From the Atacama desert in Chile to the mountains of Chilean and Argentinian Patagonia, there are exciting hikes to be found across the incredibly diverse terrain in the southern cone of South America. At Cascada we’ve labelled less demanding walking trips as Hikes (as opposed to trekking expeditions), so if unique scenery and moderately challenging walks sound like your thing then Hiking Activities are ideal for you!
, the world’s driest desert in northern Chile, you can hike through beautiful highlands home to unique flora and fauna. Emerald lagoons, like Leijía and Miscanti, and volcanoes line the horizon.
In Chile’s central region, National Park La Campana is a favourite hiking spot. This Biosphere Reserve is full of Chilean palm trees on the hike up La Campana mountain, from where there is an incredible views of the Andes range and the Pacific ocean.
El Morado Natural Monument lies in the Andes mountains
close to Santiago and is an ideal day trip for those wanting to hike and return to Santiago the same day. El Mirador del Morado (4,320m) is a common place to hike to, or you can head up El Morado mountain (5,060m) if you fancy a tougher challenge. Hikes in nearby nature sanctuary Cascada de las Animas are also a popular day choice, as are hikes in ski area Farellones.
A little south of Santiago
lies Chillán and Valle Las Trancas, one of Chile’s most famous ski resorts. The glacier in Las Trancas is a challenging hiking option, at 3212m.
National Reserves and Parks hug the coast and the Andean foothills all the way down from Chillán to Chile’s Lake District
, where National Parks like Huerquehue and Villarrica in the Araucanía region house exceptional native flora. These parks have stunning views of large lakes, smoking volcanoes and Araucaria (monkey-puzzle tree) forests. National Park Huerquehue has a spectacular view of Carburgua lake, while Villarrica National Park contains the 2,847m active Villarrica volcano - a very popular hike for tourists during summer who slog uphill for around 5 hours to reach the magnificent summit and peer into the crater bubbling with lava.
Further south, Chilloé’s National Park offers hikes through native forest, while across the channel marks the start of the famous Carretera Austral, leading 1,240km through northern Patagonia from Puerto Montt to Villa O’higgins. This road was carved through Chile’s desolate region in order to connect it with the rest of the country and today is home to many national parks and monuments containing spectacular scenery and great hiking possibilities.
Southern Patagonia is home to the famous Torres del Paine National Park
, renowned for its hikes through scenic mountainous terrain and forests at the world’s end. Ecocamp’s very own Patagonia Wildlife Safari
is a novel hiking option for those looking to combine flora and fauna with daily walks through the park’s highlights including Las Torres, French Valley, Los Cuernos and Grey Glacier.