Some of the most epic climbing spots, multi-day treks, and best long-distance hiking trails in South America to get you excited about your next adventure.
South America’s terrain is some of the most spectacular in the world, and when it comes to mountains, there is certainly no shortage of beautiful places to climb. Whether you are looking for an impressive hike to an attractive viewpoint, or are an experienced climber searching for challenging climbing, there are plenty of options to choose from South America’s safest countries. The Andes is probably the most famous mountain range in South America running down much of the continent, and here are 14 suggestions for those looking for inspiration. Different lengths, complexity, and physical and mental abilities are required for each one.
Huayna Picchu, Peru
Located just a short distance from the amazing complex at Machu Picchu, Huayna Picchu is an iconic part of the experience of visiting the area, and with a steep stairway rising up the side of the mountain it is a very interesting climb. Taking around an hour to climb up to the main viewpoint that looks back over Machu Picchu, the peak has its own small complex of Inca buildings dating from the same era as its neighbor.
Stunning views and great climbing experience.
The highest mountain in South America stands just forty meters short of being 7,000 meters high, but in terms of mountaineering terms it is not really a technical climb. The spectacular views over the surrounding Andes are truly breathtaking, and the northern route to the summit doesn’t require ropes or any other specialist equipment.
For those with the energy and determination, this is certainly a physically demanding but enjoyable climb.
Sugarloaf Mountain, Brazil
The Sugarloaf is one of the most iconic points in Rio, and while the majority of people who do get to the summit do so by the cable car that travels to the summit, those with a love for climbing will find that the Sugarloaf is a climb not to be missed. With excellent views over the city, the granite rock rises nearly four hundred meters, almost vertically at some points, from the ocean.
There are several different routes available, with some experienced climbers able to take one of the longer routes to the top in one day, and there are also shorter routes where less experienced climbers can join a guide to enjoy a taste of climbing the Sugarloaf.
The Towers Of Paine, Chile
Among the most iconic mountains in Chile and located within the Torres del Paine National Park, there are plenty of rock climbing routes up the three towers, being the central one quite known in the rock climbing community. Here are a few Chile travel tips to get familiar with the country.
This certainly isn’t a challenge suitable for the climbing novice. For those who aren’t quite so accomplished, there is also a spectacular hiking trail that offers some stunning views of the area.
Rising up from the surrounding plains, Cotopaxi is a conical volcano that is an amazing place to visit whether you are climbing to the peak or not. While it is not really a particularly challenging climb, due to its altitude of nearly 5,900 meters, physical conditioning is important, and it does require some experience of climbing with ice axes and crampons.
The main climbing season is in December and January and between July and September, but it is possible to climb the mountain throughout the year.
Mount Roraima, Venezuela
This mountain lies on the border between three countries, and is a plateau at the top, with the approach from almost every side offering steep walls to climb. These are only for experienced climbers, with many sheer and almost vertical routes to be found, particularly on the Brazilian and Guyanan sides of the mountain.
Due to its remote location, climbing Roraima is a challenge that can involve several days of hiking, and the approach from the Venezuelan side is usually the most popular as it has a route to the top that isn’t quite as steep as the rock climbing routes.
Chalten Massif, Argentina
Located in the Southern Patagonia region, it is a sort of natural border between Chile and Argentina, being the hikes located in the latter the most popular ones. These mountains are home to some of the best rock climbing on offer in South America and are actually made up of five different groups of peaks. The highest and most famous of the peaks is Mount Fitz Roy, named after the British explorer Robert Fitzroy. It is one of the most challenging and technical climbs in the world.
There are several more accommodating climbs and peaks available in the area, while the location within the Los Glaciares National Park means mixed groups of climbers and trekkers can find something to take their fancy.
Local tours offer packages ranging from 3 to 8 days depending on the chosen route.
This particular part of Chile is a hotbed of rock climbing because of the wonderful granite walls that rise high above the Cochamo River. Here there are some excellent climbing walls offering a variety of different challenges. Some of the most popular walls are around 500 meters, with the longest, Tigres del Norte nearly 1,200 meters.
Climbing here has been compared to the excellent Yosemite, although the surroundings are certainly a little rougher around the edges.
A short distance from the city of Bogota, Suesca is a small town that lies on the Bogota River and is home to some excellent cliffs that are perfect for rock climbing. The Rocas de Suesca, where the climbing takes place is just a short distance outside the town, is a series of great climbing cliffs that are located alongside the railway track for a stretch of nearly four kilometers.
Suesca is well off the tourist trail, and there really are few places to stay in the area, but those who come down for the day from Bogota will find that it is well worth the effort, with some great single pitch routes worth enjoying.
Related read: Best climbing spots around the world
Located in Peru, this circuit is one of the favorite destinations for hiking fans. Because it is said that the landscapes of the Peruvian Andes are very different from those of Chile and Argentina, basically, because of its climate; it allows you to see much more vegetation than the same height of their South American contemporaries.
Although the so-called classic or complete circuit lasts 12 days, other shorter ones can be found, ranging from 4 days.
Path of Light, Brazil
The ‘Caminho da Luz’ route was created in 2001 and combines various social actors because this circuit is not only visited by lovers of hiking, but also by thousands of people for religious, cultural, sport and tourist reasons. There are 200 km to be covered to complete the journey that goes through areas such as Tombos, Catuné, Agua Santa, and Caparaó among others.
Related read: List of current social issues
Lost City, Colombia
Teyuna, the so-called Lost City in Colombia, is located in the town of Tayrona in the Sierra Nevada jungle, approximately one hour from the city of Santa Marta. The route is unpredictable, but at the same time, charming. Tropical rainforest with significant unevenness and unforgettable landscapes in every step. Due to the difficulty of the circuit, it can only be accessed through one of the tour operators that work the route, which lasts between 4 and 6 days depending on the physical capacity of the hikers.
On the way there are different campsites where to take shelter, which are also coordinated by the tourist agencies in the area.
Serra Fina, Brazil
This route marks the natural border between the states of Sao Paulo, Minas Gerais, and Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. The mountain next to the trail has one of the highest topographic slopes in the country (about 2,000 meters) and is a part of the Mantiqueira Mountain Range near the Itatiaia National Park.
The route is usually completed in 4 days and, as with most circuits, requires the accompaniment of an expert tour guide.
Andean Footprint and Neuquén, Argentina
Known as the first long-distance trail in Argentina, this circuit is located in Trans-Andean Patagonia. It goes through the areas of Neuquén, Rio Negro and Chubut and has 42 stages with different levels of difficulty. The company of a specialist guide is required.
The duration of the hikes goes from 3 to 10 hours.
Do you know of any other long-distance hiking trails in South America that deserve a spot in this compilation? Let us know!
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About the author: Besides writing, Alana D. Frazier is fond of learning something new every day.