I have said it many times but the coffee triangle region is one of my favourite areas in South America. It is so unexpected to see such a lush, tranquil place even when the country is brimming with heat in the summer.
Cocora Valley is a really special place and worth checking out, read the Visitor's Guide to Cocora Valley to learn everything you need to know from how to get there to what you should do!
Argentina celebrates May Revolution Day each year on the 25th of the month. It is a very important time, not only for Argentina, but also for South America as this liberation arose during a very important moment in the revolt against Spanish rule. Spain lost control of Buenos Aires and would eventually lose control of the entire region in South America.
Today it is a happy holiday celebrating Argentine culture with parades, music and of course great food. Learn more about the history of Argentina Revolution Day and most importantly - where to celebrate it!
Manizales is known as the heart of the coffee region in Colombia, and while that may be true there is so much more to this town than simply coffee. Located in central Colombia, it is a university town and has many attractions you shouldn't miss. While it doesn't have the night life of Bogota or Medellin it is perfect for spending a few quiet days strolling the streets and drinking fantastic brew.
When newcomers plan their first trip to South America the first place on their mind is Machu Picchu. It's not surprising as it is one of the greatest ruins on the planet but it is not the only one in South America. In fact there are several others throughout the region, all with different histories and legends.
If great history and architecture appeals to you check out the top archaeological sites in South America.
One of my favourite memories of Colombia was visiting the coffee region. Colombia has a really diverse landscape and I was not prepared for the cool climate and pristine green hills of the region. While it can be frustrating to travel around South America and realize that most people are drinking instant coffee, this region comprising of Armenia, Pereira and Salento is the one place you can be assured to get a fantastic cup of coffee. Read more about the Coffee Triangle of Colombia.
While most travelers often go to Pereira because it is part of the coffee triangle there is so much more to see and do than simply drinking coffee and going out to the fields. With one of the longest bridges in South America, a large zoo and natural history museum there is much to do in Pereira outside the hiking and coffee-related activities.
Check out our overview of Pereira, Colombia.
Image (c) Triangulo del Café
If you did not head down to South America for March to experience Semana Santa, don't worry there are plenty of other important holidays throughout the year - in May alone both Paraguay and Argentina have two very big holidays that you do not want to miss if you are in the region.
Check out our picks for the best holidays and events in South America in May 2013.
While traveling through Colombia I adored the nightlife of Cali and salsa danced well into the early hours of the morning but has much more to offer than simply salsa and nightlife. As much fun as I had when I needed a break I went to Salento, which is near the Cocora Valley and is known for its calm and peaceful surroundings.
It is a small town with Spring-like temperatures all year round and while it is a popular tourist destination, it is completely warranted. They are many comfortable walks throughout the area and beautiful landscapes. If you want to get away from it all this is the perfect town. Check out the Visitor's Guide to Salento.
Image (c) FabulousFabs
There are 26 States in Brazil and it can be tricky to keep track of them all but Minas Gerais should be on your list if you like colonial architecture as people flock to Ouro Preto, Diamantina, Tiradentes and Mariana to view its art and walk the beautiful streets.
If you prefer a bit of outdoor adventure Minas Gerais is also a great place as this is an agricultural state that produces coffee and milk but also has some of the best caves and waterfalls in the country and is perfect for trekking.
Interested? Learn more in our Visitor's Guide to Minas Gerais.
While Paris, New York or Hong Kong may be known for their culinary prowess, South America has some world-class restaurants that offer the best of the region's food and tradition with skill that would compete in any country.
South America can be a great destination for relatively affordable gourmet food, for example while Argentina isn't necessarily a budget destination, I had a great 15 course molecular gastronomy tasting menu for less than $100. It is not a cheap meal but anywhere else it would cost three to five times that amount.
You don't need to go to London or Los Angeles to get an incredible meal, simply visit some of the best restaurants in South America.