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Top 5 Activities on the Tourist Trail in South America

Posted by on September 27, 2010

While my laptop has died for a while, I don´t have all my notes. So this is a filler article drawn from conversations with other travellers while on the various routes in South America.

Despite all your planning and ideas of a ´unique´ trip in South America, you´ll often find people coming from where you´re going, or with roughly the same plan as you. Informally the Gringo trail, it runs mostly from Ecuador down through Peru, Cusco, Bolivia and the desert, and either down to Santiago or across via Iguazu to Buenos Aires. As I´ve met people, you hear highlights and plans and what people consider to be the best. Here are the top five as described by travelers thus far, in no particular order.

The Inca Trail and Machu Picchu
Inevitably when traveling though Peru, backpackers are on their way to Cuzco to acclimatize before heading up either the main Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, or one of the stunning alternatives – Lares Trek, Salkantay, or another. If hiking isn´t your thing, the train also runs up to Aguas Calientes, where most stay before the early morning walk up to Machu Picchu.

Iguazu Falls
One of the more spectacular sights of the natural world, these waterfalls between Brazil and Argentina offer amazing panoramas from both sides. Surrounded by a national park within a rain forest, it´s worthy of at least a full day on the Argentinian side alone.

The Bolivia Desert and Uyuni Salt Flats
Cheesy Facebook photos as a result of the mixed depth perception in the Salar de Uyuni, spectacular views of the desert, and some of the coldest nights at altitude. Throw in Laguna Colorada – a finalist for the new Seven Natural Wonders of the World, a few llamas and flamingos and you´ve got one of the most amazing tours around.

The Death Road in Bolivia
The most dangerous road in the world is now open to mountain biking! The Yungas Road, famous for the most fatalities outside of a war zone now has several companies sending inexperienced mountain bikers down its 56km of slopes every single day. Featured on an episode of Top Gear where we almost lost Jeremy Clarkson to the depths of the valley, this road is slowly losing traffic to a new safer road built nearby. However for mountain bikers, the thrill remains…

Buenos Aires
Considered by some to be a dirty, dangerous city – the more time you spend in Buenos Aires the more you appreciate it. From the San Telmo markets on Sunday morning, the massive football rivalry with La Boca and River, late night empanadas between clubs on massive nights out, and the feeling of culture and history all around, Buenos Aires has to be experienced to understand.

And so ends my current thoughts on the top five activities from travellers I´ve spoken with or met. What are your favourite activities in South America?

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3 Responses to Top 5 Activities on the Tourist Trail in South America

  1. Bronwen

    Nice list! Can only tick off 2 days in Buenos Aires which wasn’t long enough. We liked, for Patagonia hiking, El Chalten (Argentina) and Torres del Paine (Chile). Both had great views. El Chalten was less busy than the W-circuit.

  2. anonymouse

    riding llamas!!

  3. An impartial yet interested observer

    I’m with you, anonymouse. I think Mark should try to ride a llama! Especially when he’s in Cusco.

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