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South America's Top UNESCO World Heritage Sites

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Around the world, areas with cultural and natural significance have been named UNESCO sites. The aim is to encourage regions to preserve and protect while promoting tourism as a sustainable alternative. Many travelers collect UNESCO sites as proud travelers badges and are delighted to find so many sites in South America. Here are a handful of the best:

1. Iguaçu National Park, Brazil

ArtToday.com

The Iguaçu Falls stretches over 2 miles across Brazil and into the Iguazú National Park in Argentina. One of the world's oldest and largest waterfalls, the spray from the 2,700m drop creates a cloud-like atmosphere where animals and plant-life thrive.

While this is a perfect vacation spot for bird lovers to spot over hundred of species, nature lovers are delighted to find howler monkeys, jaguars, giant anteaters and tropical flora and fauna.
See 10 Great Ways to Enjoy Iguaçu

2. Rapa Nui

Easter Island, also known as Isla de Pascua or Rapa Nui by the Spanish and Polynesian, is one of the most alluring sacred sites on Earth.

A Polynesian settlement famous for its enigmatic giant stone figures, the Moai were built centuries ago, but continue to remain a mystery and our only link to the demise of this isolated Polynesian culture.

3. Port, Fortresses and Group of Monuments, Cartagena

Ayngelina Brogan

Considered by many to be the most beautiful city in South America, Cartagena is located on Colombia's Caribbean coast.

This colonial city is protected by an impressive fortress and boasts some of the world’s best-preserved colonial architecture. Famous for its strong civil and military architecture during the Spanish colonial times, the fortress protected the city during numerous attacks, earning Cartagena the nickname La Heroica.
See our Cartagena Photo Gallery

4. Galapagos Islands

These 19 islands and its animal inhabitants once inspired Charles Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection and continue to delight all travelers who visit its shores.

Perhaps the last unspoiled place on earth where man continues to respect the boundaries of mother nature and wild creatures prosper without fear of man. Walking amongst this wildlife creates a memory you will never forget.

5. Machu Picchu

Hidden within the lush Peruvian mountains, this Incan kingdom remained a secret for ages and now is the continent's best known archaeological site.

While some travelers choose a plush train ride to enjoy the view in comfort. Others choose to trek the original Inca Trail and after several days are delighted by the ruins that dot the terraces. But for all, a tremendous sense of wonder for ancient society can be felt.

6. Ischigualasto / Talampaya Natural Parks, Argentina

From Bonnie Hamre, former About.com Guide

Two adjoining parks that belong to the same geological formation, this region contains some of the world's oldest known dinosaur remains.

Located in the central desert region of Argentina, the parks delight visitors hiking through the six geological formations that water and wind have carved over millions of years. Paleontology enthusiast marvel over the condensed land from the Triassic period that features  fossils of plants, mammals and from over 200 million years ago.
See photos of Ischigualasto Natural Park

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