Things That Matter

These Stunning Photos Come From Actual Places In Latin America That Are Totally Easy To Visit This Summer

One of the most incredible experiences I have ever had in my life is visiting a cenote in the Riviera Maya in Mexico. I remember so vividly paddling in a little boat on top of an underground river, surrounded by the natural cave and being in awe of everything. In fact, it was one of the most surreal experiences of my life — which totally makes sense since Latin America is absolutely full of surreal, beautiful places to visit.

From Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia to the Marble Caves in Chile/Argentina to the Cave of Crystals in Mexico to the Viñales Valley in Cuba, there is incredible, natural beauty all over the Americas and the Caribbean. You’ll never believe all of the different things you can see, from deserts to glaciers to incredible valleys filled with so much greenery. And there’s even a rainbow river! If you want to travel to some of the most obscenely incredible sites in the world, then check out these 21 most surreal places in Latin America.

1. Cenote Samula, Valladolid, Mexico

CREDIT: vagando_por_mexico/Instagram

The Mexican cenote is a beautiful thing and, in case you didn’t know, it is a natural sinkhole that exposes the groundwater underneath — and has become a wonderful place to swim, particularly in the Yucatán Peninsula. This one is one of the majestic ones that you’ll definitely want to see.

2. Torres del Paine National Park, Chile

CREDIT: torresdelpaine/Instagram

This gorgeous national park, located in Chile’s Patagonia region, is well-known for the beautiful soaring mountains and bright blue icebergs, plus grasslands that house wildlife such as the llama-like guanacos. There are seemingly endless places to go, and you’ll want to stay here forever.

3. Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

CREDIT: dudewheresmypassport/Instagram

When you go to Bolivia, you absolutely must stop by the southwest part of the country to visit the Andes mountains and Salar de Uyuni, the world’s largest salt flat. This is the result of a prehistoric lake that went dry and left us with a desert-like landscape of bright-white salt and rock formations… And it’s beautiful, no?

4. Mount Roraima, Venezuela

CREDIT: conocevenezuela/Instagram

Nestled safely in Venezuela, though also touching Brazil and Guayana, is this beautiful and unique “floating island” plateau that actually sits 1,2000 feet above the forest floor. This natural wonder is very much worth visiting on your next trip to South America. It’s surreal and will surely take your breath away to stare up at this gorgeous mount.

5. Marble Caves, General Carrera Lake, Chile-Argentina

CREDIT: passionpassport/Instagram

This lake, located in Patagonia, is deep and beautiful… and has a glacial origin since it is surrounded by the Andes mountains. Meanwhile, the Marble Caves, which are here, were actually formed by wave action over the last 6,2000 years and are one of the most wonderful parts to see at this lake… But don’t worry, there’s plenty more here, too. 

6. Cueva Ventana, Puerto Rico

CREDIT: g.sullivan97/Instagram

If you’re still heartbroken over the devastation of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, then you should know that so are we… But the good thing is that we can do something about it, like travel to Puerto Rico and support the country with volunteer efforts and our tourism dollars. Of course, if you’re there, you will want to head to the limestone cliff in Arecibo, where you can find this large cave that overlooks the Río Grande de Arecibo valley. Isn’t it gorgeous?

7. Perito Moreno Glacier, Los Glaciares National Park, Argentina

CREDIT: lucaspereiraphoto/Instagram

Los Glaciares National Park is one of the most beautiful places you can visit in Argentina, and I highly encourage you to go there ASAP. But you’ll want to know where to go, right? Well, the Perito Moreno Glacier is one of the most impressive to see and likely one of the most important (and surreal!) tourist attractions in the country. You’ll definitely be impressed.

8. Lençóis Maranhenses National Park, Brazil

CREDIT: brunoferrucio/Instagram

Lençóis Maranhenses National Park is located in the northeastern area of Brazil, and a splendor to see. This area, which is roughly 580 square miles, is full of low, flat, and occasionally flooded land, along with plenty of sand dunes. And, get this: There is abundant rain but almost no vegetation! Heading there to take a dip in some of the waters might be one of the most memorable experiences of your life.

9. Laguna Colorada, Bolivia

CREDIT: elisepoiffaut/Instagram

This shallow salt lake is a wonder to see, mainly because the white color of the borax islands contrasts with the reddish color of its waters (which is caused by red sediments and pigmentation of some algae). It’s a wonder to see, and you will absolutely love your time there. The colors, the views, all of it… So surreal!

10. Valley of the Moon, Atacama Desert, Chile

CREDIT: nick.bailey360/Instagram

Located west of the Andes mountains and primarily in Chile, this desert plateau is actually the driest desert in the world and home to many beautiful views such as this one from the Valley of the Moon. Beyond that, there is plenty of stony terrain, tons of salt lakes, salad, and felsic lava that flows towards the Andes and catches my breath every single time. Wow. Just wow!

11. Rio Secreto, Riveira Maya, Mexico

CREDIT: riosecreto/Instagram

As I mentioned earlier, the Riviera Maya has a lot of beautiful, natural caves with rivers — such as the Rio Secreto that is one of the most spectacular underground rivers around. There are tons of hiking and swimming excursions, too, where you can marvel at the splendor while surrounded by stalactites and stalagmites. And the river itself, of course.

12. Colca Canyon, Peru

CREDIT: mlodzinskiphoto/Instagram

This river canyon, located in southern Peru, is one of the world’s deepest and also a well-known trekking destination. The landscape has green valleys and remote traditional villages, and you can even head down to the Colca River for rafting. Just don’t forget to be ready for R&R because you will surely be relaxed and rested after a trip here. Just look at those breathtaking views!

13. Altos de Chavón, Dominican Republic

CREDIT: 7xijosdavid/Instagram

The Altos de Chavón is actually a re-created Mediterranean-style European village that is located atop the Chavón River in the Dominican Republic, but you’ll want to head here not only to see the adorable little town but also the nature that surrounds it. Just look at this gorgeous river, and tell me you don’t want to stare at it forever… 

14. Iguazu Falls, Argentina-Brazil

CREDIT: iguazufalls/Instagram

Bordering both Argentina and Brazil, these waterfalls are known to be one of the most beautiful in the world and with good reason. The magic seen here is impossible to describe and you will feel as if you stepped into a surreal world of incredible beauty. Trust me, you’ll want to come here and breathe in all of the fresh air and just marvel in how incredibly special all of this is.

15. Cave of Crystals, Naica, Chihuahua, Mexico

CREDIT: acrisiomelo/Instagram

If you’ve ever dreamed of stepping into a crystal cave (and who hasn’t, amirite?), then your wishes can come true in the Chihuahua region of Mexico. The main cave chamber actually contains giant selenite crystals, which are some of the largest natural crystals ever found. Surprisingly, the cave is also extremely hot and is relatively unexplored because of the heat and humidity. If you go, make sure that you have proper protection… and probably only stay for about 10 minutes.

16. Caño Cristales River, Meta, Colombia

CREDIT: neotropicexpeditions/Instagram

This Colombian river is a beautiful place to go on your search for the surreal beauty that you can only find in South America. This river is often called the “River of Five Colors” or the “Liquid Rainbow” because it is, indeed, the most beautiful river in the world thanks to the variously colored plants that make the bed of the river light up with yellow, green, blue, black, and especially red from July to November. 

17. Catatumbo Lightning, Venezuela

CREDIT: earth_timeline/Instagram

Prepare to be completely amazing: The Catatumbo Lightning is an atmospheric phenomenon that happens in Venezuela, and it occurs only over the mouth of the Catatumbo River where it emboss into Lake Maracaibo. Basically, about 140-160 nights of the year, a mass of storm clouds originates over the lake and lightning strikes for up to 10 hours a day and up to 180 times per hour. Although it differs year to year, it is absolutely AH-mazing to see.

18. Semuc Champey, Guatemala

CREDIT: leelooledoux/Instagram

You will never believe how surreal this beautiful, natural moment in Alta Verapaz, Guatemala, is when you visit. Consisting of a natural limestone bridge, plenty of turquoise pools, and many more other things. You’ll be in plenty of splendor here, and with plenty of time to relax and enjoy yourself. 

19. Underwater River, Cenote Angelita, Mexico

CREDIT: msoceantw/Instagram

As I said, checking out some of Mexico’s many cenotes should definitely be on your Must Do List if you plan to visit some of the most surreal places in Latin America. But, if you want to see one of the most amazing ones, then you absolutely need to go to the underwater one in Cenote Angelita. It’s an incredible sight to behold and you won’t believe your eyes as you swim through this gorgeous place.

20. Viñales Valley, Cuba

CREDIT: abbeywel/Instagram

This valley in Cuba is definitely one of the places you’ll want to visit ASAP. It’s absolutely gorgeous, and located in a beautiful part of the island (not that there is a non-beautiful part, that is). If you’re looking for some natural beauty here, then look no further. There is a lot of hiking to be done here, so head here for a full day of beauty before taking the next day off to lay on a beach. Trust me on this one.

21. Santa Ana Volcano, El Salvador

CREDIT: noorasusann/Instagram

The highest volcano in El Salvador is also where you can find one of the most beautiful views in the country, and with good reason. You can hike this baby and is definitely made for the serious backpacker. There’s so many gorgeous things to see here, and especially the stunning turquoise lake that is at the bottom of the volcano’s crater. Talk about surreal beauty, huh?

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These Were The Moments That Defined Latin America In 2020 That Weren’t About COVID-19

Things That Matter

These Were The Moments That Defined Latin America In 2020 That Weren’t About COVID-19

PEDRO PARDO/AFP via Getty Images

2020 will easily go down in manny of our memories as the year that just wouldn’t stop. As the year started, it all seemed to be sort of fine as the world came together to battle record-breaking Australian bushfires and worked to hopefully contain an outbreak of a strange new virus in China.

However, as the year comes to a close things have gone de mal a peor for the world in general, but for the Latino population in the United States and Latin America as a region in particular. Though it’s hard to realize just how much we all witnessed and experienced since so much of what happened seems like it was a lifetime ago.

Here’s a look back at some the defining moments from 2020 across Latin America.

Jennifer Lopez and Shakira kicked off the year hopeful with a history-making performance at the Super Bowl.

Yes, believe it or not, this happened in 2020. The pair put on what many have called the best half time show in Super Bowl history. They were also joined by J Balvin and Bad Bunny.

Bolivia’s Evo Morales was forced into exile, only to return to the country in November.

After being forced into exile at the end of 2019 for attempting to illegally run in upcoming presidential elections, Morales spent a year abroad – first in Mexico and then in Argentina.

Mexico’s President AMLO made his first trip abroad to visit Donald Trump at the White House.

Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is a staunch populist and has long said his primary focus is domestic policy within Mexico. Therefore, despite two years in office, AMLO hadn’t left Mexico once. So it came as a surprise when his first trip abroad was a visit to the U.S. leader who had long disparaged Mexico, the government, and Mexicans – not to mention his trip came in the middle of a global pandemic.

Migrant caravans continued to make their way towards the U.S. despite interference from Mexico and Covid-19.

Migrants attempting to make their way to the U.S. isn’t unique to 2020. For decades, migrants have long banded together for safety in numbers along the treacherous journey to the north. However, they became larger and better organized in 2020, perhaps owing to the new dangers of Mexican interference.

Mexico’s AMLO vowed to stop migrants from reaching the U.S.-Mexico border, adhering to Trump’s request. It was also noteworthy because the caravans continued despite the Covid-19 crisis, which has hit the region particularly hard.

Peru saw three presidents in the span of a few weeks after massive protests.

Peru is facing one of the greatest crises the nation has faced. Just as the country seemed to be emerging from the worst of its battle against the Covid-19 pandemic, the country has entered a severe political crisis.

The country’s elected president, Martin Vizcarra, was impeached and removed from office. His predecessor responded with a heavy hand to the protests that ensued resulting in his resignation less than 24 hours later. The government then had to find someone willing to take the job which proved to be a tough sell.

In fact, massive protests swept across Latin America.

From Mexico in the north to Cuba in the Caribbean and Chile in the south, protests were seen all across the region. Although each movement had it’s own stated goal and objectives, many were largely borne out of the same purpose: to fight back against corruption.

Brazil’s President Jaír Bolsonaro tested positive for Covid-19 but it did nothing to change his approach to the pandemic.

Jaír Bolsonaro has long been compared to Donald Trump, with many calling him the Donald Trump of South America. The two were also strongly aligned in their responses to the Coronavirus pandemic, with the pair largely downplaying the severity of the crisis.

Then, Bolsonaro became infected with the virus and many hoped it would change his view on the crisis. It didn’t.

A growing feminist movement developed in Mexico, demanding protection from a shocking rise in violence against women.

Mexico has long been battling endemic violence and the country has continued to see record-setting rates of homicides. But it was the growing rate of violence against women, particularly femicide, that gained national attention.

Women banded together and started large nationwide protests. Over the summer, women in the capital of Mexico City occupied government buildings and destroyed many of the city’s most popular monuments to hopefully get their message across. Although the movement has gained more recognition by Mexicans, the government has still failed to address their concerns. Let’s hope things are different in 2021.

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In A Post-Covid World, Here Is Where You All Said Want To Travel

Culture

In A Post-Covid World, Here Is Where You All Said Want To Travel

©Marco Bottigelli / Getty Images

Covid put a stop to our travel plans for 2020. After almost a year in lockdown, we have had time to plan fantasy trips and explore the world. We asked you where you wanted to visit and here are some of the places you all can’t wait to see.

Argentina

Argentina offers something for everyone. As on of the southernmost countries in the world, Argentina offers natural sights that will make nature lovers swoon. Into architecture? Cities like Mendoza offers a look at the art-deco style that will make you feel like you are back in time. Don’t forget to try to make a trip down to Ushuaia, the End of the World for a spectacular view.

Cuba

Cuba is a tricky one but a beautiful place to see. The country is filled with old buildings and cars that make it feel like a time capsule. Now, the island is old because they are oppressed and don’t have much. But you can always find ways to make sure that you help people of the island instead of giving the money to government approved businesses.

Costa Rica

This is about as wild and wondrous as it gets. Costa Rica will give everyone a chance to really be one with nature. The Central American country is a rainforest oasis with nature everywhere you look. The country prides itself on how development is not encroaching on nature and has even outlawed zoos and aquariums.

Honduras

Honduras is an underestimated place to visit. The food and people are warm and inviting. There has been some unrest in the country in recent years and a series of hurricanes has devastated the population. Tourism is a great way to bring money into a place the needs it. Just don’t take advantage of them while you are there.

Mexico

Mexico is a country filled with wonders new and old. You can experience the ruins of some of the oldest civilizations and bask in the modernity of Mexico City. The food is as diverse and vibrant as the people with delicious moles in Oaxaca and experimental fusions in Mexico City. Valle de Guadalupe is home to some farm to table restaurants and exquisite wineries. It truly is a journey of the sense if you take time to see the country.

Colombia

Colombia is one of South America’s gems. After years of internal conflict, the nation is growing and quickly becoming a destination. Bogotá and Medellín are great but make it a point to visit Cali. The city is one of the place everyone should visit if they make their way to Colombia.

READ: Mexico Announces 11 New Pueblos Mágicos And It’s The Post-COVID Travel Lust We All Need Right Now

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