Top South American national parks to visit: 30 popular tourist attractions

The continent of South America has many interesting things that all tourists like. This applies to delicious local cuisine, unusual culture, and care for the natural world. There are many national parks on the mainland. Read more about the best South American national parks to visit in this article.

Los Roques in Venezuela

Los Roques national park is included of the best national parks in South America to visit. The national park is located in Venezuela. There are white sand beaches with turquoise water, coral reefs, and much more. Therefore, the national park is the best if you want to take a break from everyday life for a while.

The Los Roques national park consists of 350 islands. It is quite difficult to come to this park on your own. Only group tours are allowed. That is why you will not meet many tourists in the national park. Numerous seabirds and other inhabitants live in the national park.

The Los Roques national park was created in 1972. Even though Venezuela is considered a very unsafe country, Los Roques national park is quite safe. This is explained by the location of the archipelago. The area of the territory is about 15,67 mi². The entrance ticket for tourists is $60. It is recommended to come to the national park from February to May.

If you are not the owner of a personal yacht, you have to get to the national park by plane. Flights depart from Caracas several times a day. The journey will take about 40 minutes. You can also take a plane to Porlamara and get to Margarita Island.

Rapa Nui national park

This national park is on the UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is located on Easter Island, which is in the territory of Chile. This place is very expensive to explore because it is very remote. Therefore, all goods that are on sale are imported.

If you decide not to spare money to buy a ticket to Rapa Nui national park, then you will remain under a pleasant impression. This national park can be called one of the most mysterious on the entire continent. Here you can see the statues of Moai, which were created about 3000 years ago.

There are many other interesting places in the national parks in South America. The beaches are paved with pink sand. The area is covered with hills. In winter, the temperature is 66 degrees Fahrenheit, and in summer, it rises to 75 degrees. The area of the territory is 26,25 mi². The entrance fee for foreigners is $80.

It is recommended to visit the park from December to February. The easiest way to get to the park is to take a plane to Santiago. Flights fly every day. When the peak season begins, they do fly three times a day. If you don’t have a lot of money to travel, it’s better to come here out of season to save on a plane ticket.

Tayrona national park

Tayrona national park, which is located in Colombia, is considered the most famous. It is distinguished by a beautiful coastline, which is located on the Caribbean coast. Nearby is Santa Marta. Here you can explore the underwater world by renting a mask and snorkel.

Exotic animals roam throughout the park, including condors, black monkeys, and iguanas. The highest season is in December and January. The rainy season begins in May and September. Throughout the year, the air temperature is around 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

In February, the Tayrona national park closes to clean up the area after the influx of tourists. At this time, the locals perform various purification rituals. The area of the territory is 57,9 mi². The entrance ticket will cost $16. This is the price for tourists.

It is recommended to visit this national park in South America in December and January, as the area closes in February. If you want to get to Tayrone National Park, you have to buy a ticket for the bus that goes from Santa Marta. Drivers can stop at the entrance to the park. To get to the beach, you have to walk. In the morning, boats leave Taganga and you can sail on.

Itatiaia national park

This national park is considered the oldest in Brazil since it was founded in 1937. It is located in the southeast of the country, near the mountains of Mantiqueira. In the park, you can see numerous water bodies, including waterfalls. Ornithologists come here to visit the forests.

The main attraction of the national parks is the trails for pedestrians. They offer excellent views of the landscape around them. This national park in South America is divided into two parts: high and low. If you are here, then try to visit both parts to get different emotions. The path to the hill starts 21,74 mi km from the main entrance.

In June, the temperature and precipitation begin to decrease. Therefore, this time is considered the best time to visit the sights. Especially if you came to the national parks in South America for rock climbing.

The area of the territory is almost 86.87mi². The entrance will cost you $7. It is recommended to come to this national park from June to August.

You can get from the city of Itatiaia by bus. If you are traveling from São Paulo or Rio de Janeiro, then you need to take a bus ticket that goes to Itanando. Then take the bus to Itamonte. You will need to take a taxi to the park itself.

Cajas national park

Cajas is considered an unusual national park. Its name translates as “the gate to the mountains of snow.” The highest point of the park is at an altitude of 2.48 mi. Therefore, you should stock up on time for acclimatization, and take medicines with you that will block altitude sickness.

High mountains are combined with beautiful forests, which create original landscapes. You will be mentally transported to Tolkien’s novels. The area of the territory is 110 mi². Entrance to the park is free. It is recommended to come here from June to September.

From the city of Cuenca, buses run constantly to the national parks, and the journey will take only 20.5 mi. It is better to have 1 day in reserve to enjoy all the beauties of the park.

Cotopaxi national park

In Ecuador, there is the Cotopaxi national park, which has an active volcano. That is why there are always crowds of tourists. If you wish, you can climb the Cotopaxi volcano. Along the way, you will encounter glaciers. If you have a guide, then getting to the top is not difficult.

There is also a beautiful lagoon called Limpiopungo. Near the lake, you can see hummingbirds, gulls, and rabbits. The largest number of tourists in the park is from January to May. However, there is a lot of precipitation in April and May, so you have to be as careful as possible.

The area of ​​the territory is almost 128.95 mi², which applies only to land. Entrance to the Cotopaxi national park is free. You need to visit the park from January to March. You can get to the park from the city of Quito, which is the capital of Ecuador. You can travel by bike or bus.

Tierra del Fuego national park

In the very south of Argentina, there is a beautiful Tierra del Fuego National Park. The status of a national park was received only in the 60s of the last century. The park borders Chile, so it’s not a bad place to cross the border. In the park, you can see wide forests, valleys with glaciers, and rocky mountains.

It is recommended to travel around the territory from October to April. However, heavy rainfall can begin in spring. If you travel in warm and dry weather, all hiking trails will be accessible. This national park in South America is considered the best solution for outdoor enthusiasts.

The area of ​​the territory is 243.24 mi², and this is only land. The entrance ticket costs $14. Getting to the park from Ushuaia is not difficult. Buses run every hour from the city to the sights.

Iguazu national park

This national park is located along the river of the same name, which divides Argentina and Brazil. It is here that you can enjoy the beauty of one of the most famous waterfalls. After all, 80% of the Iguazu Falls is located in this park.

The Iguazu national park was founded in 1934. After 50 years, it was included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site. The falls are 1.7 miles wide. The highest point is at a height of 269 feet, and is referred to as the “Devil’s Throat”. The waterfall consists of several levels. There are also representatives of wild nature. Coatis attract particular attention.

The area of the dry territory is 261.39 mi². The entrance ticket will cost $25. It is recommended to visit the Iguazu national park from July to October, and also from February to April. You can get to the Iguazu national park from any city that is nearby. You can take a taxi, or take a bus that runs every 20 minutes.

Machalilla national park

This national park is located in the west of Ecuador. Here you can enjoy the best beaches. There is even an option with black sand from the volcano. If you prefer soft sand beaches and rolling hills, look no further than Los Frailes. Most of the beach area is closed because sea turtles form nests here.

The most popular national parks are famous for their numerous wildlife. Blue-footed boobies and albatrosses can be found here. On the territory, there is the community of Agua Blanca. Entrance to the park itself is free. But for visiting Agua Blanca, you will have to pay $5.

For this money, you get a tour of the museum of archeology. If you prefer a quiet holiday where you can relax, visit the sulfur lagoon.

The area of the dry territory is 289.57 mi². Admission is free. It is recommended to visit the territory from July to October. The park can be reached by sea from Puerto Lopez or Montañita.

Chapada Diamantina national park

This national park has a large number of interesting places, ideal for hiking. It is located in the west of El Salvador, where a warm climate always prevails. You can visit the Chapada Diamantina national park at any time of the year. Officially, there is no entrance fee to the Diamantina national park. If you are driving on private property, you will have to spend a little.

The Chapada Diamantina national park is quite large, so some of the hikes can be challenging. For maximum return, you should use the services of specialized agencies. If you have a few days left, you can pay attention to long trails. Here is the Cachoeira da Fumaça waterfall. There are also caves to explore.

The territory covers more than 579.15 mi². The entrance is free. Most tourists arrive between March and May. Several buses run from there. It is possible to get to Chapada Diamantina national park by bus from El Salvador.

Lençóis Maranhenses national park

This national park is located in the northeast of Brazil. Here you can see beautiful dunes and blue-green lagoons that are only in demand during certain seasons. This park was used for filming Avengers: Infinity War.

It is best to travel to the Lençóis Maranhenses national park in an off-road vehicle, which can be rented at the nearest point. It can ride on the dunes. The air temperature here is about 82 degrees Fahrenheit. To avoid sunburn, stock up on cream with a high SPF factor.

About 60,000 tourists visit this park every year. Here you can not only see beautiful landscapes. The Lençóis Maranhenses national park has various species of animals that are endangered. The area of the territory, only land, is 579.15 mi². The best time to visit the park is from May to August. The entrance is free.

To get to the Lençóis Maranhenses national park, you need to come to the city of Barreirinhas. If you prefer the plane, then first fly to San Luis, then transfer to the bus. The journey won’t take long.

Torres del Paine national park

This park is quite popular and welcomes people who are in search of adventure. Here you can see beautiful landscapes with mountains. You can look at the beautiful lagoons and swim in them.

It is recommended to visit the national park from November to March. The area of ​​the territory is slightly more than 700.38 mi². The entrance ticket costs $35. Getting to the park is easy. Buses depart from Puerto Natales to the very entrance to the park.

Huascaran national park

There is a fairly large park in Peru, with an area of 1312.74 mi², and this is only land. The entrance ticket will cost $8 or more. It is recommended to visit it from April to October. The park features lakes with glaciers, as well as deep ravines.

Here you can meet rare species of animals, including the Andean condor and the spectacled bear. If you prefer hiking, visit the park during the dry season, which runs from April to November. The rest of the time is the rainy season. This place is in great demand among climbers.

This is because there are about 26 mountains on its territory. Some reach a height of 19685 ft. It is possible to walk to the lagoon for 1 day or take a multi-day trip to Santa Cruz. To get to the park, you must first come to the city of Huaraz. There are regular buses from there.

Serrania de la Macarena Park

In Colombia, there is an equally significant park called Serrania de la Macarena, whose land area is 2393.83 mi². The entrance ticket costs $13. The best time to visit the park is September or October. One of the most beautiful rivers in the world, the Caño Cristales, flows through the park. It is also called a “Liquid Rainbow”.

The unusual color of the river comes from the plant Macarenia clavígera, which begins to bloom from July to October. Therefore, it is recommended to inspect all the beauties during this period. Choose sunny weather for walking. The park is distinguished by a variety of flora and fauna. Here you can see jaguars, anteaters, and monkeys.

You can get to the park by land. However, many people prefer to fly on a plane that runs from Bogotá to La Macarena. Independent travel is very expensive, so it is better to book an already-organized tour in Bogotá.

Eduardo Avaroa national park

In Bolivia, there is a huge Eduardo Avaroa Park, which has a land area of 2759.47 mi². Entrance to the park will cost $23. The visit is best rescheduled for the period from May to November. There are many volcanoes in the national park, which are complemented by steaming geysers and bright lagoons.

Here you can see a beautiful flamingo against the backdrop of mountains. The national park was founded in 1973. To get to it, you must have a vehicle. You can also buy a bus ticket to Uyuni and book a 3-day tour.

Los Glaciares national park

This park is located in Argentina. Its area is about 2818.54 mi², and this is only land. The entrance ticket costs $13. It is recommended to visit the attraction from November to March. The Los Glaciares national park is considered one of the largest in Argentina. A third of its area is covered with ice.

The status of the national park was received in 1937, after which it was included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site. This place is considered as close to Antarctica as possible, so you do not need to go to the coldest continent. The park has Mount Fitz Roy, as well as the famous Perito Moreno Glacier.

The way to the Los Glaciares national park on an individual tour is quite expensive. Therefore, it is better to book a group tour. There are always crowds of tourists on the territory. The highest peak of visits occurs from December to February. If you’re on a tight budget and don’t want to crowd, it’s best to wait for another time.

Galapagos National Park

In Ecuador, there is a very world-famous Galapagos National Park. The area of its dry territory is about 3.08 mi². The entrance ticket will cost $100. The maximum peak of visits is observed from December to January. This park is one of the most expensive in Latin America. However, it is considered one of the best.

The territory contains an island that inspired Darwin to write his book “On the Origin of Species”. Here you can meet various rare animals. You can visit the park at any time of the year. However, the largest flow of tourists is observed from December to January, because of the warm water you can go scuba diving.

You can get to the Galápagos by plane. There are regular flights from Quito or Guayaquil. After that, you can get to the park on your own, or buy a ticket for a cruise ship.

Manu national park

Peru has one of the largest national parks in South America – Manu. Its dry land area is just over 6563 mi². The entrance ticket is already included in the price of the tour, the price of which is constantly changing. The most expensive tickets are sold from April to November.

The national park itself is located in the Cusco region. It is characterized by the presence of forests, grasslands, and rainforests. There are 160 different species of animals in the national park, including a rare huge otter. Several indigenous tribes live in the area, including the Yora and the Harakmbut.

The national park is divided into three zones. Only scientists are allowed to enter the main zone. There is a reserved area that is only available to a few tour companies. There is also a cultural zone. If you want to get into the reserve zone, you will have to book a tour in advance with a company that has permission to do so.

You can get to Manu Park by bus that runs from Cusco. The final path must be in Atalai or Sintui. After that, you will have to rent a boat and go to the park. You can fly from Cusco by plane. Boca Manu has an airstrip. Access to the national park is allowed if you have an already purchased tour.

Canaima national park in South America

On the territory of the Canaima national park, whose area is about 11583 mi², is the most famous and highest waterfall in the world. Its name is Angel Falls. The national park itself is located in the southeast of the country and received national status in 1962. The area of the Canaima national park is so large that it can be compared with the size of Belgium.

The park is distinguished by the diversity of the animal world. There is also much interesting fauna here. To get to the park, you need to buy a plane ticket in Caracas. It is best to give preference to organized excursions.

Gran Chaco national park

The Gran Chaco is one of the largest national parks in Bolivia. Gran Chaco national park borders Paraguay and is located in the Santa Cruz region. Ecologists believe that this park is one of the best, and is ideal for observing large mammals. Here you can meet tapirs and jaguars.

You can enter the national parks if you have booked a tour with a certified guide. It is important to book a tour in advance with a reliable company. If you want to stay in the national parks for 3 days, the cost will vary from $300 to $700. The price includes accommodation, meals, entrance tickets, guide services, transport, and a safari at night.

The more people travel, the cheaper the tour will be. You can get to the national parks from Santa Cruz de la Sierra. Here you can immediately book a tour. Or you can book a tour online.

Chiloe national park

The park is small in size and is located on the island of Chiloe, in southern Chile. The area is small compared to other similar attractions. Here you can see a varied landscape of water and swamps, which is complemented by dense jungle, peat bogs, and dunes along the coast. You can come to Chiloe national park for 1 day. If you take a tent with you, you can stay overnight.

If you like to travel, then opt for a two-day hike along the coast. Along the way, you will meet untouched nature. Traveling through the park is recommended from November to March. The entrance ticket costs $6. Most of the territory is complemented by sidewalks and panels with all the necessary information. The closest city is Castro.

Lauca national park

Lauca national park is located in northern Chile. It is remote and very difficult to get to. However, visiting it, you remain under a pleasant impression. Almost the entire area is considered swampy. There are volcanoes all around. You can meet grazing alpacas and guanacos.

Having been in this park, you can merge with nature. The path to the park is possible if you have your car. If you use public transport, you spend a lot of time and money. First, you need to study the housing information, because there is not much of it here. You can also bring a tent with you.

You need to come to the park from March to September when there is little rainfall. The entrance ticket is free. Due to the high altitude, it is recommended to bring warm clothes with you and prepare for acclimatization. Here you can arrange different trips for 1 day. Nearby is the city of Arica.

Nahuel Huapi National Park

This is a fairly common and accessible park, which is located in Argentina. It works all year round. Entrance to the park is free. This is the best place for both one-day and multi-day trips. You can walk up to the mountain peaks.

Here you can ski or go in for water sports. Nearby is the city of Bariloche. Pine trees and lakes with blue water look beautiful against the backdrop of snow-capped mountains.

Aconcagua park in South America

On the territory of this national park is the highest mountain that is on the continent. If you decide to climb to the top, you have to spend about a week. The path is difficult, and it is not suitable for beginners. Therefore, you need to find a guide in advance.

If you are not ready to make the climb up the mountain, you can enjoy all the views of the national parks, and just catch a glimpse of the high mountain. The park is best visited from November to April. The entrance ticket costs $23. May vary depending on the duration of the tour.

Near the park is the city of Mendoza. Given the high altitude, acclimatization is required. Therefore, you should not worry about the fact that you feel bad at the beginning of the path.

Rosario and San Bernardo National Coral Park

On the territory of Colombia, there is a very famous national park called Carales del Rosario y de San Bernardo. It consists of 27 islands. The national park is located underwater, which is its highlight. It surrounds the islands of Rosario and San Bernardo, which are located on the Caribbean coast, which gave it its name.

The main attraction of the marine ecosystem is a huge coral reef. The sea is shallow and quite clean. So, you can go scuba diving. This is the best place to enjoy warm water and sun. The park is open all year round. The entrance ticket will cost $2.5. The closest city to the park is Cartagena.

Choquequirao Park

This park is famous for being located on top of a mountain. Here you can see the ruins of the Incas. The park is partly hidden behind numerous plants. And only condors and a few travelers can show the beauty of the sights. The park is located near Machu Picchu. This is the best option for people who want to see the Inca ruins alone.

Getting to the park is quite difficult. To go through the entire park, you have to spend about 3-4 days. In this case, you have to pass through the dense jungle and the bare Subandian forest. As an alternative to the Inca Trail, you can walk to Machu Picchu, which takes about 9 days.

It is recommended to visit the national parks during the dry season. That is, it is better to come from May to October. However, if you wish, you can visit the park at any time of the year. The entrance ticket costs $17. As already mentioned, you can walk to the place where the archaeological excavations were carried out in a few days. The nearest city is Cusco.

Cordillera-Escalera National Regional Park

As you know, in South America there are Peruvian rainforests that run along the Amazon. Here is the Cordillera Escalera Park. Nearby is the city of Tarapoto, in the northeast of Peru. Often there are no tourists on the territory at all. You may be alone.

This place is ideal for multi-day camping. Here you can enjoy the magic of the jungle, as well as look at the massive waterfalls. You can buy them if you so desire. The establishment operates all year round. The entrance ticket costs about $6.

This is the perfect place for day trips and multi-day trips, especially if you want to be alone. You should stay overnight in the jungle to enjoy the extraordinary atmosphere.

Madidi National Park

Almost 50% of the territory of Bolivia is filled with forests. That is why the country is the best option for travelers who are in search of adventure. Madidi National Park is located in the northwest of Bolivia. It is located in the Amazon jungle.

The territory of the park is quite large and guarded. There are many other interesting places nearby. Therefore, the area is quite diverse. You can see dense jungles or visit tropical glaciers. The park is home to several indigenous peoples whose native language is Quechua.

Here you can rent an eco-house, or order an eco-tour. The park is not suitable for independent travel. You have to book the tour in advance. Just make sure it’s labeled “eco” first.

It is recommended to visit the park from May to September. There is practically no rain during this period. Therefore, you can be sure that the tour is comfortable. The entrance ticket, which does not include a tour, costs $22. You should not come to the park when it starts to rain. After all, part of the trails will be cut off, and you will not be able to see all the sights.

The closest city is Rurrenabaque. The park is famous for its diverse wildlife. Here you can see different bright parrots, as well as birds. Many tourists are attracted by the monkeys that run throughout the most diverse national parks.

Amboro Park

Near Santa Cruz is a park called Amboro. There are almost 1000 different bird species here. Many mammals roam the park, including the cougar, and ocelot. Even though the territory of the park is under protection, poaching and cutting down trees continue here.

The park is located next to the Andes. However, this does not prevent it from being famous for its diverse ecosystems. Here you can see the Amazon jungle with high levels of humidity. There are several dry forests, as well as cabins, which are transit between the eastern forests and the Andes.

The altitude varies from 3280 ft to 6561 ft. To enter the park, tourists must be accompanied by a certified guide. You can book a tour with a guide immediately upon arrival in Santa Cruz. It is recommended to visit the park in dry weather. Therefore, the best period to visit is May-September.

The entrance ticket costs about $15 and the price does not include the services of a guide. If you want to spend the night in the park, you can arrange camping or rent an eco-loggia. The park has waterfalls, various ferns, and other interesting places. The nearest cities are Santa Cruz and Cochabamba.

Medanos de Coro National Park

The national park is quite beautiful and significantly different from other similar establishments. The scenery will make your heart beat faster. Almost the entire territory of the park is filled with dunes. Tourists often come here who want to be in silence.

Here you can rent a sandboard and ride it from a dune. The park itself is located near the Colombian border and borders the Caribbean Sea. The coastal zone is filled with thorny bushes.

You can visit this national park throughout the year. Entrance to the territory is free. You can get to the place by bus, or order a taxi. The way by public transport is preferable because you can plunge into the atmosphere of local life. Nearby is the town of Koro.

FAQ

When it comes to questions about the best national parks in South America, tourists face numerous reflections.

What is South America’s finest national park?

According to most tourists, this is the Torres del Paine National Park. It differs in that it allows you to enjoy excellent mountain landscapes. Also on the territory, there are lagoons in which everyone can swim. Agree, the combination of mountains and clean lagoons is the best that nature could create.

What are the top 5 visited national parks?

The list of the most visited national parks includes Torres del Paine, Los Glaciares, Canaima, Cotopaxi, and Iguazu. However, it cannot be said that other national parks are less in demand, or that they do not have enough attractions. The above-mentioned establishments are considered to be more popular and are known all over the world.

What is the hardest national park to visit?

The most difficult thing to visit is the Lauca National Park, which is located in northern Chile. This is because it is located at the maximum distance from populated areas. There are some places are visited on your own. Entrance to them is allowed only with a certified guide.

Results

As you can see, there are a large number of national parks in South America. Some of them are known all over the world, while others are just beginning to be explored by tourists. Regardless of which park you choose, you will have a pleasant impression.

All national parks in South America differ not only in their size but also in their components. Some allow you to enjoy the mountain scenery, mountain climbing, or scuba diving. Others allow you to ride on the dunes. However, the highlight of national parks in South America gives the glaciers. Therefore, it is not necessary to fly to Antarctica.

Read also: Guide to visiting Tayrona national park. Brief description of all the best beaches and amazing places, nice photos

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