The best outdoor adventures in South America

Thursday, October 31, 2019
By Azamara

South America is a continent of many wonders. With a rich, interesting history and a lively culture, there is plenty here to explore and enjoy. One of the most amazing things about South America is its link to the natural world. Even in large cities, you can easily get back to nature and the continent is home to a large amount of the world’s most unusual creatures and some amazing vistas.

With our range of South American cruises, guided tours and cruise excursions, you’re sure to find a tailored cruise holiday to enjoy this wonderful continent. Read on to discover some of the best outdoor adventures in South America.

Christ the Redeemer and Sugarloaf Mountain

Let’s start in Rio De Janeiro, the capital of Brazil and an icon of South America. Despite the city being large and well built, its connections to the natural world are still strong, with a range of beaches and mountains with plenty to explore.

Arguably, the two most iconic attractions in Rio are Christ the Redeemer and Sugarloaf Mountain. Each hike to the top is a worthwhile adventure, as hikers are rewarded with panoramic views across the city and beyond.

If hiking both mountains is on your bucket list, then our shore excursion, Best of Rio with Churrascaria Lunch, offers you the chance to visit both peaks and enjoy a traditional, local lunch with your fellow travellers. An experience not to be missed.

Shore Excursion: Best of Rio with Churrascaria Lunch

Christ the Redeemer

An icon of South America, most people around the world are familiar with the statue that sits atop Corcovado Mountain. With his arms widespread, Christ the Redeemer is one of the New7Wonders of the World and for good reason. Standing over 30-metres tall, it overlooks the city and is a worldwide symbol of Christianity. The hiking trail to the top is well-worn, with roughly three to four thousand visitors taking it every day. The hike takes between one and a half to two hours, but if you’d prefer to skip the hike and head straight to the top, there are buses and coaches available.

Shore Excursion: Christ the Redeemer and Scenic Beach Drive

Sugarloaf Mountain, Rio De Janeiro

Sugarloaf Mountain

Whether you choose to hike Sugarloaf Mountain or take the cable car, when you reach the summit, you’ll surely be taken aback by the view. Sat right on the shoreline, Sugarloaf Mountain offers uninterrupted views over the city, its long beaches and surrounding mountains.

Lucy, travel blogger at A Travellers Footsteps, explained why she believes the trip is a must: “Any trip to Rio De Janeiro should include a trip to Sugarloaf Mountain for the best views of Rio. As you start your journey up the mountain by cable car you will experience breathtaking 360-degree views of the city, coastline and mountains. The photo opportunities are endless so make sure you don't forget your camera. At the top, you will find dining facilities and shops, so you can stay all day if you wish. Sugarloaf Mountain was the highlight of my trip to Rio."

Shore Excursion: Sugarloaf & City Sights Ending at Gig Airport

Want to extend your stay in Rio? With so many adventures to embark on in this vibrant city, our Guided tours offer you the chance to extend your pre- and post-cruise stays.

Guided Tour: Stay Local in Rio

Penguins on Magdalena Island, South America

Magdalena Island

For lovers of natural and rugged wildlife, Magdalena Island offers a unique experience. Located in the Strait of Magellan, this small wildlife reserve is home to a large colony of penguins - 350,000 to be exact!

We spoke to Ruby and Josh, travel bloggers at Two Lost Feet. They told us about their experience visiting the island: “We had an unforgettable time on Magdalena Island. It really was a highlight of our time in South America. It was great to see the penguins in their natural environment, in a place where their wellbeing and protection is a priority. In contrast to any zoo I have visited, the penguins are able to roam free. It is us humans who are restricted to the cordoned off paths. However, they will happily walk across the path in front of you as they make their way to and from the water. This makes for some great photo opportunities.”

We also spoke to Nele, who’s known online as the Global Introvert. Nele told us about her experience: “Being close to the penguins on Magdalena Island was such a special experience. I had seen penguins before during my South America travels, but never this many so close up. I took as much time as I could, not wanting to miss out on a single minute of admiring these endearing animals. One hour is the maximum time allowed on the island to keep the strain on the penguins as small as possible. While I could easily have stayed longer, the fact that the penguins' welfare is such a priority only made me more appreciative of getting to spend time with them.”

Shore Excursion: Magdalena Island Penguins

Torres Del Paine, Patagonia

Torres Del Paine

One of the most beautiful places on earth, Torres Del Paine National Park can be found in Patagonia, Chile. The rugged mountains make for a bright and airy hike with large turquoise lakes and white glaciers all around. For hikers, this is a real playground filled with varying terrains, breathtaking views and blissful peace and quiet. Visit on a shore excursion, taking a charter flight here and spending the day creating lasting memories.

Nana, a travel blogger at Patagonia Dreaming, had a lot to say about this beautiful area: “Torres Del Paine is probably the biggest highlight of Chilean Patagonia, with people taking the long journey to ‘the end of the world’ to experience it.

“Patagonia has a lot of history, from the native people who lived here to the first explorers from Europe and its extreme, but impressive nature. It is a special feeling to explore here and something most people will carry forever as one of the best experiences in their life.”

We also spoke to Lora, blogger at Explore with Lora, who told us: “Torres Del Paine National Park is home to some of Patagonia's most beautiful landscapes. During my visit, I completed the Base Torres Viewpoint Trek, a day hike that takes you to the viewpoint of the three towers which the park is named after. I loved trekking in Torres Del Paine and hope to come back and complete a longer trek in the future. For any outdoor adventure seekers, a visit to Torres Del Paine is a must.”

Shore Excursion: Exploring Torres Del Paine National Park

Sea Lions in Ushuaia, South America


Known as ‘The End of the World’, Ushuaia is commonly regarded as the southernmost city in the world. A popular gateway to Antarctica, Ushuaia is a fantastic destination in its own right as it is surrounded by natural beauty. Whether you want to try your hand at crab fishing in the Beagle Channel or horseback riding, there is an excursion for you here. After exploring the city, you’ll certainly want to discover the plethora of landscapes that surround it for an unforgettable adventure.

Mel, blogger at BRB Travel Blog explained: “Ushuaia lies where the Andes Mountains meet the sea and is built on the shores of the Beagle Channel. The city offers countless outdoor adventures. Walking the Bahia Lapataia trail and visiting Laguna Esmeralda with views of the mountains and an emerald green lagoon in the middle are two of the top activities in this tranquil setting. The Martial Glacier is another great outdoor trail which is only 7km away from the city. 

“For wildlife lovers, this part of Patagonia offers one-of-a-kind experiences like navigating through the Beagle Channel where you can look at sea lions and more than 20 species of sea birds. Did I mention that you can walk among penguins in Ushuaia?”

We also spoke to Marielena a travel blogger and photographer at Epic 7 Travel. She told us: “Journeying to Ushuaia, Argentina, provides myriad opportunities to revel at its breathtaking beauty. Hiking the Martial Glacier offers unencumbered city and Beagle Channel views, flanked by snow-capped mountains and teeming with gleaming ships soon departing for Antarctica’s relentless Drake Passage. Given the unpredictable weather, layers and rain gear are key.”

Shore Excursion: Horseback Riding

Shore Excursion: Fishing at The End of The World

Shore Excursion: 4X4 Off-Road Lumberjack Trail & Hike

Shore Excursion: Crab Fishing at The End of The World

Iguazu Falls, South America

Iguazu Falls

Although Iguazu Falls is located inland between Argentina and Brazil, you can still visit on a shore excursion or on an extended Guided Tour. These stunning falls may not be as well-known as others around the world, but with 180 degrees of waterfalls to see, they really do offer a beautiful sight. Stand and hear the roaring water travel out to sea, your face getting damp from the spray of the water. A feeling you’ll surely never forget.

Kimberly, a blogger at Adventures & Sunsets, told us about her visit: “My visit to Iguazu Falls was one of the most memorable parts of my 5-month trip in South America. As soon as you step up above the millions of gallons of water gushing over the edge every second, you can really feel that the immense power of this force of nature demands your respect.

“Was it worth it? Well, of course! Seeing the largest waterfall in the world was nothing short of spectacular. It was eye-opening to see the falls from both the Argentinian and Brazilian sides. Seeing both gives you the widest perspective both near and far from what turns out to be dozens of waterfalls making up one larger one.”

Shore Excursion: Full Day Iguazu Falls Experience

As well as gargantuan waterfalls, there is rich rainforest all around you teeming with wildlife. For those who want to explore the falls and the amazing flora and fauna nearby, a Guided Tour is the perfect choice. Adding days onto your trip pre- and post-cruise, you’ll be able to visit and revisit the falls as well as take the time to explore the surrounding area.

Guided Tour: Iguazu Falls to/from Brazil

Guided Tour: Iguazu Falls from Argentina & Brazil

With these outdoor adventures, you’ll be sure to have seen the best of South America’s natural side. Explore our range of South America luxury cruises and visit the continent in style, spending each day experiencing rich new cultures and rugged wilderness before relaxing in your suite, ready for the next adventure!

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