Typical January afternoon on Ipanema Beach, Rio de Janeiro.

13 Outdoor Adventures in the Southern Hemisphere

13 Ways to Warm Up Below the Equator
By Melinda Quintero

While we in the Northern Hemisphere are still wearing winter coats, our friends in the Southern Hemisphere are already replenishing their sunscreen supply for their summer.

A trip to the Southern Hemisphere's great outdoors during their summer (December-March) promises great adventures -- and the chance to shed a few layers.

From sunbathing in Brazil to surfing in Australia, here are 13 ways to thaw out in the Southern Hemisphere from December to March.

Photo Caption: Typical January afternoon on Ipanema Beach, Rio de Janeiro.
A young surfer along the Sunshine Coast comes in.
Surf the Sunshine Coast, Australia.
When to Go: The surf swells year-round on this coast, but summer is best for waves and sunny weather. Avoid visiting during the Christmas and New Year's holidays when most Australians spend their summer vacation at the beach.

Why Go: Australia's Sunshine Coast -- nearly 60 miles of sandy coastline between Caloundra (north of Brisbane) and Rainbow Beach -- is a classic surfing and vacation destination for Aussies. Surf breaks here range from beginner's waves over sand floors to hollow tube rides over reefs. Though this is one of Australia's most popular seaside destinations, the seemingly endless beaches and 50 surf spots ensure that each wave-rider can claim her own stretch of water. Dozens of surf shops and instructors in Caloundra, Mooloolaba, and Noosa can get newbies standing for the first time and organize surfaris to the best local breaks.

How Much: Multiple day tours and surf camps typically start around A$400 per person per day without accommodations or A$600 with. Surf lessons and day camps start at A$50 per day. (A$1 = US$1)

More Info: www.sunshinecoastvisit.com.au; www.surfingqueensland.com; www.caloundratourism.com.au; www.mooloolabatourism.com.au; www.tourismnoosa.com.au

Photo Caption: A young surfer takes a break from riding waves along the Sunshine Coast of Australia.
Crowded Ipanema Beach on a Sunday in Rio de Janeiro.
Strut down Ipanema Beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
When to Go: In summer, Rio is hot, with average temperatures in the 100s (or above 38°C) with high humidity. Carnival is late February or early March, which is either an ideal time if you want to join the multi-day party, or best avoided as this is the city's busiest time of year.

Why Go: This famed beach lives up to its hype, with golden sand and waves that are fit for surfing and swimming. But Mother Nature is not the main attraction. Ipanema is the sun-drenched stage for Cariocas to truly let loose -- as if Rio's party-till-dawn nightlife and generally laid-back attitude didn't already do the trick. This stretch of sand is possibly the best people-watching in the world, when it feels like no one is at work and everyone wears the skimpiest bathing suits possible. From the beach soccer games and vendors selling barbecue to the perfectly-tanned beauties and the men who strut for them, Ipanema is a uniquely Brazilian experience. When you've had enough of the sun, pull up a patio chair at a beachfront restaurant or café to watch the equally entertaining pedestrian traffic along the waterfront drive.

How Much: Beach access is free. Beach vendors sell everything you need for a day on the sand and in the sun, from snack foods and suntan lotion, to bikinis and lounge chairs.

More Info: www.riodejaneiro-turismo.com.br

Photo Caption: A sea of people at Ipanema Beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Horses graze in front of the Moai at Ahu Tongariki, Easter Island.
Ride to dine
Explore Easter Island, Chile.
When to Go: Easter Island's summer has temperatures in the low 80s (high 20s in Celsius), though the island gets rain and chilled winds year-round.

Why Go: Some 20,000 archaeological sites dot this far-flung island more than 2,200 miles from mainland Chile. The famous moai statues, staring out over rolling grassland and crashing waves, are most commonly associated with Easter Island. However, this tiny island is also a prime destination for outdoor adventure. The Parque Nacional Rapa Nui covers almost the entire island and encompasses not only the moai, but also trails for biking and horseback riding, peaks and volcanoes for hiking, and some of the world's clearest ocean water for scuba diving, snorkeling, and kayaking. Rent a car to get to trailheads leading to the tops of volcanic craters and the entrances to hidden caves. The island's northeast coast offers sandy beaches.

How Much: Daily park access is $10. LAN Chile is the only airline with service to the island's Mataveri International Airport. All accommodations are in Hanga Roa, the island's only settlement. Expect to pay between $100 and $200 per night for a basic hotel room.

More Info: www.conaf.cl (Spanish only)

Photo Caption: Horses graze in front of the moai at Ahu Tongariki, Easter Island.
Kangaroos in the early morning at Stokes Bay, Kangaroo Island.
Bush Philosopher - Dave Clarke
Watch for wildlife on Kangaroo Island, Australia.
When to Go: Summer is prime time on Kangaroo Island, when wildflowers bloom in the pastureland and the local wildlife gives birth.

Why Go: With a name like "Kangaroo Island," Australia's third largest island delivers when it comes to wildlife viewing. On a visit to this island off the coast of Adelaide in South Australia, you're bound to see kangaroos, tammar wallabies, cuddly koalas, and Little Penguins in their natural habitats. Flinders Chase National Park takes up 17% of the island, with hiking trails and campsites along rivers, beaches, and stands of eucalyptus trees. A colony of 500 sea lions lives along the beaches of Seal Bay Conservation Park. Boardwalks and lookout points offer the perfect vantage point for watching the sea lions loll about in the sun and frolic in the ocean.

On a night tour from Kangaroo Island Marine Centre at Kingscote Wharf or of the Penneshaw Penguin Centre, you'll spot native pint-size penguins in tuxedos padding among the rocks. Driving the island's country roads, you'll pass signs pointing off the beaten path to farmers' fresh produce stands, artisan cheese makers, honey makers selling jugs of honey from local bees, and wineries.

How Much: To get to Kangaroo Island, you can fly from Adelaide or take a ferry (A$92 round-trip) from Cape Jervis. Flinders Chase National Park entry is A$10. Car camping is between A$12 and A$25 per vehicle per night; hiker walk-in campsites are A$6 and A$8 per person. Vacation cottages across the island are A$70 to A$250 per night.

More Info: Flinders Chase National Park (www.environment.sa.gov.au); Tourism Kangaroo Island (www.tourkangarooisland.com.au)

Photo Caption: Kangaroos in the early morning at Stokes Bay, Kangaroo Island.
A herd of African elephants migrates across the Serengeti.
Frommers.com Community
Go on safari in the Southern Plains of the Serengeti, Tanzania.
When to Go: The most popular safari season on the Serengeti Plain is during the Great Migration, typically between July and November when herds of wildebeest, zebra, gazelle, and other land mammals cross between Tanzania and Kenya. This is a huge tourism draw and the busiest season, when you're likely to get a few unwanted human beings in your breathtaking wildlife photos. December to March, on the other hand, is less crowded with tourists and the grasses are shorter, allowing for better viewing.

Why Go: A spectacular herd of several hundred thousand wildebeest migrates back and forth between Tanzania's Serengeti National Park and Kenya's Masai Mara National Reserve every year in search of fresh pastureland. Between July and November, the herd moves north from Tanzania to Kenya, only to return by December to the Serengeti's Southern Plains.

December to February is calving season, when nearly 8,000 calves are born on the Southern Plains every single day. And wherever weak-kneed calves are toddling about, predators aren't far behind. In short, it's a thrilling time for safari, when you'll witness the fascinating cycle of birth and death.

How Much: Park fees are $50 per person per day. The Southern Plains have only a few lodges and permanent camps which you can book separately or as part of a package tour. Nightly rates start around $300 per double room. The small, remote permanent camp (the Kusini Camp; www.sanctuaryretreats.com) is $750 per person per night (all-inclusive).

More Info: www.tanzaniaparks.com; www.tatotz.org

Photo Caption: A herd of African elephants migrates across the Serengeti.
Carrying the scuba tanks in Gili Meno, Lombok, Indonesia.
Nick Botter
Dive in Bali & Lombok, Indonesia.
When to Go: This is Bali's low season, when you can score major discounts on hotels and vacation rental homes (expect to pay more during the holiday high season around Christmas and New Year's). While it will rain every day in short bursts during the summer rainy season, the scuba diving is still great between December and January. From February to March, strong currents churning up the water decrease visibility.

Why Go: More than twice as many species of marine animals live in Indonesia's coral reefs than Australia's Great Barrier Reef. Bali is ringed by spectacular scuba dive sites. These rich waters teem with gigantic mola-mola, striped wonderpus, and technicolor nudibranches. The channel between Bali and neighboring Lombok Island is the geological divide between Southeast Asia and Australasia. Sea turtles, thick-lipped napoleon wrasse, and reef sharks congregate off the Gili Islands to the north and Belongas Bay on Lombok's southern shores.

How Much: Bali's hotels habitually slash their prices during low season, putting many of the island's luxurious hotels within reach of more terrestrial budgets. Discounts of up to 50% and beyond are not uncommon -- when an $800 room can go for $200 per night. Shop around -- deals abound.

A one-day scuba diving package typically costs $125, with equipment. Dive outfitters sell multi-day diving packages with accommodations. Bali and Lombok have several PADI-certified scuba dive outfitters.

More Info: www.balidiscovery.com

Photo Caption: Carrying the scuba tanks in Gili Meno, Lombok, Indonesia.
The Galapagos Islands offer an unparalleled experience to see an amazing variety of wildlife from a close perspective, such as this Blue-Footed Booby.
Frommers.com Community
Snorkel and hike the Galápagos Islands, Ecuador.
When to Go: Summer is peak season for tourism to the Galápagos Islands, though this is paradoxically the rainiest and sunniest time of year. From December to May, the island's waters are warmer and more suited to snorkeling and scuba diving. This is top mating season for shore birds and sea lions, and nesting time for sea turtles. Wildflowers bloom across the island between February and April.

Why Go: This archipelago, about 600 miles from Ecuador, shelters some of the world's rarest animal life. Today, ancient tortoises, blue-footed boobies, fat-bellied sea lions, Darwin's finches, and dozens of other unique animal species still live blissfully unaware that their completely isolated world is far from large predators. The greatest spectacle of the Galápagos is simply the everyday life of the animals themselves -- they mate, give birth, nest, feed, and fearlessly hang out in plain sight of camera-carrying humans. You can visit the islands by cruise ship with daily hiking and snorkeling excursions for wildlife viewing, or stay on land and tour the islands on your own.

How Much: Visitors fly to the islands from the Ecuador mainland for around $430 round-trip. The National Park entrance fee is $100. All-inclusive 8-night cruises start at $1,000 for last-minute bookings in Quito or Puerto Ayora (in the Galápagos) in a no-frills boat. Want a luxury ship? Expect to pay $13,000. Hotels on Santa Cruz or San Cristóbal islands range from no-frills budget hostels (from $30 per double room) to full-service hotels (from $80 per double room). Frommers.com also lists some tips on how to choose a tour.

More Info: www.galapagospark.org

Photo Caption: Get the chance to see a blue-footed booby or other amazing wildlife on the Galápagos Islands.
Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest point in Africa.
Tackle Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.
When to Go: Tanzania enjoys nearly uniform temperatures year-round, although winter is warmest with highs just below 90°F (32°C). The permanent snowcaps on Kilimanjaro's peak are no mirage: prepare for freezing temperatures at the top. January and February are considered the best months for trekking.

Why Go: Africa's tallest mountain rises improbably from an arid, equatorial plain, its snowy peak almost always obscured by dense cloud cover. Hardy trekkers without technical climbing skills have caught on to the fact that Kilimanjaro is not a technically challenging climb -- unlike Mt. Everest. This makes Kilimanjaro a very popular and accessible trek, and about 25,000 backpackers try for the peak each year. Not all of them make it since Kili's unpredictable weather sometimes makes climbing to the peak impossible. To reach the peak at 19,336 feet takes at least five days of trekking and acclimatization. Even without reaching the top, hikers have plenty to explore among the forests and heaths blanketing the mountain's base.

How Much: Multiple costs are involved in a Kilimanjaro hike, including park entrance fees, food, a cook, guides, porters, and equipment. The shortest, cheapest, and most popular route is the Marangu trail. This five-day hike typically starts around $1,000 per person, but the price drops as your group size grows. 
Photo Caption: Mt. Kilimanjaro is the highest point in Africa.
Table Mountain rising above Cape Town, South Africa.
Frommers.com Community
Climb Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa.
When to Go: Cape Town enjoys sunny summers with Mediterranean temperatures. Table Mountain, however, experiences highly volatile weather year-round, including rain and harsh wind occasionally in summer. Come prepared with layers of clothing.

Why Go: An irresistible wilderness smack in the middle of South Africa's most cosmopolitan city, Table Mountain National Park has hundreds of hiking trails lacing through its nearly 15,000 acres of forests, shrubbery, and rock formations. Hikers and trail runners have several satisfyingly difficult, steep, and scenic routes to Table Mountain's flat top; the rest of us can happily snap photos from the dramatic cable car ride up.

The mesa offers unparalleled views over Cape Town, its mountainside suburbs, and the Atlantic Ocean. Trekkers can hit the Hoerikwaggo Trail for a four-night excursion from Cape Point Lighthouse, which commands views of Table Mountain over the white-capped waves around Africa's southernmost tip. Accommodation is in permanent tented camps.

How Much: The cable car to Table Mountain costs R100 ($13) one-way. Park entrance to Table Mountain is free; entrance to the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve (start of the Hoerikwaggo Trail) is R80 ($10). All accommodation on the Hoerikwaggo Trail costs between R800 ($101) and R2,400 ($304).

More Info: www.sanparks.org

Photo Caption: Table Mountain rises above Cape Town, South Africa.
Gauchos in San Antonio de Areco, outside Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Eduardo Amorim
Ride the Pampas grasslands in Argentina.
When to Go: The summer high season of December and January is the most popular time for Porteños (citizens of Buenos Aires) to escape the city for the fresh air of the countryside. Humid temperatures, with rainfall, average around 80°F (or in the mid- to upper-20°C). Cooler and drier summer months are November, February, and March.

Why Go: The pampas grasslands of Argentina are the historic ranges of the gaucho, the country's distinct brand of cowboy. Dozens of working cattle and horse ranches are scattered across more than 100,000 square miles of country from the capital Buenos Aires to Córdoba, Argentina's second largest city. San Antonio de Areco, a town ringed by estanciaranches, is just 90 minutes from Buenos Aires. Many estancias welcome overnight guests with plush accommodations, making a rustic horseback riding excursion an easy add-on to a stay in the "Paris of South America." Days on the estancias are spent hiking and biking to isolated colonial villages, helping the gauchos care for the animals, and, of course, riding horses into the steamy countryside. Experienced riders able to spend hours in the saddle can ride from estancia to estancia, staying each night at a new ranch. Or you can choose one lodge as a base for day rides and hikes.

How Much: Expect to pay between $150 and $400 per night for two people, including accommodations, meals, and some outdoor activities (typically horseback riding, bicycling, and hanging out with gauchos). Luxury options abound for riders looking for a splurge. Multi-day riding itineraries start around $2,500 per person for five days (all-inclusive).

More Info: For San Antonio de Areco, www.pagosdeareco.com.ar and www.sanantoniodeareco.com (both Spanish only). For Córdoba, www.cordobaturismo.gov.ar

Photo Caption: Gauchos in San Antonio de Areco, outside Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Torres del Paine National Park, Patagonia, Chile.
World Resources
Trek through Parque Nacional Torres del Paine, Chile.
When to Go: Although you can hike into Chile's Torres del Paine National Park any time of the year, November to March is the most popular season -- though the windiest -- thanks to the longer and warmer days.

Why Go: The soaring granite towers that give this park its name are only a fraction of the appeal of this nearly 600,000-acre park. Trails lead through alpine meadows blanketed in thick grasses; past rivers thundering down waterfalls; and to glacial lakes dotted with floating icebergs. You can see a lot with a long day in Torres del Paine, but the park's sheer size begs for multiple-day excursions. Throughout the park, lodges with hot meals and showers allow hikers to trek from warm bed to warm bed in search of the best views of the torres.

How Much: Park entry is $15 in high season (Oct.-April) and $10 in low season (May-Sept.). Park access is via Puerto Natales, a three-hour drive from the nearest airport in Punta Arenas. Buses to the park from Puerto Natales cost about $16. Lodges and hostels in the park typically charge $40 per person per night for dorm-style lodging in a shared room. On-site campers can use the hot showers and clean bathrooms for $15. Book all hostels in advance. Lodges and hotels outside the park start at around $200 per double room. Getting to the park is half the journey. Coordinate flight, bus, and park shuttle schedules before setting out.

More Info: www.torresdelpaine.cl; www.conaf.cl (Spanish only)

Photo Caption: Torres del Paine National Park, Patagonia, Chile
Hiking through Milford Track, New Zealand.
Neil Hunt
Walk the Milford Track in Fiordland National Park, New Zealand.
When to Go: Highs are in the 80s (or mid-30s in Celsius) in summer; however, high winds, rain, and cold temperatures are not uncommon even in the height of summer.

Why Go: Rightly described as one of the "finest walks in the world," the four-day Milford Track, in Fiordland National Park, covers 33 miles from Lake Te Anau to Milford Sound. This massive national park on the South Island's southwestern coast encompasses a wide-ranging environment from primeval rainforests fed by streams to stark mountain passes dusted with snow. Trekkers spend about six hours a day on the trail and sleep in simple lodges along the way. The trek ends with a boat ride to Milford Sound, a fjord of triangular peaks rising from deep blue waters perfect for kayaking.

How Much: During the October to April high season, the Milford Track costs NZ$154, including accommodation for all three nights. Reservations are required to walk the Track in high season.

More Info: (www.doc.govt.nz)

Photo Caption: Hiking through Milford Track, New Zealand.
Expedition in Penola Strait, Antarctica.
Liam Q
Cruise to Antarctica.
When to Go: It might seem contradictory to recommend a trip to an ice desert as a getaway from the Northern Hemisphere's winter, but the only way to check Antarctica off your list is to visit between November and March. During the Southern Hemisphere's summer, the Antarctic weather is just warm enough to allow ships through the ice and for shore excursions. Temperatures range from 5°F to 60°F (-15°C to 16°C) -- that's still warmer than some parts of North America.

Why Go: The world's last truly wild wilderness is a fragile eco-system of microscopic organisms, gigantic marine life, and an ever-changing landscape of ice. Cruise itineraries vary by region and last between one and three weeks; almost all leave from Ushaia, in southern Argentina.

The most popular itineraries go to the Antarctic Peninsula, the continent's northernmost region and the shortest trip from South America. In the summer temperatures, icebergs bigger than your ship float on the warmed waters and walls of ice spontaneously shed or "calve" tons of ice into the ocean. A few scientific research stations are peppered among the penguin and elephant seal colonies on the peninsula's rocky and icy shores. Black and white orcas, massive humpback whales, and plankton-eating minke whales are all visible in the Antarctic seas.

Longer itineraries travel to the Polar Circle and the Weddell Sea, where the most sought-after excursion is a visit to a dense colony of tottering emperor penguins.

How Much: Shorter cruises, just over a week, typically cost $4,000 and up, while three-week journeys to the outermost islands are more than $14,000 per person. Prices vary by type of ship and accommodation -- from sailors' bunks to private suites -- and include meals, shore excursions, and knowledgeable guides. If you want to skip the cruise and fly to the continent, expect to pay at least $15,000 per person for a one- or two-day trip.

More Info: www.iaato.org; www.polarconservation.org; www.antarcticconnection.com

Photo Caption: Expedition in Penola Strait, Antarctica.