This is a guest post written by Ben Kvamstad.
While backpacking in 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 is hard to resist. But it’s important to remember that backpacking is so much more than getting drunk at the hostel bar and partying until 7am in the morning! Get out in the wild, push yourself out of your comfort-zone and do something that you never thought you would dear to do! South America has a great offer off green activities that are good for you and good for the environment. I’ve collected a list over 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 don’t forget 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 South America. Just remember that best nature experiences are usually easier to find outside “the beaten track”
Peru, 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 were a helmet you can pretty much do whatever you want.
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!
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 does not know what rafting is, it’s basically jumping into a small jolly boat made out of plastic at the top of a mountain river, and then let the river throw you down from the mountain. Organized rafting tours are off course a little bit safer than that, but the frightening feeling of waves trying to throw you out of the boat every other second is still real.
Surfing has really conquered the world over the last years and 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.
You might think that this paragraph doesn’t really fit with the rest in this article, but this one is too important to forget. Over last year Nature has struck South America multiple times. Most recently the land slides in Peru and the 8.8 earthquake in Chile. The natural catastrophes have left cities and peoples 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 some practice while learning Spanish! Volunteering is social, good exercise and a really good life experience!
This article was written by Ben Kvamstad who daily works as an editor for Backpack South America. Ben travelled around South America for 3 months earlier this year while working on his articles, guides and travel stories. You can find more of Ben’s work over at his Travel Blog: VagaBen.
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