Since travel became my way of life almost a decade ago, I’ve come to realize that a conventional travel itinerary was just not enough to feed my thirst for adventure. From diving with sharks to jumping out of a plane, I’ve injected bulks of adrenaline into my open-ended journey around the world. Over the next few months, I will be sharing my favorite adventures from various corners of the world; to kick off the series, here are some of my favorite ones from South America.
The Amazon Rainforest is the largest and most species-rich tropical rainforest in the world and there are large pockets of it left to be explored. While in Ecuador, we ventured into a small section of it on an Amazon Extreme tour that included white-water rafting, cycling and jungle-trekking. The highlight of the trip was our night walk, when the jungle erupted into a cacophony of loud croaks and buzz. Besides, the thrill of jungle-trekking in the dark was priceless.
Speedboating under the Iguazu Falls – Argentina
Bordering the frontier between Argentina and Brazil, the Iguazu Falls was on the top of my must-see list in South America, and it truly didn’t disappoint. To feel the roar of the water and to truly immerse in it, we went on the Gran Aventura boat ride right through the churning chasm. We wore a poncho, but needless to say, we got completely soaked!
Scuba-diving in the Galapagos – Ecuador
The Galapagos islands are one of the best places in the world for wildlife experiences. Visiting the Galapagos has always been a dream of mine. There is nothing like it anywhere else in the world: Endemic creatures roam freely on these islands, both on land and in the sea. We decided to plunge beneath the surface and it was one of the best dives of our lives. On just one dive, we saw a whirlpool of barracudas circling overhead, several sealions, two hammerhead sharks neck to neck, and turtles gliding by us.
Getting to Machu Picchu always involves a hike – whether you choose to trek the Inca Trail (which we regretfully skipped due to our tight budget) or go by train/bus. We awoke at 3am when the sky was still ominously grey, to start our hike up the steep stone steps to the ancient city. By sunrise, we were standing on the highest point of Machu Picchu, as the sun washed the entire area in a shimmering shade of gold.
4WD Safari in Salar de Uyuni – Bolivia
The southern part of Bolivia lies the vast area of Reserva Natural Andina (Andean Nature Reserve) dotted with raw, untouched landscapes. To explore the desert, we went on a 4-day 4×4 safari across cactus-strewn deserts, bizarre green lagoons and the sparkling white Uyuni Salt Flats. Climbing as high as 5,000m above sea level, we were faced with bouts of altitude sickness and harsh weather conditions (-20 degrees Celsius with no heating!). This was easily one of my favorite trips in the world – despite being sick almost the entire time.
Sand boarding in Huacachina – Peru
Along the coastline of Peru, we found a secret hideout that offered great respite coupled with adventure. Flanked by giant sand dunes that rise up to a few hundred meters high, Huacachina is a tiny town built in a desert oasis. We rented boards and spent all our time sand boarding down the golden-colored dunes – even months after leaving Peru, we had sand in our backpacks, to remind us of this adventure.