If you’re looking for adventure, South America is the place to find it. From the giant Amazon Jungle to the far-off Galapagos Islands, the Peruvian Andes, and Patagonia, there is a wealth of once-in-a-lifetime experiences to be had that will have your heart racing, your adrenaline pumping, and your smile beaming. One day you could be snorkeling with manta rays and sea turtles and the next, hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. Wherever you chose to go and whatever adventures you decide to have, your adventure holiday in South America will be unforgettable.
Since the continent is so diverse, there’s an adventure to suit everyone, no matter how old or active you are. While families with kids might prefer a vacation packed with watersports in the Argentinian Lake District, senior travellers might prefer to take a slow and scenic Galapagos cruise, and active couples might challenge themselves to tackle Patagonia’s highest peaks together. In this article, we share the best adventure holidays in South America for families, couples, and senior travelers so you can narrow down the destinations that are right for you. Which adventure holiday sounds most exciting to you?
Adventure Holidays in South America For Couples
The Atacama Desert and Patagonia
This trip begins in northern Chile’s Atacama Desert, one of the driest and most otherworldly places on Earth. While its rocky red Mars-like landscape is pretty lifeless, there’s plenty of adventure for couples to have here. During the day you can sandboard down dunes, mountain bike across Valle de La Luna, float in circular salt lagoons, and walk amongst steaming-hot geysers. By night, you can unwind with a romantic fireside asado before exploring the night sky together with a state-of-the-art telescope at one of the world’s best star-gazing spots. For added adventure, embark on a private 4×4 return trip across the Bolivian border for an overlanding expedition to the mesmerizing Bolivian Salt Flats.
After a week or so in the desert, swap vast dusty valleys for the impressive mountainscapes of Torres del Paine, Chilean Patagonia’s best national park. After some slow-paced days of horseback riding through the Patagonian forests and kayaking between giant icebergs, you’ll be ready to tackle one of the park’s world-famous hiking routes to the base of the Torres del Paine towers (the piece de resistance of Patagonia. For the most incredible sense of adventure, join the O-Circuit, a 7-8-day hike that takes you to the quietest, wildest, and most remote parts of the park.
Inca Trail to Machu Picchu and the Amazon
One of the best things to do with your loved one is to tick off bucket-list travel adventures, which is what this trip is all about. After a few days of acclimatizing to the altitude and indulging in top Peruvian cuisine in Cusco, you’ll be ready to embark on one of the world’s most covetable hiking trails together: the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. The four-day hike covers 26 miles of scenic wooded mountains, refreshing rivers, challenging mountain passes, and mysterious Inca ruins before reaching Machu Picchu. Nothing can prepare you for the moment you see the ancient citadel for the first time with your loved one, and few moments will ever come close to beating it.
Continue your adventure holiday in South America by heading to Tambopata National Reserve deep within the Amazon where you will stay in an elevated luxury jungle lodge for another once-in-a-lifetime experience. Tambopata specializes in biodiversity, research, and conversation, and its guests get to be a part of it all. Join Tambopata’s scientists on wildlife observation missions to track monkeys, macaws, and even jaguars, and wildlife walks and boat rides where they introduce you to the Amazon’s fantastic array of flora and fauna.
Adventure Holidays in South America For Families
Iguazu Falls and Lake District
For an adventure holiday in South America they’ll never forget, take your kids to Argentina’s most adrenaline-pumping destinations: Iguazu Falls and the Lake District. As one of the 7 Wonders of the Natural World, you’ll treasure the moment you witness the power and beauty of Iguazu Falls for the first time as a family. Make the moment even more special by seeing the falls by helicopter or paddling beside it in the Iguazu River. Afterward, go deeper into the Atlantic Forest on a jetboat safari, zipline, or trekking experience. Between adventures, kick back at the infinity pool at Gran Melia Iguazu while your kids enjoy a dip.
Heading to the Argentine Lake District, you’ll swap the lush tropical Atlantic Forest for alpine forests, white-tipped mountains, and sapphire-blue lakes — the perfect recipe for outdoor sports and adventure. Take your kids mountain biking, kayaking, fishing, sailing, and white water rafting in the summer or practicing ski and snowboarding skills in the winter. The rustic lakeside Las Balsas Hotel in Villa La Angostura near Nahuel Huapi National Park is the perfect base from which to explore. Its homey atmosphere is perfect for days of relaxation and exciting activities for days of adventure.
Machu Picchu, Ecuador Cloud Forest (Mashpi Lodge)
Make unforgettable memories together as a family on your adventure holiday in South America by visiting Machu Picchu, one of the 7 New Wonders of the World. While families with smaller children can reach it smoothly by train, those with elder children can embark together on the 1-day (9 mile/ 15 km) Inca Trail or even the full 4-day trail if you’re feeling more adventurous. No matter what age you are, the beauty, history, and culture of the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu itself promise to open your heart and expand your mind, leaving a lasting impression that few other travel experiences can match.
Then, expand and indulge your kids’ curious minds further as you stay alongside nature in the cloud forest of Ecuador. This region is home to the Mashpi Lodge, a private reserve that specializes in immersing kids in regional wildlife with fun and educational science and conservation-led activities with professional naturalist leaders. While your kids are busy exploring the cloud forests with the leaders, you can check into the Mashpi spa or enjoy views of the forest canopy from your stilted sky lodge suite.
Adventure Holidays in South America For Senior Travelers
Andean Explorer and Galapagos
Sit back, put your feet up, and let the Andean Explorer, one of the world’s most luxurious trains, take you on a tour of the Peruvian Andes. The train dances between the quintessential Spanish colonial city of Arequipa, the indigenous Uros people of Lake Titicaca, and the Inca capital of Cusco where you can continue to Machu Picchu. Along the way, you’ll get to indulge in the vintage train’s divine modern luxuries, enjoy white-glove service, dine on gourmet Peruvian infusion cuisine, and even receive some spa therapy. Overall, this exclusive train ride provides senior travelers with all the adventure, without all the leg-work.
Next, let the indulgent adventure holiday in South America continue with a cruise around the Galapagos on a luxury 16-passenger yacht like the Aqua Mare. This beautiful yacht’s itineraries provide the perfect balance of play and rest with a combination of adventurous activities and relaxed sailing. Between the birdwatching, snorkeling, research center visits, and wildlife encounter walks, you’ll get to see a wonderful array of endemic species and Galapagos landscapes. Meanwhile, back on board you can enjoy sailing around the archipelago from your sundeck, jacuzzi, suite, or open bar.
Patagonia (EOLO Spirit) and Mendoza Wine Region
While you may not be raring for a multi-day hike up a mountain these days, it doesn’t mean you can’t have rewarding adventures in Patagonia as a senior traveler. At Los Glaciares National Park there are many tours that allow you to see some of the region’s most beautiful landscapes with minimal effort including a boat safari to Perito Moreno Glacier, a mini-trek across the glacier, and overlanding through the park. Pace these activities between days of rest and relaxation at a serene estancia like EOLO Spirit. Here, you can swoon over the Patagonian skyline from the comfort of your luxury suite, or venture into its private land for birdwatching and horseback riding.
Continue your adventure holiday in South America in Argentina’s rustic Mendoza Wine Region. Spend your days exploring prestigious wineries, learning about viticulture, and, of course, sampling Mendoza’s best Malbecs, the region’s specialist grape variety. Between wine tastings, take a cooking class to learn traditional Argentine recipes, and tend to sore muscles at the spa. For the most immersive experience, stay at an upscale working vineyard like Cavas Wine Lodge where you get to see the wine-making process day by day.
Create Your South American Adventure Itinerary
If you have been inspired to experience some of South America’s most exciting adventures for yourself, then get in touch with our travel experts who will help you weave them into a personalized vacation itinerary. As well as booking you on the most exciting and luxurious tours in the Amazon Jungle, Patagonia, Machu Picchu and so many more, we will arrange seamless luxury transport and high-end hotels to complete the trip. Contact us here or call toll-free at +1 855 217 9045 to find out more.