Home to some of the most impressive and geographically diverse landscapes on the planet, South America should be on any traveler’s bucket list. Some of the most dramatic sights on the continent are the communities perched high in the mountains. These settlements can take hours to reach, but often reward visitors with spectacular mountain views. With that in mind, here’s our guide to the 11 highest towns and cities in South America.
La Rinconada, Peru
With an average height of 16,830 feet (5,130 meters) La Rinconada is the highest human settlement in the world and is at least 200 feet (61 meters) higher than the village of Tuiwa in Tibet, which is the second highest. The town has a total population of around 50,000 and average temperatures that are below freezing between June and August.
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1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
The Chilean village of Parinacota is situated at an elevation of 14,400 feet (4,400 meters). With a population of less than 50, Parinacota consists only of a tiny church and a small huddle of houses.
Cerro de Pasco, Peru
The Central Peruvian town of Cerro de Pasco is one of the world’s highest human settlements, and has a population of more than 50,000 inhabitants. Silver was discovered in the area in 1630, and since that date the city has been an active mining center.
El Alto, Bolivia
Situated at an average elevation of 13,615 feet (4,150 meters), El Alto is the second-largest city in Bolivia and the highest metropolis in the world. With a population of nearly 1 million, the city is situated alongside La Paz and has a majority Amerindian population.
The city of Potosí has a population of nearly 200,000 and an average elevation of 13,420 feet (4,090 meters). Founded as a mining center in 1545, the city is dominated by the Cerro Rico (“rich mountain”), which produced more than half of the world’s silver during the second half of the 16th century.
Nestling the shores of Lake Titicaca, the largest lake in South America, the extraordinary city of Puno is set at an average elevation of 12,556 feet (3,830 meters). While there are smaller bodies of water at a higher elevation, Lake Titicaca is often described as the highest navigable lake in the world, as it has a large enough surface area to allow navigation by ships.
With a population of around 225,000 inhabitants, Juliaca is one of the largest cities in southern Peru. Like Chicago, the city is nicknamed “the Windy City,” because of its elevated location on the windswept Collao Plateau. The White Christ statue is one of the Juliaca’s major attractions and offers spectacular views of the city.
La Oroya, Peru
The Andean settlement of La Oroya dates back more than 12,000 years. The Spanish established a mining operation in the region in 1533 but its isolation from the rest of the country hindered progress, until a railway to the capital was completed 360 years later. Today, the town is one of the most polluted places on the planet, owing to the emission of toxic metals from its smelting operation.
Located around 12,169 feet (3,709 meters) above sea level, Oruro is Bolivia’s fifth largest city. Founded in 1606, the city went on to be developed as a major silver mining hub and is now a popular tourist destination.
La Paz, Bolivia
At an elevation of roughly 3,650 meters (11,975 feet) above sea level, La Paz is the highest capital city in the world. Founded in 1548, La Paz is the seat of the Bolivian government and produces around a quarter of the country’s gross domestic product.
Located at an elevation of 11,499 feet (3,505 meters), Apartaderos is the highest town in Venezuela. Lying at the intersection of three river valleys, Apartaderos is ringed by sweeping plains. The surrounding vegetation undergoes a daily freeze-and-thaw cycle, with summer temperatures in the day and cold temperatures at night.
Find out which South American country to visit, based on your personality.
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