The Iguazu Falls straddle the border between Brazil and Argentina, and no matter which side you view them from, they're spectacular. The falls are comprised of more than 200 discrete falls; the most impressive is Garganta del Diablo, or the Devil's Throat, where water cascades down from three sides, shooting mist nearly 500 feet into the air.
Aside from being the world's largest salt flat, Bolivia's Salar de Uyuni offers one of the most other-worldly views on the continent. The extremely flat landscaped topped with a thin crust of salt makes the ground appear almost lunar, and when it rains, a lithium-rich brine covers the surface, reflecting the sky on its glassy surface.
In Argentinian Patagonia, the crowning jewel is the Perito Moreno Glacier found within Los Glaciares National Park. This 97-square-mile expanse of ice is part of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, the world's third largest body of fresh water. The glacier becomes even more dramatic during the South American summers when the glacier begins to creak and starts calving giant bergs.
When you think of drama and South America, you probably think Patagonia, and for good reason. The jagged granite peaks of Torres del Paine in Chile have come to represent South America's most famous national park. On a clear day, dramatic cloud formations reflect off of pristine lakes, resulting in one of the most sublime views of the Andes out there.
One of the most amazing and dramatic things about the Galapagos Islands is the sheer variety of sights. In few (if any) other places on earth can you swim with sea lions and hammerhead sharks in the morning, walk among giant tortoises before lunch, spend the afternoon watching the mating rituals of blue-footed boobies and end your day walking over a lava field covered in thousands of marine iguanas.
One out of every 10 species on earth lives in the Amazon Rain Forest, and visitors looking to experience this incredibly bio-diverse region often do so through Ecuador. Taking a trek through this largest tropical rainforest in the world assaults the senses with sounds – nearly 1,300 bird species and 2.5 million insect species live here – and color.
If you want to see the world's highest waterfall, you'll have to visit Canaima National Park in Venezuela. Within the park, Angel Falls plummets 2,648 feet from the top of a cliff jutting out from the lush rainforest below. It's also one of the least accessible tourist sites on the continent, requiring a flight in followed by a two-day journey in a dugout canoe.
Lake Titicaca, the largest lake in South America by volume and the highest navigable lake in the world, sits high in the Andes of Peru and Bolivia, its blue waters standing in stark contrast to the browns of land surrounding it. Just as impressive are the lake's floating islands, made from reeds to form homes and transportation to the small Uros communities who live on them.
There's no better way to unleash your inner explorer than by taking a boat trip down the mighty Amazon river. The river spans an impressive eight countries, though most visitors find themselves exploring the stretch between Manaus and Belém in Brazil.
Where the Amazon Rainforest is the most biologically diverse place on earth, Chile's Atacama Desert is the driest, in part due to its elevation at 7,500 feet. At some places in the desert, not a single drop of rain has ever been recorded. Elsewhere, the El Tatio geyser field looks eerily alien, as dozens of geysers emit steam into the dry desert air.