Top 7 Family Adventures in South America
Written by: Cristiana Diaz
Take a Nature Tour of the Galápagos Islands
Tour the Galápagos Islands with your family for an unforgettable experience in nature. National Geographic organizes tours out of Guayaquil in Ecuador. Once there, you can snorkel with over 300 species of fish, or lounge on beaches inhabited by sea turtles. Other animals that can be seen on Charles Darwin’s islands are marine iguanas relaxing on lava rocks, Galápagos penguins, sea lions, crabs, or you can even use a boat to paddle alongside white-tipped reef sharks. All of these activities can be done as a family, and can also stimulate your children’s curiosity by allowing them to discover a variety of different animals.
Discover the Ancient Incas and Machu Picchu
Allocate a few days for you and your family to pass through the Sacred Valley to hike the Inca trails and see the Lost City. Near Cusco, a must-visit site of Incan architecture is Sacsayhuamán, a complex created in the 15th century by the emperor Pachacútec. You can also visit the ancient temple of Puma at Oenqo, the Temple of the Sun, or the “Baths of the Inca,” located over 13,000 feet above sea level. On your way to Machu Picchu, you may visit the Inca fortress at Ollantaytambo, and Tipon, which is known for its unique waterways. A similar site to Machu Picchu in the area is Choquequirao, standing over 10,000 feet above sea level.
Tour Ecuador’s Active Cotopaxi Volcano
If you’re looking for an adventurous hike, try exploring the Cotopaxi National Park located at about 30 miles from Quito. The National Park Service of Ecuador has declared the Cotopaxi volcano, nicknamed the Moon’s Throne, safe to explore, despite its recent activity. As an active volcano, it is, in fact, the highest, in the world standing at about 19,000 feet above sea level. You and your children could enjoy this tour, but be sure to acclimatize yourselves to high altitudes before venturing off into the park. Some tours even include a stop at Limpiopungo Lagoon, or a downhill mountain biking portion of the trip.
Learn Survival Skills in the Amazon Rainforest
Departing from Manaus in Brazil is where you can walk through the Amazon rainforest with your family while learning important survival skills. On this tour, you will be able to identify trees that produce fruits and nuts, and detect poisonous plants. The guide will even help you find sources of clean water, find medicinal plants, and teach you how to make traps for small animals. Upon this survival tour, guests may also encounter local Amazonians in the village of Tupé, where you can learn about their culture and way of life.
Go Whitewater Rafting in Alajuela, Costa Rica
Close to San Jose, Costa Rica is where you can find Alajuela, a province filled with national parks, active volcanoes like the Poás Volcano, hot springs, and raging rivers. It is here that you can try whitewater rafting with your family for all different skill levels. Choose between the Toro River, with its pineapple, papaya, and yucca fields, along side the Poas Volcano, the Pacuare River, arguably one of the best rivers in the world to try the sport because of its numerous cascades, or the Sarapiqui River with rapids in a lowland, wet forest setting, while drifting beside the Arenal Volcano.
Zip-line over the Amazon’s Canopy
So many countries border the Amazon rainforest, including Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, and Venezuela, which is why you’ll be able to find numerous opportunities to zip-line over the Amazon’s canopy. Plus, many companies have a minimum age limit of 10, so your little ones can get in on the fun! Being a family friendly, extreme sport is part of the adventure that zip lining offers. The other part is getting the chance to see monkeys, parrots, frogs, and all the other Amazonian animals. Some tours even incorporate private cave tubing, kayaking, or other sports, into their tour offers!
Sandboard in the Atacama Desert near San Pedro, Chile
If you’re looking for a dry, but hot adventure for you and your family, consider sandboarding in the Atacama Desert, or in Huacachina, Peru. You don’t necessarily have to be a snowboarding aficionado to grasp sandboarding, since the morning and afternoon tours are done in the company of a guide/instructor, who directs tourists with consideration towards their level of experience. The only downfall of this adventure is the treacherous walk to the top of the dunes, but it’s all worth it in the end when your shoes are full of sand, and your face is nice and tan.