Hiking Trails in South America
South America is home to some of the most sought after hikes in the world. The Andes tower over the landscapes of the continent which features desert, jungle, rainforest, and snow-capped peaks. Finding a hike in South America will not be a problem.
And, pretty much no matter what you’re looking for, you will be able to find it. Whether you want a short day hike that will let you explore local jungles or extended treks that will take you through valleys and to some of the highest peaks of the continent, they are plenty here.
To give you some reference for what some of the best hikes to do in South America, here are a few of the best ones you can embark upon. For the purposes of this article, we will be focusing on a few of the best long-distance treks that will span between 3 and 6 days.
Ausengate Trek – Cusco Peru
The Ausengate Trek is truly something to behold. It is moderately difficult, but you should do your training before showing up to the trailhead. The trek winds around the Ausengate Mountain with a stop at the famous Rainbow Mountain. The landscape is mostly high-altitude alpine, with temperatures dropping below freezing at night.
You get a touch of meadowy marshlands in certain sections before you raise back up to the rocky snow-covered peaks. It is 43 miles long and the highest point will have you huffing and puffing at 17000ft. This is a trek where altitude sickness is a real possibility and precautions should be considered.
One of the most attractive attributes of this hike is the fact that you will not run into too many other hikers. The dramatic landscapes and the panoramic views at the tops of some of the ranges really give you a taste of the beauty of this continent.
Rainbow Mountain almost becomes an afterthought with so many beautiful glaciers and Lagunas scattered throughout the trek. If you want a challenge and you want to get out into the wilderness, this may be one of the best hikes you will ever do.
Cotopaxi Volcano – Quito Ecuador
Climbing to the top of one of the most active volcanos in South America can be done as a day trip or as an extended hike. We suggest taking a long way around so you get the full experience, but be prepared for a challenge.
Much of the landscape surrounding the Cotopaxi Volcano is flat and resembles tundra once you get to the lower shelf before ascending to the peak of the volcano. The peak of the volcano reaches 19,600 ft.
The volcano is always capped with snow as you start to reach the top. The weather changes drastically here and you can have a clear view of the vast expansive land below you one minute, and be fully engulfed in clouds the next.
There are lodges along the way that you can stay in to gain a little bit of comfort, with a small cafe located below the peak where you can rest before making the final ascent. This is a shorter hike that is worth the effort if you want to give yourself a bit of a challenge.
The W Trek – Torres Del Paine National Park Patagonia
The W Trek is one of South Americas most iconic treks. You can do guided tours or you can go it alone. If you have hiking experience, we suggest putting in the extra work and experiencing it yourself. The trek is 50 miles long and only reaches 3900 ft in altitude.
This makes altitude sickness a non-issue. You will be greeted with views of the wild countryside which features jagged mountain peaks, still, glass-like lakes, monstrous mountains, crystal blue glaciers, and warm local people.
There are several challenging parts when you are making ascents and descents to certain peaks, but overall, this trek is fairly manageable with reasonable fitness levels. The effort necessary in order to reach the park is extensive, but it is well worth it.
This is some of the most drastic and wild landscapes you will find on your hiking journey’s, so it may be worth planning to stay a little longer and complete the O Circuit in the same trip. Most who don’t, end up planning to go back.
Chapada Diamantina National Park – Brazil
One of the most beautiful national parks in all of South America is the Chapada Diamantina in the northeast of Brazil. It is blessed with awe-inspiring flat-top plateaus and glorious vistas all throughout the park.
Catching the golden rockfaces kissed by the sunset along the Grand Circuit is a must-do if you want to experience the wild parts of Brazil. The Grand Circuit is a 5-day trek through the national park which will offer you amazing views of the deep chasms that make up the majority of Chapada Diamantina.
This trek will also give you the privilege of seeing some amazing underground rivers which is a rarity pretty much anywhere in the world. The 62-mile journey is best done with a local guide so they can help you find lodging and meals along the way. It will also help you understand some of the history and culture of the area.
Mount Roraima is located on the triple border of Venezuela, Brazil, and Guyana and is definitely worth looking into. Although it is one of the more difficult hikes to get to on our list due to the political imbalance in the region, it is also worth the effort.
A 6-day trek through a dry desert, mountain forests, and the lost world above the clouds is a difficult but rewarding one. There are endless views of odd rock formations, waterfalls, and vast rock fields that will give you the feeling like you’re on a different planet at times.
This trek features views of the earth jutting out of the ground almost at random in an awe-inspiring fashion. Weather can be drastic on the mountain especially as you reach the higher points. If you’re interested in seeing a pretty rare hike in South America, Mount Roraima should be considered.
As you can see, finding a good hike down south is not difficult. Chances are, you already have one in mind that you are interested in. Any of these hikes will make the journey worth your while and give you an experience you’ll never forget.