After Dark

Seven South American Night Trips: Elqui Domos, Iguaza Falls & More (PHOTOS)

From stargazing in Chile to a moonlight walk to Iguazu Falls, here are seven excursions to take after the sun sets.

Getty;AP;James Florio;Zuma Press

Getty;AP;James Florio;Zuma Press

For most, the idea of South American nightlife conjures images of scantily clad tango dancers, strong caipirihnas, and clubbing until sunrise surrounded by beautiful bronzed people. While the continent does not disappoint in any of these departments, it also boasts an abundance of unique after-dark offerings beyond its bars and clubs. Whether you’re into trekking or touring, PG or X-rated fun, South America’s nights have something for you. As Argentine Poet Antonio Porchia said in words that ring particularly true in his native region, “night is a world lit by itself.”

James Florio/

Elqui Domos, Pisco Elqui, Chile

Nearly 400 miles north of Santiago in an area of Chile known for its pristine skies, Elqui Domos is a hotel dedicated to all things cosmic. Guests sleep in white plastic geodesic domes with retractable ceilings over their beds where, on the darkest of nights, they can see most of the constellations the southern sky has to offer. During the day guests can visit the area’s pisco distilleries, swim in the hotel’s pool or choose from a series of massage and new-age energy treatments. But the real fun starts after the sun sets, when guests are invited to ride horses beneath the moon, take astronomic tours in the hotel’s hilltop observatory, or simply stargaze solo from the privacy of their own domes. 

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Iguazu Falls Moonlight Walk, Iguazu Falls, Argentina

Stretching 1.7 miles across the Argentina-Brazil border and measuring 269 feet high, Iguazu Falls is a spectacular sight at any time of day. Five times a month, however, visitors are invited to see the falls from a different light—that of the moon. On the day of the full moon and two nights before and after, park rangers from the Argentine side lead small groups through the surrounding rainforest to a viewing platform perched directly above the waterfall’s famous “Devil’s Throat.” The reflection of the moon makes the water resemble molten silver, and at the right angle, visitors can even see hints of a rainbow in the fall’s spray.

Natacha Pisarenko/AP

Albergues Transitorios, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Albergues transitorios, or put less delicately, sex hotels, abound in Buenos Aires, where many adults live with their parents until marriage. Though conspicuous in their clumsy attempts to be discreet, with tinted windows and neon advertisements for “private garages,” the pay-by-the-hour hotels are less seedy than one might think. From inns devoted to horoscopes and complexes modeled after Ancient Babylonia to Star Wars–themed rooms and orgy-only suites, the hotels provide fulfillment for almost any fantasy or fetish—or at least offer a really good laugh.

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Night Walk in the Amazon Rainforest, Brazil, Ecuador, Peru

To see the Amazon only by day would mean missing more than half of its critters. For the full experience, summon your courage, don a headlamp, and plunge into the jungle’s pitch-black jaws. As you tiptoe behind your guide, petrified by the unfamiliar and unsettlingly close roars and croaks, you may wonder why you came. You will find your answer in the thrill of glimpsing the tarantulas, scorpions, frogs, and snakes that rule the jungle’s dark hours.

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Twilight Tour of the Presbitero Matias Maestro Museum-Cemetery, Lima, Peru

For another creepy (though far less crawly) nighttime experience, visit the Presbitero Matias Maestro Museum-Cemetery in downtown Lima. During a three-hour night tour replete with Grim Reaper costumes and historic reenactments, guides lead trembling visitors around the 200-year-old cemetery, regaling them with stories about the dead presidents, poets, and military figures buried under the tombstones and within the cobwebbed mausoleums. Guests should plan carefully and brush up on their Spanish, as tours are only offered every second and fourth Thursday and first and third Saturday of the month, and are not available in English.

Mercado do Peixe/Facebook

Mercado de Peixe, Salvador, Brazil

Fish market by day, after-hours grub spot by night, Salvador’s Mercado de Peixe starts to heat up around 3 a.m. when the area’s other bars and restaurants are closing. To fit in with the locals, cap your night off with a light order of fried cod balls, seafood crêpes, seafood stew, and cold beer from one of the market’s many stands.

Ivan Federico Puyo/Zuma Press

Andrés Carne de Res, Bogotá, Colombia

Audacity is the only uniting theme at this Colombian mega-restaurant/club located 40 minutes outside of Bogotá, where random knick-knacks completely cover the walls, employees are dressed in outrageous costumes, and the menu numbers 62 pages. What started as a small family restaurant with six tables in 1982 has exploded into a 6,000-square-meter, 200-table shrine to kitsch that Gabriel Garcia Márquez once described as a place “where two go to bed, and three wake up.”