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If you want to step off a plane and be at a mega resort 15 minutes later, Jericoacoara probably isn’t for you. But if you want an unspoiled beach town, and don’t mind bouncing along rough dirt roads for an hour to get there, you might just think it’s paradise. Kitesurfing, windsurfing, Capoeira, and, of course, just lying on the beach are popular activities.
In Peru's second-most populous city, aka "The White City," stunning colonial buildings made of pearly sillar stone vie for attention with the surrounding volcanoes and snow-capped peaks of the western Andes. Founded in 1540, it's a smorgasbord of mansions and museums. The top attraction, 215,000-square-foot Santa Catalina Monastery, is like its own city within a city, complete with fountains and cobblestone streets. Arequipa is the favorite base for visiting Colca Canyon and its massive condors.
Looking for an unusual and beautiful landscape? Sandstone canyons, flamingo-dotted salt flats, steaming geysers, hot springs, volcanic peaks and alien-looking rock formations are on offer all around San Pedro de Atacama. Hiking, biking and horseback riding are the preferred means of exploration. Death Valley here is surprisingly great for picnics.
Proximity to the stunning Torres del Paine National Park makes Puerto Natales a gateway to adventure. It’s the best place to stock up on supplies and get your gear in order before you hop a two-hour bus ride to the park. This is an area for nature lovers, with plenty of opportunities for hiking, horseback riding, sailing and exploring.
Explore lovely, compact Puerto Varas on foot, the best way to take in views of Osorno Volcano and the wooden colonial homes built by German immigrants in the early 1900s. Several are designated as national monuments. Located on the shores of Lago Llanquihue, Chile's second-largest lake, the village is the low-key antidote to the Lake District metropolis of Puerto Montt and serves as a jumping off point for fly-fishing, whitewater rafting, horseback riding and sea kayaking excursions.
The oldest city in Colombia, romantic Santa Marta is fringed by beautiful beaches and the stunning mountains of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta range. Ancient ruins take cover in the lush mangrove forests of Tayrona National Park, the perfect spot for a day hike. Snorkel along vibrant reefs, then make your way to a café for a multicultural meal that incorporates the flavors of Latin America, the Caribbean and Europe. When the sun goes down, the nightlife kicks up its heels in the bars and discos of the Parque de Los Novios.