Called 'the city of the eternal spring' for its mild climate and fertile land, Arica duty-free port is overlooked by the cliff of Morro de Arica and is a world-famous centre of surfing, known for the famous 'El Gringo' wave. In town is an archaeological museum, and the Pueblo Artesanal market selling handicrafts. Visits may be offered to Chungara Lake, one of the highest in the world, situated in Lauca National Park.
Buenos Aires is the capital of Argentina. Shuttle buses take visitors from its busy port to the city centre half a mile away. Near historic Plaza de Mayo, Calle Florida is the main shopping street, a good place to buy cheap leather goods, jewellery and designer clothes. Buenos Aires has many good cafes and tango bars, where you can see the dance being performed. Eva Peron's grave can be found in the picturesque Recoleta Cemetery.
The port of Callao is close to Peru's capital, Lima, and its chief attraction is the beaches of the La Punta area, and the offshore Isla El Fronton and Cavinzas, served by local boats and home to sea lions and sea birds. Above Puerto del Callao is the Fortress of Real Felipe and the restaurants of Malecon Figueredo. Callao is the gateway to Lima and the pre-Incan pyramids of Pachamac.
The capital of Venezuela, Caracas, is a bustling city with a skyline of skyscrapers backed by mountains. There are some remnants of its colonial past, including the Pantheon, 17th-century Plaza San Jacinto, and Plaza Bolivar at the heart of the old town where there is one of several memorials to Simon Bolivar. Parque Central houses museums and cinemas, and from the 52nd floor balcony there are panoramic views of the city and the hillside shantytowns.
Skyscrapers and hi-rise buildings line the long bay of Fortaleza, the fifth-largest city in Brazil.. The city has an large, grey cathedral, built in 1939 and a four-storey market selling local handicrafts and clothing. The older market of Feirinha da Beira-Mar is close to the beach, and along Beura-mar Avenye are kiosks selling seafood, sushi and traditional specialities.
Iles du Salut
One of these small islands was once a penal colony where Dreyfus was held, and famous as the setting for the novel and film, 'Papillon'. The prison was shut down in 1953, and the islands are now a popular tourist destination.
St Vincent is a good place to spot humpback and sperm whales and schools of dolphins. For a dip, Owia Salt Pond on the north-eastern coast is sheltered by volcanic rocks. Places of interest include the Vermont Nature Trail, winding past exotic flora through rainforest. The island has a 1200-meter-high volcano, La Soufriere, and lush botanical gardens in Kingstown which have a descendant of the breadfruit tree planted by Captain Bligh.
La Guaira is Venezuela's main port, with a variety of colonial buildings protected by World Heritage status. These include San Juan de Dios Cathedral, the colonnaded Pasaj Urrutia, and the forts of El Vigia and La Polvora. The area suffered damage by mudslides in 1999 and much of the city is in a poor state of repair.
The thriving city of Manaus on the Amazon River is a mixture of high-rise and 19th-century buildings, rising from the jungle. The elegant and colourful Palacio Rio Negro was renovated in the 1980's, and contains works by Brazilian artists and fine furniture. Other buildings of note include the magnificent Teatro Amazonas, and the Mercado Municipal, built in Gothic style with stained-glass windows, and housing a busy food market.
Montevideo is the capital of Uruguay, where the port is a mile from the city centre and its mixture of high-rise buildings and Art Deco and colonial architecture. The historic Ciudad Vieja quarter is being restored, with brightly-painted buildings housing cafes, small guest houses and galleries. Montevideo has a strong urban culture of tango bars, theatres, clubs and music. Other highlights include the Palacio Legislatvio and the Museo Del Gauch, tracing the history of Uruguayan gaucho.
Parintins is a small city populated by Amazonian Indians, situated on Tupinambarana Island. The harbour is next to a flea market selling wood carvings, paintings and lace, and a colourful floating market. Close by is Parintins' Cathedral. Visitors are often welcomed by Bumbas Dancers, as seen in the annual June Bois Bumbas Festival. Further west, there are sandy beaches at Alter de Chao, and water buffaloes, herons and iguanos are often seen on the river-bank at Guajara.
Puntarenas is the largest city in the Central Pacific and a major cruise ship port, giving access to numerous National Parks and Biosphere Reserves in wildlife-rich Costa Rica. It also has a large fishing fleet and visitors can enjoy local specialities in its seafood restaurants. The city has a Scarlet Macaw Sanctuary, and next to the beach is the tree-lined promenade of Paseo de los Turistas with views across the scenic Nicoya Peninsula.
Rio de Janeiro
The city's most famous sights face each other across Guanabara Bay, the location of Rio de Janeiro's port. Opposite the pinnacle of Sugarloaf Mountain is the huge Statue of Christ looking down from the top of 2400-foot Corcovado hill. On its slopes is the large urban forest of Tijuca, and down below the famous Ipanema and Copocabana beaches. The city has wonderful beaches, and dance halls, bars, boutiques and pavement cafes.
Salvador was formerly the capital of Brazil and is its oldest city, divided into the picturesque old town area of Pelourinho on top of the cliffs and the beachside region of Cidade Baixa, which are joined by the Lacerda Elevator. Salvador is generally thought to be typical of old Brazil, and has an old fort, brightly-painted colonial buildings, artisan workshops and restaurants. Crafts and souvenirs are on sale in Cidade Baixa at Modelo Market.
The long sandy beaches of Santa Marta make it a favourite holiday destination for Columbians. The Museo del Oro is housed in the grand colonial mansion of Casa de la Aduana and exhibits include Indian artefacts, pottery and gold. Santa Marta was where the South American hero, Simon Bolivar died, and his home is now a museum. The 18th-century cathedral and San Fernando Fort are other attractions, whilst further afield are nature reserves and small fishing towns.
Santarem sits at the confluence of the Amazon and Tapajos rivers and began life as a community of indigenous Tapajos Indians. With only one road connecting it to civilization, today it is the stepping-off point for exploring the Amazon rainforest, where locals have the opportunity to sell their crafts to tourists.
The very busy container port of Santos handles the majority of Brazilian exports. The town has a Coffee Museum and otherwise is famous for the Santos Football Club where Pele once played. Santos is the gateway to the city of Sao Paulo.
Situated on the shores of the vast Beagle Channel, Ushuaia is the world's most southerly city, situated in the Argentinian provice of Tierra del Fuego. It is overlooked by Mount Martial to the west and by Mounts Olivia and Cinco Hermanos to the east, and is the departure point for cruises to the Antarctic and the Falkland Islands. There are a number of museums in the town tracing the maritime and military history of the area.
Valparaiso is divided into two areas by steep hills which are connected by 30 funiculars. The city has a faded charm, with winding roads, down-at-heel mansions and hillside shantytowns, earning parts of Valparaiso World Heritage Status in 2003. It has some notable buildings and areas, including the Astoreca building, Prat Pier, the Sea Museum Quarter and Plaza La Matriz.