Latin America has some of the world’s most spectacular landscapes. From the Andes mountain range, to Ancient ruins, to Salt flats, to dense forest. What better way to explore the variety of geographical and archaeological wonders than to get down with nature and trek around some of the best areas in South America. With so much choice, our specialists have chosen their top 4 treks to help you decide where to go.
Inca Trail- Peru
Sonia, Latin America Specialist
“Magical, mystical, and breathtaking place. After being declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Machu Picchu was voted one of the New Seven Wonders of the World! If Machu Picchu is not on your bucket list, add it! It will take your breath away!”
The most famous trek in South America is the Inca Trail in Peru. It is one of those life changing experiences where you really feel like you have taken a step back in time into the world of the Inca Empire. The crown jewel of the trek is the awe-inspiring Machu Picchu (the ‘Lost City of the Incas’). No photograph does this place justice and you have to be there to experience its wonder.
The Inca Trail takes you through an ever changing landscape. You will move through archaeological sites, beautiful mountain scenery and tropical rainforests and will climb the endless Inca steps before reaching your first glance of the Inca citadel from the Sun Gate. A very magical moment.
A good place to start your trek is the Sacred Valley formally the heartland of the Inca Empire. The Sacred Valley is also a top tourist destination where you can marvel at the natural beauty of the scenery or head to the Pisaq market (which has been operating since Inca times) to stock up on some textiles to bring home as souvenirs.
There are many different ways that you can head to Machu Picchu – take a read of a blog by Sonia, a resident Peruvian, where she has written about her ‘Different ways to travel to Machu Picchu’.
The Cotopaxi Mountains, set within the Andes mountain range in Ecuador is paradise. For any budding mountaineer, the treks all around this area fantastic. The scenery is quite spectacular. You will discover a region full of high mystical peaks (with Cotopaxi Volcano at its centre), plants and animals, waterfalls and forests. If you are interested in outdoor challenges, this is the place to head.
As aforementioned, it is home to the Cotopaxi Volcano – the grand challenge of the treks around this area. It is considered by some to be the highest active volcano in the world standing tall at a grand 5,897 m. On a clear day you may be lucky enough to see the peak of the Cotopaxi Volcano all the way from Quito.
To fully make the most of this outstanding backdrop, choose a trail that leads you through the various natural landscapes, up peaks for the best views and get a glimpse of some geographical wonders. These treks can be suitable for all levels with options to walk on or off the hill. You could take the summit challenge and climb to the top of the cone-shaped Cotopaxi Volcano or perhaps a neighboring peak. Treks around this area will not disappoint.
Take in the Cotopaxi Mountains on the our Treasures of Ecuador itinerary.
Torres del Paine is situated in in southern Chilean Patagonia. It is well renowned for its vast spectacle of mountain ranges and glaciers, lush green forests, turquoise lakes, and rivers. It is one of South America’s finest national parks and you will not regret heading here – it is truly stunning.
The park gets its name Torres del Paine from the 3 massive rock towers that sit in the park. The translation of “Towers of Paine” where “Paine” is an ancient word for the colour blue. Other attractions include the Cuernos del Paine (Spanish for “Horns of Paine”) which is a granite mass that has been split into razor sharp peaks by glaciers.
There is also wildlife in abundance. Here you can find the South American native Guanacos, the pink Flamingos, Pumas and the grand flightless bird, Nandu. The low winter season from April-October is the best for spotting the wildlife.
As a National park that is filled with a vast variety from open land to dense vegetation there is a great choice whether you opt for daily hikes or longer treks.
We suggest spending at least 4 days here so you can really appreciate the raw natural beauty of South America’s phenomenons.
El Chaltén – Argentina
Katherine, Latin America Specialist
“The dramatic mountain scenery of El Chalten and the Perito Moreno glacier offer some of Patagonia’s best trekking opportunities. Hiking to the top of Laguna de los Tres in El Chalten was tough work, but the view of Mount Fitzroy at the top made it all worthwhile! The ice trekking on the Perito Moreno glacier allowed me to see crevasses, sink holes and glacial streams up close – an unforgettable and unique experience!”
El Chaltén is a small mountain village in Santa Cruz Provience, located within the Los Glaciares National Park. It has an abundance of awe-inspiring scenery and as all of the key sights are within one small area, it makes it easy to go on a day trek here. The village has been known to be named Argentina’s Trekking Capital – need we say more?
It is best known for being the gateway to Cerro Torre and Cerro Fitz Roy mountains – there are both very popular with climbing fanatics. Mount Fitz Roy stands strong high above glacial lakes. It makes for stunning views all over the park and you also cannot take a bad picture here so remember to bring your camera!
Other well visited tracks and sights are Torre Glacier, Laguna Capri, Piedras Blancas Glacier, Chorrillo del Salto, and Laguna de los Tres.