20 Amazing Places to Hike in South America

Hike through and on glaciers, mountains, deserts, lakes, and jungles in Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, and Peru. This list includes the favorites (Patagonia and the Incan Trail) and some lesser known jaunts.

Fitz Roy
A great view of Mt. Fitz Roy can done as a day hike from the hiking town of El Chalten in Argentina. The trail starts in the woods, passes over streams, and gives ever more amazing vistas as you climb. For the full experience, you can camp at the spot shown in this picture, and then continue from here to other base camps to try to summit. Be warned though that this mountain is considered more technical than Everest, and often only a single person successfully summits in a year (versus maybe 100 on Everest).
Magallanes and Chilean Antarctica, Chile
Hiking the French Valley is part of the W-trek through Patagonia’s Torres del Paine National Park. It’s about 16 mi round-trip from Refugio Paine Grande to the French Valley Mirador, to see the French Glacier and the Paine Massif as close as you can get. The trail is diverse and only reaches a steep height at the last 5.5 km on the way there. You begin at Lago Pehoe and take grassy paths through the forested valley, on an terrain that the locals call “Patagonia flat,” i.e. an undulating up and down of several feet. On the way you’ll see tiny magenta--and edible--berries that taste just like apples; you’ll cross small glacial streams where you can fill up your water bottle with fresh, wild water. You’ll trek right by the Cuernos, or the “Horns,” another well-known set of peaks in Torres del Paine. Over the French River you go as you get deeper into the valley, over wobbly rope bridges. The final 5.5 km to the French Valley Mirador has you balancing on thousands of loose boulders on your way up. The very top of the trek feels like being in the middle of a Patagonian fishbowl: Paine Massif to your left, French Glacier in front, the Aleta de Tiburon (the Shark’s Fin) and the Cuernos to the right, and turquoise Lago Pehoe behind you.
Huaraz, Peru
Hiked the Lago 69 loop to the lake of the same name. It was a breathless hike with the high altitudes, but the views were worth it!
Chapada Diamantina, Morro do Chapéu - State of Bahia, 44850-000, Brazil
If you ever find yourself in Lencois, Brazil, make your way about 40 miles west for one spectacular view. Located in Chapada Diamantina National Park, Pai Inacio Hill is just off BR-242 and can easily be seen from the road. The striking white stone and the majestic appearance of this natural rock formation is compelling enough to make anyone want to stop and explore. It is a relatively easy 20 minute hike to the summit, and once you arrive you will see that it is worth every step. Standing atop Pai Inacio, with the sun and wind greeting your face, you will bear witness to the valley that unfolds below you. It appears to go on forever, and that is about how long you will want to stay and take in the awe-inspiring view.
Ruta 23 Ch
The first glimpse you take at the Valle de la Luna (translated: “Moon Valley”) will make you feel like you’re visiting another planet. The deep red rocks, the massive sand dunes, and the speckling of salt across the surface is like nothing else I have seen on Earth. Peer closely at many of the rocks and you will see deep veins of salt. Stand close (and be quiet) and you can hear the rhythmic crackling of the salt as a result of the pressure in the rocks. The valley itself is 22 million years old, and scientists believe the salt was left behind from when an ocean covered this part of Chile. Located just a few miles outside of San Pedro de Atacama, the Valle de la Luna is an incredible place to hike, bike, and take in a spectacular sunset.
More from AFAR
Sign up for our newsletter
Join more than a million of the world’s best travelers. Subscribe to the Daily Wander newsletter.
AFAR Journeys
Journeys: Europe
Journeys: Europe
Journeys: Europe
Journeys: Europe
Journeys: United States
Journeys: Sports + Adventure