South America is a vast continent full of stunning mountain landscapes, blue waters, and sand dunes. For hiking enthusiasts, there is no shortage of interesting and challenging trail options. Whether you’re a beginner looking for
South America is a vast continent full of stunning mountain landscapes, blue waters, and sand dunes. For hiking enthusiasts, there is no shortage of interesting and challenging trail options. Whether you’re a beginner looking for a day hike or an avid hiker seeking a breath-taking multi-day trek, these routes won’t disappoint. From Patagonia to Machu Picchu, these are 10 of the best hikes to try in South America.
Inca Trail To Machu Picchu, Peru
The Inca Trail is the quintessential adventure when visiting Peru. This backpacking route challenges travellers to acclimate to the high altitudes around Cusco over the course of 4 days to reach the iconic site of Machu Picchu. The trek covers 33.3km with 2836 meters of elevation gain. The best time to complete this hike is from March to January, and while it may be challenging, it’s worth it for the views.
Salkantay Trek, Peru
Travelers who want the experience of trekking to Machu Picchu without the crowds can consider this exciting alternative. The Salkantay Trekking route is 69km with 3555 meters of elevation gain. Depending on a person’s fitness level and how many kilometres they want to cover daily, the trek can be completed in approximately 4 to 6 days. The route features high-altitude passes and lower semi-tropical landscapes on the way to Machu Picchu.
Torres Del Paine O + W Circuit, Chile
Patagonia is a region on many travellers’ bucket lists, and the best thing to do when visiting is to get out into the rugged wilderness on a hike. The Torres Del Paine O + W Circuit is a lengthy trek covering 121.5 km that takes about 7 to 10 days to complete. The route is a loop and has 4051 meters of elevation gain, rated as moderate, so it’s a suitable option for beginner to intermediate hikers. This is a popular route, so it’s a good idea to plan ahead by booking campsites or beds along the way well in advance of the hike.
Travelers who want to experience Chilean Patagonia but don’t have the time or stamina to do the entire Torres Del Paine Circuit can still enjoy the epic views on the W Trek. This hike takes about 4 or 5 days to complete, with options to sleep in a tent at a campsite or stay at huts along the way. The route is 69.4km with 2,730 meters of elevation gain.
Laguna 69 Trek, Peru
The Laguna 69 Trek is located in Huascarán National Park in Peru and is a moderate-difficulty day-hike. For travellers who want a taste of trekking in South America without committing to a multi-day adventure, this is a fantastic option. The trail is 13.2 km with 842 meters of elevation gain and takes approximately 5.5 hours to complete.
Cocora Valley, Colombia
The Valle de Cocora loop trail in Colombia is another excellent day-hiking option in South America. The 10.3 km loop takes hikers through lush greenery and is open year-round. In the rainy season (June – July) it’s a good idea to wear water-resistant or waterproof shoes and gear because the weather is unpredictable and can change quickly. There are 760 meters of elevation gain, and the trail takes an average of 4.5 hours to complete.
Laguna Torre Trek, Argentina
Travelers heading to Argentina who want to enjoy a moderate day-hike will love the Laguna Torre trail. Also called the Fitz Roy Trek, this route is near El Chaltén and covers 18.3 km. There is a little elevation gain of 540 meters, making this one of the least challenging routes on this list. Most hikers can complete the circuit in just over 5 hours while enjoying scenic landscapes of glacial lakes, frozen rivers, and distant mountain views.
Choquequirao Trek, Peru
Hikers visiting Peru who want to explore a lesser-travelled route can embark on a four-day, three-night adventure on the Choquequirao Trek. The typical hike is 64 km long, but there are route variations on this trek, with some taking hikers to Machu Picchu. Travelers who want to see more Andean ruins while in Peru will appreciate the historical aspects of this trek that takes hikers through the Sacred Valley of the Incas.
The Huemul Circuit, Argentina
Another trail near El Chaltén, Santa Cruz, the Huemul Circuit, is a 66.5 km loop with 2915 meters of elevation gain. It’s considered a challenging hike and typically takes around 4 to 5 days to complete. This is a trail with exceptional landscapes and the chance to walk on a glacier without any technical equipment. The route passes through the Viedma Glacier and the Campo de Hielo Sur.
The Cerro Castillo Circuit, Chile
Hikers looking to experience the tranquillity of Chilean Patagonia’s nature will favour the Cerro Castillo Circuit over the busier Torres Del Paine trek. The Cerro Castillo Circuit has no cabins along the route and fewer crowds, making for a peaceful journey of tent camping amongst Patagonia’s breath-taking landscapes. The route is 56.8 km with 2374 meters of elevation gain. It takes approximately four days to complete and is a point-to-point trail with two passes that take hikers past the glaciers of Castillo.
Can’t get enough of the best treks in South America? If you want to explore the most epic trekking adventures from around the globe, be sure to check out more of these articles. We look forward to your suggestions in the comments below.