With the wonders of the Amazon and the astounding Machu Picchu ruins on a single territory, South America is a nearly 18 million kilometer square ring for a pending duel between the genius of human thought and the artistry of nature. Setting out for the interior by boat, light aircraft or 4x4, you virtually encounter an extraordinary piece of land spreading out like a tropical carpet, and the contrasts you come across have many a time proved their life-changing quality. It is on this equatorial continent that you may get blasted off a steam-gushing geyser in Bolivia and slip on a Patagonian glacier (both most probably ending up badly), stand a chance to be up close and personal with Galapagos wildlife or watch the jaguar being fed in French Guiana's reserves, salsa the night away in Suriname and share a mate drink with Uruguayan gauchos, stroll along the cobbled streets of well-preserved colonial towns in Colombia or observe the Brazilian Amerindians apply the highly poisonous frog vaccine. The range of offerings is far beyond anybody's reckoning. South America is pristine like the Falklands and lonely like Paraguay, but at the same time crazy like the Chilean geography and noisy like the waterfalls of Guyana. Presided by Venezuelan peaks, inspired with the Argentinian tango, lulled by the foamy rollers of two humming oceans, it is the ultimate dream of a traveler who is tough on the outside but sensitive beneath.