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7 Exotic Destinations In South America For Your Next Epic Adventure


Suzana •  Aug 11, 2016


South America - just the thought of it conjures up images of exotic locations, lush rainforests and colourful cultures. Home to some of the world's oldest civilizations and steeped in history, South American destinations have an allure and charm that's just begging to be explored.
Credit: giphy Strap on your sandals and put on your sun hats, it's time we explore these 7 exotic South American cities!
1. Machu Picchu
As one of the world’s most awe-inspiring archaeological sites, it’s no surprise that Machu Picchu is high up on every traveller’s bucket list.
Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu, which means “old mountain” in the Quechua language, is hidden between two Andean peaks and stands 2,430m above sea level. This ancient Incan site sat forgotten for centuries until it was rediscovered in 1911. Shrouded in mystery, it is believed to be built at the peak of the Inca Empire and was probably a sacred religious site or royal estate for Inca leaders.
Train to Machu Picchu 2
Credit: Abroad With Nick and Som You can hop on a train or hike the Inca Trail (for all you fit people) to get to the site. The majestic scenery that you’ll be rewarded with will make every minute of your journey worthwhile! Don’t forget to take that postcard perfect photo and with the llamas too ?
The best part of all? It’s not difficult to get to Machu Picchu with KLM’s daily flights to Lima. Since you’re already in Lima, enjoy the journey and explore the Peruvian capital! Take walks though the many alleyways, soak in the multicultural vibe of the city and of course, try the exotic Peruvian cuisine. After all, Lima is the gastronomic capital of South America! #HHWT tip: There are only 2,500 permits per day which often sell out in advance especially during the peak period (May – September) so book early! How to get there: KLM flies to Lima from Singapore daily. Visit www.klm.sg for the lowest fares.
2. Quito
Boasting one of the best-preserved historic centres of Spanish America, Quito is one of the capital cities that’s located closest to the sun at 9,350 feet above sea level (slap on the sunscreen but we’re wary of altitude sickness!), you can also be in both hemispheres at the same time – more or less.
Quito 1
Credit: Robert Nunn on Flickr Only 20km away from the city, you can visit La Mitad del Mundo, an impressive 100-foot statue signifying where French scientist Charles-Marie de La Condamine marked what he thought was the precise location of the Equator, although modern science has determined that the real Equator lies slightly further up north. You also can’t leave Quito without trying some of the best chocolate in the world!
Quito zero latitude
Credit: @echoinglaughter#HHWT tip: We highly recommend taking a side trip to Galapagos Islands, one of the best destinations in the world to watch wildlife! Where else can you snorkel with curious sea lions, meet Galapagos penguins and come face to face with giant tortoises?
Sea lion galapagos island
Credit: Paul Krawczuk on FlickrHow to get there: You can travel to Quito via KLM’s daily flights from Singapore. Visit www.klm.sg for the lowest fares.
3. Buenos Aires
Beautiful European architecture, broad avenues and sidewalk cafes… It’s easy to see why Buenos Aires is known as the “Paris of South America”. While there are key sights you shouldn’t miss such as Museum of Latin American Art of Buenos Aires (one of the city’s fanciest modern art museums) and Casa Rosada (which literally means pink house), the best way to soak in the vibes of the city is to stroll through the neighbourhoods!
Casa Rosada
Credit: Juanedc on Flickr Forget about the traditional hotel breakfast, it’s practically mandatory to have coffee and medialunas (croissants) at a cafe. Oh and don’t worry about pesky waiters waiting to clear your tables, you’re free to linger and watch the world go by. That’s what a vacation is about, right?
The seductive rhythms of tango seem to dominate every part of Buenos Aires, so watching a tango show is definitely a must-do before you leave the city, even though it’s geared at tourists!
Tango Show
Credit: Prayitno on Flickr#HHWT Tip: Don’t forget to pay a visit to one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world – El Ateneo Grand Splendid! Originally a theatre, it was converted into a cinema and eventually a bookstore in 2000. Isn’t it spectacular? ?
El Ateneo Grand Splendid
Credit: Niels Mickers on FlickrHow to get there: Air France flies to Buenos Aires daily from Singapore, visit www.airfrance.sg for the lowest fares. Alternatively, you can stop over at Amsterdam and catch a flight to Buenos Aires on KLM (4 flights a week) from Singapore. Visit www.klm.sg for the lowest fares.
4. Easter Island
If you’re looking for an unconventional travel destination, it can’t get more exotic than Easter Island – one of the world’s most isolated inhabited island. The first thing that comes to mind when you think of Easter island is probably the giant stone statue, also known as moai.
Easter Island
Credit: David Berkowitz on Flickr You’ll find hundreds of moai scattered all over the island, some standing at up to 10m in height. Many visitors have flocked to this far-flung island, attracted by the mystery of the moai. There’s still much speculation about the exact purpose of the statues, how they were constructed and how they were moved around.
Easter Island Moai close up
Credit: Arian Zwegers on Flickr Wondering if Easter Island is only about these massive stone statues? Definitely not! You can explore the island on horseback or bike, relax on the beach, dive in the clear waters and try the local cuisine (think lots of fresh seafood)!
Credit: Nano Anderson on Flickr#HHWT Tip: If you would like to experience Tapati Rapa Nui, a two-week festival celebrating the island’s Polynesian culture, visit Easter Island in the first two weeks of February! Since you’ll have to fly to Santiago to get to Easter Island, why not stop over and explore the Chilean capital? Located near the foot of the Andres, Santiago boasts one of the most beautiful backdrops of any capital! Check out the spectacular view of Santigao from Cerro San Cristóbal, a hill located in the heart of the city. If your tummy’s itching to try the local cuisine after a day of exploring, visit Mercado Central – a fish market for local and really fresh seafood ?
Mercado Central Santiago
Credit: CucombreLibre on FlickrHow to get there: KLM flies 4 times a week to Santiago, Chile from Singapore. From there, take a flight on LAN (the only airline serving Easter Island) to Easter Island! For the lowest fares, visit www.klm.sg.
5. Rio de Janeiro
Rio World Cup 2014
Credit: dronepicr on Flickr With the Rio 2016 Olympics currently going on in full swing and the 2014 World Cup held in the same city only a few years ago, it’s easy to see why this iconic city that stretches out between lush rainforests and famous beaches is on our list!
Sugarloaf Mountain
Credit: Ronald Woan on Flickr First-timers to Rio shouldn’t miss the stunning view from the top of Sugar Loaf Mountain at sunset (that’s Pao de Acucar in Portuguese, named so because it resembles the shape of moulds used to set sugar cane back in the 16th - 17th century), the famous beaches of Ipanema and Copacabana, and the emerald Tijuca Forest, one of the largest urban forests in the entire world, hand-planted and home to exotic plants and wildlife. #HHWT Tip: Don’t forget to take a photo, or two or three at Escadaria Selarón, a tribute to the Brazilian people by artist Jorge Selarón and one of Rio’s best loved attractions. Try climbing up all 215 of the vivid tile covered steps!
Escadario Selaron
Credit: Michael J on FlickrHow to get there: KLM has 6 flights a week to Rio De Janeiro from Singapore. Visit www.klm.sg for the lowest fares.
6. Montevideo, Uruguay
Listed as one of the top destinations in 2016, Uruguay is definitely one of the more underrated cities in South America, especially when it’s often overlooked by its glamorous neighbouring cities – Argentina and Brazil!
By Mverocai (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons The capital of Uruguay, Montevideo, is a vibrant city and considered to be extremely similar in culture with Buenos Aires. Be sure to explore the old city for its old colonial buildings and one of the oldest operating opera house in South America – Solis Theatre.
Amada cafe
Credit: NicoKaiser on Flickr Step into the past and take a side trip to visit picturesque Colonia del Sacramento, which is also the oldest town in Uruguay and a UNESCO World Heritage Site! Walk down the cobbled streets and admire the fusion of Spanish, Portuguese and post-colonial architecture. If you’re a vintage car junkie, don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled for vintage cars parked along the roads.
Vintage Care
Credit: Nico Kaiser on FlickrHow to get there: Air France flies 5 times a week to Montevideo from Singapore. Visit www.airfrance.sg for the lowest fares.
7. Panama
With pristine (and uninhabited) beaches and islands, lush rainforests and vibrant nightlife, Panama is by far one of the most diverse countries in South America! Not to mention that the country is also one of the safest places in South America and is relatively cheap compared to its neighbouring countries.
Credit: Felipe Valduga on Flickr Visiting the San Blas islands is an absolute must if you’re in Panama. This archipelago consists of around 378 islands, only which 49 are inhabited, and is pretty much untouched by tourism. The island has limited connectivity so be prepared to leave your modern technology behind and embark on an island hopping adventure!
Credit: Roman Königshofer on Flickr#HHWT Tip: If time permits, check out Coiba island for snorkelling and whale watching! Coiba National Park is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site [caption id="attachment_10279" align="alignnone" width="1200"]
Say hi to the three-toed sloth you’ll most probably meet in the rainforest![/caption] Credit: Martha de Jong-Lantink on Flickr Home to 218 mammals and 940 avian species, Panama’s tropical habitats are also home to some of the most diverse and exotic wildlife in the world. Just 20 minutes away from Panama City are two rainforest parks (Chagres National Park and Soberanía National Park) where you can hike, bird watch and observe wildlife in their natural habitats! How to get there: You can get to Panama via KLM’s daily flights from Singapore. Visit www.klm.sg for the lowest fares. There you have it, seven exotic destinations in South America for a trip of your lifetime! Best of all, there are special fares to Latin America from SGD1,888 (including taxes) for Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Lima, Mexico and Santiago on KLM (bit.ly/KLMToLatinAmerica) and Air France (bit.ly/AirFranceToLatinAmerica2). Don’t forget to book by 31 August 2016! Now, where to first?This article was brought to you by Air France and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, connecting you to the world via their hubs in Charles de Gaulle Airport, Paris and Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam.