From pristine waterfalls to snow-capped mountains to steamy jungles, South America offers an amazing cornucopia of adventure travel experiences for hikers. Grab your backpack and your sturdiest shoes, because unlimited thrills await from the Andes highlands to the Amazon rainforest.
Inca Trail, Peru
Thousands travel to South America every year to hike the iconic Inca Trail, and this four-day, three-night odyssey through the Peruvian Andes will leave its mark on your soul. Glory in the fortress ruins of Sayacmarca with its elaborate system of canals, the spectacular view of Mount Salkantay, and – climatically – the sunrise panorama of the 600-year-old lost city of Machu Picchu. As the Inca Trail is sold out months in advance, make sure to book your trip with a reputable adventure travel agency.
Torres del Paine National Park, Chile
When an Andean condor with a 10-foot wing span soars above you in an endless sky, it’s easy to feel like you’re visiting another world – even if you’re actually in southern Chilean Patagonia. Torres del Paine National Park’s other signature attractions include the enormous Grey Glacier, the gloriously blue Lake Peho, the carpet of wildflowers in Valle Encantado, and the three striking granite mountains that give the park its name. You can easily spend between five and 13 days exploring Torres del Paine.
Valle de la Luna, Chile
NASA has tested lunar and Martian exploration vehicles in the Valle de la Luna, and you can see why when you hike through its stark, harsh scenery. From huge sand dunes to salt caverns to psychedelic pink-purple sunsets, this section of Chile’s Atacama Desert makes for an unforgettable day hike. You can also bike here on trails from the nearby town of San Pedro de Atacama.
Teyuna National Park, Colombia
If you’ve dreamed about discovering a lost city in the jungle, Teyuna National Park could be your ideal adventure travel destination. Located on Colombia’s northern coast amid the Sierra Nevada mountains, this lush region teeming with hummingbirds, parakeets, and butterflies is also home to Ciudad Perdida. The ruins of the Tairona people’s civilization – abandoned when the Spanish conquistadors arrived in the early 16th century – feature striking stone passages and platforms. Plan to spend between four days to a week on this exciting adventure.
Kaieteur National Park, Guyana
Can you imagine the thrill of standing before the world’s tallest single-drop waterfall? Kaieteur Falls is one of Guyana’s greatest attractions, four times taller than Niagara Falls. Capybaras, toucans, tapirs and pumas inhabit the lush rainforest you hike through en route to the falls. This unspoiled region in northern South America abounds with comfortable camps and lodges for a multi-day adventure travel excursion.