Everything You Need to Know About Hiking and Camping in Latin America
When you picture Latin America, there is no way you could imagine the diverse and beautiful places that you can see here. Covering both Central and South America, there are plenty of countries to explore and a vast landscape to travel across. When it comes to Adventure Holidays, this part of the world has many options. From trekking to ancient cities to marvelling at phenomenal natural sights. There is something for everyone whatever your ability or your time frame. Here are some examples of treks you can enjoy in Latin America.
Peru is one of the most popular South American countries to explore by hiking. Famous of course, for the challenging and historic Inca Trail. It’s also one of the world’s most well-known short treks as you can walk the trail in just four days. During the trek you will see many Inca ruins and truly amazing views of mountains and valleys. You will also achieve an altitude of 4200m when you make it over the Dead Woman’s Pass. Then the final goal of arriving at Machu Picchu is a moment you will never forget. The achievement of seeing this wonder of the world after trekking for days is worth the effort and the altitude sickness.
For such a famous route you may be surprised that it is not very busy on the trail. At some points you and your group might even have the whole trail to yourself. A hiking trip along the Inca Trail to see Machu Picchu is a bucket list item that shouldn’t be missed. In Peru, there are many more interesting hikes and trails to explore. The Inca trail is just the starting point.
Another place with stunning landscapes Patagonia has many different choices when it comes to trekking. Covering both Argentina and Chile, this region has a multitude of landscapes to discover. A popular hike is known as the W trek which takes you through Torres del Paine’s national park, from Valle Francés to the base of the Paine Towers, and on to Glacier Grey. With organised tours you can trek from campsite to campsite with everything included for you, so you dint need to carry heavy equipment. Although the area caters well for tourists, the sights are truly magnificent and this trek enables you to see all the popular highlights of Patagonia.
Another option for more hardcore trekkers is the Paine Circuit. This adventurous route covers the full circuit around the Torres del Paine with beautiful scenery and the chance to see more than just the top highlights. It also gives you the opportunity to be further away from the busier campsites meaning you can camp in the heart of the National Park. You’ll need more planning and kit for this route but if you have the time and the stamina you should definitely consider it.
The salt flats of Salar de Uyuni are a unique place in the world to visit. A long trek here includes passing the Bolivian side of Lake Titicaca, hiking in the Cordillera Kari Kari and of course the salt flats themselves. This will take around two weeks to fit everything in. There are two main climbs to try in this route which are the Volcan Tunupa and Acotango, reaching altitudes of up to 6020m. During your trip in this spectacular part of the world you will see hot springs and geysers, flocking flamingos and amazing rock formations like the Rock Tree.
A lesser known place to enjoy trekking is in the Royal Mountains of Bolivia which cover the area from the Wara Warani to the Chucura Valley. There are some amazing trekking opportunities here with scenery like nowhere else in the world. Enjoy wintery mountain peaks, sparkling lakes and magnificent views all around. You will trek at a height of over 5000m which is hard work but totally worth it.
Have you heard of the avenue of volcanoes? In Ecuador you can trek narrow mountain trails deep into the heart of Andes and explore the area of the Quilotoa, Cotopaxi and Chimborazo volcanoes. Take around a week of trekking and camping to really see what this area has to offer and there are so many different types of landscapes to explore. Whilst hiking the high route you will find yourself walking along volcanic calderas and trekking through jungles and rainforests alongside beautiful rivers and stunning waterfalls.
Highlights include swimming in the icy waters of the Quilotoa Crater Lake and relaxing in the hot spring waters of Baños. As well as camping under the stars, you will never have seen a night sky quite like it.
The lost city trek in Colombia is popular as a five-day organised group hike. If you are looking for a quieter alternative to the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu, then the trek to La Ciudad Perdida might be the one for you. From Santa Marta you will follow a route through rainforest, walking through streams, rivers and jungle, before making your way to the entrance of the Lost City. Then you emerge from the rainforest out to amazing panoramic views of the mountains surrounding you. Make sure you brig your camera with you to get the perfect shot.
As well as the end achievement of reaching the ancient citadel, there are many other highlights of the trip. These include encounters with the indigenous Kogi tribe who have been living traditionally here for thousands of years, and cooling off in spectacular waterfalls on your journey.
Tips for camping in Latin America
If you are thinking about trekking and camping in Latin America there are some things you should consider before you go. First of all, you need to consider your safety and security whilst travelling and camping. The precautions you take will depend greatly and where you are and if you are taking an organised tour or travelling on your own. Taking a pre-planned organised trek with a reputable tour company is the best choice, as everything is taken care of for you in terms of routes and campsites. However, if you want to travel on your own you should check the regulations in each country. Only camp in reputable campsites and when it comes to wild camping in National Parks, you should refer to the advice of park rangers. You also need to take special care of your belongings, don’t brig valuables unless they are necessary and keep your personal documents safe. Camping in these areas are great and adventurous, so as long as you are careful and follow local advice you will enjoy your trip.
Will you enjoy a trip hiking and camping in Latin America?
You are certainly spoiled for choice when it comes to hiking destinations in this part of the world. Perhaps you will choose the popular and well know Inca trail to Peru, or maybe try some wild camping off the beaten track. The choice is yours. So, whatever your ability, timescale or interest there is a type of hike or trekking holiday in Latin America for you. You just need to decide which destination you want to visit first.