacoa

Do you like to explore places that seem out of this world ? 🤯

The Tatacoa Desert is probably the most unique natural landscape in Colombia! 🇨🇴

It's a place not so well known ! Located in the department of Huila, very close to the municipality of Villavieja.

Things to know 🤫 :

  1. It's not really desert, it's a tropical dry forest .
  2. It is the second driest area in 🇨🇴 after La Guajira desert (that is a desert 😊).
  3. The red zone is rich in zinc and magnesium; the grey zone in calcium, phosphorus and volcanic ash.
  4. It is an excellent natural observatory of the celestial vault given its location and the low light pollution in the area. 🌌
  5. It has natural pools. Despite being a semi-arid area, there are water springs a few metres away that come from underground rivers.

📍The access to the Tatacoa Desert can be done from Neiva, the capital of Huila, by a fully paved road. The journey by car will take you a little more than an hour.

The Tatacoa Desert is one of the most beautiful protected areas in the country, so isn't this already an excellent reason to take a tour of this magical place?


At first glance, you might mistake it for Utah, but this breathtaking landscape is actually nestled in Argentina 😍

📍Talampaya, a national park tucked away in La Rioja Province, Argentina, is just about 60 km from Villa Unión. This prime South American location to visit is renowned for its significant archaeological and palaeontological sites. In recognition of its historical and natural importance, UNESCO declared it a World Heritage Site in 2000 😍

The landscapes are simply stunning! Talampaya's unique topography is the result of erosion by water and wind in a desert climate characterized by large temperature ranges, torrential summer rains, and strong spring winds 😍.

😳The Talampaya canyon and its rock formations, with walls soaring up to 143m, are an absolute marvel!!

Interestingly, several dinosaur 🦖 fossils have been discovered at the dry bed of the Talampaya river 👀


HAVE YOU EVER HEARD OF PARATY, BRAZIL? This is where the vibrant Carnaval kicks off!!

Cobbled streets, colorful houses, a lively atmosphere, and friendly people make Paraty a unique South American escapade 😍.

In addition to the charming houses, restaurants, and boutiques, there's an infectious pre-carnival atmosphere that's hard to miss.

As you explore, you'll be serenaded by live music emanating from the restaurants or echoing down the streets, and you might even spot a few impromptu dance-offs 💃🏻

Don't miss out on visiting both Iguazu Falls and Ubatub on your way to Paraty!

11- Hidden gem in Argentina 🇦🇷 : Pozo de las Animas


Due to the geological soft soil composition, the erosion has caused two circular depressions with a narrow separation in between ! 😮

Is guessed that through the years it will ended up being only one big one 🕳 with an approximated diameter of 600 ft. and 300 ft. deep. Out of it 60 are covered by water 💦

One of the things to be observed is the change in the water color as the sun moves in the sky 😍

Their name comes from a legend of the local aborigines. The legend sustain than a group of warriors from other tribe in pursuit of the locals get trapped just when the depression happen, killing all of them ! 😱

From then on, the dead warriors souls, cries on pain. That's what the name means in spanish; Souls Well or "Pozo de las Animas".

12- Hidden gem in Colombia 🇨🇴 : San Cipriano

San Cipriano, Colombia is one of the country's best-kept secrets and one of the most unforgettable South American destinations! 🤫 With beautiful, pristine swimming holes, great hiking trails, and a relaxed atmosphere, it’s a great place for a weekend getaway from the city! 😍

To reach it we recommend:

  1. Wear comfortable clothes, shoes that can get wet, muddy and hopefully closed.
  2. Go with a guide. Soon, we will propose to book this tour with a local guide in our website ! 💚

Wear comfortable clothes, shoes that can get wet, muddy and hopefully closed.Go with a guide. Soon, we will propose to book this tour with a local guide on our website! 💚Tips 🤗: Bring sunscreen AND bug spray. The sun can get really intense here. And of course, don't leave your trash in this place, return it to us, so we can help take care of this jewel of nature.

13- Hidden gem in Peru 🇵🇪 : Aguas de huancaraylla


So finding this location is not an easy task.

After doing some deep research, you can find a spot on Google Maps marked as “Aguas De Huancaraylla”. This hidden paradise is worth a shot !😍

The best views can be found from a path along the steep cliffs that overlook the river.

If you keep hiking along the trail, you will also come across a stunning waterfall and a camping area where you can pitch a tent ⛺️ if you plan to stay there overnight 🌙.

14- Hidden gem in Colombia 🇨🇴 : San Jose del Guaviare

What’s your favourite off-the-beaten-track spot in Colombia? San José del Guaviare 💚

Guaviare department is basically brand new to tourism: an epicentre of the conflict and the drug trade, the jungle covered region was a no-go zone for many years.

The Guaviare is the entrance to the Amazon and is full of wild magic and mysticism. Apart from lush landscapes, jungles, colorful rivers, waterfalls, dazzling fauna and flora, it is also a cultural journey back in time.

One of the places to visit is Cerro Azul, where you can find these spectacular murals with super well preserved cave paintings, some of the best in the world.

Do you know how old they are? 😱Mmm well, neither do I. Nobody knows for sure but it is believed that between 10 thousand and 12 thousand years...how much history these rocks have seen pass by 😲😲💚

15- Hidden gem in Peru 🇵🇪 : Sandoval Lake

Have you ever heard about the "heart of the Peruvian Amazon" ? 💚 Sandoval Lake ! 😍

Sandoval Lake is found in the city of Puerto Maldonado, Madre de Dios. This lake is located in the Tambopata Nature Reserve, considered one of the most biodiverse places in the world.

Surrounded by different types of rainforest, Lago Sandoval is about two hours from Puerto Maldonado by boat down the Madre de Dios, followed by a 3km hike, which has its own appeal for the wildlife-watching opportunities it yields.

With luck, either on the trail or at the lake, you might see caiman, turtles, brightly colored birds (The hoatzin, known as the reptile bird), monkeys and more thrillingly yet, maybe the endangered giant river otters. 😍🤫

It's time to discover the best hidden gems in South America !

Are you prepared to unearth the hidden gems in South America? 😍

Embark on a journey through South America and discover the best-hidden gems for an authentic and off-the-beaten-path travel experience. These unique South American escapades offer breathtaking landscapes, rich culture, and the chance to escape the crowds. From the marvelous natural wonders of South America to unique cultural immersion experiences, these destinations offer something for every type of traveler. So why not add some of these less-known destinations in South America to your ultimate South America travel guide itinerary? 🙌

And when it comes to planning your South America itinerary, remember to turn to Travel Differently. Our team is dedicated to helping you plan the ultimate responsible travel adventure in South America. From finding the perfect accommodations in Ecuador to organizing sustainable travel experiences in Brazil, and arranging for transportation across Chile, we have you covered. So why wait? Start planning your dream South America trip with Travel Differently today!

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