17 Places to Visit in 2017

A new year signals a new start, with new possibilities and new places to travel. Here are 17 places to visit in Latin America in 2017:

17. Mexico City, Mexico

Hugely populated and fast-paced, Mexico City stimulates the senses. Explore the historic Zocalo (main square), Chapultepec Park, Coyoacan, and don’t forget to check out a Lucha Libre fight at night. You can visit the pyramids at Teotihuacan for an interesting day trip away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

16. Lake Titicaca, Peru & Bolivia

At 12,500 feet above sea level, Lake Titicaca is the highest commercially navigable lake in the world and the origin of the Inca creation story. The lake’s deep blue waters are shared by Peru and Bolivia, with both sides worth a visit if you have the time. Visiting the Uros floating reed islands is a popular attraction, but why not extend your Titicaca experience through a homestay on Amantani Island? You can dance the night away to traditional Peruvian music…in traditional Peruvian clothing. Go for it.

15. Mayan Ruins, Mexico & Guatemala

Mayan ruins are scattered throughout Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, and Honduras. Well-preserved and of great historic interest, you should visit at least a few sites during your visit. Check out the jungle ruins of Palenque (Mexico), the seaside remains of Tulum (Mexico), and the former kingdom of Tikal in Guatemala. For an off-the-beaten path experience, consider the ruins of Tonina in Mexico as well. Don’t be surprised if you’re the only tourist there. Sometimes it’s fun to take the road less traveled. Just make sure you watch Apocalypto before you go.

14. Colca Canyon, Peru

The second deepest canyon in the world (more than twice as deep as the Grand Canyon) can be easily hiked in a 2-day 1-night trip from Arequipa, Peru. Before descending into the canyon, make sure to view the massive condors that fly in the surrounding areas. As legend goes, the record hiking out of the canyon from the valley is 45 minutes. Think you can beat it?

13. Volcano Tajumulco & Volcano Acatenango, Guatemala

Guatemala is a volcano hiker’s paradise. Better yet, it offers two of the three highest points in Central America, including the highest summit. Overnight hikes to the peaks of Volcano Tajumulco and Volcano Acatenango are well worth the effort. You might get hailed on in near-freezing temperatures, but the sunrise at the top of the volcano is breathtaking. Just don’t hike the volcanoes in Chacos…Bonus Reason to Visit Guatemala: Chicken busses that keep it real and funky on the roads.

12. Isla Ometepe, Nicaragua

Isla Ometepe – comprised of two volcanoes – is situated in Lake Nicaragua. Take the ferry over from the mainland and then rent a moped near the dock. Just try your best not to get ripped off…sometimes it’s the luck of the draw. The island is beautiful with a lot of hidden gems: don’t be afraid to feed your wild side.

11. Death Road, Bolivia

Bolivia’s Death Road, AKA “The World’s Most Dangerous Road”, used to take the lives of 200 to 300 car passengers a year. Fortunately, there is now little automobile activity and is predominantly a route for cyclists. You can bike the Death Road and descend nearly 10,000 feet in a half-day. Don’t miss out on the adrenaline rush and beautiful scenery…just be careful and make sure your brakes work properly. It’s all down-hill…

10. Atacama Desert, Chile

The Atacama Desert of northern Chile is the driest, non-polar desert in the world. You can rent a bike in San Pedro de Atacama, Chile and venture out to the Valley of the Moon. The landscapes, or moonscapes, are surreal. It’s actually hard to believe that you’re on earth. Just don’t forget to bring the following: sunscreen, sunglasses, and plenty of water. Bring at least 2 liters of water!

9. Leon, Nicaragua

Leon is a ruggedly beautiful city with rich and recent history from the Nicaraguan Revolution. Learn about the revolution from a former revolutionary, join passionate baseball fans at the local stadium, and travel to the outskirts of the city to volcano board down Cerro Negro, an active volcano.

8. Cascada de Roberto Barrios, Chiapas, Mexico

A (relatively) hidden paradise with endless cascades and turquoise pools to explore. Hidden caves, sliding rocks, waterfalls, and vines to climb. Roberto Barrios Cascades is more of a park for locals than a tourist attraction. It’s both a great adventure and cultural experience. If you’re lucky, a local might show you some of the best secret spots. Just don’t take pictures of the surrounding towns – the Zapatista territory destroys cameras from unauthorized photographers.

7. Semuc Champey, Lanquin, Guatemala

No waivers, no worries. Adventure awaits in Semuc Champey. With beautiful natural pools similar to those at Cascada de Roberto Barrios, this place beckons to those looking for adventure and exploration. Add caving, tubing, bridge jumping, and bumpy transportation in the bed of a pickup truck. That’s a full day.

6. Las Catalinas, Guanacaste, Costa Rica

Guanacaste, Costa Rica has some of the most beautiful coastline I’ve ever seen. Great for surfing and paddleboarding. If you’ve ever wanted to mountain bike with ocean views and then cool off with a swim afterwards, head to Las Catalinas – a new beach town community with trails and beaches open to the public. Wonderful trails, beautiful beaches, and a refreshing town plan focused on sustainability and community.

5. Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico

Too many great spots to mention in the Yucatan Peninsula. The best part: it’s easy to fly into from the U.S. Check out the beautiful capital city of Merida before heading to Isla Holbox (where the Gulf of Mexico meets the Caribbean Sea) to swim with whale sharks and feast on ceviche. Don’t miss out on the thousands of cenotes dotting the Yucatan – all beautiful and unique. Tulum and Bacalar Lagoon are well worth visiting. Whatever you do, please venture outside of Cancun…

4. Amazon Jungle, Peru

Jaguars, Anacondas, Tarantulas – oh my! Okay…you might not see any jaguars or anacondas, but the excitement and fear is enough to make this place incredibly exciting. Unreal biodiversity, both flora and fauna, makes a visit to the Amazon a special experience. Stay in a jungle lodge and wake up to red howler monkeys in the wee hours. It’s a great way to unplug and connect with nature.

3. Salt Flats of Uyuni, Bolivia

Chances are you haven’t heard of the Salt Flats of Bolivia. If you haven’t, it’s time to add this place to your travel radar. An endless sea of salt with otherworldly terrain. Don’t be surprised if you find extraterrestrial life there. Phone home if you do. Three day Jeep trips are a great way to see both the salt flats and surrounding desert landscapes.

2. Pura Vida, Costa Rica

Okay, Pura Vida isn’t a place, it’s more of a mindset. Pura Vida, or “Pure Life”, is Costa Rica’s national motto. You’ll hear Pura Vida before or after just about every conversation. It’ll grow on you and you might find yourself more relaxed and happy. Whether that’s true or not, get connected to nature on the coast and in the central mountains. Zip line, surf, search for sloths and monkeys. Or just lounge on the beach. Discover Pura Vida in Costa Rica.

1. Salkantay Trek, Peru

Visit Machu Picchu in the morning when it’s less crowded with shooby tourists. And, better yet, experience the diverse Andes landscapes through a multi-day trek leading up to your Machu Picchu visit. The Classic Inca Trail is a popular choice, but don’t sleep on the Salkantay Trek. From glacial mountains to high jungle, you won’t be disappointed. The views and altitude are sure to take your breath away.

Now you know where to go in 2017. Happy New Year!

Jack

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