An adventure is much more than just a trip, it’s a journey undertaken for purpose of exploration. It’s a way to experience the world in a new way and challenge yourself, break out of your shell, or conquer your fears.
This is our pick of seven adventures in South America and Spain to consider during the Northern Hemisphere’s winter. We hope it inspires you…
Camping out in Antarctica
Yes, you read that right. Should you find yourself down on the most inhospitable continent on the planet, and someone suggests you might like to go and sleep outside, you may well question their sanity. If you agree, you’ll almost certainly question your own. However, it is an experience, and one few will ever have, so don’t dismiss it out of hand. You’ll likely not get too much sleep, but you’ll certainly have a night to remember, (and some bragging rights if that’s your thing)! Plus, if you’re on an Antarctic cruise, this is one of the best ways to gain an inkling of what the great explorers went through.
Kayaking the bay of Paraty, Brazil
With Carnival taking place in February, it’s a peak month in Rio de Janeiro. While it will be pretty difficult to avoid the crowds at this time of the year, a great alternative to Rio is the charming town of Paraty, further south. With the waters surrounding Paraty set against a backdrop of the thickly-forested Bocaina Mountains, it’s the perfect setting for a kayak adventure. Paddling up the bay at your own pace past islands, empty beaches, mangrove swamps and fishing villages, you can also stop for some swimming and snorkelling along the way. And if you’re lucky enough, you could even spot some dolphins!
Trekking the Chapada Diamantina, Brazil
This is also a beautiful time to go to Brazil’s Chapada Diamantina National Park – the mesas, savannah, rivers and waterfalls are indeed at their best. While options for hiking and trekking are plentiful here, our favourite area is ‘Vale do Pati’. The Pati Valley is a gentle wilderness with beautiful mountain and river scenery. Its appeal is enhanced by its remoteness – it can only be accessed on foot or on the back of a mule, so it’s blissfully quiet and unspoilt. On a clear night the unpolluted view of the stars is breathtaking, especially the cloudlike band of the Milky Way stretching across the sky.
Driving through the landscapes of Uyuni, Bolivia
Considered to be one of the best drives in South America – for those that made it that far – Bolivia’s famous salt flats offer such dramatic, spectacular and plain surreal scenery. If you come here in February, the salt pans of Uyuni will be covered in several centimetres of water. Although this means your 4×4 won’t be able to access the more remote parts of the salt flats, the mirror-like effect created is astonishing, and creates some of the most incredible photography, as the sky melds into the earth.
Exploring the forest of Huilo Huilo, Chile
Nestled in the midst of the Chilean Lake District, the Huilo Huilo Biological Reserve is one of our latest finds in Chile. Covering some 100,000 hectares, Huilo Huilo is part of a unique and little-explored ecosystem in the Patagonian Rainforest territory, set right in the Austral Andes. The Reserve is in a volcanic area, and lots of activities are available: rafting, zip lining, hiking, mountain biking and horse riding, but also waterfalls and thermal springs. There are still a few magical places left on Earth, where life goes by at its intended, and more natural pace – this is one of them.
Rafting in and out of Pacuare, Costa Rica
Taking a cab to check-in at your hotel? So old-fashioned. If you’re looking for a quintessential Costa Rican experience, the only way to go is by river raft. Because the Pacuare Eco Lodge is in the heart of a tropical rainforest, the best way to get there is by river rafting (there is in fact an alternative – rather less fun – ground transportation option if you prefer). This adrenaline-pumping journey will take you through class-II and -III rapids, past spectacular landscapes and under tumbling cascades on your way to the lodge. As for your luggage, you may ask? That will be transported separately in protective waterproof bags by a professional river guide, so you don’t need to worry. This is only the beginning of your adventure here…
Skiing in the Spanish Pyrenees
The Pyrenees mountains cover a huge area with myriad possibilities for winter sports. The Spanish side may be lesser-known, but it has sixteen resorts offering skiers everything they could want: amazing slopes and an attractive array of après ski activities and services. Our favourite of all? Definitely Cerler. Boasting the biggest vertical range in the Pyrenees, the views
in Cerler are stunning and the skiing excellent! With 71km of lovely and under-populated pistes, Cerler is a modern resort with a wide choice of quiet pistes and trails. There are rarely queues at the lifts so you can explore freely without having to worry about waiting in line.