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Best Places to Visit in Central & South America

It's hard to picture vacationing in Central or South America without lounging along the tropical sands of Costa Rica or reveling in the seductive nightlife scene of Rio de Janeiro. But there's plenty more to experience here. From the world-class museums of Buenos Aires to the ancient archeological splendors of Cusco, this versatile region boasts an array of activities tailored to a variety of travelers. And unlike other destinations, this part of the world offers exotic trips that are just a short (and relatively affordable) flight away, leaving few reasons not to book your ticket and go.

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Why Go: With its sugary white sands, gorgeous vistas and vibrant nightlife, Rio de Janeiro makes for a fun getaway at any time of year. Whether you're looking for a glittery Carnival costume or a striking view of Christ the Redeemer, Rio has it. And soaking up the sun at Copacabana and swiveling your hips to samba won't cost you a dime. Read More»

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Why Go: This sophisticated city known as the "Paris of the South" has a lot going for it. You'll find it hard not to fall in love with Buenos Aires' wide boulevards and Parisian-style cafes. And with its burgeoning food scene and kid-friendly attractions, Buenos Aires suits all types of vacationers. Arrive in fall or spring for gorgeous foliage and affordable room rates. Read More»

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Why Go: As the former capital of the Inca Empire, Cusco is the home base for travelers visiting the legendary Machu Picchu. If you're not worn out from the hike along the Inca Trail, spend time marveling at lesser-known attractions like the extensive Pre-Columbian Museum. For a heavenly spectacle, stargaze at the Cusco Planetarium. Read More»

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Why Go: Argentine Patagonia's scenery will captivate you, from the glistening peaks of the Lake District to the rustic cattle ranges of Southern Patagonia. You can unravel history at the Cave of the Hands and get to know Punta Tombo's quirky Magellan penguins. Vacationing here is taking a "road less traveled," but it's an enchanting one at that. Read More»

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Why Go: Costa Rica is more than a simple beach vacation. There are volcanoes to hike, misty rainforests to explore and a vibrant culture to experience. R&R seekers can immerse themselves in the good life, or "pura vida," as the locals say, and sprawl across Nicoya Peninsula's cream-colored sands. Be forewarned: You'll be hard-pressed to find a reason to leave. Read More»

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Why Go: The Galápagos Islands are best known for their rich array of creatures — ranging from giant tortoises and lizards to seals and penguins. Plus, the islands boast a minimal human footprint, only adding to their allure. Getting here will cost you, but isn't admiring towering volcanoes, gorgeous sands and unique wildlife worth it? Read More»

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Why Go: It's hard to imagine visiting Belize without sprawling across its beautiful beaches. But stepping away from the soft sands to admire the magnificent Mayan ruins should also be a priority. If ancient sites won't pull you away from your jungle bungalow, perhaps the striking jaguars and keel-billed toucans found at Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary will. Read More»

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Why Go: It's no wonder windswept Chilean Patagonia caught the attention of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Where else can you gallop on horseback across untouched frontiers, raft through azure fjords and admire Torres del Paine's striking peaks? Exploration can be exhausting, so make sure to recuperate with a scrumptious seafood dinner. Read More»

Read On: Top Things to Do in Chilean Patagonia

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Bogota

Why Go: Although Bogotá has long held a dangerous reputation associated with its southern slums, other aspects of the city make it a worthwhile trip, as long as you keep your wits about you. The northern region boasts eclectic architecture and an emerging cultural scene. For Old World charm, head to the La Candelaria district, where you'll encounter grandiose churches and colonial mansions. Just allow time to savor an authentic Colombian meal.

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Machu Picchu

Why Go: It's hard to match the grandeur of the "lost city of the Inca Empire." Forgotten until the 20th century, this sky-high Inca paradise dazzles with mystical temples and archeological sites. Plus, the verdant mountains in the backdrop aren't bad to gaze at, either. Embrace the steep elevation and come discover this ancient city's secrets for yourself.

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