Top 5 Adventure Activities in South America

Aug 5, 2019

From water rafting in the Amazon Rainforest to swimming with sharks in the Galapagos, below is a list of Top 5 adventure activities you can enjoy in South America.

With a landmass of approximately 18 million km², there is no denying that South America is a massive region: In all honesty, the continent is gigantic.

So when travelers think of a South American Excursions, images that come to their mind are a landmass tucked away in the vast wilderness, rawness, and astounding scenery. They’re not wrong!

In fact, the number of outdoor tours available in South America could keep even the keen traveler busy for weeks on end and still have them begging for more historical and cultural adventures.

Having said that, with so much land to cover and lots of sites to explore, I realized itinerary planning could quickly start feeling overwhelming.

So, after a year of touring the great continent, I decided to create a post on my top five highlights you should not miss when you get there.

Note, however. I tried to arrange this enumeration from my most favorite activity, but it proved almost impossible to compare one to the next. So keep in mind each activity below is, in my definition, “a must-do/see” when you visit South America.

Without further delay, let us skip to the main section of the post.

  1. Trekking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

Inka trails hiking
 

Could you imagine yourself walking down a path that takes you back to the ancient civilization? That’s precisely what the Inca Trail is all about.

Originally, the trail was more than 40,000 kilometers long and was built to connect territories that went from Ecuador to Chile. Nowadays, however, what we call the Inca Trail is a path connecting Cusco and Machu Picchu.

What’s more? There are different options for those willing to undertake the adventure. The classic Inca Trail Trek option takes 4 days to move from KM 82 (the starting point) to Machu Picchu.

That said, given the route ascends to more than 4,200 meters, it’s a challenging expedition and trekkers who are not prepared for such an altitude may experience altitude sickness. The trick here is to spend a couple of days acclimatizing in Cusco so your body can get used to taking in thin air caused by high elevation.

But don’t let any of that discourage you. The remarkable Inca Ruins you’ll see along the trail and the reward of Machu Picchu on the final day will make you appreciate every effort you put in.

And for those who think hiking for four days at such a high altitude is a stretch, the nation also offers short options that can take a single day to reach Machu Picchu. Pick the one that best suits your personal preference.

  1. Ride a hot air balloon over the Atacama Desert

    South America Adventure

You may be familiar with San Pedro de Atacama (or at least its beautiful the Atacama Desert.)

The best times to explore the Atacama Desert is at sunrise. And, lucky for you, one activity now allows you to do that from high above the ground.

In fact, flying in a hot air balloon over the Atacama Desert is arguably the best activity to indulge in-in San Pedro de Atacama.

Those interested in the experience are picked up at the town center and driven to the launch site before daybreak. And just before the sun rises, the balloons drift magnificently through the air, giving all those aboard them a scenic view of the entire desert and valleys.

Even if, like me, you’re afraid of heights, this activity is well worth doing.

The cost is usually around $300 and includes your balloon ride, a bilingual guide, and transport. To ensure your comfort and tranquility, the balloons carry from 2 to a maximum of 6 travelers.

And depending on the company you choose, you’ll be served with a complimentary snack after your flight.

  1. Swimming with sharks in the Galapagos

    Swiming with shark in Galapagos

This list would be incomplete if I did not mention the Galapagos.

With that in mind, would you like to go shark dividing in the Islands? Of course, you do!

Swimming with sharks in Galapagos one of the reasons that travelers plan trips to these remote islands at least once in their lifetime, I assure you you’ll be rewarded with epic experience. The most common sharks you’ll encounter when dividing in the Galapagos include;

  • Whitetip reef sharks
  • Galapagos Sharks
  • Hammerheads Sharks

The most effective and reliable way to get to the best snorkeling areas in Galapagos is by taking a cruise ship, we can suggest particularly the Galapagos Legend Cruise, a luxury expedition ship with ample experience in adventure activities.

  1. Go for a Safari in the Pantanal of Brazil

    Pantanal of Brazil

While on a Safari in the Pantanal of Brazil, I had a chance to explore the Transpantaneira road and the vast labyrinth of rivers on small boats.

While on this adventure, you will also get a chance to use your camera to capture a wide array of striking birds, such as the Jabiru (which is currently the largest stork in the world and an iconic symbol of the Pantanal.)

You’ll also often see families of capybaras grazing along the caiman. Noisy collections of playful, gigantic otters patrol the same rivers and you’ll have multiple opportunities to photograph them at close range.

What’s more? Have you ever been to a Jaguar Kingdom before? I guess not! This Pantanal Safari will also take you deeper into the region to the end of the Transpantaneira road where you will find an area with the highest concentration of Jaguars in the World.

Needless to say, your South American adventure is not complete if you do not go on a Pantanal Safari.

  1. Rafting in the Amazon Rainforest

    Rafting in the amazon rainfores

This is the perfect activity for those looking for something truly extraordinary.

If hitting white water rapids sounds like a thrill to you, then the Ecuadorian rain-forest is a definite hot spot. This region is also considered the best option in the country, with the surrounding Amazon Jungle delivering amazing scenery that only a few people in the world will ever have a chance to experience.

For the more seasoned rafters, a trip through the Andes, specially taking the route of Blanco River complete the perfect adventure.

Conclusion

My time on the continent exposed me to so much culture, adventure, and incredible nature. So this post is in no way an exhaustive list of top adventure activities you can enjoy in South America. However, I can say hand on heart that you will not go wrong including some, if not all of the amazing activities in this list in your travel itinerary.

Take a look of these tour programs:

1. Galapagos & Machu Picchu Tour: Galapagos & Machu Picchu 12 Days Voyage

2. Cusco Tour: Cusco and Sacred Valley Tour

3. Amazon River Cuise in Ecuador:  Amazon River Cruise Journey

4. Galapagos Cruise Itinerary: Amazing Nine Days East & Central Islands Boat Journey

5. Inca Trails Tour: The Incas Trail Tour

Andre Robles
Andre Robles
Andre Robles is an expert in everything South America, his passion for the region and exploring off the beaten path makes his travel writing both useful and interesting. He has written for several mainstream publications and you can read his guides on Ecuador, Peru, the Galapagos Islands and the Amazon. Andre is also an accomplished photographer and has been recognized as one of the best wildlife photographers in the region, his photos have been featured in National Geographic and other journals. As a travel agent Andre specializes in curating unique experiences, crafting tailor made itineraries and helping visitors make the best of their vacation, always putting the experience first
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