“Mountains are not stadiums where I satisfy my ambition to achieve, they are the cathedrals where I practice my religion.” – Anatoli Boukreev
While North America has the Rockies, South America is blessed with the spectacular Andes Mountain Range. The Andes are an incredible mountain range passing from north to south through seven countries making it the longest continental mountain range in the world. There is something about the Andes that is simply magical. The grandeur, scale and scope of the Andes is mind-boggling. Over 4,300 miles long (7,000 km) and at points up to 430 miles wide (700 km), the Andes are immense and are blessed with some of the highest volcanoes in the world and largest ice fields.
I have been lucky to have set foot on the Andes in Peru, Chile, Argentina and most recently, Bolivia. There is no way I can pick favorites as each place has been unique and special in its own way. Here are the A,B, C’s of the best hikes in Argentina, Bolivia and Chile, some of my most favorite places on earth to hike.
Located at the end of the world, in the tiny Patagonian outpost El Chatlen lies Los Glaciares National Park, one of the finest in Argentina. The landscape is serene and the raw beauty of remote Patagonia is sure to inspire. There are several day hikes in the park and instead of camping, you can spend the nights at a local inn indulging in delicious local food and wine. You are also a bus ride away from the famous Perito Moreno Glacier, definitely worth a visit.
The Condoriri Valley lies within the 100 kilometer-long Cordillera Real mountain range northeast of La Paz, that separates the lowlands of the Amazon River basin to the east from the high plateaus of the Altiplano (highlands) to the west. The Cordillera Real is the most accessible and spectacular mountain range in the entire country with the highest peak known as Illimani at 6,438 metres (21,122 ft) and dozens more peaks coming in well over 15,000 feet. There are over 600 snow-capped peaks in just the Cordillera Real and we only hiked two of them. But any hikes in the Condoriri Valley is bound to be amazing.
Hidden at the far southern tip of Chile is home to Torres del Paine National Park, one of the most insanely beautiful parks in the world. In this remote, windswept region of nowhereland, you can experience four seasons in a day and winds so powerful that they knock you down. It is one of the most spectacular settings possible for trekking yet extremely difficult to reach. You can do several multi-day hikes within the park yet the most famous is the “W” trek (5-7 days).
I have followed the Inca Trail in Peru to Machu Picchu, which was my first ever multi-day trek but I have much more to explore in the high Andes of Peru.
What is your favorite place to hike?
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