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South America is home to some of the finest wildlife hotspots on Earth. From towering mountains to immense rainforests to unique island archipelagos and thousands of miles of coastline. The continent offers wonderful habitats to hundreds of incredible animal species who are waiting to be discovered.
South America has three prominent wildlife regions: the Amazon Rainforest, the Andes Mountains, and the Galapagos Islands.
The Amazon is the world’s largest expanse of rainforest, encompassing as much land as the contiguous USA, and spreads out over eight countries.
The Andes are the world’s longest mountain chain and runs more than 4000 miles through seven countries. The Galapagos Islands are the birthplace of evolution, and where Charles Darwin first formulated his groundbreaking theories.
Where can you go and what can you see on a South America wildlife tour?
Peru is a South American gem is home to an array of incredible cultural and natural treasures. From some of the best-protected areas of the Amazon to the soaring views of Machu Picchu, Peru is a great place both to see spectacular wildlife and learn about fascinating cultures.
There is a rich history of ancient civilizations in Peru, including the Norte Chico civilization and the Inca Empire. In present day there is a population of around 32 million people, ranging from Europeans, Africans, Asians, and Indigenous peoples. The main language spoken in Peru is Spanish, however, many people speak Indigenous languages including Quechua.
Peru is also the location of a vast biodiversity because of its varied climate and geography. There are more than 21,000 plants and animals, of which more than 5,000 are endemic to the region. More than 500 species of mammals, 1800 species of birds, 300 species of reptiles exist in Peru. Some of the most recognized species include the puma, jaguar, spectacled bear, macaws, condors, toucans, caimans, and giant anacondas!
Consider joining Earthwatch Institute on a thrilling Amazon riverboat exploration trip. This trip varies from 8-11 days and offers the opportunity to work alongside researchers to conserve pink dolphins, monkeys, and other important Amazonian wildlife.
Ecuador / Galapagos Islands
Ecuador is an ethnically diverse country located in South America. The country is home to more than 16 million people, primarily Mestizos, but also Montubio, Afro-Ecuadorian, Indigenous, and White people. It is estimated that 74% of the population follows the Roman Catholic religion, followed by 10.4% Protestant, 7.9% Atheist, and others.
Geographically, Ecuador covers a total area of 283,561 square kilometres including the Galapagos Islands. There are four main geographic regions in Ecuador: La Costa (the coast), La Sierra (the highlands), La Amazonia (the east, or Amazon), La Region Insular (the Galapagos Islands). The most distant point from the center of the Earth is located at the top of Ecuador’s tallest mountain, Mount Chimborazo, due to the ellipsoid shape of the planet.
Ecuador is considered one of the megadiverse countries of the world and has the most biodiversity per square kilometre of any other nation. There are more than 15% of the world’s known bird species found in Ecuador plus 38 more which are endemic to the Galapagos Islands. The country has the first constitution which recognizes the rights of nature. Although the Galapagos is on the UNESCO list, it is still threatened by a variety of environmental effects including oil exploitation and climate change.
Looking to visit Ecuador? Check out this 7-day adventure tour that takes you through waterfalls, cloud forests, hot springs, where you can hike, bike, and explore.
Want to make a positive impact in Ecuador? Join an Amazon animal welfare program and volunteer at a rescue center in the Amazon Jungle!
Travelling as a family? Why not take a Galapagos family research adventure which includes a chance to learn from local researchers and tackle conservation challenges together!
With more than 208 million people, Brazil is the fifth most populated country in the world. The country spans 8.5 million kilometres squared and contains 26 states. It is the largest Portuguese speaking country in the world and the only Portuguese speaking country in the Americas. There is an incredible diversity ethnically in the country, as people have immigrated there for more than a century. Brazil has the largest Japanese population outside of Japan with approximately 1.5 million people of Japanese descent.
The Brazilian state of Amazonas is the largest state in Brazil. The state is mostly made up of tropical jungle and the capital city Manaus is located right in the middle of the jungle. The Amazon rainforest is the most biodiverse rainforest in the world, and the areas of the Cerrado and Atlantic Forest contain the largest biodiversity.
Some of the most recognized species found in Brazil are jaguars, pumas, tapirs, sloths, armadillos, piranhas, and several species of monkeys. While there has been some progress in conservation in Brazil, there are still some threats because of the use of land in the country. Deforestation in the Amazon, climate change, habitat fragmentation, illegal logging, drug trafficking and others are major drivers in the threats to Brazil’s natural resources.
Consider joining a Brazilian Amazon cruise adventure that is family-friendly, full of activities, and supports responsible tourism.
If you’re interested in seeing jaguars, ocelots, and other amazing wildlife, join this ultimate jaguar & wildlife adventure in Brazil. Spend 14-days traveling through the Amazon, stunning landscapes, popular beaches, and famous landmarks like Christ the Redeemer.
Argentina takes up most of the southern part of South America. It is the largest Spanish-speaking country, eighth-largest country, and is made up of primarily white/Mestizo people of European descent.
The country of Argentina has benefited from its natural resources, literacy in its population, and an export-oriented agricultural sector. They have the third-largest economy in Latin America.
As a ‘megadiverse’ country, Argentina is home to 15 continental zones, 3 oceanic zone, and the Antarctic region. The biological diversity in the country is shown in its cataloged 9372 vascular plants, 1038 birds, 375 mammals, 338 reptiles, and 162 amphibians. Some species include penguins, condors, jaguars, and more!
Interested in helping at an animal sanctuary in Argentina? Join Love Volunteers at this life-altering volunteer program.
Itching to explore Antarctica? Join Quark Expeditions on an Antarctic Explorer tour that discovers the 7th Continent. This trip departs from either Buenos Aires or from Ushuaia.