When it comes to planning adventure holidays for couples, a few standout spots in South America come to mind: including the enigmatic Machu Picchu, the legendary Galapagos Islands or maybe vibrant Rio de Janeiro during Carnival. And while all these sites are not to be missed, to experience a real treasure with your special someone, you might want to get even further off the beaten path. Lucky for us travelers, South America has plenty of hidden gems just waiting to be discovered; and a few inspired companies to help you do it – ones like Surtrek.
Here are six romantic spots along less-traveled roads in South America:
In the world of couple holiday destinations, Bolivia has quite a few places every nature-loving couple needs to see – and one of those is Laguna Colorada, in the Altiplano region of Bolivia. Home to Lake Titicaca, Lake Poopó, and the Uyuni salt flats, the Altiplano (or “High Plane”) is where the Andes Mountains are the wildest. At Laguna Colorada (or “Red Lagoon”), you’ll find a shallow salt lake filled with flamingos, geysers, hot springs, and of course, its namesake deep red water. Most people forget to visit this natural wonder, but those who do can’t stop talking about it.
Yes, we have two stops in Bolivia, but it’s for good reason: this captivating country is also home to Salar de Uyuni, the world’s largest salt flat. Sitting in the country’s southwest Potosi region, 12,000 feet above sea level, this 4,000-square-mile “salt desert” was once part of a prehistoric salt lake, Lago Minchín. While the lake once covered most of southwest Bolivia, as the elements forced it to dry, it shrunk into vast seasonal puddles and salt pans; one being Salar de Uyuni. This natural wonder is as beautiful as it is mystical to the naked eye! Go there after it rains, and you’ll see what we mean – the two of you will feel like you’re walking in heaven.
Just outside of Bogota, Colombia, believers will find a new kind of church: one buried 200+ yards beneath the Earth’s surface and built into salt mine tunnels dating back to the 5th century B.C. Dubbed the “Salt Cathedral of Zipaquira,” this Roman Catholic church holds no Catholic authority, yet it attracts nearly 3,000 devout pilgrims every Sunday. Lucky for visitors, you don’t have to wait for a Sunday to check it out; whether you’re religious or not, you can head to this “cathedral” any day of the week and take in its beauty. You’ll find 14 small chapels – with glowing green, blue and red walls – designed by 127+ artists, as well as 135-million-year-old blocks of salt that passersby can lick, if they dare. All of this is found in the picturesque town of Zipaquira.
Tucked in northern Ecuador, the Mindo cloud forest is a must-see for adventurous couples. Just a 2.5-hour drive from Quito, the nation’s capital, this biological wonder surrounds the small, mountainous town of Mindo. Rising 9,000 feet above sea level at its highest point, the cloud forest is characterized by its dense, low-lying clouds, though it’s still higher in elevation than the Amazonian rainforest. Wander beneath its towering trees and you and your lover will run across a menagerie of wildlife like you’ve never seen before: from sloths, howler monkeys, jaguars, pumas, coati, frogs and butterflies, to 400+ species of birds, like toucans, tanagers, cotingas and countless types of hummingbirds.
If you’re traveling to Peru, Machu Picchu is practically a requirement. But for a slightly more off-the-beaten-path experience, the floating islands of Uros aren’t to be missed, either. Floating in the middle of Lake Titicaca, these 60+ self-sustaining islands – all built out of layers of cut “totora,” thick reeds that grow abundantly in high-altitude fresh water – are entirely human-made. Home to 1,200 inhabitants (called “Uros”), this archipelago is just a two-hour boat ride from Puno, a small city between Cuzco and La Paz. The mystery of these islands attracts plenty of tourists, but given the fact that these have survived longer than the local Incans’ mighty stone-walled communities, we still think they’re worth a visit.
There’s sooo much to see and do in Chile. Consider venturing down south to the Tierra del Fuego region, specifically to Beagle Channel, where the two of you can experience one of its most far-out wonders: “Glacier Alley.” Here, a boat will take you out on the freezing waters to reach a string of tidewater glaciers, each cascading down from snow-capped peaks and surrounded by penguin rookeries, humpback whales, seals and more. It’s rumored that Charles Darwin once sailed along this route on the famous HMS Beagle; so, to honor the scientist, his name was given to one of Glacier Alley’s frosted mountain ranges – the Cordillera Darwin.