From vibrant capital cities, towns nestled in the snow-capped Andes and spectacular beach resorts to pristine national parks, colossal glaciers and remote islands, South America is an incredibly diverse continent. If you crave all of this but would also like to add some luxury to your holiday then we think that these five destinations fit the bill perfectly.
Chiloé Archipelago, Chile
Visiting Chiloé in Chile’s Lake District is like being transported back in time a hundred years. It’s a destination of pristine islands shrouded in ancient folklore and mythology and home to mouthwatering cuisine. Whether your idea of fun is trekking in national parks, kayaking around sea channels, admiring unique architectural styles or spotting whales, Chiloé has it all. Stay at Tierra Chiloé, a boutique and eco-conscious hotel built to reflect the natural scenery. You’ll wake up to views of the ocean and mountainous landscapes that make the archipelago famous. The in-house chefs take inspiration from the rich fishing heritage while the bar stocks a vast collection of Chilean wines.
Conceição da Ibitipoca, Brazil
Take a break from Brazil’s glorious coastlines and flamboyant cities to relax in Conceição da Ibitipoca, a village set in the lush green foothills of the Mantiquiera Mountains. With Ibitipoca State Park on the doorstep there’s plenty of opportunities to enjoy intimate interactions with Brazil’s mountainous scenery. You’ll encounter caves, quartzite rocks and waterfalls when walking trails that run alongside a narrow, forested lake. Reserva do Ibitipoca is an eco-retreat set in verdant farmland with direct access to the park. It has a rustic feel inspired by an 18th-century fazenda and a spa that’s perfect after a biking, hiking or horseback riding excursion.
Galápagos Islands, Ecuador
Situated in the Pacific Ocean about 600 miles (1,000 kilometers) from Ecuador, the Galápagos Islands are where exotic creatures roam freely while turning a blind eye to snap-happy tourists. Lunar-like landscapes decorate this mystical archipelago, which has been attracting biologists, naturalists and adventuresome tourists to its crystalline waters for almost 500 years. Experience this natural paradise on a luxury cruise. Spend your days swimming with giant sea turtles, sunbathing alongside marine iguanas and discovering lava tubes before returning to the boat for lunch, dinner and a peaceful night’s sleep.
José Ignacio, Uruguay
Once a tranquil fishing village, today José Ignacio is the epitome of bohemian chic throughout the South American summer months. Sun-kissed jet-setters with gym-honed bodies descend upon the two beautiful beaches and restaurants presided over by celebrity chefs. Naomi Campbell, Ronnie Wood and Shakira have all been spotted vacating here in recent years. Bahia Vik is the perfect place to enjoy the stylish vibe of this beach town. Choose a private waterfront bungalow with uninterrupted beach and sunset views. If you prefer utmost privacy then a short drive into the countryside is Estancia VIK, a 12-room ranch-style hotel decorated with works by notable Latin American artists.
Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta National Park, Colombia
This unblemished natural park stretches from Colombia’s Caribbean coastline to 18,700-feet (5,700-meter) tall snowy peaks via emerald valleys and cloud forests. It’s a place to go rafting on crystal-clear rivers, spot howler monkeys in jungles, visit Kogi tribal villages and trek to the terraced ruins of the Ciudad Perdida. Make your way to Reserva One Love, set on a bend of the Palomino River, and stay at a luxurious bungalow encompassed by colorful flora and the sounds of exotic wildlife. When you want to get active the hotel staff is on hand to arrange paddle boarding, trekking and tubing activities.