As an avid hiker who spent over six months in South America, I have a long list of hikes that should be on your bucket list if you are heading there. From jaw-dropping mountain views with glaciers, you won’t believe it exists.
To long lost cities in the jungle and canyons that rival the Grand Canyon in the USA.
Yes, South America has it all, and it is one of my favourite places on earth. So, if you are up for a hike, here are some of the best you have to choose from.
Torres del Paine – W and O Treks, Chile.
Probably the most memorable multi-day hike I have ever done, and one that I whole-heartedly recommend anyone in the area. The trek around Torres del Paine will blow your mind! It is insanely, stunningly beautiful. Sorry about all the superlatives!
We did the full circuit, which is a lot quieter on the backside of the mountain range but joins the W during the last 4-5 days. Both are stunning, but if you only have limited time, the W is well worth it.
You basically traverse the length of the park taking in the best scenery Chile has to offer, in my humble opinion. Just be aware it’s right in the heart of adventure-filled Patagonia, so the weather can and does change a lot (aka. It’s windy, rainy and tough to hike in most of the time).
Perito Moreno Glacier, Argentina.
You can actually reach the Perito Moreno lookout from the carpark in a very short period of time. However, if you seriously want to experience it, I recommend going with a guide and actually walking across the glacier. It is actually quite a short walk, but an experience you will never forget, especially if you have never donned crampons and walked on a glacier before!
Either way, it’s a sight to behold, and if you are really lucky you will see some enormous pieces of ice carve off the face of the glacier while you are there!
Fitzroy Peak & Cerro Torre, Argentina.
A day’s drive North of Perito Moreno is the town of El Chalten. We spent over a week here waiting for good weather so we could clearly see the beauties that are Fitzroy and Cerro Torre. You actually get to see the full chain of mountains as you drive in towards town, but you only truly experience them once you get up close and personal.
There are a number of days and overnight hikes you can do in the park, directly from El Chalten itself. We did an overnight hike to the base of Fitzroy and got to see it in all its glory at sunset and sunrise. It’s impressive, to say the least.
The Lost City, Colombia.
I never thought of Colombia as a place to go hiking until I spent a month there recently. There are actually quite a few worthwhile hikes and treks here, if you have the time.
Starting in the North, Colombia has a spectacular trek you are not going to want to miss. The Lost City Trek takes you through the jungle and mountains of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. The wildlife and local tribes alone are worth the visit, but the actual destination is quite impressive too – a previously lost city that was built in 800AD by the Tayronas.
The trek can take anywhere between 4-6 days, depending on how you choose to do it. Most tours are organised either from Santa Marta or Minca, which is an hour’s drive into the mountains and somewhere you should pop into while in the area anyway.
The Cocora Valley, Colombia.
Located in the heart of Colombia’s most famous coffee area, the Cocora Valley is quite a sight to behold. It is a lush valley on the edge of the Los Nevados National Park; somewhere you can explore further if you have the time.
The reason this valley is so famous, and popular to hike is that it is lined with endemic palm trees that tower over you. You can see them dominating the skyline as you approach the hike in a local jeep, an adventure in and of itself. But you can only truly appreciate their height once you get amongst them.
The hike can be done as a complete loop starting along the river in the valley, then climbing and looping back to the palm trees. Or, you can simply to a shorter version, around an hour and a half return to the palms themselves.
Machu Picchu, Peru.
Sure, the Lost City Trek in Colombia is impressive, but Machu Picchu will blow your mind. You have probably already seen pictures of it. After all, it is synonymous with Peru. But it is only when you finally arrive at the top of the mountain and enter this masterpiece of an ancient city that you can really appreciate it.
As far as treks go, there are actually lots of options to get here. You can do the classic multi-day hike that leads you right through the Sun Gate at sunrise. Well worth it, but very busy. Another quieter option we did is the Lares Trek which does not end right there but has you taking a train and then bus to end at Machu Picchu.
Colca Canyon, Peru.
The Colca Canyon is located about half a day bus ride outside Arequipa in the south of Peru. It is famous for its soaring condors, which you have the best chance of seeing first thing in the morning. We saw at least five while we were there, but we stayed at the top of the canyon to ensure a better view.
The trek down to the canyon is definitely a worthwhile experience, but be aware it is quite strenuous if you are not used to the altitude and climbing/descending a lot while you walk. It is around 4000ft (1200m) which means around 2-3hours down, and 3-5 up, depending on your fitness. And it is just a plain old slog up.
I recommend doing it over two days if you are not super fit and only in the morning because it can get hot. There are overnight options in the canyon so that you won’t be alone.
Mike is addicted to both adventure and travel, so decided to combine the two to form TheAdventourist.
There he shares his journey from one adrenaline rush to another, always exploring new places as he goes. You can find him sharing his travels on Facebook.
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