Prime hiking spots include Patagonia, where Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park draws travellers with its ‘W’ and ‘O’ treks and the Argentinian side offers the Huemul Circuit and day hikes up Mt. Fitz Roy.
Peru’s Colca Canyon is another hiking hotspot while the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu — or alternatives such as the Lares or Salkantay — remains a rite of passage. Recent access restrictions at Machu Picchu, however, have provided a boost to other, less crowded Peruvian archaeological sites such as Choquequirao or Kuélap. Another alternative is Colombia’s Tayrona National Park, with its fabled ‘Lost City’.
Common springboards for Amazon adventures include Iquitos or Puerto Maldonado in Peru and Manaus in Brazil, whose other strengths include the Pantanal, the world’s largest wetlands.
Rising stars on the wildlife front include Guyana’s Iwokrama Forest, which offers highlights such as tracking black caiman and jaguar, and visiting the stunning Kaieteur Falls. For a more accessible alternative, Costa Rica is worth considering. Another popular classic is a three-day jeep tour coupling Bolivia’s salt flats — the Salar de Uyuni — with northern Chile’s Atacama Desert, while the Pacific coast boasts excellent surfing at spots such as Montanita in Ecuador and Máncora in Peru.
Top dive destinations include Mexico’s Sea of Cortez, with its seasonal whale sharks, and Belize, with its Great Blue Hole and Half Moon Caye Wall. Belize combines well with Guatemala, fusing their respective adventure capitals, San Ignacio and Antigua and major Mayan sites such as Tikal.
“Latin America is such a diverse region. There’s an incredible variety of landscapes unparalleled in other parts of the world, with everything from bustling metropolises to spectacular ancient ruins, lush jungles, mountains, glaciers, wildlife, islands and beaches,” says Scott Marquardt, Latin America manager, Tucan Travel.
“The biggest challenge is narrowing down the options. Everyone has heard of Machu Picchu, Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro. However, one of the more overlooked destinations for more seasoned travellers is up-and-coming Colombia, which never fails to impress with its fascinating history, authentic culture and incredibly friendly locals.” Marquardt also points out Central America is worth considering.
Jack Brooker, Latin America product manager at Rainbow Tours, stresses that you need to really understand what the client’s interpretation of adventure travel is as Latin America can offer adventures to suit everybody. “That’s what’s so great about it,” he says. “In Costa Rica, for example, you can do lots of different activities all in the same day, whereas in Peru you could do one long trek to some remote ruins over three or four days.”
For Brooker, every country offers its own unique adventurous experiences, be it cultural, active or wildlife focused, while one of his favourite off-beat destinations, the Amazonas region in northern Peru, covers them all.
Chimu Adventures’ 14-day The Guiana Experience explores Guyana and Suriname, with an optional extension in French Guiana. From £4,089pp, excluding flights from the UK.
Swoop Patagonia features five-day tours of The Huemul Circuit in Argentina’s Los Glaciares National Park, from $1,245pp (£956). Highlights include the challenging Viento and Huemul passes and a zip-line river crossing.