From the high peaks of the Andes all the way to the beaches of Brazil, South America is full of natural beauty. And for outdoorsy travelers, the continent offers plenty of adventure. Whether you prefer speed and danger or enjoy the slower and more patient forms of adventure like long-distance hiking, there's something for everyone to fire up your adventurous spirit.
Hiking to Colombia's Lost City
Often compared to Machu Picchu, La Ciudad Perdida, as it is known is a three to four-day trek through the jungle to reach the site in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Dating from around six centuries earlier than Machu Picchu, there are several platforms that have been cleared around the hilltop, and the final 1,200 stone steps you have to climb to reach the site are a real challenge.
Paragliding in Lima, Peru
The Miraflores Cliffs are a key part of the seafront in Lima, and they provide a launching spot for paragliders every day. You can take a tandem flight with one of the local instructors for an amazing adrenaline rush. And as you're soaring through the air, you'll have an unforgettable view of Peru's capital city.
Mountain Biking Down Death Road in Bolivia
A 35-mile stretch of road perched on the edge of a cliff with no fences, this once was the main route between La Paz and Chulumani. While a new road has been built to take most of the traffic, mountain biking on this stretch of road is a thrilling adventure. It's safer now as there is now much less traffic on the road, but you'll still want to test your brakes before starting.
Learn to Dance the Tango in Buenos Aires
Argentina's capital is one of the hotbeds of Tango dancing, and both in nightclubs and in public squares you will see people practicing and performing this passionate dance. Take lessons with an expert, and dare to try out your steps in a local dancing club.
Kitesurfing in San Andres, Colombia
This part of Colombia has some great beaches, and San Andres especially has some good winds blowing in from the ocean. These winds have made it a hotbed for windsurfing and kitesurfing, in particular. If you don't know how to kitesurf this is a great place to learn!
Take a Boat Ride into Brazil's Amazon
With the sheer number of dangerous animal species, such as crocodiles and piranhas, the Amazon is the ultimate adventure. A boat ride from Colombia to the Brazilian city of Manaus is a chance to see the world's most spectacular, and largest, rainforest.
Go Sandboarding in the Atacama Desert, Chile
Just outside of the town of San Pedro de Atacama, you can ride a sandboard down the dunes. Kind of like snowboarding, sandboarding is something you have to try when visiting the desert.
Sport Fishing in the Rupununi River of Guyana
In Guyana, there is a river that flows out into the ocean is teeming with marine life. In the Rupununi, you can catch large and small species of fish that can be a real challenge to pull in. You may even spot river snakes!
See the Torres Del Paine by Hiking the W Trail, Chile
At the country's southernmost tip, the Torres Del Paine mountains are spectacular with their steep slopes and jagged peaks. Hike the W Trail, from which you'll be able to see the mountains from many different angles.
Go White Water Rafting in Banos, Ecuador
A hub for adventure sports in South America, Banos is a great place for white water rafting. There are many rivers where you can experience class III and IV rapids in some wonderful natural surroundings.
Ride Some Great Waves in Mancora, Peru
This beautiful coastal town is one of the most popular surfing destinations in Peru. With great beaches and fantastic waves, you can surf all day before heading into town to party all night.
Sea Kayak Around the Costa Verde, Brazil
Just over 100 miles south of Rio, this lush green coastline reveals some remote but beautiful beaches. You can also see some wonderful wildlife and even enjoy some multi-day trips into the Saco do Mamangua, the only tropical fjord in the country.
Go Scuba Diving in Los Roques National Park, Venezuela
The clear blue waters around this archipelago make it a great place to enjoy the natural wildlife. A scuba or snorkeling trip is just the thing to see the beautiful underwater world of Venezuela. It has beautiful coral reefs and stunning marine life, including plenty of sea turtles.
Hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, Peru
This is probably the most iconic hike in the world. If you choose to do the hike, you'll enjoy a unique entrance and vantage point upon arrival at Machu Picchu. The trail takes four days to complete, but you will be enjoying the spectacular Andean scenery as you hike along.
Take a Trip Into the Atlantic Forest of Alto Parana, Paraguay
These beautiful forests cover the area around the Iguazu Falls, the most powerful waterfall in South America that sits on the border of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay. Take a trip through the forest from Ciudad del Este to experience some fantastic hiking through the canopy and maybe even spot some wildlife.
Enjoy a Gaucho Experience in Patagonia, Argentina
The tradition of ranch work and looking after cattle is strong in Argentina, and there are many ranches in the Patagonia region where you can learn the work of the gaucho. You will also enjoy meals and learn more about the culture of this unique part of Argentina.
Fishing for Piranhas on the Kaw River, French Guiana
The piranha is famous for sharp teeth that can shred through flesh in the blink of an eye, so try not to get distracted by the scenery on one of these fishing trips. There are plenty of other fish to catch in this lovely place too!
Go Canyoning Near Merida, Venezuela
From abseiling down into the canyon to climbing over rocks and wading through rushing waterfalls, this thrilling experience is a great adventure. The best way to start is by signing up with a canyoning tour operator who will be able to guide you and show you the ropes of canyoning in Venezuela.
Rock Climbing in the El Cajas National Park, Ecuador
A short drive from the city of Cuenca, this area is known for the steep rugged slopes of its mountains. Here, you'll find some great cliff faces for rock climbing that have routes for novices and experienced climbers alike.
Go Kayaking Around the Chiloe Archipelago, Chile
There are some beautiful islands in the Chiloe archipelago, and while the main island has the busiest waters, consider visiting some of the less inhabited areas. In a kayak, some vistas can only be seen and appreciated from the water.
Take a Dog Sled Ride in Moquehue, Argentina
During the winter in this part of Patagonia, you may be lucky enough to join a group of dogs running through the snow with great joy and abandon. In Moquehue where the traditionally Scandinavian activity of dog sledding is being preserved, Samoyed dogs provide a great experience as you are pulled through the snow.
Learn the Lambada During the Rio Carnival, Brazil
The Rio Carnival is the largest in the world, drawing over 2 million people every year, but to get more of a taste for the event, arrive early and take a few classes. This way you can strut your moves with everyone partying and dancing on the streets.
Whale and Dolphin Spotting in Punta Arenas, Chile
In Southern Chile the water of the Pacific may be cold, but they are also home to some fantastic wildlife. A boat trip out into the ocean around the area will often reveal some of the stunning whales and dolphins that live around this part of the coast.
Go Snowboarding in Bariloche, Argentina
This city in the winter is almost like a Swiss Christmas card. You can enjoy it well while snowboarding on the slopes, followed by a hot cup of traditionally prepared chocolate.
Snorkel in the Clear Waters of Fernando de Noronha, Brazil
This beautiful archipelago has some lovely beaches, and the clear water is ideal for snorkeling. Here, you will often be able to spot all kinds of natural marine life in the shallow waters around the islands.