The trouble with picking the top 10 adventures in South America is that there are so many of them. The entire continent is a playground for the active traveller and, whether your preference is hiking, biking, rafting (among other choices), you can typically find great options whichever country you want to travel to. This makes it easy to combine adventure with other less sporty activities like touring archaeological sites or visiting museums.
Choquequirao Trek, Peru
Not just a walk in the park, you need to be quite fit to handle this particular trek. Your reward at the end is an Inca archaeological site that, while not quite as immense as Machu Picchu, is almost as impressive, especially considering you won’t have much company once you get there. The only way to get there is by an intense hike. The trek can be extended to end up at Machu Picchu.
Amazon River Rafting, Ecuador
You can visit the Amazon jungle in several countries in South America and one of the best ways to do so is by water. A fantastic place to do this is in Ecuador where you can enjoy the excitement of river rafting, the chance for a variety of wildlife encounters and also get to visit with some indigenous peoples.
Bolivia’s Death Road
Although the road is most known for the tours that have you mountain biking down it, motorcycle enthusiasts can also find tours. If the precarious and justifiably named route isn’t enough, you can combine it with biking to other locations in the country, including the Uyuni salt flats and follow the Motorcycle Diary trail.
Torres del Paine, Chile
When it comes to trekking in South America, it’s almost impossible to say which is the absolute best. There’s no doubt, however, that an ideal location is Torres del Paine in Chile. There are miles of trails located in this area with gorgeous and varied landscapes including glaciers, rivers, lakes, meadows, mountains and more.
Fataleufú River Rafting, Chile
If you’re a tried and true rafter or kayaker, you’ll want to visit this river in Chile. While some spots are tame enough to be used as training grounds for newbies, it also boasts Class V rapids with names evocative of their difficulty such as The Terminator or Hell.
El Calafate, Patagonia, Argentina
Boat around the truly awesome glaciers at the southernmost end of the country and actually hike along one of the largest and most well-known of the bunch, Perito Moreno. With luck, you’ll get to hear the unforgettable sound of chunks of ice breaking off and crashing into the water below.
Ciudad Perdida (Lost City) Trek, Columbia
It’s hard to resist a trek to a place called the Lost City but there’s a lot more than the goal that makes this one worthwhile. The incredible views that you will have along the way are what help make this a must-do adventure. You’ll hike across rivers, up mountains and through jungles and enjoy welcome relief at the waterholes located near the trail.
Huascaran National Park, Peru
Most visitors to Peru concentrate their travels in the southern region where Machu Picchu is located. If you’re more into wilderness than history, though, you’ll want to head to the north. This playground near Huaraz has it all: trekking, mountain climbing, biking, rafting and skiing. With a backdrop of snowcapped mountains, turquoise lakes, tundras and waterfalls, it can’t be beat.
Peninsula Valdez, Argentina
If it’s playing in the water that really floats your boat, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is a good place to hit. Puerto Madryn, located nearby, is known as the diving capital of the country. Besides that, you can also jet ski, windsurf, water ski, mountain bike and sea kayak.
Mount Fitz Roy, Argentina
If you’re a serious mountain climber, you’ll want to head to Argentina for Mount Fitz Roy. It’s the highest of the peaks located in Los Glacieres National Park and rated as one of the hardest climbs in the world. If you aren’t quite as serious or are too much of a beginner, there are other trails nearby that are worth doing.
Originally from the US, Maureen Santucci now calls the ancient Peruvian capital of Cusco home, where she has lived and worked for more than 4 years. She wrote this article on behalf of Tucan Travel who are providers of South America tours.