Backpacking South America is Diverse
While backpacking South America, it’s easy to get stuck on the big city route. The excitement and thrill of major cities like Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro and Santiago are hard to resist. But it’s important to remember that backpacking is so much more than seeing just the major sites. Get out in the wild, push yourself out of your comfort-zone, and do something that you never thought you would dare to do. South America has a great offer of green activities that are good for you and good for the environment. I’ve collected a list of my five favorite activities in South America.
Hiking in South America has become world-famous because of the popularity around the Inca Trail leading to Machu Picchu. However; it’s important that we remember the incredible size of the region and the other incredible hikes that fall in the shadow of the Inca Trail. Why not try walking through the bush in the Pantanal, surrounded by alligators, anacondas and beautiful nature? Or climb a 5000+ meter in Bolivia? Hiking is a must-do when backpacking in South America. Just remember that the best nature experiences are usually found off the “beaten path.”
Places like Peru and Bolivia, and South America in general, offer some of the best extreme sport activities in the world. While countries in the western world do everything they can to shut down dangerous sport activity areas, South American countries do the opposite. Extreme Mountain Biking is one of the new booms the last couple of years. First class downhill bikes are being imported into the Andes Mountains, and as long as you wear a helmet, you can ride these extreme downhills.
Get ready for a thrill of a lifetime while you bike down from 5000m to 1000m above sea level, on bumpy South American roads. The most famous mountain bike downhill lies in La Paz and is by many considered The World’s Most Dangerous Road, The Death Road. In later years, traffic has been closed on the road, and it’s now considered fairly safe for mountain biking. An adrenaline kick of a lifetime awaits you in the Andes!
Whitewater Rafting & Canoeing
You must look long and hard to find another activity that can match the powerful feeling of challenging nature’s wrath like rafting does. For those who do not know what rafting is, it’s basically setting off into a small boat made out of plastic at the top of a mountain river, and then trying to navigate yourself down from the mountain with waves and rocks as obstacles. Organized rafting tours are generally safer than going out on your own. You can also rent a kayak and navigate a variety of rivers.
Surfing has really transcended the globe over the last years. The surfing lifestyle that comes with the sport fits South America perfectly. Today you can find numerous spots all over South America where hitting waves and relaxing on the beach is the way of living. The most famous surf spots are found in Brazil and Peru. You can even find good surf-spots in central Rio on the famous beaches of Ipanema and Copacabana. However, the most eager prefer to travel south to the beautiful city of Florianopolis.
Make time while backpacking South America to fit in volunteering, as this one is too important to forget. Over the last several years, nature has struck South America multiple times. Recall the land slides in Peru and the 8.8 earthquake in Chile. The natural catastrophes have left cities and people’s home in ruins. By volunteering you can help build up shelter villages for the families in need of a home. It’s also a great way to get to know the locals. It is a wonderful way to give back. Volunteering is social, good exercise and a really good life experience! Check out 11 things to know before you WWOOF and our experience volunteering at Chacra Millalen, an organic farm outside of El Bolson in Argentina.
Experience Backpacking South America
It is truly a once in a lifetime experience to enjoy backpacking South America. There is much to see in do as you get to experience the culture, food, and wonderful people here. And it is most likely less expensive than you think to backpack some great cities in South America.
Backpacking South America was written in part by Ben Kvamstad who daily works as an editor for Backpack South America. You can find more of Ben’s work over at his Travel Blog: VagaBen.
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