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These Latin American Cities Should Be On Everyone’s List Of Vacation Destinations

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Over the years, tourism in Latin America has boomed exponentially as more and more global visitors start to discover the amazing scope of culture, nature, and history sewn into the fabric of these lands.

If you are looking for a few inspirations for your next adventure, here are 20 of the coolest cities in Latin America that is worth your visit.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

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The second largest city in Brazil, Rio de Janeiro is well-known for its spectacular landscape and laid back beach culture. If you’re a first-timer in Rio, you can’t pass up people-watching and relaxing along the shoreline of Ipanema or Copacabana. Rio is also home to one of the world’s Seven Wonders, the statue of Christ the Redeemer.

Buenos Aires, Argentina

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Dubbed as the “Paris of South America,” Buenos Aires is regarded as the second most sought-after city to visit after Florence, Italy. You can find elegant architecture, fashionable shopping, and delectable cuisine, and legendary nightlife. You can also find the world’s biggest Japanese garden outside of Japan, the Buenos Aires Japanese Gardens.

Cartagena, Colombia

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In 1533, the Old Town of Cartegena de Indias was founded as a Spanish port. This UNESCO world heritage site still remains intact up to these days, with beautiful high stone walls peering out over the breathtaking Caribbean. Apart from the beaches, the city is also known for its rich culture and history, and fabulous theaters and arts.

Cusco, Peru

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Cusco was once a capital of an empire across half of South America. This prancing-Jaguar-shaped city which was once called Inca, was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1983. Cusco is home to Peru’s most popular Sacred Valley, and Machu Picchu. With more than two million tourists a year, the number alone tells you that the city indeed is one place you should visit.

San Juan, Puerto Rico

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This capital and largest city in Puerto Rico is home to the Isla Verde resort strip, popular for its nightclubs, bars, and casinos. In Old San Juan, you can find cobblestoned architectures that feature 16th century landmarks like the La Fortaleza and El Morro, and colorful Spanish colonial buildings.

Mexico City, Mexico

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The densely populated capital of Mexico is popular for its 13th century Aztec Temple, the Templo Mayor, as well as the Palacio Nacional where historic murals of Diego Rivera are found. The Mexican neighborhood is flooded with art deco, and its historic center in Zocalo is a UNESCO-declared World Heritage site.

Antigua, Guatemala

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Apart from its colonial architecture, Antigua is the birthplace of chocolate. While you can find a lot of coffee plantations in the city, thanks to its volcanic landscape that makes coffee growing ideal, there’s nowhere in the country that you can get your sugar fix than in Antigua.

La Paz, Bolivia

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Bolivia is increasingly attracting tourists during the past years. Its administrative capital, La Paz, is a major tourism center and in 2014 was declared as one of the Seven Urban Wonder cities of the world. From there, its popularity has rocketed. From its stunning natural sceneries to indigenous culture, coupled with different outdoor attractions, La Paz is one South American city worth visiting indeed.

Bogota, Colombia

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Bogota is Colombia’s capital city and is rich in colonial-era landmarks like Teatro Colon, a neoclassical performance hall. This city is also home to well-known museums like Museo Botero that showcases Fernando Botero’s art. The city also has a lot to offer in terms of history, cuisine, sports, and culture.

Mendoza, Argentina

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You can enjoy Mendoza all year round: from its vastness of mountains to its natural beauties, as well as its fine wineries, this city really has a lot to offer. If you are into wines, their Grape Harvest Festival every March is a must. Here, wineries open their doors to tourists and visitors and offer interesting wine tours.

Santiago, Chile

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This versatile city is home to numerous events that showcase only the best of Chilean culture. International festivals of flavor, sound, and color also make the city more captivating to their tourists. It also prides itself of their design shops, art galleries, bars, and cafes. To get the best panoramic city views, the San Cristobal Hill is a must-see.

Panama City, Panama

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This city is framed by the man-made Panama Canal and the Pacific Ocean. Its cobblestoned historic area, the Casco Viejo, is known for its colonial-era landmarks such as the Palacio Presidencial. To get the best views of ships traversing the Panama Canal, visit the Miraflores Locks.

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

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This interesting capital of the Dominican Republic is a collage of neighborhoods and cultures. At the city’s main district, you can find Zona Colonial where the oldest churches can be found. From living museums to seaside resorts, one can truly enjoy a laid-back atmosphere at this capital city.

Quito, Ecuador

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Quito is the world’s second tallest capital and is home to the biggest and best preserved historic center in Latin America. Also known as Carita de Dios, this 1978 UNESCO-declared site as the first Cultural Heritage of Humanity has countless places to discover. The city is surrounded by amazing volcanoes and mountains and prides itself of its bohemian air, its internal treasures, and its spectacular views.

San Jose, Costa Rica

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San Jose is the capital city of Costa Rica. To its south is the Talamanca Mountains, and volcanoes are found to its north. The city is known for its Spanish colonial buildings like the National Theatre of Costa Rica that overlooks the popular Plaza de la Cultura. Gleaming artifacts can also be seen on their Pre-Columbian Gold museum displays.

Montevideo, Uruguay

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Montevideo is Uruguay’s capital city and stretches along Montevideo Bay. The city revolves around what was once the home of the Spanish citadel, the Plaza de la Independencia. As you walk through the plaza, you will be lead to Ciudad Vieja (the old town) where you can find colonial homes, art deco buildings, the popular Palacio Salve. You can also indulge your taste palettes in Mercado del Puerto where you can find a lot of steakhouses.

Recife, Brazil

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Recife is the capital of Pernambuco, Brazil’s northeastern state, and is notable by its many peninsulas, bridges, islets, and rivers; thus, it’s dubbed as the Venice of Brazil. The city is popular for its crazy carnival parades, thumping nightlife, and pristine beaches.

Cancun, Mexico

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This Mexican city located on the Yucatan Peninsula that borders the Caribbean Sea is known for its nightlife, numerous resorts, and beaches. It is divided into two areas: El Centro, the downtown area, the Zona Hotelera, a long strip of beachfront with nightclubs, restaurants, shops, and high-rise hotels. This is the city famed for its being the top destination of college students during spring break.

Porto Alegre, Brazil

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This multicultural city is the capital of Rio Grande do Sul and was colonized by a number of European nations. This colonization is the reason behind its rich culture and history with secular traditions and unique foods. Visiting the city is worth the time because it has more than 50 museums, 13 cultural centers, and more than thirty theatrical spaces.

Guayaquil, Ecuador

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This city is situated along the south coast of the Pacific and is known to host a lot of attractions. It is dubbed as the gateway to the Galapagos Island and the Pacific beaches. One popular attraction is the Las Penas neighborhood where you can see colorful houses. Cafes and art galleries line the stairs leading up the Santa Ana Hill, the place where you can have the perfect view of the city.


READ: Here Are Some Hikers Of Color Who Will Inspire You To Travel The World And Explore Nature

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Tourists Are Flocking To This Tiny Mountain Village For A Trip On Mexico’s Magic Mushrooms

Culture

Tourists Are Flocking To This Tiny Mountain Village For A Trip On Mexico’s Magic Mushrooms

For almost 70 years, since Maria Sabina, also known as Santa Sabina, spread the culture around the ritualistic consumption of magic mushrooms in the Oaxaca highlands, the world has been fascinated by these special fungi. The region near Huautla de Jimenez, particularly places like San Jose del Pacifico, has since been swarmed with tourists in the months between July and October, both from inner Mexico and from overseas, who want to experienced the altered states of consciousness brought by one of nature’s most powerful secrets. 

So any story about Oaxacan magic mushrooms has to start with the legendary Maria Sabina, the godmother of all things trippy.

Credit: Giphy. @Hamiltons

Maria Sabina was a Mazatec curandera, or witchdoctor. She was well versed in the ancient arts of magic mushrooms and introduced the Western world to their consumption. She soon became a magnet for the rich and powerful who wanted to taste her psilocybin mushrooms. She was born in 1894 and died in 1985, so she saw the world change dramatically during her lifetime. 

She allowed foreigners into her healing evenings, known as veladas.

Credit: YouTube / Vice

She became legendary, as City A.M. reported in 2018: “It was here that, in 1955, R Gordon Wasson, a vice-president of JP Morgan and amateur ethnomycologist, consumed psilocybin mushrooms in a ceremony presided over by the healer Maria Sabina. The article Wasson subsequently wrote up for Life magazine – ‘Seeking the Magic Mushroom’ – transformed Sabina into a reluctant icon and caught the attention of scientists including Harvard psychologist Timothy Leary”. What followed is an enduring cult following of the plant. 

Mushroom tourism got a boost in the 1960s due to the high profile of some of Sabina’s visitors, who included The Beatles.

As EFE News Service reported back in 2007: “In the 1960s, the ‘high priestess of the mushrooms’ popularized this corner of Mexico located between the capital and Oaxaca city, a place visited by the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, Jim Morrison and Bob Dylan at the height of the psychedelic era”. We mean, the place has basically been a Hall of Fame! 

Consuming magic mushrooms is an ancient, ritualistic indigenous tradition that remains officially illegal.

Credit: High Times

Spanish friars first reported the use of psychedelic mushrooms in the region. Though magic mushrooms are illegal today, the authorities tend to turn a blind eye. This is due to the centrality to the customs and traditions of the Zapotecs, the area’s dominant indigenous group. Children as young as six participate in the ritualistic ingestion of shrooms.

However, tourism disrupts this long lasting understanding and ritual has turned into business.

Credit: YouTube. Vice

If you decide to try them for yourself, beware as the region is now swarmed with fake magic mushrooms offered by scammers. Anyway, San Jose del Pacifico is a natural joyita in itself, and you might get high just by taking in the landscape!

The state induced by the mushrooms is supposed to get you in touch with nature: with the soil below your feet and the celestial bodies above your head.

Credit: Giphy. Anonymous. 

According to man named Andres Garcia, he was introduced to the ritual ingestion of mushrooms by his grandfather. Just outside of Huautla, the man experienced mushrooms several times. He told High Times: “The first time I tried mushrooms I was 7 years old. And each time after that was different; each time there were messages and messages. Communication with the earth, the universe, the moon, especially the energy of the moon. The mushroom shows you everything—about your errors, your problems, all the good you’ve done, all the bad you’ve done. It’s something personal.”

Even though mushrooms are widely available in Oaxaca they are not for everyone, specially not for those who disrespect the ritual and want to do mushrooms just for some mindless fun.

Credit: Musrooms-in-Oaxaca. Digital image. Own Mexico

The magic mushroom tourism industry has brought an steady income to Huautla de Jimenez, the original stomping grounds of Maria Sabina. As reported by Juan Ramon Peña in EFE News Services, “visitors are greeted when they get off the bus by boys who offer to help them found the hallucinogenic fungi”. The wide availability of mushrooms is un secreto a voces. However, each person’s brain chemistry is different and you need to have an experienced guide to help you on a mushroom-induced trip. 

And tourism has put the sustainability of the species at stake.

Credit: User comment on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G_XnzIYmUYw

The lack of regulation translates into indiscriminate picking. Of course, traditional owners of the land are affected and that is just not fair. 

Magic mushrooms have a good rep, but they are also unpredictable.

Credit: 2037. Digital image. The Guardian.

Several recent studies indicate that magic mushrooms could have medical benefits in people suffering from mental health issues. As reported by The Guardian earlier this year in relation to a study conducted at Imperial College London: “Magic mushrooms may effectively ‘reset’ the activity of key brain circuits known to play a role in depression, the latest study to highlight the therapeutic benefits of psychedelics suggests”. However, this study was done in a controlled environment. Doing mushrooms can have unpredictable effects that some people have described as a “bad trip”

Note: the consumptions of magic mushrooms is illegal throughout Mexico and only specific Indigenous groups can consume them for spiritual purposes. We do not condone the consumption of illegal substances. This article is for informational purposes only.

The Natural Wonders Of Mexico Are Straight Up Out Of A National Geographic Dream

Things That Matter

The Natural Wonders Of Mexico Are Straight Up Out Of A National Geographic Dream

Hierve el Agua Natural Petrified Rock Formation in Oaxaca, Mexico / Pintai Suchachaisri / Getty Images

So, it’s the end of summer break, and it’s back to the daily grind. Or is it? After all, spring break will be on its way in no time! And you know what that means? You’ve got time to travel, babes. We know you want to go to Mexico, so we’ve saved you the hard work of researching where the best places are to go in Mexico to see it in its natural glory.

Find out where you should go next with our list of natural wonders in Mexico!

1. Lake Chapala, Jalisco

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Being the largest freshwater lake Mexico has to offer, Lago de Chapala is one hella gorgeous body of water to spend your time around. It’s home to thousands of indigenous plants and animals, which means that it’s just teeming with unique wildlife that’ll liven up your ‘gram. That being said, you should be aware that the lake is also a sacred location for the Huichol Indians of Mexico’s southwest – so make sure you’re respectful!

2. Nanacamilpa, Tlaxcala

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We’ve written about the wonders of Nanacamilpa before, so of course, we have to mention it here, too. It’s home to a forest just filled with fireflies when it’s warmer, setting the place aglow with their tiny butts. The locals are working on preserving the firefly population, so it’s best to follow the rules when you’re on tour for the fireflies: no using your phone, and no talking.

3. Hierve el Agua, Oaxaca

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Hierve el Agua has one of the strangest optical illusions that will have you questioning your existence. Is it a waterfall, or a rock formation? If you chose rock formation, you’d be right! The mineral pools in the area are absolutely gorgeous, and not too far from ancient canals that are thought to have been built by the Zapotecs around 2,500 years ago.

4. Copper Canyon, Chihuahua

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The name “Copper Canyon” is a little misleading – it’s not one, but a group of six, canyons. The copper part, though? No, actually, that’s also misleading. The area’s known more for its gold and silver deposits. It’s the copper-green of the canyon walls that give Copper Canyon its name. One of the best times of year to visit is usually just after the summer’s rainy season since that’s when the upper region of the canyon blooms with wildflowers – so it’s time to get the ball rolling and make your way there!

5. Marieta Islands, Nayarit

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Formed thousands of years ago by volcanic activity, the Isalas Marietas are a group of small, uninhabited islands just off the coast Mexico. It’s popularity as a tourist destination springs largely from two things: the famous “love beach”, or Playa del Amor, and the fact that the islands have an abundance of marine life just chilling around its waters. Fishing and hunting are prohibited by the Mexican government here, so leave your fishing gear at home.

6. Sumidero Canyon, Chiapas

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Cañón del Sumidero is a deep natural canyon which formed around the same time as the Grand Canyon in the US, meaning that if you’re looking for an impressive canyon in Mexico, this is it. Funnily enough, about 80 percent of the visitors to the Sumidero Canyon are Mexicans themselves, who go for the eco tourism and extreme sports. If you’re less keen on hanging around the water, you could try seeing the Ruins of Berlin, which are also located in the Sumidero Canyon.

7. Espíritu Santo Island, Baja California Sur

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The last time that there was a proper human presence on Isla Espíritu Santo was estimated to be around 9,000 years ago. Whew. More recently, UNESCO declared the site a Biosphere Reserve in 1995, and for good reason: it’s the only known habitat of the black jackrabbit. Plus, the Ensenada Grande beach on Isla Partida was voted the most beautiful beach in Mexico by The Travel Magazine, making Espíritu Santo Island a must-see.

8. Rosario Sanctuary, Michoacán

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Otherwise known as El Rosario, the sanctuary is part of a larger world heritage site known for hosting literally millions of butterflies. The reserve is dedicated to preserving its butterfly population, which means that the Rosario Sanctuary is only one of two colonies in Mexico that’s open to the public. Guided tours are on offer, so it means that you can learn more about beautiful butterflies that frequent the area.

9. Nevado de Toluca, State of Mexico

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Nevado de Toluca is the fourth highest peak in Mexico, after Pico de Orizaba, Popocatépetl and Iztaccíhuatl. Classed as a stratovolcano, it boasts two crater lakes on the floor of the basin – the Lago del Sol and the Lago de la Luna – which were created by the volcano’s melting snow. While you’re in the area, look up the Nahuatl legends that explain the mythology behind why Nevado de Toluca looks the way it does.

10. Cenotes, Quintana Roo

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These jaw-dropping, gorgeous sinkholes, created by the collapse of limestone rock, can be found throughout the state of Quintana Roo. That’s not all there is to see in Quintana Roo, considering that it’s got a coastline that serves as one of the best manatee habitats in the world. But, visiting the cenotes is a good start, if you really want to experience the beauty of Quintana Roo.

11. Potrero Chico, Nuevo León

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Rock climbing aficionados, this is the place for you to be! Potrero Chico boasts peaks which stretch to around 2,000 feet, and have some really amazing views at the top. While a lot of the area around Potrero Chico is considered a protected zone, it’s not an actual national park, which means that there’s not as much conservation happening in the area as what there could be.

12. Chinampas, Mexico City

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The Valley of Mexico still has plenty of chinampas, or island farms, that can be seen today. The agricultural practice has been around for almost a thousand years and is unique to the area. These days, produce such as lettuce, cilantro, spinach, cauliflower, celery, mint, chives, rosemary, corn and radish are grown in the chinampas. Whether you can actually try them straight from the chinanmpa is another matter!

13. Las Coloradas, Yucatán

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You’re probably less interested in the actual fishing village, and more interested in touring the pink – yes, pink – lake and salt flats surrounding Las Colaradas. It’s entirely possible that you’ll see flamingoes while you’re hanging around the lagoon, so keep your bird-watching binoculars on you at all times!

14. Basaltic Prisms, Hidalgo

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The Basaltic Prisms of Santa María Regla are basically the Mexican version of Northern Ireland’s Giant’s Causeway, except that the Basaltic Prisms also have two waterfalls running through it. The natural canyon, which was created by the slow cooling of volcanic lava, has been modified with stars, walkways, and bridges so that tourists can easily access the Basaltic Prisms. It’s basically made for you to come and visit!

15. Tamul Waterfall, San Luis Potosi

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The Tamul waterfall is known for its gorgeous, crystal-clear water that’ll make you never want to leave. At 344 feet, the waterfall is one of Mexico’s largest, and is usually accessed by boat. How. Heckin’. Awesome.

So where will you be heading next? Tell us about it on Twitter – you can find it by clicking on the logo at the top of the page.