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Best Hikes to Trek in South America

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The base of the towers of Paine, Patagonia Chile

 

South America is a great destination for adventure lovers especially those who are looking for a good trek. Mountains, forests, jungle and desert provide spectacular backdrops for hikes on and off  the beaten path.

 

In no particular order,  here are our top 10 treks or hikes in South America.

 

Paine W Trek, Chile

This is the classic trek in Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park usual duration of which is 5 to 7 days.

It  is of medium difficulty and highlights include the trek to the Base of the Towers, the French Valley and Lake Grey with glacier views.

The Torres del Paine National Park  was designated a World Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 1978 and is a very popular tourist destination especially from December through February.

This trek can be done as part of a self guided trekking itinerary or as a small group departure on Sundays for the 5 day or Mondays for the 7 day.

Season: October to April.

Walking Trail Sign Torres del Paine Patagonia Chile

Trail head sign to the Base of the Towers

 

Paine Circuit Trek, Chile

This is the “complete”  trek in Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park which is usually done in 9 days.

It is also known as the “O”.

It  is a demanding trek  with back to back long hiking days. The trek circumvents the Massif of Paine and then follows the route of the Paine W trek.

There are small group departures on Wednesdays or the trek can also be done as a private guided option.

Season: November to March.

Morraine Torres del Paine Trek Patagonia Chile

Moraine at the base of the Towers

 

Day Walks From El Chalten, Argentina

The small town of El Chalten in Argentina nestles into the foothills of the Andes Mountains in the Glaciares National Park.

Its location is such that you can do day hikes in around 8 hours. These include the Cerro Torre Trail, The trek to Laguna de Los Tres and Pliegue Tumbado. All can be done as part of a self guided itinerary as the trails are clearly marked or can be included in a guided tailor-made itinerary or part of a group trip.

Cerro Torre Glaciares National Park, El Chalten Argentina Patagonia

Cerro Torre

 

Trek In The Atacama Desert, Chile

Chile’s Atacama Desert is one of the most arid in the world and a place of spectacular beauty.

A palette of pastel colours is the back drop to wind sculpted rock formations, towering mountains and volcanoes, a patchwork of green oases, towering cacti, vivid blue skies  and star lit nights.

There is a small group 7 day trekking itinerary that departs on Mondays or day treks which can be part of all inclusive itineraries in hotels such as the Tierra Atacama. Difficulty is medium and altitude is a factor.

Season: All year round.

Valle de La Luna, San Pedro de Atacama, Chile

Valley of the Moon, San Pedro

 

The Inca Trail, Peru

Peru’s iconic and busiest trek. This can be done in 4 days as a standard trek or 5 days as a luxury one. Due to the high demand treks can only be undertaken with a permit which are limited to 500 a day. Once sold out, that departure date is no longer available, and popular seasons sell out many months in advance. If you intend to do this trek, book well in advance in order to avoid disappointment. Difficulty is medium and altitude is a factor as parts will be over 4,000 metres / 13,000 feet.

Season: All year round except February. High season is April to September.

Machu Picchu Inca site Peru

Machu Picchu

 

Ausangate Trek , Peru

This is one of the more remote treks near Cusco and yet one of the finest.  A backdrop of snow-capped peaks crowned by the mystical Mount Ausangate (6,350m/20,505ft) follows this trail which features hot-springs, stunning mountain scenery and turquoise lakes.

The trek is a 5 day itinerary with options as a camping or lodge based itinerary. It is a demanding trek so one should be fully acclimatised before starting to walk. Sleeping in the Altiplano will be at altitudes well over 4,000m/13,123ft and will entail crossing several passes at around 5,000m/16,404ft.

Season: March to October

Rainbow Mountains

 

Huayhuash Circuit Trek, Peru

The Cordillera Huayhuash Circuit trek is one of the star treks of Northern Peru. This 18 day fully supported trek is a 120km trekking circuit that takes one over eight high passes between 4,300-5,000m/14,108-16,404ft. There are many close-up views of huge fissured glaciers, feeding opaque lakes and stunning views of towering ice-covered mountain walls. There are also opportunities for rewarding side-trips into remote, pristine glacial valleys.

This is a demanding trek.

Season: May to September

 

Jahuacocha campsite

 

Condoriri Trek, Bolivia

The Condoriri trek is a 4 day fully guided trek in Bolivia’s Cordillera Real mountain chain. Starting near Lake Titicaca the trek takes one over high passes through lovely scenery, including the opportunity to climb the peak of Pico Austria (5,350m/17,552ft).

Much of the trek is about 4,500m/14,764ft and skirts the western side of the Cordillera Real before  heading into the heart of the mountains. It finishes crossing a spectacular pass that offers fantastic views of the Cabeza del Condor peak.

This is a demanding trek and needs prior acclimatisation.

Season: March  to November.

 

Trekker Condoriri Bolivia

Trekking the Condoriri

 

Sajama National Park Trek, Bolivia

Bolivia’s Sajama National Park trek offers off-the beaten track mountain walks and hot springs.

On this 4 day trekking itinerary you will be in the shadow of Bolivia’s highest peak – Nevado Sajama (6,542m/21,463ft). Geysers and hot springs await and you can be sure to see a variety of typical Andean wildlife, such as llama, vicuna, alpaca, flamingos and viscachas amongst many.

This is a moderate to demanding trek and needs prior acclimatisation.

Season: March  to November.

sajama-hot springs-bolivia

Sajama hot springs

 

Lodge To Lodge Cotopaxi Hike, Ecuador

This 4 day trek takes you around Ecuador’s volcanoes, walking through Cotopaxi National Park past volcanic peaks, canyons and verdant forests. The hikes are dominated by the stunning Cotopaxi  and wildlife is abundant . With luck wild horses may be spotted running  freely in the park.

This is a moderate trek.

Season: All year round.

Cotopaxi volcano, Ecuador

Cotopaxi Volcano

 

If you are interested in any of the above treks, or any other adventure in South America, get in contact with us.

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