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Action awaits in the Andes! Get your blood pumping and your adrenalin racing by checking out our top three adventure sports in South America.
When you hear of someone travelling to South America, you're likely to conjure up images of sweeping beaches, dense jungle and beautiful people. While these interpretations of the continent are certainly true, few people seem to speak of the Andes, a mountainous ridge of dramatic peaks that stretches the entire length of South America. The Andes span some 7000 kilometres along the continent's west coast from north to south and extend through seven countries including Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile and Argentina.
The Andes can be broken up into three sections - northern, central and southern - each of which vary quite significantly from the others in terms of climate. The northern area, due to its close proximity to the equator, is the warmest and most humid - the temperatures steadily drop the further south you travel. No matter what part of the Andes you choose to visit, you can expect not only stunning scenery, but a wealth of adrenalin-spiking activities that are guaranteed to get your heart racing. Check out our three favourite adventure sports in the Andes.
As you might have guessed, the Andes present a staggering number of rock climbing options in various countries. One of the best places to get started is Cerro Catedral - or The Frey, as it is affectionately known - a stunning area about halfway down Argentina's west coast.
The Frey may be a single mountain, but it covers a huge area and there are a variety of challenging routes you can take - you're only really limited by your imagination. The nearest town is the rather upmarket but lovely Bariloche, about 20 kilometres to the west, though there is a hut at the foot of the mountain that accommodates around 30 people. If you want to stay here, be sure to book in advance.
In the southern Andes of Chile you'll find the mountain Nevados de Chillan and a ski resort of the same name. Nevados de Chillan is famed for its excellent skiing and snowboarding, and is popular with locals and tourists alike. The resort boasts the longest run in all of South America in the form of Las Tres Marias, which also has the greatest vertical descent in Chile.
The terrain is diverse and is suitable for people of varying levels of ability. Beginners will enjoy the lower parts of the mountain, where the slopes are gentle and the trails are wide and open. Higher up, things get a little more challenging, and there are a number of natural obstacles that are waiting to be mastered. There's also an extensive area of back country to explore, should you really wish to escape into the wilderness. The stunning alpine forests of the surrounding area make for sensational views and provide excellent eye candy while taking the chair lift back up the mountain.
White water rafting
Instead of skiing down the mountains, why not float them down? You might think "float" is a bit of a misnomer, though, as you battle your way down the gushing rivers that cascade down the Andes. Cusco, situated in southern Peru, is the adventure capital of the country and offers a plethora of operators who can take you on the journey of the lifetime down the Apurimac River that flows right down to the Amazon.
Throughout the four day expedition you'll pass through enormous granite gorges, lush tropical rainforests and a variety of class two, three and four rapids. At night, you'll set up camp on sandy beaches and rest in preparation for the following day. Expert instructors, combined with the latest rafts and safety equipment, ensure your safety throughout the epic voyage.
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