Extreme Sports Adventures in South America

In addition to the great hiking in South America, there are plenty of adrenaline-driving adventure activities bound to make your heart skip a beat. If you like to push things to the limit when you travel you may want to consider these extreme sports in South America.

  • 01 of 05
    Paragliding with beautiful cloudscape background
    ••• Wan Ru Chen/Getty Images

    Although it’s not the capital or the largest city in Colombia, Medellin often becomes a favorite city for many travelers. Just 45 minutes outside the city, many companies offer tandem rides to anyone who wants to see the city from above.

    The flights are generally 25-30 minutes in length and provide a spectacular view of entire Medellín valley and the west near Santa Fe de Antioquia.

  • 02 of 05
    Tourists sand boarding down the sand dunes.
    ••• Jane Sweeney/Getty Images

    When thinking about South America, giant sand dunes may not be the first thing that comes to mind, but the subcontinent is vast with many different types of ecosystems including dry, arid land in Peru.

    Most people venture to Huacachina from Lima, the nation’s capital. Travelers stop at the hub city of Ica, less than five hours from Lima. If you’re looking to catch some sand, there are plenty of tour operators who will take you out in dune buggies to explore the land and find the right hill.

    Snowboarders find the skill much easier to pick up and it’s possible to find operators with old snowboards but they may be disappointed to learn it’s not possible to go as fast as they would on snow. Regardless, extreme travel enthusiasts generally rank sandboarding as one of their highlights in Peru.

  • 03 of 05
    A woman kayaks in Lago Yelcho, Chile.
    ••• Bridget Besaw/Getty Images

    Patagonia is an enormous draw for adventure travelers and while hiking the “W” is often the first thing on the to-do list, sea kayaking is not far behind. Chile is diverse and sea kayaking is popular as there are hundreds of glacial lakes and crystal clear rivers that traverse the Andean Mountain Range and the fjords.

    Guided tours are offered from two to nine days. It is recommended that you choose a guided tour as the land remains relatively untouched and help can be difficult if you run into problems but it is possible to kayak through the wilderness of Chile’s Lake District through to Northern Patagonia unguided.

  • 04 of 05
    Girl gliding on zip line
    ••• Henn Photography/Getty Images

    While ziplining may not be the most extreme of sports in South America, it certainly gets the heart racing and is a perfect all-family activity as it is safe for children.

    Mindo is only an hour and a half from Quito, just before reaching one of Ecuador’s many rainforests. The valley is very popular with birdwatchers as it boasts over 500 species of birds, a variety of plants and other wildlife.

    Many travelers come to Mindo to spend time in nature with a milder sense adventure it is possible to also go tubing on the Rio Blanco or Rio Mindo. For those who want to stay on their feet, there are many trails and waterfalls to visit. But the biggest draw is the zipling in the area where participants are locked into a harness and carried across horizontal cables high above the forest providing a spectacular view of the area.

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05
    Bungee jumping man against sky.
    ••• Image taken by Mayte Torres/Getty Images

    While there are many places to bungee jump in Brazil, one of the favorites is in the adventure region of Bahia where many travelers like to push the limit with rafting, rappelling, and other activities.

    Just outside Paulo Afonso City is the highest bungee jump of 86 meters from a bridge that overlooks the Sao Francisco River. Many jumpers get “dipped” into the river when they jump so be sure to tell the operators if you want this option or not.