One of the most colorful on the planet, Latin America, provides exciting high altitude expeditions to test your mettle. Thanks to its snow peaks shadowing on tropical landscapes, hidden ruins of ancient civilizations, and deserts punctuated with immense volcanoes, Latin America has vast dramatic hikes to take on.
Lake 69, Huascarán National Park, Peru
If you have a tight budget, Hostal Alpes in Huaraz is a mountain to go to. Located in the Huascaran National Park, Lake 69, a part of the incredible Cordillera Blanca Mountains, is the world’s highest tropical range. You can book through a hostel where your trip could cost you around $12 per person. It was a three-hour drive to the start, and it took just under four hours to reach the lake.
Visiting Chachapoyas’s northern town is an alternative to the waiting lists, crowds, and expense of the Inca trails. Once you arrive in the area, you can contact the I-Peru office, which sets up with Aldo, a local guide with detailed knowledge of the ruins half-hidden in cloud forests and cliff side mausoleums. Don’t forget to visit a trek to the area’s star attraction, Kuelap’s pre-Incan fortress city.
Arrange for a two-day hike and stay overnight in Tingo village. A six-mile, 1,200-meter climb to the citadel will set you off early for the final stage as you arrive at the city’s immense stone walls that emerged from the morning mist. You can explore the deserted ruins in just two hours.
Cerro Castillo, Chile
An excellent four-day hike that begins on Carretera Austral near Coyhaique winds through forests, several crossings, and ends over a 1400-meter mountain pass adjacent to the rock walls of the 2700-meter peak Cerro Castillo.
The lack of crowds in Torres Del Pain makes this place a more rewarding and enjoyable experience. Cerro Castillo’s tiny village has a few very basic but beautiful lodgings or what they call hospedajes.
Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia
In the Bolivian high Andres, you can get to Uyuni’s desert town, where you can book a four-day tour around the largest salt flats on Earth. If you visit after the rainy, you will see the entire 4,000-square-mile flats flooded in a few inches of water, mirroring the cobalt-blue skies and snow-covered peaks in the glassy surface. You will also visit the flamingo-filled lakes of dazzling hues, roaring, spitting geysers, and shimmering volcanoes.
Lago Gutierrez to Refugio Emilio Frey, Argentina
San Carlos de Bariloche is a popular gateway to the southern parts of Argentine Patagonia. If you want to experience a break from the town’s tourist vibe and want to go to the region’s best scenic offerings, then head to Lago Gutierrez by bus from Bariloche in the morning and hike to Refugio Emilio Frey for four hours from the lake’s edge. The trek will take you to arid wand parched woods at the start, but you will soon be climbing alongside the river flowing from the mountain. Some hikers saw snow at the top for the final 500m.
Spending the night at Refugio Frey with a meal will cost you $40. You can also opt for just a bed and pay only a few bucks to use their kitchen, or going further; you can camp depending on the weather conditions. For a change of scenery, you can take the Cerro Cathedral route back near the bottom and taste the sugary waffle in the Catedral ski resort. Staying a couple of das in Bariloche is an excellent way to spend them.
Santa Cruz trek, Huaraz, Peru
Santa Cruz trek in the Cordillera Blanca is stunning. Even newbie trekkers can do it in four days, but if you are a seasoned or experienced hiker and find the Santa Cruz trek too short, there has still many more trails to follow in the Cordillera Blanca. Regardless of experience, the South America Explorers Club is truly priceless.
The Lost City (Ciudad Perdida), Colombia
The Lost City, a three-day, 44km hike, involves fording rivers and sleeping in hammocks. At one point, you can also share the path with a mule transporting a wheel-barrow to a far-flung Kogi village. The picturesque ruins, built in about 800 AD by the Tayrona people, are deep in the Sierra Nevada jungle in northern Colombia.
The visitors travel there, driving into the mountains to the end of the road in a clapped-out jeepney from Santa Marta. From here, you can only transport through shanks pony. Beautiful scenery, an overnight spent in the city, and seeing the isolated ruins in early morning light more than compensate for the insect bites, heat, and humidity.
Laguna Quilotoa, Ecuador
Laguna Quilotoa has hidden away high in the Andes in the Cotopaxi Province. The ancient volcano’s two-mile-wide crater has been collecting rainwater for centuries, which created a turquoise lagoon that you can hike down to. Once there, you can kayak on it, then hike back up or ride a horse for a small fee. Those who want more adventure will hike on the rim of this volcanic lagoon. The trails are easy to follow and take up to five hours to complete.
For the most part, the trail on the rim is easy and not very technical. You can start hiking at 7.30 am or earlier. Clouds and rain usually come in mid-afternoon, making poor visibility and quite cold temperatures. Since the trail is mostly sandy, hiking the trail is very easy even after a rainy night. The three-four-day Quilotoa Loop is the ultimate adventure you would like to hike, which starts in the crater itself or the town of Sigchos. The town of Quilotoa is made up mostly of hostels.