LIFESTYLE

Under the Radar Hotspots in Latin America
Straying off the beaten path has its benefits - here are 10 undiscovered gems.

pucon__chile

Pucon, Chile

When it comes to Chile, while many travelers have heard of Patagonia or the Atacama sand dunes, few are aware of Pucon, a village frequented more by Chileans. Located in the Lake District and a 90-minute flight from Santiago, here are Pucon's highlights: the town is situated at the foot of a smoking volcano that you can actually climb, you can go trekking through ancient monkey puzzle forests, and the Hotel Antumalal is a stunning Bauhaus-style hotel where Queen Elizabeth once slept.

(Hotel Antumalal)

bolivia

Uyuni Salt Flats, Bolivia

The Uyuni Salt Flats in Bolivia are a holy grail trip for some due to the sheer challenge: at more than 4,000 square miles of salt crust covering a former prehistoric lake -- not to mention an elevation of almost 12,000 feet -- it's not for the faint of heart. Better hurry; Ice Road Truckers recently traversed the flats.

Photo Credit: Absolute Travel 

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Uruguay Estancias

Historic family ranches known as estancias are found all across Uruguay; these ranches harken back to a time when gauchos and grazing cattle freely roamed the rolling hills and green pastures of Uruguay. Similar to farm-stays and dude-ranch vacations in the States, a tour of several Uruguay estancias provide visitors with opportunities to rustle up cattle with experienced ranch hands while also allowing plenty of time for relaxation.

(Adventure Life)

brazil

Caraiva in Bahia, Brazil

Caraiva in Bahia  is a real hidden gem. This fishing village in the northeast part of the country is remote and only received electricity in 2007, but it more than makes up for it with some of the best beaches in Brazil. Warning: motorized vehicles are still not allowed.

(Dehouche )

cartagena

Cartagena, Colombia

Malía Everette directs a specialty travel program at Global Exchange, a non-profit human rights organization, and in her job has travelled all over the world. But one of her favorite places to go on vacation with her sons is Cartagena, Colombia. "The infrastructure of the city is solid," she explains. "The colonial part of the city is easy to navigate and architecturally stunning, and from an educational perspective my sons learned a lot about the history of the country at the museums. We spent a day exploring the Fortaleza San Felipe de Barajas, went boating, fishing and snorkeling, and heard some great music! We had a blast."

(AP)

guadalupe

Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico

While many travelers know about the popular area of Baja California, Valle de Guadalupe -- 15 miles inland from coastal Ensenada -- is little-known. Since it produces more than 80 percent of Mexico’s wine, including award-winning Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, and Riesling, it's no surprise that the region is being heralded as “the next Napa.”

(Julio Rodriguez)

leon__nicaragua

Leon, Nicaragua

While many tourists flock to San Juan del Sur on the Pacific Coast and Granada for its colonial architectural splendors, León is still relatively undiscovered. The true attraction are the grand, soaring churches, including Leon Cathedral, the largest in Central America. Bonus: uncrowded beaches are only a 15-minute cab ride away.

(AP)

vichayito__peru

Vichayito Peru

Robert Rose just wrapped up 9 months traveling and living in Latin America in search of off-the-beaten-path hot spots for his Raw Travel Blog  and upcoming TV show, and fell in love with Vichayito, on Peru's northern coast. He cites whale watching, beautiful beaches, and friendly people as the primary reasons to visit this remote outpost. 

(Robert Rose)

costa_rica

Tortuguero, Costa Rica

Located in northeastern Costa Rica, Tortuguero National Park abuts the small village of Tortuguero, which is only accessible by boat or plane. Many visitors stay nearby at Pachira Lodge where they can tour the park and have a good chance of seeing someone like this Capuchin monkey on a canopy tour or kayak outing. 

(Pachira Lodge)

guyana

Guyana

Most travel experts would describe the entire country of Guyana as under-the-radar, and they'd be right. The country combines a Caribbean flavor with  countless opportunities for wildlife sightings, which isn't a surprise since Guyana features a diverse landscape, from savannahs to rainforest and pristine beaches as far as the eye can see.

(Adventure Life)

Under the Radar Hotspots in Latin America

Straying off the beaten path has its benefits - here are 10 undiscovered gems.