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7 Hands-on Travel Experiences in South America You Need to Know About

7 Hands-on Travel Experiences in South America You Need to Know About

Are you looking for an inspirational list of hands-on travel experiences in South America? Then you’ve come to the right place! 

Over the past years, there has been a big trend in tourism where travellers no longer want to participate in just the standard sightseeing tours and attend so-called ‘cultural shows’, but really feel the need to get involved in experiences that are characteristic to the destination that they are visiting. This is called Creative Travel.

In this article, you can find some of the best creative travel experiences in South America: Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Chile and Peru. Keep coming back, because this list will keep growing!  



6 Hands-on Travel Experiences in South-America You Need to Know About || The Travel Tester

Creative Travel Definition

According to the Creative Tourism Network, creative travel is considered “a new generation of tourism”, that offers visitors the opportunity to “develop their creative potential through active participation in courses and learning experiences, which are characteristic of the holiday destination where they are taken”.

From volunteer travel programs and language immersion programs to cultural immersion travel experiences and real community immersion, Creative Tourism is a way of travel that really is for everyone.

Whether you travel alone, as a couple or with a family or group of friends, there are many activities around the world where that offer educational courses and workshops, creative experiences where you get to learn different art forms or even adventure activities where you interact with the local nature and people in a fun, yet authentic way.

Complete Hands-on Travel in South America List


Take a tango lesson in Buenos Aires

Anyone who loves dance, likes to dance with a partner or is looking for a slower-paced dance style will love taking an Argentine tango lesson.

TIP BY: Heather Trimm, (<< read all about things to do in Argentina)

“One of my all-time favorite unique travel experiences was my Argentine tango lesson in Buenos Aires. I love dance and I was excited to actually take a lesson and learn more about this sultry, Latin style dance. 

Tango is an interpretive and improvisational social dance, and lessons can be enjoyed year-round by all ages. Milongas, however, are typically adults-only, as they are dance events that sometimes go into the late hours. If you have a chance to participate in a Milonga, I highly recommend it. Even if you are the only foreign person on the dance floor like I was, it is a fantastic experience!

Try taking a private lesson or group lesson in the home of a local. Diego Alvaro and Zoraida Fontelara of El Beso in Buenos Aires have been teaching lessons and holding Milongas for over 20 years!”


6 Hands-on Travel Experiences in South-America You Need to Know About || The Travel Tester
Photo Credit: Canva (left, top left and top right) and (bottom)


Wear traditional Bolivian clothing in Isla del Sol

A traditional Bolivian dress consists of a shirt pollera, poncho, and a hat. A pollera has many layers and keeps you warm in cold weather. The poncho called manta is worn over the shoulder, and it is usually made from alpaca fur. The iconic bowler finalizes the look. Have you ever tried it one? 

TIP BY: Greta Milkovic, (<< read all about this experiences on her blog)

“If you ever travel to Bolivia, you will notice that locals still wear traditional Bolivian clothing. Ever since I saw it, I really wanted to try it on.

We made a wonderful trip from Copacabana to Isla del Sol, located at 4.000m altitude. Our host lady advised me that her neighbor might borrow me Bolivian dress for a day. It wasn’t easy to communicate with her as the locals speak Aymara, the traditional indigenous language of the region. But it worked out in the end.

We took many photos with Lake Titicaca in the background and friendly Alpacas and Llamas. Locals were waving at us, smiling, and complimenting my Bolivian look. It was such an excellent experience, and if you want to try it yourself, simply ask at your hotel, they might know whom to contact. In Copacabana, you will see several stores with signs stating that you can rent Bolivian clothing as well.”

6 Hands-on Travel Experiences in South-America You Need to Know About || The Travel Tester
Photo Credit:


Go on a coffee tasting / brewing tour in Medellín and Bogotá

Colombian coffee is renowned all over the world for its quality and delicious taste. Are you interested in learning more about its history, origin, cultivation, and the beans themselves? Then a coffee tasting and/or workshop is perhaps something for you!

TIP BY: me!

“While I’m personally not a coffee-lover, I know that many of you are, so I dove into the many activities that you can book on Get Your Guide and found various fun tours and hands-on workshops where you can learn how to make and taste different kinds of coffee.

From tours where you visit various coffee shops to taste their specialty coffee to learning from experienced baristas about different preparation methods and coffee types, with these experiences you will discover how the coffee goes from crop to cup and learn everything about the history of coffee production in Colombia.”


Hands-on Travel Experiences in South-America You Need to Know About || The Travel Tester
Photo Credit: Canva


The Travel Tester loves to review tours and activities all around the world to help you decide if it will be great for your next adventure.

From the main tourist attractions to bucket list experiences and from guided walks or drives to self-guided visits of historical places, interactive museums, viewpoints, local events and much more. If it looks interesting to us, we’ll test it!
No matter where you are going, with our reviews you’ll know exactly where to find a memorable activity to participate in.



Have a go at sand boarding in Iquique

Chile is blessed with a wide variety of dunes of different shapes and sizes and that makes it the perfect places to slide down one of them at high speed. On Iquique’s Dragón Hill, which at 350 meters is considered the highest urban dune on the planet, you’ll be able to surf the sand waves to your heart’s content. 

TIP BY: Chelsey Schultz, (<< read all about her adventures around the world)

“Have you ever heard of sandboarding? Neither had I until I went to Iquique in northern Chile. This stunning region doesn’t have much in terms of snow, but they sure have an incredible amount of sand. Having never snowboarded before either, I was nervous but excited to take on this adventure. My partner and I booked a private sandboarding lesson with a local tour company and off we went.

First, I had to learn how to stand on the board. After I got my balance, my instructor taught me how to turn before gently pushing me off the edge of a baby hill. It seemed like I was going a million miles an hour, but I wasn’t! The important thing was that I made it to the bottom still on my feet! After that, it was rinse and repeat. Go down the hill, then climb back up.

Over the two-hour lesson, I got to try taller and taller hills. Eventually, I could carve my way (somewhat) through the sand. I only fell once, and it didn’t hurt at all! It was an amazing adventure that I am happy that I tried, and I would do it again in a heartbeat!”

6 Hands-on Travel Experiences in South-America You Need to Know About || The Travel Tester
Photo Credit: Canva (left and top right) and (bottom right)

Make your own wine in the Colchagua Valley

Chile is known worldwide for the quality of its wine. What if you could go to a winery, see the process of wine making, taste some of the labels, and finish your visit mixing your own blend? Head to the country’s central valley, the heart of wine country, and make it a reality!

TIP BY: Coni, (<< read more about things to do in Chile)

“At MontGras, you start with a walk around the vines to learn to differentiate the varieties. Then you go to the facilities where the grapes are crashed and kept for fermentation. Afterwards you take a tour of the cellar and sit down for some tasting. Then it’s time for action!

The ‘make your own wine’ part starts with sampling a few varieties while you get an explanation by the wine maker on the different notes you should be smelling and tasting.

Once you decide what you like, you blend all the varieties you want on your own bottle, put a cork on it and seal it. The last step is to label it. Design to your heart’s content and take your own wine home with you. What could be a better souvenir?”


6 Hands-on Travel Experiences in South-America You Need to Know About || The Travel Tester
Photo Credit:


Take a traditional weaving class in Chinchero

Promoting the empowerment of weavers through the creation of ancestral textiles, the non-profit Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco (CTTC) improves the quality of life for local artisans. 

TIP BY: Sue Slaght, (<< read more about her Peru travels)

“Located 45 minutes from Cusco, on the road to Urubamba, you will find the Association of Away Weavers of Chinchero. Not only can you support local weavers by purchasing an authentic Peru souvenir, but you can watch a weaving demonstration and take part in this important cultural aspect of the area.

Step by step, participants learn how the weavers transform alpaca and sheep fiber into fine textiles such as hats, sweaters and blankets. From washing the raw wool with natural root detergent to spinning, to the final sewing of a textile product. 

Perhaps the most fascinating part of the demonstration is the dying of the wool. In large steaming pots natural ingredients are utilized to create rainbows of vibrant colors. Participants learn that the dyes are made from local ingredients such as leaves, volcanic rocks, flowers, fruits and even parasites. 

To attend a weaving demonstration, or participate in a weaving workshop, it is recommended that you book ahead. However, the Center is open to the public and you can speak with the weavers as they work. Both buses and taxis can transport visitors from Cusco to Chinchero.”


6 Hands-on Travel Experiences in South-America You Need to Know About || The Travel Tester
Photo Credit: Canva (left, top left and top right) and (bottom)

Learn how to make Chicha in the Sacred Valley

Chicha in its most basic form is fermented corn and was the sacred drink of the Incas, used in ceremonies. Today, it’s popular with the local people and still made prolifically.

TIP BY: Ariana, (<< read all about travelling to Peru)

“One of our favourite experiences in all of Peru was at Chichubamba, a small community in the Sacred Valley who run an innovative agro tourism project. During the course of several hours we learned about raising guinea pigs (yes, they eat them as a delicacy), bee keeping, and – best of all – got insight into traditional chicha brewing.

To drink; it tastes bitter, fermented, strong and definitely goes to your head! The locals at Chichubamba showed us how they lay the maize out to dry before crushing it. It’s then boiled in huge pots before being placed in earthenware jars. After fermenting for 3 days it’s ready to drink! (Obviously we didn’t stick around for 3 days)

In addition to chicha we drank some Frutillada which was made with a combination of Jora maize and strawberries. You need both hands to hold the enormous glass. Chicha making is a great way to support a grass roots community tourism project, while getting to know the locals a little better!”


6 Hands-on Travel Experiences in South-America You Need to Know About || The Travel Tester
Photo Credit: Canva (left) and (right)

Do You Travel to Discover Hands-On Experiences?

Let us know in the comments below what your favourite activity in this list is – and if you have any great additions to share with us. We are always adding to this page, so keep your suggestions coming! Look below for more information about creative travel and where else in the world you can have great hands-on experiences:


Coronavirus / COVID-19

There are currently travel restrictions all over the world. For the current advice, see the website of the World Health Organization. Be sensible and don’t travel if you don’t really need to!

Creative Tourism Network

If you are looking for more creative tourism examples, then make sure to head over to the website of the Creative Tourism Network, as they are a fantastic source of information and inspiration for your upcoming travels. 

The Creative Tourism Network is the international organization for the Creative Tourism development worldwide. They offer consulting and training to tourism professionals and also host the Creative Tourism Awards to reward projects, companies and destinations that foster the new generation of tourism with the active participation of tourists in creative activities.

Map of South America Creative Travel and Tours

Creative Traveller’s Handbook

My travel blogger friend Elena wrote a wonderful book about creative travel that I can highly recommend reading. In this inspiring handbook, she answers not only the question who creative travel is for, but she gives practical tips on how to be creative on your own travels and how to plan your next creative trip down to all the details.

Read my full review of the Creative Traveller’s Handbook >>

The Creative Traveler's Handbook Review: How and Why You Travel is as Important as Where | Book Review by The Travel Tester

Creative Travel Around the World

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6 Hands-on Travel Experiences in South-America You Need to Know About || The Travel Tester



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John Spear

Monday 22nd of June 2020

The lama looks to check out the place, thanks for sharing :)