5 Reasons to travel to Latin America
5 Reasons to travel to Latin America
From the Panama Canal to the legendary Cape Horn by way of the Caribbean Sea, only South America offers such a great variety of unique landscapes, historic sites, and legendary places on just one body of land.
Idyllic islands, exceptional cultural heritage, protected wilderness areas, and historic sites that are home to fabulous legends… Latin America will fulfill the expectations of even the most demanding travelers!
Ponant suggests five great reasons (among so many others!) to pack your bags for an unforgettable voyage through Latin America!
Going to Latin America to...
1. Discover the history of pre-Columbian civilizations
It’s one of the main reasons why travelers choose to visit this part of the globe: the fascinating history of pre-Columbian America!
As witnessed in incredible sites like Machu Picchu, Chan Chan in Peru, and Tikal in Guatemala, Latin America promises its visitors a peak into life on the continent before the arrival of Europeans.
Perched at the summit of Machu Picchu, at an altitude of 2300 meters, the “lost city of the Incas” is undoubtedly THE legendary, must-see Latin American location, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Between its agricultural terraces and the Sun Temple, this sanctuary of unique cultural significance will not fail to amaze you.
Though less famous than the sacred Machu Picchu, Chan Chan is also one of the greatest masterpieces of the pre-Columbian era. Once the capital of the Chimú kingdom of northwestern Peru, the city of Chan Chan is the world’s largest citadel made of adobe.
Among the exceptional historic sites on the South American continent, the magnificent pyramids of Tikal constitute one of the major testaments to Mayan civilization in Guatemala. These imposing vestiges of a lost civilization easily impress travelers: at the heart of a very dense area of vegetation, the ruins appear to emerge from the mist. The ceremonial center includes magnificently constructed temples, palaces, steles, and sacrificial altars.
Set out to discover the remains of Latin America’s legendary civilizations on a Ponant cruise.
2. Admire colonial cities and their architectural heritage
Offering exceptional cultural experiences, the colonial cities of Latin America, many of them UNESCO World Heritage Sites, present travelers with extraordinary architecture. Whether it’s Lima, Granada, Recife, or Paramaribo, all of these cities bear the imprint of their colonial past.
The magnificent city of Lima, Peru, is the perfect example. Colonial Lima, the most impressive Spanish colony in Latin America, now listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, boasts a marvelous historic center. The major buildings are located together in the heart of the city: the two great bell towers of the majestic cathedral, with its adjacent chapel, dominate the must-visit Plaza de Armas and the Governor’s Palace.
Farther north in Nicaragua, the city of Granada, known as La Gran Sultana, is brimming with architectural treasures. Its nickname is derived from its buildings in the Moorish-Andalusian style, with splendid patios and brightly colored painted walls. Located at the foot of the Mombacho volcano, this city founded in 1524 boasts a picturesque architectural heritage that has lasted through the ages. Travelers will surely appreciate the main square, the cathedral with its imposing white columns, the Casa de los Tres Mundos, and numerous other colonial dwellings.
To the east you’ll find the ancient colonial city of Paramaribo, Suriname. The historic city center of Paramaribo, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is home to the largest Hindu temple in the Caribbean, the construction of which took over 25 years; to Fort Zeelandia, which bears witness to the successive conquests of Suriname by the French, Dutch, and English; and to the magnificent neo-Roman St. Peter and Paul Cathedral, the largest wooden structure in all of South America.
Come explore Latin America’s architectural treasures with Ponant!
3. Experience remarkable encounters with the locals
Often, one of the purposes of a trip is to discover a new culture and encounter people different from oneself.
In addition to the spectacular landscapes and the abundant animal life, a trip is also an opportunity to meet unknown populations and cultures. The tribes and ethnic groups of Latin America still live according to their traditions, perpetuating the way of life and beliefs of their ancestors. Meeting these people allows you to experience special moments of rare intensity.
In the northeast of Latin America, not far from the Orinoco Delta, you’ll find a people with a most unique culture: the indigenous Warao. While navigating that aquatic labyrinth, you’ll spot villages built on stilts, testament to the presence of the Warao, known as “the boat people.” The dexterity with which they maneuver their small boats will not fail to amaze you.
Meet the Warao people and experience a special moment during your Latin American cruise with Ponant.
4. Observe the incredibly rich variety of native wildlife
From Cocos Island to Torres del Paine National Park, not forgetting the Fernando de Noronha Archipelago and the Orinoco River, Latin America offers you the opportunity to explore its exceptional fauna throughout your trip.
While you can watch hammerhead sharks, whales, rays, and sea lions in the turquoise water surrounding Cocos Island (listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site), you’ll spot entirely different wildlife navigating along the Orinoco. Indeed, this long river flowing through Colombia and Venezuela is bordered by a dense jungle. An entirely unique ambiance reigns there, with the hums of the forest and the bird songs resonating under the canopy.
Farther east, off the coast of Recife, Brazil, you can watch spinner dolphins in the magnificent Fernando de Noronha Archipelago. Even whale sharks and hawksbill turtles sometimes come along to enhance the visit. Finally, Torres del Paine National Park, located at the southern tip of Chile, is home to over 25 species of mammals and 126 bird species, including the condor, with its impressive wingspan. This biosphere reserve unfailingly enchants the travelers who make the voyage there.
Ponant gives you access to the rich wildlife of Latin America. Explore our selection of cruises around the lands of the New World.
5. Admire breathtaking natural wonders
The Orinoco River, the Andes mountain range, glaciers, Chilean fjords, Cape Horn… Latin America offers simply incredible natural sites.
For example, at the extreme southern end of the continent’s exposed earth, the Beagle Channel separates Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego from many smaller islands, the last of which forms the majestic promontory of Cape Horn. The northwestern arm of the channel is nicknamed Glacier Alley for the series of towering ice walls that plunge into the salty water. Each glacier has its own personality and name – Holanda, Italia, Francia, Alemania, etc. See the forces of nature at work, marvel as colors veer from white to blue and hear the crackling and detonations when sheets of ice crumble into the sea, creating a captivating, unforgettable spectacle.
The southernmost point of South America, Cape Horn marks the boundary between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. “The Horn,” as it is called by sailors, was long considered the crucial pathway for trade routes between Europe and Asia. Atop a 425-meter-high cliff, a sculpture has been erected in honor of all those who have perished while trying to get around the cape. Passing through this legendary site leaves an indelible memory in all those who experience it.
No matter which Ponant cruise you take in Latin America, you will undoubtedly discover exceptional natural sites during the course of your trip.