Top 10 South American adventure experiences
When travelers think of adventure, we usually imagine deserts, snowcapped mountains and spectacular landscapes. If there’s a continent where we can find all that — and so much more — it’s South America. There are so many outdoor adventures that can be experienced here, you could spend months traveling from one country to another.
If you’re one of those intrepid travelers looking for such adventure experiences, we’ve made this short-list with some of the best that Latin America has to offer.
1. Swinging at the End of the World
Head up to the Ecuadorian extreme sports town of Baños to experience its Casa del Arbol. While this somewhat ramshackle treehouse formally serves as a science station for monitoring the seismic activity of nearby Mt. Tungurahua, an active volcano, the site is most famous for the swing attached to the tree. For a couple of bucks, visitors line up to at the “Swing at the End of the World” to arc out into the air, suspended for moments above a mile-and-a-half-deep canyon – an amazing view and experience that’s not for the faint of heart.
2. Blowgun hunting in Brazil
The word “Amazon” can conjure up fearsome images in even the most intrepid travelers. While journeying through this exotic region, unleash your primitive inner self by learning to use an authentic blowgun … that ancient indigenous weapon used with poison darts for hunting. More than just a great photo-op for showing off to your co-workers back at the office, this experience will leave you surprised at the speed of the darts, and how quickly you can master the basics.
3. Braving the Amazon rainforest
Authentic wildlife experiences in Brazil are world-class, so if you love nature and animals, prepare for the trip of a lifetime! Delve deep into the Amazon Rainforest to witness extraordinary flora and fauna, float along rivers and soak up this unbeatable jungle setting.
4. Defying Bolivia’s “Death Road”
After surviving Ecuador’s “Swing at the End of the World,” swing down to Bolivia to travel its notorious Ruta de la Muerte (“Death Road”). Clearly an adrenaline-pumping experience, this is especially so on a mountain biking tour. The travel adventure is perfect for daredevils who yearn to experience stunning Bolivian landscapes in the most exhilarating way. Brace yourself for the hair-raising stint along the Yungas Road, which earned its alarming nickname for its knife-edge drops that once made it the “most dangerous road in the world.”
5. Andean volcano biking
Enjoy an exhilarating bike ride down volcanoes and through Andean cloud forests. These trips are thrilling ways to take in the jaw-dropping scenery of volcanoes and cloud forests in the Ecuadorian “Sierra.” Being carried up a volcano in a 4×4 vehicle, you’ll be rewarded with sublime views of the imposing highland countryside. Once you’re geared up, it’s a downhill cycling on even active volcanos, where you’ll continue to be treated to sweeping vistas of the sprawling region below and the snow-capped mountains beyond. In all other directions, the vast expanses of open highlands unfold before you.
6. Hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
One of the most popular travel attractions in South America is the “Lost City” of Machu Picchu – attracting 1.5 million visitors annually. While you can reach the citadel by train and bus, adventure travelers will ask, “Where’s the excitement in that?” For a more compelling and authentic experience, retrace the steps of the Incas with a heart-pumping 4-day Inca Trail trek. This “pilgrimage” – from the Sacred Valley to Machu Picchu – will treat you to awe-inspiring views of the Andes, ruins of Inca cities and the chance to get up close to exotic wildlife and flora.
7. 4-day jungle trek to another lessor known “Lost City”
When the first Spanish conquistadores landed at what is now the Colombian city of Santa Marta, on the Caribbean coast, their the aim was to uncover untold riches said to be in the Sierra Nevada, a location now known as Colombia’s “Lost City.” While the remote site was never found to be glittering with gold, today this site will undoubtedly leave you with a reservoir rich in incredible memories. following a to reach it. Channel your inner Indiana Jones for this 4-5 day trek, crossing rickety bridges, climbing endless stone steps, and wading through streams to reach this incredible archaeological site.
8. Whitewater rafting in the Andes
Boasting the world’s highest concentrations of rivers per square mile, Ecuador possesses scores of rivers thanks to its abundant rainfall and the massive Andean mountain range that crosses the middle of the country from north to south. From these snow-capped mountains, water flows down, winding its way through the spectacular gorges, canyons, valleys and jungles below. Along this trail are miles of breathtaking world-class whitewater that feeds into the mighty Amazon River to the east or the Pacific Ocean to the west. All of this has earned Ecuador the designation of “one of the world’s top 10 whitewater locations” by National Geographic magazine. Combine this river rafting adventure tour with the fabulous landscape and the sounds of the forest on a truly unforgettable journey.
9. Ice trekking on the Perito Moreno Glacier
One of Argentina’s most famous attractions, the imposing Perito Moreno Glacier is more than a hunk of ice – it’s a huge mass that sprawls for 250 sq. km. and towers at a height of 74 meters. Upon arrival, stretch your legs and catch the first glimpse of Perito Moreno by strolling along the viewing platforms, strategically poised opposite the glacier to afford magnificent views that impress at every turn. Once you’ve seen the glacier from this angle, head off for a few hours of trekking to witness a beguiling mix of turquoise ice caves, dramatic drops and the ever-present creeks and groans of the glacier moving, inch by inch further up the mountainside. Your expert guide will keep you safe and lead you to some of the most stunning, otherworldly sections of this in natural marvel.
10. The Devil’s Nose Train Route in the Ecuadorian Highlands
In the Ecuadorian highlands, a full day can be spent exploring the Incan ruins at Ingapirca and taking the hair-raising train ride along the Nariz del Diablo (the Devil’s Nose route). The train winds its way through beautiful countryside, with the highlight being this harrowing stretch. Teetering on the cliffs of an impenetrable mountain, this section of the Trans-Andean railroad was built at the turn of the 20th century and climbs more than 500m in less than 12km, a truly impressive yet fatal piece of engineering – as many of the workers died during its construction. After a thrilling descent, the ride affords sweeping views of the narrow Chanchan Gorge.
As you can see, South America is a diverse continent with a host of varied experiences offered to travelers. We hope we have inspired you to consider a journey outside your comfort zone and that we’ve given you some ideas to bring out the adventurer in you. Hasta pronto!