The Andes are a mountain trail that run down the heart of the continent, and while many of the most popular hikes in South America encounter this majestic mountain range, there are also plenty of other hiking options available too. The best hikes will largely depend on your preferences, and whether you are looking for a truly remote survival experience or prefer routes that have regular lodging along the way.
Whatever your motivation for going hiking on the continent, there are some wonderful long distance routes on offer, and here are six of the best that are worth considering for your next hike.
The Inca Trail, Peru
This is certainly the most famous of all the long distance hiking routes in South America, and provides an interesting and beautiful route from the city of Cusco up to the lost city of Machu Picchu. The route covers rock paths laid by the Inca people when this route was first laid down, and passes through some beautiful mountain scenery and often opens up to some spectacular views. Most people may find some discomfort that comes with the high altitude, but this is repaid by the final day's walk into Machu Picchu, and this unique route is one of the most exclusive in the world, with only 500 people per day allowed on the route during the season.
The Greater Patagonian Trail, Chile and Argentina
There are very few people that can claim to have walked this trail in full, but it is one that truly opens up the majesty and the epic surroundings of the Patagonian Andes to visitors. Encountering local shepherds and the occasional farmer, this is a route that covers nearly a thousand miles, and is truly amazing.
One interesting point is that the route also offers the option of using a small raft that can be carried to cover some of the lake crossings and more gentle river routes.
Ilampu Circuit, Bolivia
This is Bolivia's best known and most popular long distance hiking route, circling the third highest peak in the country, and taking in some of the most remote and untouched parts of the country. Rising to over five thousand meters above sea level, it is certainly worth putting time aside for acclimatization along the way, but spending an extra day or two enjoying the surroundings here is certainly no chore, while it is certainly wise to hire a local guide to help you navigate successfully.
Torres Del Paine W Trail, Argentina
A route that is normally completed in four days, the magnificent tooth-like peaks of the Torres del Paine are a constant presence during this route, and it makes for a wonderful backdrop to a truly spectacular hike. You can either choose to camp or use the lodges for your accommodation, while the variety of the terrain ranges from barren dusty paths down to those that get a little moister and involve walking through lovely woodland groves.
Guican – El Cocuy, Colombia
When people are asked to think of Colombia, most people will think of terrain including rainforests and beaches, but this route reveals a very different aspect of the country, in the high mountains of the El Cocuy National Park. There are snow capped peaks to be seen here throughout the year, with the peak season between December and February. Superb scenery abounds, and there are several high passes to traverse before you drop into a beautiful valley with some stunning lakes.
Chapada Diamantina Grand Circuit, Brazil
A stunning part of Brazil, what is most unique about this area is the distinctive steep cliffs and flat tops of the mountains in the area, which makes for particularly dramatic views and some beautiful hiking areas. The climb up the hairpins on the paths to get to the top of these cliffs can be quite tiring, but once you reach the top the effort becomes well worth the work.
South America is an ideal location for your next trip, especially if you plan on finding some beautiful hiking trails.