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South America: A Continent of Wonders

This week we’re celebrating South America, one of the most exciting, culturally rich and captivating continents. For travelers looking for once-in-a-lifetime experiences, bucket-list adventures and beauty that is beyond a photographer’s wildest dreams, South America has it all.

Here are seven of South America’s natural wonders to hopefully entice you to join us on ms Maasdam, ms Prinsendam or ms Zaandam in 2014 for an adventure to the Southern Hemisphere.

The Amazon River: The Amazon is the world’s largest river. It has greater flow than the next eight largest rivers combined! The Amazon basin covers 40 percent of South America. One of the highlights on cruises to the Amazon is a call at Manaus at the very heart of the river. Guest can even visit the famed opera house on the Manaus & the Teatro Amazonas Opera House tour.

Amazon

The Galapagos Islands: The Galapagos Islands are made up of 15 major islands and three smaller on either side of the equator in the Pacific Ocean, 926 km (575 mi) west of continental Ecuador. It’s one of the world’s most biologically unique areas, with hundreds of isolated and unique species.

A blue-footed booby.

A blue-footed booby on the Galapagos Islands.

Patagonia: It is a spectacular area, with mountains, lakes (especially in the lake district) and fauna … from penguins to deer. This region includes the southern portions of Chile and Argentina and comprises the southern section of the Andes mountains to the southwest toward the Pacific Ocean and from the east of the mountain range to the valleys it follows the Colorado River south toward Carmen de Patagones in the Atlantic Ocean. To the west, it includes the territory of Valdivia through Tierra del Fuego archipelago.

Patagonia

Iguazu Falls: On the border of Brazil and Argentina, Iguazu Falls — a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site — is the result of a volcanic eruption which left yet another large crack in the earth. There are 275 falls over a distance of more than a mile-and-a-half of river.

Iguazu

Lake Titicaca: On the border of Peru and Bolivia, this chilly mountain lake sits at an altitude of 12,500 feet. It is also the largest lake in South America. It is fed by five major rivers and more than 20 streams. It’s 119 miles long and 50 miles wide at its widest point.

Titicaca

Tepui Plateaus: The Tepui Plateaus are at the border of Venezuela, Brazil and Guyana. There are 115 Tepuis in the Gran Sabana region and they can rise up to 3,000 feet above the surrounding lands. These table-top mountains are the remains of a large sandstone plateau that once covered the granite basement complex between the north border of the Amazon Basin and the Orinoco, between the Atlantic coast and the Rio Negro. Mount Roraima — the highest of the Pakaraima chain of the Tepui Plateau — was the inspiration for Arthur Conan Doyle’s book ‘The Lost World.’

Mount Roraima. Photo courtesy of All-that-is-interesting.com.

Mount Roraima. Photo courtesy of All-that-is-interesting.com.

Angel Falls: Angel falls is the world’s highest waterfall and comes off the edge of a Tepui Plateau. It has a straight drop of 2,600 feet, and smaller additional drops at the base to make the total 3,212 feet! The water falls so far that it is no longer a coherent stream by the time it reaches bottom, but rather a thick mist that coats a large area.

Angel

Have you visited any of these natural wonders? If you have, send your photos to info@hollandmericablog.com and tell us what made it so spectacular.

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