• Visiting Iguazú (Iguaçu) Falls: One of the world's most spectacular sights, Iguazú boasts more than 275 waterfalls fed by the Iguazú River, which can (and should) be visited from both the Argentine and the Brazilian (where it is spelled Iguaçu) sides. In addition to the falls, Iguazú encompasses a marvelous subtropical jungle with extensive flora and fauna.
  • Traveling the Wine Roads of Mendoza: Mendoza offers traditional and modernist wineries, set among vines that run into the snowcapped Andes. The wineries are free to visitors and easily accessible along leafy thoroughfares known as los Caminos del Vino. Over 100 wineries offer tours, but most are by appointment only.
  • Traversing the Salar de Uyuni by Land Cruiser: The world's largest salt desert and its surroundings in southwest Bolivia are one of the most unusual and fascinating places on planet earth: islands of cacti, red flamingo-filled lagoons, steaming geysers, herds of vicuñas, and hotels made of salt.
  • Celebrating Carnaval in Rio: The biggest party in the world. Whether you dance it out on the streets, watch the thousands of participants in their elaborate costumes in the samba parade, or attend the fairy-tale Copacabana Palace ball, this is one event not to miss!
  • Observing Red Macaws at Sunset: The sunset over the red rock formations in the Chapada dos Guimarães north of Cuiabá in Brazil is a magical experience in itself. Even more special is the view of scarlet macaws working the thermals off the sheer cliffs in the warm glow of the setting sun.
  • Exploring the Madcap Streets of Valparaíso: The ramshackle, sinuous streets of Valparaíso offer a walking tour unlike any other. Part of the fascination here is viewing the antique Victorian mansions and colorful tin houses that line terraced walkways winding around precipitous hills; yet also as worthwhile is spending the night here in one of the city's new boutique hotels and savoring the local cuisine at one of Valparaíso's gourmet restaurants. As well, Valparaíso's bars, which seem to have authored the word "bohemian," are what have brought this city notoriety.
  • Sailing Past the Islands and Fjords of Southern Chile: Quietly sailing through the lush beauty of Chile's southern fjords is an experience that all can afford. There are two breathtaking trajectories: a 3-day ride between Puerto Natales and Puerto Montt, and a 1- to 6-day ride to the spectacular Laguna San Rafael Glacier. Backpackers on a shoestring (as well as those who need spiffier accommodations) all have options. These pristine, remote fjords are often said to be more dramatic than those in Norway. Farther south, a small cruise line takes passengers through Tierra del Fuego and past remote glaciers, peaks, and sea lion colonies, stopping at the end of the world at Cape Horn.
  • Visiting Colombia's Paradise on Earth: The Eje Cafetero, with its plantain- and coffee-terraced slopes, verdant mountains, and quaint Spanish-style colonial farm houses, remains one of the most traditional parts of the country. (Remember: Red pillars and shutters for Liberals, blue for Conservatives.) The lush vegetation, wild orchids, and perfect weather will make you think you're in some kind of earthly paradise. Here, you can lie back in a hammock and listen to the birds chirp, visit the hot springs of nearby Santa Rosa, or horseback ride through the endless coffee plantations -- a world removed from the hectic Colombian cities.
  • Watching Blue-Footed Boobies Dance for Love in the Galápagos: Birds are usually shy, especially during mating season. But in the Galápagos Islands, where wild animals have no fear of humans, you can watch male blue-footed boobies spread their wings, lift their beaks, and dance wildly in a performance known as "sky pointing," all in hope of attracting a mate. If the female likes what she sees, she'll do the same. It's a scene right out of a National Geographic documentary.
  • Floating on Lake Titicaca: Lake Titicaca, the world's highest navigable body of water, straddles the border between Peru and Bolivia. To locals, it is a mysterious and sacred place. A 1-hour boat ride from Puno takes you to the Uros Islands, where communities dwell upon soft patches of reeds. Visitors have a rare opportunity to experience the ancient cultures of two inhabited natural islands, Amantani and Taquile, by staying with a local family. You won't find any cars or electricity here, but there are remarkable local festivals. The views of the oceanlike lake, at more than 3,600m (11,800 ft.) above sea level, and the star-littered night sky alone are worth the trip. Even better, for those with a bit of adventure and extra time, are kayaking on Titicaca and spending the night on private Isla Suasi.
  • Gazing upon Machu Picchu: However you get to it -- whether you hike the fabled Inca Trail or hop aboard one of the prettiest train rides in South America -- Machu Picchu more than lives up to its reputation as one of the most spectacular sites on earth. The ruins of the legendary "lost city of the Incas" sit majestically among the massive Andes, swathed in clouds. The ceremonial and agricultural center, never discovered or looted by the Spanish, dates from the mid-1400s but seems even more ancient. Exploring the site is a thrilling experience, especially at sunrise, when dramatic rays of light creep over the mountaintops. If you've already been to Machu Picchu, try trekking to one of the "new" lost Inca cities, such as Choquequirao.
  • Visiting Punta del Este in Summer: As Porteños (residents of Buenos Aires) will tell you, anyone who's anyone from Buenos Aires heads to Punta del Este for summer vacation. The glitzy Atlantic coast resort in Uruguay is packed with South America's jet set from December through February and offers inviting beaches and outstanding nightlife.
  • Enjoying the Splendor of Angel Falls: From the boat ride through rapids in a dugout canoe, to the steep hike from the river's edge to the base of the falls, to a swim in the cool waters at the foot of this natural wonder and back again, this is an amazing experience, with spectacular views and scenery throughout.
  • Riding El Teleférico in Mérida, Venezuela: The world's highest and longest cable car system will bring you to the summit of Pico Espejo at 4,765m (15,629 ft.). If you've ever wanted to get into thin air without the toil of actually climbing there, this is the way to go. Go early if you want the best views. But be careful: The effects of altitude can be felt, whether or not you actually climb.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.