Don't Miss Great Hiking in South America

Torres del Paine waterfall
Piriya Photography / Getty Images

With such a diverse terrain, hiking in South America gives adventurers the chance to climb some of the most interesting peaks in the world.

Many people travel here for the hiking alone, and while Machu Picchu is the most iconic hike in South America, there are many others that will peak your curiosity.

01 of 07

Torres del Paine Circuit

Torres del Paine National Park, Chile. (Torres del Paine National Park)
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In a national park of the same name in Chilean Patagonia, there are several options for hikers. Beginner hikers may take a leisurely day hike to view the flora and fauna while most hike the 'W' route over five days.

For the most adventurous, it is possible to hike the full circle in 9 days to view the waterfalls, glacier lakes, and dense forests. As it is a national park, there are places to rest throughout the hike to provide basic services and campsites.

Hiking is best from December through February, as these summer months provide the best weather and longest daylight hours.

02 of 07

Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

The Inca Trail, Cusco - Peru
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In the heart of the Peruvian Andes, the Inca trail is on many traveler's bucket lists. Created by the Incas this path begins outside Cuzco and takes three or four days to reach the Incan city. 

Travelers must book this tour a few months in advance to secure a trail permit. For those who have not planned, there are several other hikes to Machu Picchu which do not require permits.

03 of 07

Ciudad Perdida

Ciudad Perdida (The Lost City)
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Known in English as The Lost City, many travelers head North in Colombia specifically for this hike. Ciudad Perdida was discovered less than 50 years ago and is believed to have been created before Machu Picchu.

This hike is for the adventurous, as it takes three days walking through the dense jungle before reaching the 1200 steps that take you to the city. It can be particularly tiresome during the rainy season, as there are a number of rivers to walk through and accommodation along the way is rustic.

The land still belongs to the indigenous community who live in the area, permitting only official guides through the area for tourism.

04 of 07


Andras Jancsik / Getty Images

Only a few hours away from Quito, Cotopaxi National Park is a popular hiking destination. Cotopaxi volcano is one of ten mountains in Ecuador over 5000 meters and the highest active volcano in the world.

The most popular hike includes a three-day trek to the base of the mountain, for there it takes less than 8 hours to reach the peak. While Cotopaxi historically has an eruption at the beginning of the century,  there has not been one in over 100 years.

Continue to 5 of 7 below.
05 of 07

Colca Canyon

Bird flying through the sky over Colca Canyon

 TripSavvy / Chris VR

Located in Southern Peru, Colca Canyon is a popular tour from Arequipa. The canyon is the world's deepest, twice as deep as the Grand Canyon, but because the walls aren't as steep, it is possible to hike down to Colca River.

A manageable hike down in 2 to 3 hours, many hikers find the steep walls to be challenging, especially as some areas are unstable with lots of rocks and pebbles. 

Below, there are two resorts that offer hikers a dip in the pool before the hike back up. Many of those hikers opt to stay overnight, and for those who cannot fathom climbing the steep walls, there are horses and mules available to take you back up.

06 of 07

Cerro Campanario

Bariloche Lookout, Cerro Campanario
Ignacio Palacios / Getty Images

Head to Bariloche to find one of the best views in Argentina. Cerro Campanario is only 17km outside of town but boasts a National Geographic rating of one of the 'Top 10 views in the World'.

The hike is rather steep but thankfully short. Hikers are rewarded with a beautiful view of the Andes and lakes that dot the area. For those who do not feel like hiking, it is possible to take a chairlift to the top and enjoy the view from a cafe.

07 of 07

Illampu Circuit

Illampu and Foothills
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This climb in Bolivia is only for experienced hikers as it is very physically demanding and requires acclimatization.

The views are stunning on this 66-mile trail but it is challenging and requires a llama or alpaca to carry trekking gear as hikers ascend 1,000 feet each day in this remote area.