Under the Radar Hiking Treks in Latin America


It’s no secret that Latin America’s landscapes are the ultimate playground for outdoor enthusiasts and adventure travelers. Ancient ruins, active volcanoes, glacial lakes, friendly locals and countless waterfalls are just a few reasons why hikers should consider Latin America for their next trek – and it doesn’t need to be Machu Picchu.
We rounded up our team’s favorite under the radar hiking treks in Latin America

1) Alternative Inca Trail

Following the Inca Trail to the ancient city of Machu Picchu may seem like a rite of passage for travelers, but that doesn’t mean you have to take the same route as the thousands of hikers before you. Begin in the small village of Ollantaytambo mingling with the local people and artists, before following a backcountry route through snow-capped mountains lined with temple ruins, waterfalls and panoramic views of the valley below. The Charcahuylla pass gives you a peek into rural Peruvian life, while the Huayanay pass offers views of secluded alpine lakes. By the time you reach Machu Picchu you will have a deeper understanding of the land, people and culture that keeps the Incan spirit alive. 

2) Cordillera Blanca

Do you consider yourself a serious backpacker? The Cordillera Blanca in Peru may be your next challenge. Following the Santa Cruz trek, you’ll reach the Earth’s highest tropical range, with peaks rising more than 18,000 feet. Be prepared for five to six hours of hiking each day, which will lead to your campsite for the night. Unpack and be rewarded with views of turquoise glacier lakes, flowering meadows and isolated villages tucked into the towering peaks of Alpamayo and Peru’s tallest peak, Huascaran. 

3) Torres del Paine’s Circuit, Patagonia

The famed W Trek usually finds its place on a dedicated hiker’s bucket list, and for good reason. The views of rock spires, snow-covered peaks, shimmering glaciers and vast grasslands are endless. On the full Circuit, expert guides take you hiking on the backside of the Cordillera Paine for a more intimate environment with the guanacos, condors, flamingos, and if you’re lucky the Patagonian puma. You’ll also see the W trek’s most iconic sights, like Grey glacier, the French valley’s granite amphitheatre, and the Paine Towers in all of their glory

4) Quilotoa Loop, Ecuador

Often overlooked for the Galapagos or the coast of Ecuador, the Quilotoa Loop is an absolute must for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts. The village-to-village trekking circuit takes you into the heart of the Andean backcountry and Cotopaxi National Park. Along your hike you will encounter Kichwa-speaking locals and their colorful indigenous markets. One of the world’s largest active volcanoes casts its shadow over you as you acclimatize, leading you to the otherworldly Quilotoa Crater Lake

5) Chapada Diamantina

Brazil might not be the first destination to come to mind when thinking about trekking in South America, but the lush vegetation, canyons, plateaus, waterfalls and secret grottoes, like Lapa Doce, in Chapada Diamantina are a hiker’s paradise. You can cool off during your hike with breaks at Sossego waterfall’s natural pools, or for those seeking an adrenaline boost, you can try fly foxing into the cavern near Poço do Diablo’s waterfall. Watching the sunset at the top of Brazil’s Morro do Pai Inácio will not disappoint and is the perfect reward after a day of trekking.
Get in touch with Eric, who has been hiking Latin America’s trails for 11 years, to discover how our team can craft your next trekking itinerary.