Things That Matter

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

elisepoiffaut/Instagram

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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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

Instagram / @amberina_smiles

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

Instagram / @jexmar11

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

Instagram / @clickbusmx

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

Instagram / @coppercanyons

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

Instagram / @amazing_destination_locations

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

Instagram / @miamadomexico

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

Instagram / @afelandrina

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

Instagram / @laurelkent

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

Instagram / @sebamoraleshinojosa

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

Instagram / @mochilerosquintanaroo

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

Instagram / @gnarbox

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

Instagram / @kilaceruti

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

Instagram / @demirkazik

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

Instagram / @mexicodestinos

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

Instagram / @ebtravelturismo

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.

Our FIERCE Readers Share Some of the Most Outrageous Lies They’ve Told To Get Some Time Away With Their Boo

Fierce

Our FIERCE Readers Share Some of the Most Outrageous Lies They’ve Told To Get Some Time Away With Their Boo

@theromantictravelers / Instagram

Vacationing with your significant other is a big step in a relationship. It isn’t just the shared travel or the expense that can be the most trying. Many times, it’s figuring out a cover story to tell the padres. Don’t got it wrong, we’re grown. However, Latinx folk still have to answer to our parents when we leave the house. So if we want to vacay with the novio, we need an alibi. 

With this in mind, we asked our FIERCE readers what their go-to lies are whenever they need to cover up a vacation with their significant other. You might want to jot these excuses down for the next time you need a justification for a weekend away.

1. The mandatory vacay.

Instagram / @happilyeveradventures

“I told my parents I would be out of town (only an hour away from home) for work and that my job was paying for everything and that it was mandatory we all stay there in the hotel because my dad said I could just drive everyday I needed to go. We ended up vacationing 12 hours away from home 😂 they still haven’t found out lol.” — @baerenis 

2. Technically, she still went to Disney.

Instagram / @aprilroselb

“I had a summer job that involved church and I told my mom I was going to stay an extra week because a bunch of us were going to Disneyland. My boyfriend ended up picking me up and we did technically go to Disneyland, but it was just him and me. Lol” — @lilpeaches_12 

3. Total fail but still worth it. 

Instagram / @theromantictravelers

“Went to Rosarito w/ex to a wedding and told my mom I was going to visit girlfriends in San Francisco. One of my moms friends lives in Rosarito and recognized me at wedding. Total fail. Lady memorized my license plate # y todo 😂😂🇲🇽”   @vidajuicebar_

4. The abuela alibi. 

Instagram / @bestwestern_plus_suitcase

“My now husband is from a town 2 hours away from Houston, and the only way my parents would let me stay the weekend over there, was if I stayed and slept with his grandmother. We would actually stay in a hotel room from Friday – Sunday in downtown, 4 miles away from my parents house. This was back in 2003, there’s no way I could get away with that now with smart phones! 😂” @areal1982

5. Staycation, all she ever wanted.

Instagram / @kvadventuretravel

“Lol I would just tell them I was working a long shift and leave for a stay-cation.” @jenoemi87

6. When white lies become second nature.

Instagram / @alinadelcaru 

“I lied until I got married at 31 😂 now my instinct is to lie but stop my self because – wait a minute I’m married now! 😂” — @deerayv

7. This lie came with a lot of work.

Instagram / @el_palauet

“My husband and I had been dating for almost a year he wanted to take me to Puerto Vallarta for my birthday I didn’t know how to tell my parents my husband was like how old are you I said were Mexican we don’t sleep over nobody’s house ever we sleep at home. I told my dad my job needed me to travel to mexico since they were branching out to Puerto Vallarta and they needed a fluent Spanish speaker he was so excited they picked me. He said go tell me what hotel your staying at so I can tell your primos from El Rancho to meet you there… 🤦‍♀️ I gave him the wrong hotel name each time he called I would say were in meetings or were looking at property I’ll call the primos when I have time. We met 1 time to show I wasn’t with anybody I shouldn’t have been with… 😂”  — @melliesemily  

8. You need to go to confessional after this one.

Instagram / @theromantictravelers

“I told my mom I was going on a church retreat and got a text free number to pretend I was one of the people at church verifying I was attending 😩💀 I’m going to hell.” — @aimechinchilla

9. An educational experience.

Instagram / @theromantictravelers

“So I’ve always been super involved on campus and sometimes for student government we would travel and once we went on a trip to a conference for 2 days but I told my parents it’s was for 5 so the other 3 days estaba de pata larga 😉😂 later on that always became my excuse que tenía una conferencia para la escuela (btw i would tell them they were at other sister schools so you know it’s educational ) en total I probably actually had like 5 conferences my whole college career but to them it was like every other month 🤷🏻‍♀️😂” — @anythingforcelinaaas

10. That’s what friends are for.

Instagram / @fairmontsanfrancisco

“I was 20 and had been dating my bf for a year and he had the house for himself one weekend. I told my parents I was sleeping over at my friend’s house and got my dad to drop me off there (about a 20 minute drive away). My bf was waiting for me around the corner and came and picked me up. My friend even played the game and came and said hi to my dad 😂” — @laviajeraporvida

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZRJdv6QJ7Nc