One of the great reasons people travel the world is to find adventure. However, adventure has different meanings for different people. One person’s definition of adventure might be hiking through a forest and searching for fascinating animals, while another person would consider anything less than summiting Mount Everest to be blasé. Regardless of how you define the term, consider the varied choices offered on South America tours, if you’re looking for adventure.
It’s a continent offering everything from jungle explorations to waterfall hikes to nights spent suspended above the mountains of the Sacred Valley of the Incas. You don’t have be into rock climbing or skydiving to find excitement on your next trip south.
Stay in the Heart of the Amazon
It might not be scaling the heights of the Andes, but the sounds, sights, and smells of the Amazon Rainforest can be excitement enough on South America tours. At Goway we offer several Amazon lodge stays in Peru, Ecuador, Brazil, and even Bolivia. These trips take you into the heart of the Amazon, the world’s largest rainforest, and home to thousands of species of plants and animals.
At an Amazon lodge, you’d stay in a comfortable, eco-friendly environment with all the amenities you’d expect of a hotel. However, you’d also get direct access to the incredible landscape surrounding the lodge. A comfortable bed is great, but a comfortable bed with access to the wonders of the Amazon Rainforest is even better.
While staying at a lodge, you can spend your days heading on rainforest hikes across the tropical landscape. You can hike through the jungle until you reach small ponds or rivers where caimans and crocodiles live. If you’re a birder you’re in luck as you’ll never find a more colourful display of birdlife than in the Amazon – travelling with a pair of binoculars is essential. If you want to experience a different vantage of the jungle, some lodges are close to canopy boardwalks or zip-line platforms, which allow you to experience the jungle from the highest branches of its trees. Alternatively, you can also take a boat out onto the river and cruise down its banks, watching for the wildlife that wander along its shores. No matter how many animals you’ve seen or how many forests you’ve explored, you’ve never experienced the height of wildlife adventure until you’ve visited the Amazon Jungle. It’s simply like no other place on earth.
Trek to Ancient Ruins and Cities of the Incas
The Amazon Rainforest doesn’t have the monopoly on adventure on South America tours. If you head to Peru or Colombia, you can discover the artefacts of lost civilizations in the rainforest. Channel your inner Indiana Jones or Nathan Drake and head on an adventure exploring the past, in the heart of incredible landscape.
The most famous ruin in South America is the Peruvian mountain citadel of Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley of the Incas. Don’t let the fact that the Sacred Valley is spectacularly popular discourage you from going. Just because an adventure is shared by thousands of other people doesn’t make it any less an adventure. The high altitude, thick vegetation, and remote location of Machu Picchu makes it a difficult destination to head to, even if it’s a popular place to visit nowadays.
As well, once you get to Machu Picchu and survey its ruins, passing through the stone terraces and temples that dot the mountaintop, you’ll be consumed by the true spirit of adventure – the rush of adrenaline and the sense of discovery. Only 100 years ago, this site would’ve been counted as one of the most remote locations on the planet, so consider yourself lucky that you can head on an adventure here without dedicating years of your life to exploring the jungle.
If you truly want to beat the crowds and feel like Hiram Bingham, when he rediscovered Machu Picchu in 1911, head to Colombia to explore the lost city of Ciudad Perdida. Literally meaning “Lost City” in Spanish, Ciudad Perdida was built 600 years before Machu Picchu and was only rediscovered in 1972. Even then, the city was largely untouched as the FARC guerillas who lived in the jungle and waged war with the government until last year made it nearly impossible to visit. Thankfully, the recent peace agreement with the FARC has opened up travel to Ciudad Perdida, making it the newest, hottest ruin to trek on South America tours.
To get to Ciudad Perdida, you venture deep into the jungle on top of Sierra Nevada de Santa Maria. The trek begins in Santa Marta and takes around five days to explore the city and its surrounding jungle landscape, including indigenous villages of tribespeople who descended from the city’s original inhabitants. The peaceful environment of the city will bewitch you when you get there. As well, you’ll want to lose yourself exploring its hidden terraces and turrets. Heading to Ciudad Perdida is a true act of discovery.
5-Day Trek to the Lost City
Discover a Secret Waterfall in the Wilds of Peru
There really is no better adventure than the act of discovering a hidden wonder. Luckily, Colombia isn’t the only country in South America to have a hidden secret that you can discover; Peru is also home to a secret wonder. The country’s best-kept secret it Gocta Falls, a waterfall in the far north that has somehow avoided becoming a tourist magnet.
You can access Gocta Falls by taking an hour flight north of Lima and then driving for three hours through the landscape past the farming town of Jaen. The actual trek to the falls happens on foot, starting at the small town of Cocachimba, where Gocta Lodge is located (a recommended accommodation if you’re heading to the falls). The loop to the falls and back to Cocachimba is 11 kilometres long. The trek leads you up and down hills in the Andean Cloud Forest and through a warm environment with high humidity. It’s an active trek that’s not too strenuous for regular travellers, although it’s certainly no walk in the park.
The falls themselves are a spectacular sight and worth the trek. They’re the third tallest waterfalls in the world, after Angels Falls and Victoria Falls, and offer a small pocket of refreshing cool in the midst of the humid rainforest. They’re also surrounded by a fascinating countryside worth exploring. In the surrounding region, you can visit Kuelap ruins, which predate Machu Picchu, as well as the Leymebamba Museum, where you can see 210 mummies excavated from the surrounding area, all belonging to the pre-Incan Cachapoyan civilization.
Sleep Dangling from a Mountain Edge in the Sacred Valley of the Incas
Bedtime can also be an adventure on South America tours. It sounds ridiculous, I know, but it’s true. There’s a place in Peru’s Sacred Valley where you can sleep in suspended capsules hanging from the walls of a mountain. I can’t imagine a more exciting way to spend an evening, although if you have a severe case of acrophobia (as I do), this adventure might be a little too much.
With Goway, you can scale the heights of the Sacred Valley of the Incas and spend the night in a transparent hanging bedroom that teeters 300 metres off the ground. An adventure in a Sky Lodge begins with a hike up the mountainside. If you’re wanting to make your experience just that much more adventurous, you can even strap on a harness and walk vertically up the side of the mountain until you reach the Sky Lodge. Once you reach the capsule, you’ll settle into your suite and acclimate to life in a synthetic condor’s nest.
Each capsule is equipped with an eco-friendly dry toilet and sink, solar-powered lighting, four beds, and a dining area, so there’s room for more than just yourself. In the morning, you can enjoy a gourmet breakfast in your capsule as you spot the light break across the crests of the mountaintops. Then descend the mountain by zip-lining along 2,800 metres of ropes. Talk about a way to close out a trip to Peru in style!
2-Day Sky Lodges Sacred Valley Tour
Cruise from the Tip of the Continent to the Edge of the World
Let’s just say that you’ve gone and tried all these adventure options on South America tours. You’ve even done the things I didn’t include, like skydiving, rock-climbing, and the ultra-active experiences that aren’t for the faint of heart. If you’re ready now for the ultimate adventure in the southern hemisphere, then it’s time to go one step past the continent and head south to experience Antarctica.
Argentina is the gateway to the seventh continent. Most trips to Antarctica fly you from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia to board an adventure cruise ship and make your way across the Drake Passage on route to the Antarctic Peninsula. A trip to Antarctica offers you the kind of adventure you can only find in an environment devoid of people, and populated by only the rarest of species. In fact, Antarctica was the final frontier for the age of exploration. After all corners of the earth had been discovered and even the furthest reaches of the Amazon Jungle had been mapped, people like Ernest Shackleton and Robert Falcon Scott headed to Antarctica to achieve the one remaining milestone of exploration.
In Antarctica, you can see incredible animals like penguins, leopard seals, and orcas. You can kayak alongside icebergs and witness ice calve into the sea. You can spot migrating humpback or blue whales and even take the polar plunge into the ice cold waters, if you’re really wanting to get your heart beating. Even the voyage across the Drake Passage is an adventure, as the choppy waters and cold temperatures make it unlike any other sea journey. If you’re wanting to go the extra mile and experience the ultimate adventure that you can on South America tours, turn your compass south and head to Antarctica.
South America is a great place to head to if you’re wanting to experience adventure abroad. Whether you’re journeying into the heart of the Amazon Rainforest, trekking across mountaintop ruins at Machu Picchu, passing through jungle to discover a hidden waterfall, sleeping in a capsule dangling 300 metres above a mountain valley floor, or going even further and venturing across the waters to the seventh continent, Antarctica, you’ll be experiencing the kind of adventure you can find nowhere else. Simply put, you want adventure? Look south.