Let the games begin

Thanks to a spotlight thrown on Brazil during Rio 2016, there comes the perfect excuse to explore the myriad sports travel treats the rest of the continent has to offer. With an incredibly diverse and dramatic landscape, South America is a dream destination for outdoorsy and active holidays. Read on to discover the most highly recommended local sporty hot spots…

Water Sports @Praia de Araçatiba

Credit: Gabriel Queiroz Films

The island of Ilha Grande off the coast of Rio owes its island paradise status to the fact it managed to fend off development for so long, serving as a leper colony and then a prison until the early nineties. So having only been open to tourism for twenty years, it remains a car-free haven of natural wonder. The azure waters surrounding this rainforest reserve are prime snorkeling territory, while the blissful coves of Júlia and Crena are popular kayaking and paddle-boarding hubs. Swimming on Ihla Grande is seventh heaven with secluded beaches, sparkling blue lagoons and unspoiled coastline peppered with dainty fishermen’s houses.

Adventure Sport @El Chaltén

Credit: Viva Patagonia Travel

Even on a continent so rich in dramatic scenery, the Patagonian wilderness is known as some of South America’s most stunning. Jagged, snowy mountain peaks are reflected on glassy lakes and vast plains give way to epic glaciers. Ice trekking on El Chaltén’s Viedma glacier, a World Heritage Site, will delight adventure-lovers. The area is mainly known for rock climbing, hiking and trekking. But there’s also plenty of opportunity to explore the rugged landscape by bike, kayak or on horseback.

Winter Sports @Farellones

Credit: Visitchile.com

Farellones was Chile’s very first ski resort and is the go-to for South American snow sports, being perfectly placed to access all of the pistes in the surrounding Tres Valles area. And it’s a great summer destination with hiking and horseback riding if you can’t make it for the southern hemisphere’s ski season (June to October). Farellones stands out for being charmingly laid-back, with the option of staying for just a couple of nights as opposed to the obligatory full week at many neighbouring resorts. But best of all is its Chilean feel – low-key and authentic, complete with old timber architecture.

Spectator Sport @Buenos Aires

Credit: Biking Buenos Aires

Visitors to Buenos Aires will be spoilt for choice when it comes to spectator sports. The city has varied selection of world-class venues, many historically significant as well as impressive. The Luna Park, a former boxing stadium with a 15,000 capacity, is the very place where Eva Duarte met Juan Peron. Whichever you visit, the vibrant spirit of the city tends to spill over into the stadium, making sport spectating in Buenos Aires a vivid cultural experience. A day at the races at the glitzy Hipódromo Argentino, for example, offers unrivalled people-watching and a unique experience – even if you know next to nothing about horse-racing.

Special thanks to Booking.com for information