Trekking and Hiking
With a low population density, stunning high altitude landscapes, endless historic sites and some very good new lodges, South America arguably offers the best trekking opportunities in the world.
The Andes stretch for 7,000Km (4,300 miles) from the southern tip of Argentina to Venezuela, spanning 7 countries on the way. They have an average altitude of about 4,000 m (13,000 ft) and cross most of the world’s climate zones. But even away from the Andes, countries like Brazil have some good trekking areas which we would like to bring to you.
Perhaps the best known trek is South America is the four day hike to Machu Picchu from the Sacred Valley. To some extent, this trek became the victim of it’s own success but recently the park authorities have introduced a pass system which limits the total number of people on the trail at any one time. We can arrange guides and tents for couples, families or small groups. Alternatively, walkers can just do the last day of the trek which allows them to walk into Machu Picchu ruins via the Inca Sun Gate.
For those requiring a little more comfort, the well-organised Salkantay Trek includes some of the main archaeological sites in the Sacred Valley, but with overnight stays in some well-appointed lodges, ending up at Aguas Calientes at the base of Machu Picchu mountain. An alternative trek exploring other parts of the Sacred Valley is the Lares Trek, also very well organised.
Further north in Ecuador, our trekking options are on a more bespoke basis with a private guide and a selection of very good hotels and lodges to choose from for overnight stays. The Cotapaxi and Chimborazo National Parks offer great scenery with classic conical shaped snow-capped volcanoes, some of which are live.
In Bolivia it is now possible to trek from the salt flats at Uyuni across the Altiplano and the border to the Atacama Desert in Chile, which must surely be the ultimate high altitude trek for walkers rather than mountaineers. The hikes are arranged in small groups of up to six people, with overnight stops in specially converted containers or small hostels, but ending up in some comfort in the Atacama Desert.
Another famous trek is the well-known ‘W trek’ in the Torres del Paine in the heart of Chilean Patagonia. This can be done with private guides and there are some of the best hotels in South America in and around the National Park, so visitors can just do small sections of the trek for a few hours at a time and then return to relax in great comfort and style.
Less well known is the area known as the Lake District in Chile and Argentina and Chiloe Island off the coast of Chile. Some hotels here such at the Hacienda Vira Vira by Lake Villarica and Tierra Chiloe organise day treks on a small shared group basis with other guests, which is a great way to explore the scenery in these areas.
For something completely different, we can arrange treks with private guides in the Chapada Diamantina in Brazil. This is the former diamond mining area in Bahia, just west of Salvador, where the treks are punctuated by amazing geological features such as blue underground rock pools which you can swim in and strange sedimentary rock formations. The old mining town of Lençois is a good place to make your base for a stay here.
For more trekking ideas and advice on these and other locations please give us a call or send a message.
Places to stay
Sol y Luna
Delightful casitas set in beautifully maintained gardens make Sol y Luna our favourite hotel in the Sacred Valley.View details about Sol y Luna
A charming new Eco lodge comprising five stand-alone rooms or casitas, set in wooded grounds opposite the Gocta Waterfall.View details about Gocta Natura