5 Best Ecofriendly Experiences of South America

South America is considered as the most fun filled and romantic location in the world. The Latin culture offers rich music. Brazilian carnivals, the football fever and amazing beaches will fill you with fun. From tree climbing in the Amazonian jungle or galloping on horseback across Uruguayan plains, to getting spiritual at an Argentine Yoga retreat or pedaling through the Atacama Desert, South America has no shortage of experiences that are both easy on the wallet and the conscience.We bring you the best of ecofriendly locations in South America you must check them out

Bird-watching in Ecuador

From lounging seal pups on the shore of the Galapagos Islands to the varied fauna of the Amazon rainforest, Ecuador scores some major points when it comes to nature. Those looking for a slice of eco-action can head to the Ecuadorian Andes where the The Mindo Cloud forest Foundation (MCF) works to preserve and restore bird habitats and runs a number of environmentally friendly wildlife sanctuaries. Visitors can get up close and personal with all things feathery at one of the organization’s many bird sanctuaries, each designed to bring sustainable tourism into low-income rural communities and encourage locals to protect and preserve native ecosystems. Birding enthusiasts can hunt out exotic-sounding species like the Glistening-green Tanager and Long-wattled Umbrellabird at the bird sanctuary in the Chocó-Andean foothills or spy a Purple-chested Hummingbird or Double-banded Graytail at the nearby Rio Silanche bird sanctuary.

Cycling in Atacama Desert, Chile

A trip to Chile would hardly be complete without tackling the arid plains of the Atacama Desert, some 600 miles of dry and dusty desert stretching between the Pacific Ocean and the Andes Mountains. Despite the sweaty days and endless stretches of shadeless terrain, cycling is actually a popular activity in these parts, and cheap bike rental is readily available from several places in San Pedro de Atacama, the desert’s main gateway. Cyclists can explore the nearby lakes, the spectacular geysers of El Tatio, or the moonlike landscape of the aptly named Valle de la Luna

Amazonian jungle in Colombia

Brazil may be the go-to destination for Amazon explorers, but Colombia’s less-visited shores offer ample options for those looking to get well off the tourist trail. Take a boat to the small village of Puerto Nariño on the shore of the Amazon River and step back in time to an era free from cars and pollution – the village is entirely pedestrian thanks to the rules of the ecological community of the Ticuna tribe. If you need a little more excitement, a mere twenty minute boat journey will land you at the Amacayacu National Park, where canopy walks, canoeing, and tree-climbing take place to a backdrop of lush jungle, gushing streams, and historical aboriginal territory. Global Basecamps offer tours that stop at Puerto Nariño.

Eo-friendly horse ranch, Uruguay

From Argentina’s gauchos to Amazonian hunters, South America has a long history with the horse, and there are few better ways to experience ranch life than bedding down in a cattle and horse station in the Uruguayan countryside. La Salamora, a working farm nestled in the hills just 70km from the beach resort of Punta del Este, offers travelers the chance to live amongst real Latino cowboys (that’s “gauchos” to the locals) whilst tackling the hillside trails on horseback. There are a variety of horse treks on offer, everything from an hour’s stroll to a multi-day adventure traversing creeks, valleys, historical Gaucho trails, and copper mines. Not only that, but the lodge itself is a haven of ecotourism, with back-to-nature activities like hiking and bird-watching, and a chance to help out with seasonal farm duties – rounding up cattle on horseback or sheep-shearing, for example. Don’t worry though, it’s not all work – the home cooked food and cellar chockfull of locally produced wines means you can let your hair down at the end of the day.

Llama trekking, Peru

For those seeking an alternative (or addition) to the classic Inca trail, lesser-trampled Inca routes abound in the outskirts of Cuzco, and to spice things up even more, why not swap your porter for one of Peru’s national animals – the llama. Several tour companies offer llama treks, where the animals are equipped with saddle-bags to haul your belongings and are either led by the hikers or an accompanying guide – just be careful to research their ethical practices beforehand to ensure the animals are well cared for and strict weight restrictions are implemented on their loads. ApumayoExpediciones is one local company bringing llama love to the masses and boasts some enviable eco-credentials to boot – the company runs a number of Andean community projects, river clean-ups, and offers tours and activities for people with disabilities.

Besides world cup, you definitely have every reason to visit South America. Things are a little backwards in the desert villages, so don’t be surprised if your hire bike comes complete with a flat tire and a hand-scrawled route map. To avoid any mishaps, check your bike’s brakes and tires beforehand, stock up on water supplies, and leave ample time for your journey. For the less adventurous, there are plenty of four-wheel drive tours available to show you the sights instead – just make sure you team up with other travelers to cut down your fuel usage.

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