The Best Hikes on the Andes Mountains
Are you going to South America? These are the 10 best walks in the Andes Mountains, from the town of Cotopaxi in Ecuador to Patagonia in Argentina.
It is the longest mountain range in the world, and it starts in Chile and ends in Bolivia. It covers seven countries and a distance of 4,300 miles, which is almost the whole length of South America! If you like to hike, it might be hard to know where to start. It was because of this that we decided to give this advice. In order from north to south, here is a list of our 10 favorite walks in the Andes:
The first thing on our list is Cotopaxi, the huge rock that watches over the Andes. With a height of 19,347 feet, this volcano is the world’s biggest active volcano right now. A great way to get to know Cotopaxi National Park is to take a tour of it from Quito. There are many different hiking trails in this area, such as the Quilotoa Lagoon Trek and the Cotopaxi Trek. Going to the top of the mountain is not something that most people should try because it takes skills and training that are outside the scope of this guide.
You can start your trip at the base of the huge volcano and then either hike to the Chuquirahuas forest or go to the Quilotoa Lagoon, which is famous for its beautiful blue water. In addition to the beautiful scenery, you might also see animals from the area, like the gorgeous guanaco, the Andean fox, and the red-breasted deer. There’s no question that this is one of the most beautiful places in the wonderful country of Ecuador. You’ll have a great time here for sure.
Because Cotopaxi National Park is about 32 miles south of Quito, you will need to do some planning for how to get there. If you want to go on a tour, the cost of getting there will be taken care of. You could also catch a ride and go on a walk by yourself, but this is not recommended because you might get lost. If you need help planning the details, like setting up a guided tour of the park, our travel experts can help you make the best schedule for your speed and level of skill.
Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu, Perú
It is recommended that you hike across the Andes Mountains to get to Machu Picchu. These are the trails that you should take. Hiking is involved through many different types of scenery, such as curvy mountain passes, peaceful valleys, cloud forests, and more. With an elevation of 20,574 feet above sea level, Salkantay is one of the white-capped hills you will see. It’s possible for the Quechuan word salkantay to mean either “savage” or “invincible.” When you get to the top of Salkantay Pass on day two, you’ll understand why this is the case. People who want to walk here need to be in great shape because the area is 14,989 feet above sea level.
The trip goes for 43 kilometers over the course of five days and goes through some of Peru’s most beautiful scenery, such as the Sacred Valley. In the Salkantay Pass, there are “apachetas,” which are also called “stone towers,” where hikers can leave a stone to show their respect for the mountain. Without a question, the most amazing part of the trip is when you finally get to Machu Picchu at the end of your long journey.
Because of the high altitude, you should stay in Cusco for one day before starting this walk. This will give you enough time to get used to the new place. All of the meals in our package are made by a cook who works on the ground. As part of the great trip, we also take care of your hotel stays and transportation, so you can just enjoy yourself.
Would you like to know more about this trip?. If you want to learn more about the different options for this trip, such as the “lodge to lodge” option that lets you sleep in a nice bed every night, please fill out this form. You will hear from a trip agent so that you can talk about these options.
Rainbow Mountain, Perú
People who live in the area call Rainbow Mountain “Vinicunca.” It has recently become a famous tourist spot. This mountain was just found not long ago. It is a holy place in the Andes of Peru, and it has one of the most beautiful views in the whole country. As the second most popular tourist spot in the country, it is close to Cusco, which is the country’s capital.
It is sometimes linked to the Inca Trail, which is another well-known hiking trail, because it is close to Cusco. This choice, which didn’t make the list, is a great way to see Machu Picchu if you don’t want to do the Salkantay Trek. Check out our plan that includes two days on the Inca Trail and Rainbow Mountain
One thing you will need to do is get used to the altitude. Machu Picchu is lower than Cusco, but Rainbow Mountain is higher than Cusco. This day of the Salkantay trek is even higher than the second day, at an elevation of 16,000 feet. You will start your adventure in Cusco and make your way to the mountain, which is 62 kilometers to the south.
Read more about Rainbow Mountain here to get a full hiking guide. And as with any other hike on our list, don’t be afraid to ask our travel consultants if this one could be added to your personalized itinerary! They can give you travel updates, help you make changes to your plan, and get back to you with travel information and suggestions.
Colca Canyon, Peru
Seeing Andean condors fly through the air over the second-deepest canyon in the world is one of the most amazing things you can do while trekking in Colca Canyon. The hillsides are known for the agricultural terraces that they have, which add to the beauty of the journey. When you visit the Cruz del Condor, you will have the chance to see these birds.
There are a few different trekking options, but the most popular one is the two-day walk to Sangalle Oasis. The first part of the adventure is a two-hour hike into the canyon. Before starting the three-hour climb out of the canyon, you will reach the oasis and have some time to relax before continuing on. Put on your swimsuit and enjoy the water in the pool!
Should you feel like taking a break, the canyon has two different settlements. The first is Cabanaconde, a cute village close to the base facility where you can get food, drinks, and a hotel. The second is Chivay, a cute village at the very top of the canyon where you can relax. Both of these villages will give you a glimpse of how people live in the Andes of Peru.
You can add ziplining and bathing in hot springs to your plans if you want to add some extra excitement. Hiking in Colca will definitely be one of the most memorable parts of your next vacation! Keep reading for a full hiking guide to this canyon.
Valle de las Ànimas, Bolivia
The Valle de las Ànimas, also called the Valley of the Souls, is one of the most interesting places to visit. It is close to La Paz. This trek is one of the lowest elevation hikes in the Andes Mountains, at a height of 13,000 feet. Despite this, it is still recommended to start the acclimatization process before doing any kind of exercise.
For those who are brave enough, hiking among tall spires that are thought to be ghosts watching over them is an adventure. Locals say that when the wind blows through these spires, it makes them make sad noises. It could be pretty peaceful, as long as it doesn’t scare you. The trail may be a little difficult at times because it swirls around and gets steep.
You can get there by public or private transportation, but because the area is so remote, we strongly advise that you use a reputable private service. Before you start your adventure, you should spend a day in La Paz and ride the cable cars. This will help you get used to the higher elevation at a more comfortable level. In the Andes Mountain range, La Paz is one of the most undervalued cities, but it has so much to offer.
Chillan, Chile, is a great place to go on an adventure. You can start at Laja Falls, swim in the Termas de Chillan, or go on a hike in the mountains nearby the city. If you want to take a break from hiking, you can also go skiing or snowboarding.
There is a mountain town called Chillan about 150 kilometers south of Santiago. From there, you can take a private or group trip to Laja Falls, which is about 45 miles south. The waterfalls are beautiful, with water falling down a rocky valley that is about 250 feet deep. If you want to wade into the pools, you should bring shoes and clothes that can dry quickly.
You could also go to the Termas de Chillan, a resort area with hot springs at the base of the Andes Mountains. There are many things to do there, such as horseback riding, hiking, and trekking. If you have a long day of trekking planned, you should bring your swimsuit because the hot springs are healing.
If you talk to our travel experts about your Andes trekking plans right now, you can add Laja Falls or Termas de Chillan to your list of places to visit. They will help you come up with ideas, find hiking trails that fit your pace and sense of adventure, and find the right guides to make sure your trip goes well.
Nahuel Huapi National Park, Argentina
Nahuel Huapi National Park is the oldest national park in Argentina and a great place to go hiking. It has temperate rainforests like those in the Southern Andes Mountains. This area is a jewel in the Andes because of its beautiful mountains and clear lakes. If you want to get ready for your trip, you can stay in the nearby town of Bariloche, which is known as the “chocolate capital.”
It’s best to go between December and February, which are considered summer months. But if you go in the winter, you can be sure that the skiing and snowboarding will be great. There is so much to do that you will want to set aside a few days to explore. The guided tour of Bosque de Arrayanes and Victoria Island is the best thing to do because the day is full of different things to do.
Enjoy a scenic drive through the countryside and don’t forget to stop at a few lookout points along the way. Route 234 (also called the “Road of the Seven Lakes”) is our suggested route. On this road, you can find the Circuito Grande, which is another way we recommend. The scenery will amaze you whether you drive or walk there.
Volcan Osorno, Chile
Inside the Vicente Perez Rosales National Park system, you can find the Osorno Volcano, which is 8,700 feet high. This isn’t very high for the Andes Mountains, but the valley below is only 180 feet below, so it’s a big change! If someone wants to tell the story of climbing an active volcano in the Andes of Chile, they can do it through a unique hiking experience. This is because the volcano is still active.
From December to March, you can plan a day trip to Osorno. This is the best time to go because the weather gets warmer and is great for hikes. But you can plan a day trip to Osorno any time of the year. In the winter, you should probably plan to go skiing or tubing. In January, daytime temps reached 70 degrees Fahrenheit and nighttime temperatures dropped to 48 degrees, making it the hottest month ever measured. Because the weather can change quickly, especially as you get closer to the peak, you should always bring layers of clothes and a jacket with you, no matter when you want to go.
How do I get there? You can take route 225 from Puerto Varas or set up your own private transportation. When you get to the volcano’s base, you can take a chair lift that goes up to a certain place where you can watch the beautiful views. There is a trail that goes all the way around the volcano so you can see it from every angle, but you should know that it is pretty hard.
There is one more short hike that we recommend: the Petrohué waterfall walk. You can walk for 1.1 miles to get to a waterfall with Osorno in the background that is great for pictures. There is no trouble on the track, and you can finish it in just under an hour. This road is good for families and walkers who are just starting out.
Mount Fitz Roy, Argentina
There is a lot of agreement that Mount Fitz Roy is one of the best places to hike in the Andes and the whole world. The scene here is one of the most memorable in all of Patagonia. Some people call the city of El Chalten, which is close to many hiking trails, the “Trekking Capital of Argentina.” Two of these trails are in Laguna Torre and Laguna de los Tres.
Even though El Chalten is a small town with only a few thousand people, it is famous for its friendly people. You can stay somewhere, wash your clothes, and even drink the water! Many places to eat are open early in the morning and serve delicious food in a nice and friendly atmosphere. Because there is only one ATM in town, make sure you bring some Argentine Pesos with you.
You will need to fly into El Calafate and then drive for four hours to get to El Chalten. This is the best time to go because the weather is nicer from October to April. It is important to remember to bring clothes because it could get cold, often at night.
You could spend days going to different places in this area, but if you only have time for one, we recommend that you visit Laguna de los Tres. This path will take you to the base of Mount Fitz Roy, which is also known as Cerro Chaltén, which means “The Smoking Mountain” in Spanish. This is happening because of the mist that blows over the towers all the time. The whole path is 13.3 miles long, and at the end it goes to a beautiful lake. It takes about eight to ten hours to go hiking all together. Our last book is in Los Glaciers National Park, which is also where you can find Laguna de los Tres.
Perito Moreno, Argentina
We’ve finally reached the last trip on our list, but it’s by no means our least favorite choice! There is no question that the Perito Moreno Glacier is the most famous glacier in the Patagonian Andes. It is also one of the most beautiful glaciers in the world. It moves every day by three to six feet, making it the most important thing in Los Glaciers National Park. The glacier’s tallest point was 230 feet above the ground and 3.1 miles long.
In other words, if you’re lucky, you might be able to see icebergs as big as the Statue of Liberty break apart. When they separate from each other, you will hear a huge boom or crack. After this, the ice breaks off and falls to the ground, making huge waves in the water. It’s definitely a show! Even though this happens all the time, it happens a lot more in the afternoon, when the sun has been out and has had a chance to work on the ice.
Walkways and steps that are well taken care of are available, but if you want to get even closer to the glacier, you can also start hiking on it! You’ll be on this trip for two to three hours, and you’ll cross the ice! You should make sure that your shoes have some grip. You should still put on sunscreen to protect your face even if it is cold outside. You should make sure to use your favorite product because of the strong light and the fact that the ice reflects UV rays. It is also suggested that you put on a jacket, a thick hat, and shades.
We really think that the best way to get from El Calafate to Los Glaciers National Park is to take a bus. Since they run many buses every day, it won’t be hard for you to find one that works with your plan.