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THE REGIONTime zone: GMT -5Flight time from UK: 13 hoursWhen to go: The countries of the Andes do lend themselves to year-round exploration, though we would recommend avoiding January and February if you wish to visit Machu Picchu, and aiming for the UK winter months if you wish to trek the wilds of Patagonia.In brief: The longest continental mountain range in the world, spanning 4,300 miles from north to south, the Andes provide a dramatic backdrop to some of South America's most diverse terrains. From Ecuador's volcanoes and Peru and Bolivia's ancient civilisations to the trekking haven of Patagonia, there is an Andean experience to suit every interest. THE ANDESWE RECOMMEND1PERU Truly, a country of icons - from the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu to Lake Titicaca and the Amazon rainforest, Peru is top of most travellers' lists for a fi rst visit to South America.2CHILE Snaking along the foothills of the Andes, Chile is home to many unique experiences: exploring the world's driest desert, sampling some of its fi nest wine and lacing up for some of the most spectacular trekking in Patagonia.3ARGENTINA Sparkling blue glaciers and picture-postcard Lake District towns combine with wine-tasting and trekking. A trip to the mighty Iguaçu Falls adds a further dimension to this country of incredible contrasts.4ECUADOR Colourful markets, colonial cities and avenues of volcanoes meet the Amazon and one of the world's most outstanding wildlife experiences: the Galapagos Islands.5COLOMBIA With rolling coff ee plantations in the Andean foothills, jungle-fringed beaches and vibrant colonial towns, it's no wonder that Colombia is becoming the 'one to watch' on lists of hot new destinations.Unmatched diversity makes this the mightiest range, says Conor Powell In a nutshell No other mountain range o ers such a diversi of landscapes as the Andes -  om migh glaciers to arid deserts, mis co ee planta ons to sparkling-white salt  ats. In fact, it feels almost as if superla ves were invented to showcase this spectacular region! Where else would you  nd the world's highest ac ve volcano, driest desert, highest navigable lake and highest capital ci ?What's new? Colombia. Now poli cally LANDSCAPES40 | AUDLEY TRAVELLER | www.audley.co.uk/south-americaSECTION BY SECTIONBolivia's Laguna Colorada is just one of the Altiplano's incredible lakesTierra del Fuego00500 miles805 kilometresBogotaQuitoChiclayoLimaSantiagoBuenos AiresLa PazCuzcoATLANTIC OCEANPACIFICOCEANAmazonLake TiticacaVENEZUELACOLOMBIAGUYANASURINAMEFRENCH GUYANAECUADORPERUBOLIVIABRAZILPARAGUAYURUGUAYARGENTINACHILEAmazon RainforestThe Coffee RegionMachu PicchuSalar De UyuniTorres Del Paine National ParkEl CalafateFalkland IslandsPatagoniaMendozaParanaSan Pedrode Atacama23145Map not to same scaleEasterIslandRio de JaneiroCuzcoBRASÍLIAASUNCIÓNCARACASGEORGETOWNPARAMARIBOCAYENNEBOGOTÁQUITOLIMALA PAZSANTIAGOBUENOS AIRESMONTEVIDEOSTANLEYBRAZILGUYANASURINAMEFRENCHGUYANAVENEZUELACOLOMBIAECUADORPERUBOLIVIACHILEARGENTINAPatagoniaTierra delFuegoAmazonRainforestPARAGUAY URUGUAYFALKLANDISLANDSGalapagosIslandsAmazon ParanáLakeTiticacaCaribbean Sea Atlantic Ocean Atlantic Ocean Pacific Ocean 0500 miles0805 kilometres

It isn't all Incas: Harry Musson uncovers the Andes' other historic spots In a nutshell Although a visit to Peru's iconic Inca citadel of Machu Picchu (below) and the surrounding sites in the Sacred Valley are close to the top of anyone's list when visi ng South America, there are myriad ancient civilisa ons whose heritage can be found in the Andes. Chile's Northern Al plano is home to fascina ng geoglyphs and cave pain ngs  om pre-Conquest cultures, while the pre-Colombian ruins of Tiahuanaco in Bolivia (top right) are thought to have once been part of a spectacular imperial ci whose power in its  me could have even rivalled the Inca Empire.What's new? Exci ng discoveries uncovering Peru's pre-Inca civilisa ons ANCIENT CIVILISATIONSFrom day-walks to tough treks, the Andes has a hike to suit everyone - Nick Giles offers his top tipsIn a nutshell Trekking is one of the best ways to immerse yourself in the spectacular Andes.  ere are  eks to suit every abili ,  om gentle day-walks to challenging 12-day hikes.  e most famous is the Inca Trail to Machu THE ANDESstable, what was previously South America's best-kept secret is now opening more and more to visitors wan ng to enjoy its beau ful varie of landscapes. It has everything  om rolling co ee planta ons and stunning Andean scenery to pre colonial villages and jungle- inged coastlines.Favourite experience For me, nowhere in South America boasts more spectacular and unusual scenery than the Bolivian Al plano. With a mixture of mul -coloured mountain lagoons, pink  amingos, snow-capped volcanoes and the famous Uyuni Salt Flats, you can some mes feel as though you are on a di erent planet.  ere are very few places you can drive over a vast sea of salt and a volcanic lava  eld in one day. small-group  eks in the area. Op ons range  om  ve to ten-day walks, depar ng on set dates; you can hike with like-minded people and bene t  om experienced guides and porters.Favourite experience Having completed a varie of excep onal  eks across South America, the most memorable has to be the Mountain Lodges Trek to Machu Picchu. Nowhere else have I been able to end a hard day's hike by returning to a lodge for a glass of wine in an outdoor Jacuzzi, gazing up at the mountainous backdrop. AUDLEY TRAVELLER | 41TREKKINGPicchu, but Peru o ers a varie of hikes, some visi ng lesser-known Inca sites.Further south, Patagonia o ers some of the world's most magni cent walking, whether it is  eks to the base of the Chile's Torres del Paine towers or perhaps hiking deserted  ails in Mount Fitzroy Na onal Park in Argen na.What's new? Treks around the Torres del Paine massif in southern Chile were once the preserve of backpackers, independent  ekkers or those with deep pockets who could a ord a fully private  ek. However, there are now a range of are being made all the  me in the north of the coun y. With improving roads and hotels in the Chachapoyas region, the vast for ess of Kuelap o ers a fascina ng alterna ve to Machu Picchu.  ink  ve  mes its size with around ten visitors per day and you have a decent assessment!Nearby is the world's third-highest waterfall, Gocta, as well as impressive tombs carved into the mountainside at Revash and over 200 mummies at Leymebamba museum.  e northern ci es of Trujillo and Chiclayo serve as the base for a more in-depth explora on of the region. Close by is the migh adobe ci of Chan Chan and the Royal Tombs of Sipan, which has been lauded as one of the most important archaeological  nds in all of the Americas.Favourite experience  ere is nothing like the fusion of cultures and civilisa ons to be found in Peru's proud former Inca capital, Cuzco.  e conquering Spanish were so impressed by the sumptuous Inca Temple of the Sun at Korikancha that they used its stone founda ons to underpin a baroque church. I love returning to the ci to explore the pre squares and handicra markets, and coming across a migh Inca wall where you least expect it.