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Adventure means something a bit different to every traveler. It’s easy for travelers with untamed spirits to find adventure in everything – from experiencing culture shock in foreign villages to exploring remote forests or trying an adrenaline sport for the first time. With rugged terrain, uncharted lands, and plenty of natural beauty, South America offers an array of exciting destinations for adventure travel. These are some of the best adventure trips to take while exploring the southern hemisphere.
Hands down, one of the most iconic and essential South American adventure trips is hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. But this is no day hike for the faint of heart. One of the best things to do in Peru, you’ll need to hike about 27 miles through mountain passes, ancient ruins, and dense forests to reach the ruins at the end of the trek. Tour guide companies also offer Inca Trail excursions that last from one to four days and travel less than 10 miles to accommodate different types of travelers and focus on specific sections of the trail. The mountain scenery is breathtaking, but this popular trek can become crowded during peak months. Alternatively, Cusco’s Andes offers several other amazing trekking opportunities as well.
Another amazing trekking journey in South America lies in Patagonia. Patagonia treks extend through Argentina and Chile and introduce travelers to one of the wildest places on the planet. This is where you’ll find iced-over rivers, towering mountain ranges, and unbelievable landscapes. Popular trip excursions include exploring the Beagle Channel by boat, bird watching and whale watching on the way to Estancia Haberton, kayaking, and good ole’ fashioned hiking. To give your tired feet a rest, consider booking a horseback riding trip through El Calafate and the Torres del Paine National Park.
Whitewater rafters from all around the globe travel to Argentina to experience the Mendoza River for themselves. The Mendoza has a nice mix of Class IV and Class V rapids to keep even the most experienced rafters on their toes. Although the water does get cold during the winter months, it’s also a bit calmer then so rafters seek wet and wild adventure here all throughout the year.
A top destination in Ecuador, nature lovers should visit the Galapagos Islands at least once in life. This is home to some of the most unique species of wildlife in the world and you can encounter many of them while hiking across the islands’ volcanoes, snorkeling over ocean habitats, and mountain biking across stunning terrain. One of the best ways to immerse yourself in the mind-blowing nature scene of the Galapagos Islands is to go snorkeling. You’ll find lots of sea lions here, as well as some hammerhead sharks, sea turtles, penguins and plenty of brightly colored fish. Alternatively, local guides, such as Explorer’s Corner, specialize in kayak journeys that venture to remote polar regions.
Scuba diving enthusiasts will feel right at home in Venezuela when they visit Los Roques, a ring of islands that surrounds a shallow lagoon in the Pacific Ocean. This national park location features healthy reefs, manta rays, eagle rays, and lots of exotic fish. There are some dive shops on the island of Gran Roque and some boats take travelers out on week-long dive trips. There are only about a thousand people who live on the island permanently, but it has a laid back charm and friendly locals who love their home.
Another South American trek worth exploring is the route to the Lost City in Colombia. The Lost City was abandoned during the Spanish Conquest and remained undiscovered for hundreds of years. This is a remote trek that is mostly unexcavated and only accessible with an experienced guide for hire. The site of these ruins is located in Tayrona National Park and peak season is between December and March. Expect lots of mud paths, dense rainforests, rock pools, and 1,400 stairs to the top of the ruins at the end!
The Galapagos Islands are part of Ecuador, but this country has much more to offer as well. Mountain biking is popular in Ecuador, and it’s also a great way to explore the area’s volcanic regions. Biking Dutchman, for example, offers biking tours that last from one to eight days to suit travelers with different physical abilities. One of the best bike trips rides through Cotopaxi to Quilotoa and Chimborazo during a three-day adventure through the Ecuadorian Andes. With a mild year-round climate, Ecuador is also an excellent place to go caving, rafting, and hiking.
It’s impossible to compare really anything to the Amazon rainforest. Iquitos is the largest city in the Amazon jungle of Peru, and even it is only accessible by plane or boat. This is one of the most biologically diverse regions of the world, where you can see rare and endangered mammals, birds, and reptiles in their native habitat. Because of its remote and inaccessible reputation, many travelers choose to book a reputable tour guide.
Brazil is perhaps best known for its party scene and for having the most beautiful beaches in South America, but that doesn’t mean that it’s forgotten its unbridled sense of adventure. Hang gliding is a popular adventure activity in Brazil to allow visitors to soak up unforgettable aerial views of the beaches and rainforests far down below. Hang gliders here muster up their courage and run off the edge of a high platform to drift gracefully down to the blissful São Conrado beach.
You’d better bet it’s not called “Death Road” for the scenery alone! Located in the Bolivian capital of La Paz lies a 41-mile stretch of road that extends to the city of Corocio. There’s a 12,000-foot descent with tight turns along the way with few guide rails. Locals say this dangerous road claims the lives of around 200 people each year. The American Development Bank actually labeled part of it the most dangerous road in the world at one point. Not only has this road captured the attention of curious drivers, but also thrill-seeking backpackers and mountain bikers willing to take their chances.