Rapidly growing in status as the globe’s adventure playground, South America is the obvious choice for an active holiday. Whether you’re a hiking junkie, history geek or wanting to uncover off-the-beaten-path South America, get inspired with our tips for planning a truly unique, once-in-a-lifetime adventure vacation.
Craft an itinerary around your passions
Oozing diversity from every pore, South America is the ideal destination for different types of adventure.
If you’re seeking:
Animals and unique wildlife: The Galapagos Islands are your destination of choice. Come into close contact with some of the planet’s most extraordinary endemic wildlife in this paradisiacal location. For a more tropical adventure, consider exploring the Amazon Rainforest, an ecosystem of extreme biodiversity.
Latino culture at its most exquisite: Buenos Aires has no rival. Dance tango, dine on succulent steaks and experience South American culture at its most sensual.
Pre-Columbian monuments: a trip to Machu Picchu, the historic fortress perched in the high Andes has your name on it. Consider hiking alternative trails to this iconic monument that aren’t the popular Inca trail.
Wine and fine-dining: few cities are on a par with Mendoza, the malbec mecca of the world. Visit family bodegas and dine on sumptuous terraces overlooking grape-laden vineyards in Argentina’s wine country.
Beaches and relaxation: the Brazilian coast has pristine sands and picture-perfect palms for much-need downtime on any vacation. Chile’s Pacific coast is also a prime destination for relaxing and grabbing a tan, with Viña del Mar boasting the best Chilean beaches.
Pure, unadulterated adventure: a Patagonian itinerary is exactly what you’re after. Trek through wild steppe and looming mountains as you appreciate South America’s final frontier.
Not sure where to start? Here are our itinerary suggestions for a one month vacation in South America.
Venture beyond the tourist trail
As South America has become a more popular adventure travel destination, the number of truly off-the-beaten-path places has diminished. But that doesn’t mean you can’t still escape other tourists and find your own slice of paradise.
Consider different ways of getting around
South America is most certainly huge and no amount of itinerary planning can truly prepare you for how large distances are on the ground.
But this is all the more reason to think of unique ways of getting around, whether with a South American cruise that tours the length and breadth of the continent’s oceans, dropping anchor at cities and wild places or on an epic road trip. Drive the length of Argentina along Ruta 40 or even the entire Americas by navigating the Panamerican highway from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska to Ushuaia, Argentina.
Pack well – and light
With so many options for activities and destinations in South America, packing can feel like a momentous task as you attempt to cover all the different types of clothing for each and every distinct climate you’ll encounter.
But when it comes to traveling here, less is more, so a suitcase full of plenty of inner layers and warmer, waterproof outer layers mean you can adapt to each and every climate. Sturdy hiking shoes or boots are an absolute must; any trip to the continent will likely involve some element of trekking, so make sure your feet are comfortable.
To get you started, we’ve compiled an essential hiking kit list to make sure you’re prepared for trekking in South America.
Before embarking on a South American adventure, read up on the top adventure travel destinations or get inspiration from other sources, such as online blogs and classic works of literature including these pivotal travel books.