5 surprising South American wildlife experiences


Continuing a look at South American adventure experiences, here we take a look at travel experiences involving the wildlife of our amazing continent – especially those natural experiences that you might find surprising.

The vast array of creatures with fins, feathers or fur across this expansive continent makes for some interesting sights and activities, some that can only be experienced here.

If you’re an intrepid traveler looking for such wildlife experiences, here’s a short-list of some of the best that Latin America has to offer.

1. Selfies with sharks in the Galapagos Islands

A tailor-made adventure tour to Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands is a must for any budding scientist or nature-lover, what with their exceptional landscapes and marine life. The archipelago, made up of 13 main islands encircled by swathes of azure sea, is famous for its totally unique endemic species that were paramount in the development of Charles Darwin’s evolution theory. Today, it is more enticing than ever. These days, not only can you “swim with the sharks” — safely, with Galapagos sharks — but you might even convince one to take a selfie with you!

2. Jaguar tracking in the Brazilian Pantanal

When it comes to wildlife spotting nothing is guaranteed, even more so when seeking out an animal which not only moves in the blink of an eye but is also known the world over for being more reclusive, and elusive than most. However, the sheer thrill of “what might be” as you head off with an expert guide in search of jaguars is worth it alone, and you never know – you might just get lucky!

3. Amazonian piranha fishing

Try your luck at fishing for piranhas, or make the most of water-based activities like kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding on the river. Many of the cruise boats and lodges offer action-packed experiences for you to get out and immerse yourself in these unspoiled natural surroundings, or you could always stay in and pamper yourself with a spa treatment or hit the gym – you’ve never worked out with a view like this before!

4. Dare to visit a South American caiman farm

Destined to wind up as bags, boots and belts, the Yacare caiman raised on farms in the Brazilian Pantanal are an unnerving sight to behold. Once an endangered species, today some 10 million of these caimans exist in the Brazilian Pantanal, representing what’s quite possibly the largest single crocodilian population on Earth. While these frightening pre-historic looking creatures can be found in the wild, large collections of them on farms will likely leave hairs standing up on the back of your neck.

5. Dog sledding in Argentina

During Patagonia’s winter season (which takes place in June, July and August, in the Southern Hemisphere), intrepid travelers can choose to spend the day “mushing.” Ok…while not technically “wildlife,” eager-to-please Siberian Huskies, Malamutes and Samoyed dogs provide an experience like few others while you’re perched on a sled, plowing through the snow with sheer abandon. This pleasure can be enjoyed in Argentine winter resort towns such as Moquehue, San Martín de los Andes and southern-most Ushuaia, where traditional dog sledding is being actively preserved.

As you can see, South America is a diverse continent with so many different experiences offered to travelers. Consider a journey outside your comfort zone, one that brings out the adventurer in you!

Alfonso Tandazo is President and CEO at Surtrek Tour Operator. Surtrek Tour Operator is a well-established firm, specializing in custom-designed luxury tours in Ecuador, the Galapagos and throughout the rest of South America.

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Comments (5)

  1. Jeff G says:

    That picture of the Siberian Huskies could have been a photograph competition. Where in the world is this?

    Alternatively, it would have made for a good “Photograph of the Week” feature. There must be such an amazing back story to this such as how the dogs are fed and trained.

  2. Julie Humphries says:

    That’s some opening picture, that beady eye looking at you. I’m guessing that it is from one of those caiman? The detail is quite something. A great picture which draws you into the story. Nice piece.

  3. Stephen says:

    A friend of mine is just back from a trek in Brazil’s Amazon. At night he slept in a hammock. Twice he had a Jaguar walk through the camp at night. If you wait long enough the jaguar may come to you.

    He was worried that the jaguar could have easily climbed into their hammocks but his guide reassured the group that jaguars rarely target humans for prey.

  4. Dan Swan says:

    I think I’ll give the selfie with the sharks a miss, thank you. I take a lot of pride in my Instagram account but I don’t love it that much. At too impressionable age I watched Jaws and have never dared dip a toe into the ocean since.

    Though put me down for all the other experiences. I’m a real adrenaline junkie so mushing the dogs would be a thrilling first.

  5. Lucy Steadman says:

    All of those Yacare caiman really are quite daunting to look at, and that’s just a photograph. It’s awful to think such creatures are used for fashion. I find that appalling. It would be incredible to spot a jaguar, and I think the waiting and wondering if you’ll get lucky enough to see one is what makes it all the more exciting. I wonder how many there are in the South American wild.
    You can’t help but laugh when you see people swimming with sharks, while being too busy trying to perfect their pose as they hold out a selfie stick!

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