A country of wide-open pampas and ancient forests, Argentina is as wild as its capital city, Buenos Aires, is sophisticated.
Its vibrant diversity and geographical abundance seem to embody everything that is best in South America. Through the lush heart of Brazil flows the Amazon, and along its coast is
found a dazzling string of great cities: the pulse-pounding resort of Rio; sprawling, metropolitan Sao Paulo; and, further north, the entrancing canals and bustling piers of Recife.
In the world's longest country -north to south, nature runs the gamut of its most dramatic forms - enormous glaciers, craggy granite spires, and towering volcanic cones dominate the landscape.
Torres del Paine National Park is widely held to be the finest park in the Americas.
In recent years, Costa Rica has nearly become synonomous with the term "ecotourism." Its pristine rainforests are painstakingly protected, and an ever-increasing tide of people come to
witness the astounding abundance of plant and animal species each year.
Ecuador arguably has the most intensely varied landscape in South America. You get it all here: the collosal Andes, the Amazon, Pacific beaches, and of course the naturalist's paradise of the Galapagos Islands.
Guyana is one of the lesser-known destinations in South America, but it has plenty of prizes for those who wander in. Its great
rivers access huge reaches of rain forest, and one could spend a lifetime visiting all of its picturesque waterfalls.
With both the most populous city in the world, and some of the most beautiful beaches, Mexico is a lively destination. A variety of natural wonders from lush tropical rainforests to mountains and deserts make Mexico a gem for the
adventurer, but its real treasure is in the spirit of its people.
The landscape of Peru is as epic as its history. The shadows, canyons, and plateaus of the vertiginous Andes hide the remains of one of the world's most extraordinary empires - the Inca -
while their eastern slopes are the cradle of the Amazon River itself.
As much a Caribbean country as it is a South American anchor, Venezuela is unique. At night, the capital of Caracas comes to life with the rhythms of the Caribbean. The nation also has a few geographical superlatives,
including the world's highest waterfall and South America's biggest lake.