To go on vacation I am most interested in relaxing, exercising, learning about a new culture and breathing fresh air.  Here are some places on my bucket list to visit in South America. 

Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

The Galapagos Islands are so unique that they appears on many “wonders of the world” lists.  The Galapagos belongs to Ecuador but takes 24 hours to reach by cruise ship or barge from the Ecuadorian coast; it is much faster to fly.  It is TRULY a place to visit with volcanic rock and craters, lush jungle type forests, giant turtles in the highlands, large iguanas on the beach and birds you will not see anywhere else in the world.  Santa Cruz could easily be called the cleanest city in Ecuador; there are even leash laws for dogs, which is mostly unheard of in the rest of Ecuador.  The food is fantastic and fish is sold right off the beach daily.  There are so many different kinds of tours available; from 4 hour tours that are sold on the beach to whole week tours where the tourist lives on a small boat and roams from island to island.  Accommodations are also available in all price ranges; from hostel type accommodations to four star hotels, mostly in Santa Cruz.  Flights are available from Guayaquil and Quito, Ecuador.

Galapagos IguanaCredit: wendywanderer

San Andres Island, Columbia

I love islands!!  San Andres has everything an island should, white sand, palm trees and fashionable boutiques; some of the features that draw tourists are the coral reefs where people scuba dive and snorkel, coconut plantations, and beautiful beaches.  San Andres is actually a group of islands, of which San Andres Island is the largest and stays a balmy 75 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit all year round.  English is one of the official languages of San Andres, making it easier to navigate as an English speaking tourist.  It is a place where man and nature work together, the archipelago joined the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Program in the year 2000 for the purpose of conserving not just the islands, but also the Caribbean Sea around them. [1]

San Andres is also the name of the urban center but the nickname is “El Centro”.  San Andres is a duty free zone, attracting tourists from around the world and from Columbia itself for electronics, sporting good and clothes as well as local crafts.[2]

Food and lodging is more expensive than in the Galapagos Islands; offering budget hotels to five star all-inclusive resorts.  The food is more of a Caribbean creole, featuring a delicious fish soup and lots of seafood, as well as restaurants offering cuisine from other parts of the world.  San Andres is a great place to come and relax.  Flights are available from several Columbian cities as well as Panama City and San Jose, Costa Rica.[3]

San Andres Island MontageCredit: "San Andres Island Montage" by Mr.Jhosimar - by Mario CarvajalSource: File:Casa isleña en San Andrés.jpgby Mr.JhosimarSource: File:Panorámica de San Andres.JPGby Mario CarvajalSource: File:Johny Cay.jpgby Aliman5040Source: File:Playa en San Andrés3, C

Iguazu Falls, Argentina / Brazil

These waterfalls are another one of the “wonders of the world”, featuring 1.7 miles of waterfalls, separating Brazil and Argentina and also bordering with Paraguay.  20% of the falls are in Brazil and 80% of the falls are in Argentina.  Paraguay has access from the river to the falls as well.  Argentina offers a train that takes tourists into their part of the national park and to the falls viewing areas; Brazil offers very quiet, 72 passenger double-decker bus with very little emissions.  The national park is home to jaguars, monkeys, parrots, snakes, raccoons, and caimans; which can sometimes be seen from these forms of transportation.[4]

From the Brazilian town of Fez de Iguacu helicopter tours can be scheduled as well as bird tours, one day tours and whole week tours of the falls, as well as tours of Itapúa Dam.  This part of South America has distinct seasons, so plan accordingly; summer is November to March and winter is April to December.  Paraguay’s Ciudad de Este has one of the cheapest tech marketplaces in the world, catering to Brazilians to come and shop.  If shopping there, test electronics and do not let the shop keeper wrap it up for you, or you may receive a faulty version in its place.  There are hotels for all price ranges, from the backpacker hostel to the five star Wish Resort Golf Convention Center. [5]

From Puerto Iguazu in the Argentinean side, there are several more points of interest such as the Three Frontiers Landmark, where Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil can all the seen at the same time, and a boat trip across the river in the national park.  Read reviews before scheduling a cheap hotel; sometimes the cheapest hostels can be full of bedbugs, but they are plentiful in town and there are many kinds of hotels.  Flights can be obtained from Buenos Aires, Argentina and from several Brazilian cities. [6]

Iguazu FallsCredit: "Iguacu-004" by Reinhard Jahn, Mannnnnheim - own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 de via Wikimedia Commons -

These three vacation destinations are on my bucket list.  Fresh air, relaxation and learning about a new culture make these three destinations places to visit.

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South America (Insight Guides)
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