Chile

Best walks, hikes and treks in Chile [View list of walks]

About Chile

Running in a thin line down the western coast of the South American continent, Chile is palpably shaped by the intense contrasts of its geography. To the north, the vast aridity of the Atacama: a tract of desolate sand and salt lakes; to the south, the dramatic, snow-capped Andes. Surrounded by temperate rainforests of ancient Araucaria trees and the lush, vibrant vegetation of the Lake District, the jagged peaks of the Andes are dotted with beautifully symmetric, stand-alone volcanoes. By the time they reach the remote Tierra del Fuego, they are wilder and colder, throwing out a brazen challenge to would-be peak-baggers.

Dominated first by the Incan Empire and then by the Spanish, Chile only declared independence as recently as 1818. The separatist region of Araucania maintained its long held autonomy up until 1883, and the Mapuche (who are relatively far poorer than their Chilean counterparts) continue to fight to assert their cultural identity, and to campaign – some groups with violence – for a formal recognition of their rights.

Both on a local and a national scale, Chile’s recent history has been one of continuing conflict and contrasting ideologies.  Allende’s premiership brought political polarisation, culminating in the 1973 coup and the grim period of the Pinochet dictatorship. A peaceful transition to democracy in 1990 has given the country a fresh start, but left it with some jagged scars.

Tourism is a booming industry – Chile is, after all, a classic gap year destination – and the infrastructure is generally excellent for travellers. Walking and hiking in Chile has been greatly helped by involvement from international conservationists, and much of the best is to be found in the vibrant mix of national parks and private reserves.

Chile has things to fascinate everyone, children included: its Jurassic landscapes and bubbling volcanoes could have leapt straight from the pages of a storybook. The variety of travel and tours you can make in Chile is as a result huge. We tell you about walking below, but have a look here for a wide selection of the Chile travel, tours, holidays and activities available.

Walking, hiking and trekking in Chile

Chile has some of the world’s best walks, hikes and treks, ranging from Andean highlights such as the Torres del Paine to trails in the beautiful, parched  Atacama to the lush, watery Lake District, the antediluvian landscapes of Conguillio, the striking, snow-capped symmetry of the volcanoes Villarrica and Antuco and the atmospheric ‘ends of the earth’, Tierra del Fuego.

Much of the best walking here is in the excellent network of National Parks, run and coordinated by Conaf.

So, walking, hiking and trekking tours and holidays in Chile are so varied that everyone’s taste and energy levels  can be met. Walking in Chile isn’t just for hard-nuts, although there is plenty to get their juices flowing, and long, tough walking routes abound. With stunning views, ancient landscapes and exhilarating volcano climbs, the lazy and youngsters alike will be enthralled by what it offers:  Chile walking, trekking and hiking holidays and tours really can be for everyone.

See the list below for a (currently incomplete – please give us your recommendations!) list of the best walks, treks and hikes in Chile. Various of these are in our world’s Top 100 list.

Famous walking regions include:

-          Torres del Paine NP, certainly Chile’s most famous hiking area: a variety of wonderful walks                  through an amazing landscape.

-          Villarrica NP has a bit of everything, from peering into a lava-filled crater before glissading down              a volcano, to a tough, multi-day walk through Chile’s borderlands.

-          Huerquehue NP – beautiful, lake-strewn, forested highlands.

-          Laguna del Laja NP, in northern Araucania, offers barren lava fields, lakes and lovely waterfalls.

-          Conguillio NP, a fitting setting for the Walking with Dinosaurs series – jagged peaks, ancient                forests and volcanoes.

-          Cañi Sanctuary – an eco-friendly escape, with wonderful views of nearby volcanoes.

-          Tierra del Fuego, including the windswept, remote Dientes Circuit.

-          Easter Island, home to a vanished civilization and famous for its vast maoi statues.

-          The Juan Fernandez Archipelago – the prototypical desert island of Robinson Crusoe and its                even more remote neighbour, Alejandro Selkirk.

-          Chile owns vast territories in Antarctica, including Mount Vinson – one of the “Seven Summits”.            More to follow on this snowy climb.

 

The sheer length of Chile brings a multitude of climates and makes a generalisation on the best time to visit rather meaningless. Travelling anytime between November and March is usually a good bet for mountain walking, but the peak of summer (December and January) often sees swarms of giant Chilean horse flies (tábanos), which can be a real nuisance.

In winter, the northernmost areas of Chile (in particular, the Atacama) can be at their most pleasant. Further south, however, it’s a different story – the southern Andes and Tierra del Fuego are freezing and inaccessible throughout July and August.

We intend that our walk pages contain detail and photos on walking, hiking or trekking routes, including books, best times and weather, how to get there, possible problems, walking, trekking and hiking firms, organisers and guides in Chile, accommodation in Chile and useful links. But this takes a lot of research, so if they are not "there" yet, please give us any suggestions you may have.

Cochamo Valley 
Cochamo Valley - © Copyright Flickr user Mckaysavage Laguna del Laja NP
Laguna del Laja NP - © Copyright Wikimedia Commons Cyborgsoto Above Laguna Conguillio
Above Laguna Conguillio - Laguna Conguillio© Copyright Flickr user JavierPsilocybin

Best walks, hikes and treks in Chile

You can sort the walks by category by clicking on the category titles.

(The rating of walks marked * is currently provisional.)

Region Walk Name Walkopedia Rating Difficulty Day Walk
Possible?

  Atacama Desert
84*
Variable Yes
  Easter Island
88*
Variable Yes
  Juan Fernandez Islands
85.5*
Variable Yes
 Patagonia Cerro Castillo
86*
Yes
 Patagonia Cochamo Valley
89.5*
Variable No
 Patagonia El Cani Sanctuary
83*
Strenuous No
 Patagonia Torres del Paine / Fitz Roy Massif
92*
Strenuous Yes
 Patagonia: Alerce Andino NP Alerce Andino NP
79*
Variable Yes
 Patagonia: Alerce Andino NP Laguna Fria
79*
Moderate Yes
 Patagonia: Conguillio NP Above Laguna Conguillio
85*
Strenuous Yes
 Patagonia: Conguillio NP Conguillio NP
83*
Variable Yes
 Patagonia: Conguillio NP Laguna Captren
78*
Straightforward Yes
 Patagonia: Conguillio NP Sierra Nevada
85.5*
Strenuous Yes
 Patagonia: Conguillio NP Volcan Llaima
78*
Strenuous Yes
 Patagonia: Huerquehue NP Cerro Quinchol and San Sebastian
84*
Moderate Yes
 Patagonia: Huerquehue NP Huerquehue NP
84*
Variable Yes
 Patagonia: Huerquehue NP Los Lagos/Huerquehue Plateau
84*
Strenuous Yes
 Patagonia: Laguna del Laja NP Laguna del Laja NP
85*
Variable Yes
 Patagonia: Laguna del Laja NP Salto las Chilcas and Salto Torbellino
79*
Straightforward Yes
 Patagonia: Laguna del Laja NP Volcan Antuco
82*
Strenuous Yes
 Patagonia: Laguna del Laja NP Volcan Antuco Circuit
84*
Strenuous Yes
 Patagonia: Torres del Paine NP Lago Pingo
84*
Moderate No
 Patagonia: Torres del Paine NP Torres del Paine
93
Strenuous Yes
 Patagonia: Torres del Paine NP Torres del Paine Lookout
91*
Moderate Yes
 Patagonia: Vicente Perez Rosales NP Petrohue to Refugio Picada
0*
Yes
 Patagonia: Vicente Perez Rosales NP Termas de Callao
81*
Moderate No
 Patagonia: Vicente Perez Rosales NP Vicente Perez Rosales NP
82*
Variable Yes
 Patagonia: Vicente Perez Rosales NP Volcan Osorno
78*
Strenuous No
 Patagonia: Villarrica NP Villarrica NP
85*
Variable Yes
 Patagonia: Villarrica NP Villarrica Traverse
85*
Strenuous No
 Patagonia: Villarrica NP Volcan Villarrica
88*
Strenuous Yes
 Tierra del Fuego Dientes Circuit
84*
Difficult No


Our partners Responsible Travel 

have carefully chosen expeditions 

and holidays around the world.    

Great walking, and much else...

Walkopedia Sponsor

See their site for inspiring ideas

For £50 off your trip, contact them quoting WW50

All material on this website is � Walkopedia Ltd 2008 - 2015, unless specified otherwise.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED