Many people, especially from North America and Europe, describe their first experience of South America as a feeling of just being overwhelmed
. The sheer scale of the landscape, the size of the cities, the distance between places, the vast tracts of wilderness are not only present in but often define the experience of whatever place you're in or traveling through.
This is the continent with the longest mountain range (the Andes), the highest waterfalls, the largest river (Amazon), the largest rainforest, and the highest capital city (La Paz).
Compared to other continents it's incredibly diverse both terrain-wise and culturally: in the same continent you have both Caribbean coast and culture and glacier-locked fjords. There are dozens of indigenous cultures - some making up more than half of their country's population - and still uncontacted tribes in the Amazon.
The dynamic scale of everything even seems to play into cultural elements: from Carnaval, the largest street party in the world, to the way Buenos Aires nightlife goes all night, and then through the morning, and extends into the next day (there are after-after party clubs).
As you'll find below, Matador’s community of expats and travelers, many of whom are based in South America, is continually adding study abroad and volunteer guides, narratives, photo essays, and more.