Chile is one of the world’s favorite hiking destinations, because of the incredible routes the country possesses from north to south. Although it was not easy to choose, together with @jesuossandon and @mapascompass – authors of Guías de Trekking por Chile y Santiago (Trekking Guides for Chile and Santiago) from @columbia_chile –, we have made a selection of the best trails to hike and enjoy throughout Chile this summer.
PAN DE AZÚCAR NATIONAL PARK
This park covers part of the Atacama and Antofagasta regions. It is located in a desert environment, characterized by its wide variety of cactus species and abundant endemic marine and land flora and fauna. For those who are starting out in the world of trekking, El Mirador is an excellent challenge; the 5 km trail takes you to a viewpoint on top of a cliff with spectacular views of Pan de Azúcar Island and its surrounding area. There is also the option of hiking the similarly intense Las Lomitas trail, where you walk along small hills crowned with large cacti and different colors typical of the desert landscape.
Time: 3 to 4 hours roundtrip each trail.
LAGUNA LOS PATOS
Located in the Valle del Yeso Park in Cajón de Maipo, this lagoon is characterized by its crystalline waters and its position in the middle of the Andes Mountain range, almost on the border with Argentina. The extensive valley and its rocks are of unique geological importance; they contain a great geodiversity that ranges from Jurassic rocks of marine origin to volcanic rocks. The entire route stays above 3,000 meters above sea level (masl). And after the walk? The well-deserved prize of a thermal bath in Termas del Plomo hot springs, right where the trail begins. But look out! You have to be well-hydrated and walk at a leisurely pace due to the altitude.
Time: 4 hours roundtrip.
An emblematic summit near Santiago, sitting at 4,180 masl. It forms part of a mountain range with Cerro El Plomo, Cerro Leonera, Cerro Altar and Cerro Littoria, and is accessed via the La Parva Ski Center. We recommend going between November and April due to the weather, and also because the cable car that leaves you at Laguna Piuquenes – where the trail begins – is open during those months. Being a high-mountain trail, you have to hydrate well and take warm clothing.
Time: 5 to 6 hours roundtrip.
Pichillancahue means “small place of green stones” in the Mapuche Mapudungun language, and it is one of the “secret” trails offered by the Villarrica National Park. It lies inside the park, on the east side of the Villarrica Volcano, and takes you to a glacier covered by volcanic ash, known as Turbio Glacier. The trail starts in a forest of native lenga, araucaria and coihue trees, and offers spectacular views of four volcanoes: Villarrica; Quetrupillán; Lanín; and Mocho Choshuenco.
Time: 2 to 3 hours roundtrip.
RUTA DE LOS JESUITAS TRAVERSE
This traverse is located in the Vicente Pérez Rosales National Park, one of the biggest in Chile. The route dazzles for its surroundings, its abundant Valdivian Rainforest and the hot springs found in the middle of the trail, as well as impressive views of the Osorno, Puntiagudo and Tronador Volcanoes. You can find cabins to sleep in on the route, and bread and cheese is also sold in some sectors. It starts at Lake Todos los Santos and ends at Lake Rupanco.
Time: 3 to 4 days.
EL CAÑI SANCTUARY
This reserve, one of the first private protected areas in Chile, is located 21 km from Pucón. It is mainly dedicated to the conservation of Araucaria forests, one of the oldest species in the region. The reserve contains 12 lagoons of volcanic origin, some of which can be seen along the trail, including from its final viewpoint, Melidekiñ. It is called a sanctuary because the area is known to possess a very powerful and unique energy. It can be walked in a day or with a night of camping.
Time: 6 to 7 hours roundtrip or 2 days, depending if you want to do it in one day or camp.
Located in the south of Chiloé Island, Tantauco is one of the best developed private conservation areas in Chile. This park attracts people for its unspoiled nature, its beautiful white sand beaches and its warm lakes. It also has excellent infrastructure that will surprise visitors. The park offers hikes of one, two, five and eight days. The last two trails end in Caleta Inío, located at the southern tip of the island, which can only be reached by trail or boat.
Time: from 1 to 8 days, depending on the trail chosen.
CERRO CASTILLO TRAVERSE
This park is increasingly competing with Torres del Paine, and is a shorter alternative to appreciate the wild landscapes of Chilean Patagonia. Its name relates to the majestic face of the mountain’s summit. The route advances between native lenga and ñire forests with views of Cerro Castillo, milky calypso green lagoons and imposing glaciers. The Ibáñez and Turbio Rivers accompany the trail, which offers a variety of landscapes that leave countless hikers and amateur photographers spellbound. It is also known for being a great huemul deer sighting spot. Located in the province of Coyhaique, it has been classified as one of the most beautiful routes in Chile.
Time: 4 days.
To discover more trails and get more information, visit @guiadetrekking.
Para descubrir más senderos y obtener más información: @guiadetrekking.
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