15 hidden gems in South America

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October 10, 2022
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Are you looking for an unforgettable South American adventure? ✌️

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 tough to narrow down your options.

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 charming colonial towns to stunning natural wonders, these destinations are sure to leave a lasting impression.

So pack your bags and get ready to discover the beauty and culture of South America! 🥾🍃😍

1- Hidden gem in Argentina 🇦🇷 : Purmamarca


Purmamarca, in Jujuy Province, just north of Salta, is considered one of Argentina’s most beautiful villages. 🇦🇷

The town’s adobe houses and Spanish colonial church are all pretty in their own right, but the backdrop of the spectacular Cerro de los Siete Colores makes the area particularly picturesque. 🌈

Purmamarca is a glorious spot and an excellent place to shop for woven goods; a flourishing market sets up on the village plaza every day.

Make sure you 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- Hidden gem in Colombia 🇨🇴 : Mundo Nuevo

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 located in Colombia 😍🍃🌱

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, to enjoy homegrown food and meet like-minded people 🗣

Depending on your desire, they offer a variety of accommodation, ranging from hammocks and 6-bed dormitories to private bedrooms with ensuite bathrooms and even a lovely house ! 🥰

3- Hidden gem in Chile 🇨🇱 : Marbles Caves

There is no denying that Patagonia is filled with awe-inspiring landscapes, but some are less accessible than others and remain UNKNOWN to most of the world.

This is the case for the Marble Caves 😍 located near the tiny village of Puerto Rio Tranquilo, in southern Chile 🇨🇱.

The remarkably good Marble caves, called Cuevas de Marmolin Spanish, have slowly been carved by nature for over 6,000 years. It is the famous Patagonian wind and the waves which are the maestros of this incredible carving work on the solid marble bordering the lake 😮

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🚣🏻‍♂️

4- Hidden gem in Mexico 🇲🇽 : Huasteca

Mexico is much more than its resort towns of Cancún, Puerto Vallarta, and Los Cabos – and even than it’s 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.

Morphologically speaking the entire area presents a variety of landscapes, from flatlands to hills made of calcified sand, basalt from old lava flows which penetrate the primarily sedimentary rock molded by the wind and water erosion. 🤩

As a result, the Huasteca Potosina is characterized by a huge amount of waterfalls 💦, canyons, natural pools, and caves; a huge natural playground to discover, for nature lovers like us. 🙋‍♀️🙋‍♂️

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. 🙌

5- Hidden gem in Colombia 🇨🇴 : Providencia

😯OFF THE BEATEN PATH ISLAND ! 😱 If you’re looking for an off the beaten path South American destination, then you can’t get more off the beaten track than Providencia Island !😍

💙 Providencia 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 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?

9- Hidden gem in Argentina 🇦🇷 : Talampaya


📍Talampaya is a national park located in La Rioja Province, Argentina, approximately 60 km from Villa Unión.

Due to its important archaeological and palaentological sites found in the area and it was declared World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2000 😍

The landscapes are just amazing! Talampaya is the result of erosion by water and wind in a desert climate characterized also for its large ranges in temperature, torrential rain in summer and strong wind in spring 😍.

😳The Talampaya canyon and its rock formations with walls up to 143m are absolutely gorgeous !!

It was also found several dinosaur 🦖 fossils at the dry bed of the Talampaya river 👀

10- Hidden gem in Brazil 🇧🇷 : Paraty

HAVE YOU HEARD OF PARATY - BRAZIL ? The Carnaval starts there !!

Cobbled streets, colorful houses, vibrant atmosphere, and friendly people 😍.

Besides the beautiful houses, restaurants, boutiques there was a great atmosphere. You will soon learn that it is the pre-carnival atmosphere.

You can hear live music coming from the restaurants or on the streets and some people were dancing around 💃🏻

You can visit both Iguazu Falls and Ubatub on you 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


With beautiful, pristine swimming holes, great hiking trails, and a relaxed atmosphere, it’s a great place for a weekend getaway from the city ! 😍

📍CASCADA LA VENTILADORA - San Cipriano Valle del Cauca .

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 ! 💚

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 !

Ready to uncover the hidden gems of South America? 😍

Discover the best hidden gems in South America for an authentic and off the beaten track travel experience. These unique destinations offer breathtaking landscapes, rich culture, and the chance to escape the crowds. From stunning natural wonders to unique cultural experiences, these destinations offer something for every type of traveler. So why not add some of these off-the-beaten-path destinations to your South America road trip itinerary? 🙌

And when it comes to organizing your trip, 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 to organizing activities and transportation, we have you covered. So why wait? Start planning your dream South America trip with Travel Differently today!

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