The countries of Latin America have set aside huge areas of land and sea to protect and save them from destructive exploitation. Top of the list, the Galapagos Islands were declared a national park by Ecuador in 1934 (one of the earliest declarations), for the purpose of studying and protecting the unique plant and animal life found on the island. Other notable parks and reserves include Easter Island and the Central Amazon Conservation Complex. Chapada dos Veadeiros National Park, Brazil
Moon like rock formations, waterfalls, rich fauna and canyons occupy an area of 655 square kilometers and with altitudes between 600 and 1,650 meters, the park contains the highest plains in central Brazil, with an ancient plateau estimated to be 1.8 billion years old.
Pico da Neblina National Park, Brazil: Brazil’s largest national park covers an area of 22,000 square kilometers. The whole area is covered by dense and open Amazon rainforest, which contains some very rare animal species, including the Guianan cock-of-the-rock!
Central Amazon Conservation Complex : One of the world’s riches areas in terms of biodiversity, this conservation complex is the largest protected area in the Amazon Basin (over six million hectares). The area’s many river and lakes are home to the largest variety of fish on earth, including the rare giant arapaima.
Iguazú National Park, Argentina: Surrounded by sub-tropical jungle, the Iguazú National Park (550 square kilometers) contains Argentina’s greatest national beauty, Iguazu Falls. Several endangered species can be found in the park, including jaguars and anteaters.
Conguillío National Park, Chile: Located in the Andes of Chile and covering an area of 608 square kilometers, the main attraction of the park is the Llaima volcano. Due to its prehistoric ambiance, the park was used to film the BBC TV series Walking with Dinosaurs.
Sian Ka’an, Mexico: Situated on the east coast of the Yucatan peninsula, this biosphere reserve boasts a complex hydrological system that provides habitat for 300 species birds.
Cocos Island National Park, Costa Rica: Located off the coast of Costa Rica, this is the only island in the tropics with a tropical rainforest. This is a popular destination with divers due to the rich marine life surrounding the island, which includes sharks, rays and dolphins.
Galapagos Islands, Ecuador: Also known as a ‘living museum and showcase of evolution’, the Galapagos consists of nineteen islands with unique animal life, including land iguana, giant tortoise and a wide variety of finches.
Manu National Park, Peru: Boasting an astounding 850 species of birds, this tropical paradise rises from 150 to 4,200m above sea level and is a habitat for many endangered species, including the giant otter and giant armadillo.
Barrier reef reserve, Belize : Belize is home to the largest barrier reef in the northern hemisphere. The reserve includes a significant number of endangered species, offshore atolls, pristine mangroves and vast lagoons.