Updated: Oct 25
for a top-notch adventure in South America!
South America is home to some of the world's most stunning national parks, each with its unique landscape, wildlife, and flora.
If you’re considering visiting South America, your trip won’t be complete without checking out some of the incredible national parks that can be found all over the continent.
Really, it’s a nature lover’s paradise!
From the awe-inspiring Iguazu Falls to the rugged peaks of Torres del Paine, these protected areas offer a fascinating glimpse into the continent's diverse ecosystems and unique wildlife.
Explore the lush rainforests of the Amazon or witness the otherworldly landscapes of the Atacama Desert. With so much to see and experience, South America's national parks are a must-visit destination for nature lovers and adventure seekers alike
Whether you want to hike up a storm, meet indigenous people and learn about their culture, or explore protected areas and coral reefs, it’s all possible in South America!
But With so many amazing options to choose from across the continent! It can be tough to decide where to go, Right?
But don't worry, I'm here to help!
Let's find the perfect choice for your perfect vacation.
When choosing my top selection of National Parks to visit in South America, I'm thinking of those National Parks that will give you a once-in-a-lifetime vacation.
What are those ingredients that make a trip a once-in-a-lifetime vacation?
This is the recipe I follow:
🚶🏻♀️⛰ Mix Outdoor activities in stunning remote settings in South America
🍷🥩 Add delicious local Food ( And, when possible, wines or local cocktails!)
😎🌴 Mix first-class & boutique lodging in one of a kind location
And what do you have?
💥 The recipe for a top-notch adventure in South America…
While some national parks may be more popular or easier to get to, all the reserves and destinations on this list are worth checking out on your next trip to South America.
If they are on this list, I can guarantee they have the perfect ingredients for a fantastic adventure in South America:
They have got it all! - stunning scenery, fascinating wildlife, cozy lodges in unique spots, and the most delicious food you've ever tasted.
Now, Let's explore the most amazing national parks in South America!
✨Navigate to where you want to go
Queulat National Park, Chile
Galapagos National Park, Ecuador
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National Parks in South America, Torres del Paine National Park, Chile
If you want to be surrounded by stunning glaciers, amazing peaks, and jaw-dropping wildlife, find your way to Torres Del Paine National Park in Chilean Patagonia.
As one of the most popular national parks in South America, Torres Del Paine National Park has become a paradise for hikers and climbers, with its world-renowned multi-day treks and day hikes alike.
Probably the most popular hiking trail in Torres Del Paine is the W Circuit. Spanning 55 miles (88.5 kilometers) through stunning scenery, it can take hikers anywhere from four to seven days to complete.
Realistically, I know you may love hiking, fantastic but you are not into trekking for days, right?
Torres del Paine offers amazing hiking trails for all kinds of travelers!
If you want to spot some unique local wildlife, Torres Del Paine is also home to many amazing animals and species. From penguins to pumas to guanacos to Andean condors, you’ll want to keep your eyes peeled for sightings or even join a dedicated wildlife-guided tour. This way, you’ll be guided by local experts who know the best places to spot each animal, and you’ll learn a ton about the area in the process.
✨Where to Stay: Patagonia Camp Luxury Glamping is my favorite place here! - read here Why!
✨What about the food: When visiting Torres del Paine, you can Combine your adventure with the most delicious Patagonian food and worldwide known Chilean wines, like the wines from the organic vineyards of Matetic of the central region of Chile.
✨Our Suggested Trip: Exclusive Patagonia & Australis Expedition Cruise
Los Glaciares National Park, Argentina
Heading over the border into Argentinean Patagonia, we have the stunning Los Glaciares National Park. Probably best known for its outstanding glacial lakes, including the massive Lake Argentino and the famous Perito Moreno glacier, this popular destination can feel a world away from Argentina’s vibrant cities.
👌 Watch this video from one of our travelers hiking over the Perito Moreno Glacier, a breathtaking experience!
It’s also a sobering place to visit, and the many glaciers in this national park are shrinking and moving every single year.
Certainly, it makes you face the realities of climate change and makes you want to take action and do your part for the environment!
Located in the Santa Cruz area of Argentina, Los Glaciares National Park is home to some spectacular hikes and adventures.
With over 40 different glaciers and spanning 2,806.9 square miles (7,269 sq km), you can easily spend your entire trip exploring Los Glaciares National Park and witnessing these fantastic frozen lakes and massive mountains up close.
✨Where to Stay: Eolo Lodge, a magical luxury lodge with only 17 rooms that have an amazing view of the Patagonian steppe and the Andes mountains. The perfect place to visit the phenomenal Perito Moreno Glacier! Besides stunning, comfortable rooms and excellent services, Eolo offers its visitors the chance to enjoy exciting activities. Whether you are into mountain biking, trekking, horseback riding, or bird watching, you will have a fantastic time exploring the impressive property of this hotel. Read more
✨What about the food? Expect delicious Patagonian food, paired with various wines and don't miss the Malbec wine tasting at Eolo with their sommelier.
✨Our Suggested trip: Patagonia Argentina Itinerary: Exploring El Calafate & El Chalten
Tierra Del Fuego National Park, Argentina
As the only national park in Argentina with an ocean coastline, Tierra Del Fuego National Park stands apart from the rest with mountains, islands, lakes, and mountains to explore - it’s got it all! It’s also home to the most southerly city in the entire world - Ushuaia.
With over 90 bird species across the national park, including imperial shags, austral parakeet, Magellanic oystercatcher, and black-browed albatross, Tierra Del Fuego is a birdwatching paradise. In addition to all these species of bird, you can also see unique marine wildlife, including humpback whales, sea lions, as well as many different types of penguins.
It’s also one of the only national parks in South America that goes all the way down to sea level. With its beautiful coastal regions, you don’t need to journey up to the high-altitude areas if you don’t want to. It means that it’s easy to do a day trip without having to adjust the altitude.
✨Where to Stay: Arakur Hotel. The fantastic views will take your breath away! The view over the city and the Beagle Channel with the Andes surrounding is spectacular from anywhere in the hotel, the lobby, the restaurant, the pool, and most rooms.
This is a 5-star luxury hotel with outstanding Services and amenities, with a modern style. You will enjoy the heated indoor and outdoor pool, overviewing Ushuaia and snowcap mountains.
✨ What about the food? Ushuaia is a paradise for food lovers! Ushuaia offers the widest array of Patagonian cuisines in southern South America, making it an important culinary destination. Local cuisine in Ushuaia primarily focuses on using locally sourced ingredients such as South Atlantic King Crab, cod, and mussels, which are abundant in the area.
Another popular ingredient is the Patagonian lamb raised in the nearby steppe farms, which is considered one of the most distinctive and delicious meat options available. River trout is also a sensational option that is quite popular among locals.
✨Our Suggested Trip: Patagonia Stunning Exploration
Iguazu National Park, Argentina, and Brazil.
Iguazu Falls, a breathtaking natural wonder, stands out as one of the most captivating attractions in South America.
Located across three amazing countries: Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay, this outstanding UNESCO World Heritage Site hosts over one million visitors every year. It’s also a popular place to cross borders on a multi-country trip across South America, as it has multiple border crossings in the area.
Iguazu Falls itself is commonly referred to as one of the seven modern wonders of the world, and it’s easy to see why. With over 1,500 cubic meters of water flowing over the top of the falls every second, it’s a thunderous place to visit and somewhere you’ll never forget.
It’s undoubtedly bucket-list worthy!
In addition to the impressive Iguazu Falls, you can enjoy a hugely biodiverse rainforest setting. You can find sleek jaguars, colorful toucans, exotic coatis, and much more throughout the Iguazu National Park.
✨ Where to Stay: Awasi Iguazu Lodge is the Perfect Mix of nature and pampering when visiting the Iguazu Falls.
The lodge is situated on the banks of the River Iguazú, surrounded by the Atlantic Rainforest. The property is beautiful, with amazing rainforest views from your balcony. You will have your own private house with a plunge pool and terrace to relax.
You will have your own personal guide when you are at the lodge that will create the perfect itinerary for you and take care of all the details so you can explore the area at your own pace.
Activities included hiking, biking, horseback riding, cultural exposure, massages, plus almost anything else you are interested in.
✨ What about the food? Make sure you try the local cuisine and wine pairings created by the chef.
✨ Our suggested trip: Ibera Wetlands & Culture of Argentina
Nahuel Huapi National Park, Argentina
As the oldest national park in Argentina, Nahuel Huapi National Park has a fantastic history and has been a popular destination for many decades. Known for being one the best places to experience water activities, thanks to its location on Nahuel Huapi Lake, it’s widely visited by those seeking adventure.
In the Winter months, Nahuel Huapi National Park transforms and becomes the perfect place to ski and snowboard with amazing views of the lake below. When the season starts, all the ski resorts and chair lifts open back up again, and the whole area shifts into Winter wonderland mode!
It’s certainly a unique place to visit whether you’re traveling in Summer or Winter, with a distinctly European feel that comes from the settlers that came across and made it their home.
You can base yourself in the small town of San Carlos de Bariloche (known as just Bariloche) and enjoy the amazing hikes, hit the slopes in the Winter, or get your fill of watersports like kayaking and canoeing in the surrounding Argentine Lake District. Created by German settlers, this town feels like it’s been transported straight out of Bavaria.
✨ Where to Stay: Llao llao Resort. With a beautiful lake beach, solarium, swimming pools, and a stunning golf course, Llao Llao is the perfect choice for people who want to stay in a luxurious, exclusive place while visiting Patagonia.
✨ What about the food? With many breweries and chocolatiers to visit, staying in Bariloche is a lot of fun for the foodies.
✨ Our suggested trip: Luxury Food & Wine Adventure in South America
Rapa Nui National Park, Chile
We’ve got another UNESCO World Heritage Site on our hands here!
Located on the stunning Easter Island in the Pacific Ocean, Rapa Nui National Park is a natural and cultural phenomenon that’s recognizable all around the world.
So much so that many museums have stolen artifacts from this iconic island in the past. I'm, of course, talking about the Moai statues.
Many people have seen the statues of Rapa Nui on their bucket list, and with good reason! Across the Rapa Nui National Park, you’ll find over 900 statues, mainly of the iconic Easter Island heads, otherwise known as the Moai. Spanning over 17,000 acres, you can easily spend days exploring this historic national park and learning all about the indigenous tribes that call this island home.
Despite its remote location, Rapa Nui National Park welcomes around 100,000 visitors every year. While most are there to see the statues, Rapa Nui National Park also has a wide range of indigenous flora and fauna that cannot be found anywhere else in the world!
✨ Where to Stay: Explora Rapa Nui, Chile. Nestled in a tranquil location just outside the island's main town, this opulent full-service resort beckons adventure-seekers with its exquisite dining and luxurious accommodations. Like other Explora lodges in South America, this resort provides an upscale experience that is truly worth the investment.
✨ What about the food? When visiting Rapa Nui National Park, delight yourself with locally caught fish and also tap into the classic Chilean dishes, including ceviches, roast beef, and lamb, empanadas, and salads. Make sure you try the outstanding Chilean wine varieties.
Queulat National Park
Looking for a slightly smaller national park to explore?
Located in the beautiful Aysen Region of Chile, Queulat National Park is famous for having a stunning evergreen forest that meets mighty snowcapped mountains. It’s a striking juxtaposition that is so beautiful and makes you stop and wonder where you are.
Honestly, you’d be forgiven for thinking you were in Norway or Canada with this dramatic landscape!
Strangely enough, Queulat National Park is one of the only examples of a cold climate rainforest in the world.
So, you’ll be surrounded by woodlands and dense forests, but you’ll round the corner and see stunning glacial lakes and ice caps.
It’s truly a magical experience to behold!
When you consider that Queulat National Park also has a lot of super impressive waterfalls, this place is an underrated paradise in Chile. Yes, there are plenty of spectacular national parks all around Chile - it’s actually insane - but you definitely shouldn’t overlook the beautiful Queulat National Park.
In addition to the forests and glacial lakes, Queulat National Park also features a ton of amazing mountains that are perfect for multi-day treks or day hikes, depending on your itinerary.
✨ Where to stay: Puyuhuapi Lodge
This place is perfect for those who want to explore the northern section of Queulat National Park but also relax by taking a dip in the natural thermal pools the lodge. The breathtaking scenery is a feast for the eyes, with the emerald fjord bordered by the lush greenery of the temperate rainforest and majestic snow-covered granite peaks that emerge from the jungle.
✨ What about the food? Enjoy the most delicious and traditional cuisine of the fjords of southern Chile and the Mediterranean cuisine.
Galapagos National Park
Let’s finish with a famous, show-stopping destination. Probably the South American national park on most people’s bucket lists, the Galapagos National Park is a paradise like no other.
As Ecuador’s first-ever national park back in the 1950s, the Galapagos National Park has been a haven for biologists and other scientific minds, looking to walk in the footsteps of legendary evolutionary biologist, Charles Darwin.
Filled with unique endemic species, giant sea turtles, jaw-dropping coral reefs, and much, much more, the Galapagos National Park is a nature lover’s playground. You can snorkel, scuba dive, go on amazing nature hikes, and so much more in this beloved South American national park.
After a long day exploring, head to one of the island’s many gorgeous sandy beaches and watch the sun dip over the horizon. You might even see a giant sea turtle or two crawling slowly toward the water’s edge. Raise a glass, take in the moment, and ask yourself, is this paradise? I don’t know, but it feels pretty close…
✨ Where to Stay: The best way to explore Galapagos is by taking a Cruise. Embarking on a cruise allows you to explore different islands and see more.
Some iconic creatures, like sea lions, marine iguanas, blue-footed boobies, finches, and giant tortoises, are guaranteed to see on any island you visit, but for example, the waved albatross with its car-length wingspan is only found on Española, the southernmost island.
✨ What about the food? When traveling to Galapagos, the delicious local dishes will make your stay a top-notch culinary adventure too. You're gonna love the food on the islands! It's all about the fresh seafood, caught without threatening any of the species found there. And if you're into more traditional Ecuadorian dishes, you can get your fill of meat, potatoes, and rice. Plus, there are also some exotic fruits grown on the islands that you can't find anywhere else!
Our Suggested Trip: Galapagos, The Luxurious Lifetime Exploration
The Atacama Desert National Park
The Atacama Desert National Park is a protected area located in northern Chile, known for its stunningly vast and otherworldly landscapes.
You won't find a more unique and diverse landscape anywhere else - there are vast salt flats, towering volcanoes, and rugged canyons to explore.
And the best part?
The park is home to many different types of animals and plants, including some rare species like the Andean flamingo and vicuña.
Visitors to the park can explore its stunning landscapes, witness breathtaking sunsets, and learn about the rich cultural history of the indigenous peoples who have inhabited the area for thousands of years.
✨ Where to Stay: Tierra Atacama Lodge. Tierra Atacama is your gateway to where luxury meets authenticity in the desert. This charming hotel not only offers stunning views of the Licancabur Volcano but also boasts a spa, outdoor pool, and exquisitely designed guest rooms.
It's a place where you can immerse yourself in the desert's beauty while enjoying a range of excursions, from visiting the Tatio Geysers to exploring the mystical Valley of the Moon. Tierra Atacama offers a luxurious oasis in the heart of the desert.
✨ What about the food? Tierra Atacama offers an extraordinary dining experience that seamlessly blends the rich flavors of Chilean cuisine with the breathtaking natural beauty of the Atacama Desert. You will be taken on a culinary journey that showcases the finest ingredients of the region, resulting in a truly memorable experience.
So, there you have it, our selection of South America's most incredible national parks.
Is your favorite on here?
I can guarantee they have the perfect ingredients for a fantastic adventure in South America: You will experience breathtaking landscapes, encounter rare wildlife, stay in charming lodges in unique locations, and indulge in the most delicious cuisine.
Your top-notch adventure in South America
Want to visit one of these iconic national parks or combine some of them? We can help you design your perfect top-notch adventure in South America!
As a boutique travel agency, we can create custom itineraries that make your dream South American adventures a reality. A stress-free, once-in-a-lifetime Trip just for you. We have been doing this for more than 16 years. Read Here about our traveler's testimonials and learn more about how we work 😉
PS. Check out our services or learn more about us. We would love to know about your South America trip plans.
PSS. To Start planning your trip, book your trip Consultation Call with us.
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