Iconic UNESCO World Heritage Sites to Visit in South America

View of Machu Picchu, an ancient citadel surrounded by a lush green landscape in South America.

When you join us on a South America cruise, you can visit breathtaking UNESCO World Heritage Sites that represent the best of human heritage and the natural world. These sites and wonders are recognized for having outstanding universal value to humanity. Here’s a sneak peek at some of the wondrous sights that wait you:

Two Galapagos tortoises look at each other on the Galapagos Islands.

Galápagos Islands

The Galápagos Islands are located nearly 600 miles west of Ecuador’s coast. Here you can explore the volcanic archipelago’s unspoiled landscapes, colorful plants and one-of-a-kind ecosystem. In fact, it’s home to a bounty of endemic wildlife found nowhere else on the planet.

Though the islands are named after giant tortoises, many are now extinct. Recognized as an endangered species, the Galápagos giant tortoise has an average lifespan of 100 years and can weigh up to 550 lbs. The islands are also an active volcanic area with more than 13 active volcanoes.

Machu Picchu

Do you have a heart for history and tales of ancient cities? If so, you’ll love exploring Machu Picchu, where you can immerse yourself in the timeless history and intangible magic of the ancient citadel.

View of Machu Picchu, an ancient citadel in South America, surrounded by mountains and green landscape.

Located nearly 50 miles from Cuzco in Peru, you can soak up the sights of its steep terraces, intricate stone construction, and breathtaking natural grandeur – all of which were found nearly intact when discovered by explorers.

View of snowcapped mountains with green vegetation and water in the valley at Torres del Paine National Park in South America.

Torres Del Paine National Park

Looking for glaciers and snowcapped mountains in South America? Discover the best of Chilean Patagonia’s glacial lakes, granite spires, windswept plains, and diverse wildlife at Torres del Paine National Park and Perito Moreno Glacier on an overland adventure.

The Torres del Paine, or Blue Towers, have three granite peaks along the mountain range: Torres d’Agostini, Torres Central and Torres Monzino. They reach upwards of more than 8,000 feet above sea level, overlooking a massive area of lakes, glaciers and rivers.

Iguazú Falls

If you love waterfalls, you won’t want to miss Iguazú Falls on an in-depth shore excursion to Buenos Aires in Argentina. The crashing waterfalls and misty air will have you mesmerized, as will the emerald rainforests, wildlife and rainbows.

View of Iguazu Falls, a waterfall in South America, surrounded by green landscape and blue sky.

Located along the Iguazú River, the waterfalls are shaped like a horseshoe and extend nearly two miles. That means they’re almost three times wider than Niagara Falls. Rich in vegetation, you’ll find a unique variety of plants and flowers, from orchids to bamboos to palm trees.

View of two black and white Magellanic penguins near the water on the Valdes Peninsula in South America.

Valdés Peninsula

When in Argentina, you may want to visit the Valdés Peninsula as well. Its terrain supports a coastal and marine ecosystem that’s incredibly valuable to conservation efforts. Extending nearly 250 miles, its shoreline is comprised of cliffs, lagoons and mudflats.

You may see orcas, Southern right whales, sea lions, elephant seals, Magellanic penguins and nearly 200 different bird species. Though orca sightings are common from August through October, you could catch a glimpse of them in March and April when they beach themselves to hunt sea lions.

Map showing UNESCO World Heritage Sites near the coasts of South America.
Explore up to 16 UNESCO World Heritage Sites across South America cruise itineraries.

Which UNESCO World Heritage Sites would you like to visit on a South America cruise? Share in the comments below.


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