10 Adrenaline-pumping Ways to See the Andes

Apr 1, 2015

South America’s striking scenery is often viewed on foot. But why walk when you can see Bolivia as you hang from the side of a skyscraper, Ecuador from a whitewater raft, Colombia from a paraglider, or Peru from the seat of an ATV, asks TERRA HALL.

With lands awash with remnants of the Inca Empire and Spanish Conquistadors, South America’s landscape is rich with history. When coupled with the vast and varied terrain of the Andes mountains, it’s easy to see why the region is home to some of the world’s greatest trekking. But traversing this mountain range barely scratches the surface of the adrenaline-inducing experiences it has to offer.

Here, you can cycle the world’s most dangerous road, kayak the highest navigable lake on earth and scale the snow-capped peaks of one of the planet’s highest active volcanoes. These, and other sites that set hearts racing, make Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru a mecca for travellers who see extreme pursuits as a drawcard.

1. BOLIVIA

RAPPEL A SKYSCRAPER IN LA PAZ

As you inch out onto a ledge on the 17th floor of Hotel Presidente in La Paz, thousands of colonial buildings, cradled by a large canyon, peer back at you. You spy the city’s centrepiece Iglesia de San Francisco and, in the distance, the stacked brick homes of El Alto. The busy traffic below teems like a colony of ants. But you aren’t here to casually observe the view, instead, you’re about to step off the ledge and rappel, face-first, 50m down the side of the building.

It’s known as rap jumping, and Urban Rush Bolivia ensures you have the safety gear and the knowhow to do it. They begin with an intensive training session inside the building, on a purpose-built 2m-high wall, after which, you’re ready to take the descent head on. If your heart isn’t already in your throat after “walking” down the side of a building, it will be as you free fall the last six storeys to the bottom.