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Hiking - Activity Info. - Chile

The phenomenal diversity of landscapes, climates, and flora and fauna in each region makes Chile a very popular trekking destination. While there’s ample terrain to explore, with glaciers, hot springs, forests and volcanoes, trails outside of national parks and reserves are often lacking in signage and upkeep. Chile offers countless day and multi-day excursions to suit every hiker, from the greenest to the most expert. On overnight or lengthy trips, you can bunk down in everything from campgrounds to refugios, trail huts and even five-star lodges. It’s possible to hike most of Chile year-round, though you may find yourself mired in snow and mud in winter. The most popular trails can get crowded in the high season, so you might want to plan your trekking around those times. However, avoid veering off the beaten path alone just for the sake of getting away, particularly if you are a novice hiker. Stick to the marked trails or hire a local guide.

 

Chile will soon be home to the world’s longest network of trails, with 8,500 kilometers of paths spanning the length of the country, from the Peruvian border to Cape Horn. This massive undertaking, initiated by the independent foundation Sendero de Chile, aims to connect existing trails by 2010 and to promote ecology and rural culture.

 

Norte

The northern altiplano features otherworldly landscapes to explore, including the striking Atacama desert, the Valle de la Luna—one of the most desolate places on earth, the Valle de la Muerte with its curious rock formations, and the geyser fields of El Tatio. Legging it along the coast, you'll find yourself enveloped in morning fog, surrounded by cacti, bulbous, centenarian llareta plants, and, further south, cinnamon trees in Parque Nacional Fray Jorge. Near Copiápo, Parque Nacional Nevado Tres Cruces and Ojos del Salado— the highest active volcano in Chile, (6,893 m / 22,615 ft) both offer good hikes and sights.

 

Central Valley

Go coastal and trek in soaring temperatures, or head east of Santiago and ascend the highest peaks in the Andean Cordillera. The river valley of Cajón del Maipo is only an hour and a half away from the capital, while the commanding El Morado stands 5,060 meters (16,596 ft) above sea level in a national reserve filled with hummingbirds, cometocino and thrushes. Parque Nacional La Campana, situated between Santiago and Valparaíso is a rising star, and worth visiting before its trails become over-run. The Altos de Lircay, a national reserve featuring a swarm of rivers, gorges and archaeological sites, is also worth a trip.

The Lake District

The Lake District in southern Chile has a wealth of hiking trails. In Parque Nacional Nahuelbuta you will find the bizarre araucaria, or monkey-puzzle tree. Parque Pumalin has plenty of meandering paths through the rainforest, where many newly developed trails lead to awesome viewpoints. El Monumento Natural Cerro Ñielol, the country´s only protected forest within an urban center, Temuco, has many hiking trails worth exploring. The large number of unmaintained trails in the region, combined with rapid forest growth, means that footpaths tend to disappear over several years.

Southern Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego

There are a mind-boggling number of hikes in Patagonia, from the 5-day circuit to Los Dientes de Navarino to the trails crisscrossing Tierra del Fuego. The most acclaimed trekking destination in Chile is Parque Nacional Torres del Paine. Its network of trails is set against a backdrop of majestic glaciers, turquoise lakes, and of course the three famous basalt spires known as “cuernos.” Because of the park’s popularity, its main path, the “W” is swamped by hikers in the summer months, but you can always walk along secondary trails to escape the crowds.

Pacific Islands

Parque Nacional Rapa Nui on Easter Island offers pristine hiking to those who can afford the trip out. Thousands of kilometers from the mainland, the island is home to spellbinding greenery and archaeological mysteries. The islands comprising Archipiélago Juan Fernández belong to a national park and UNESCO world biosphere reserve, and are another remote hiking destination blessed with a unique ecosystem.

Activity Info.

Here are some related tips to help plan your trip to Chile: Curicó activities, Radal Siete Tazas, Lago Vichuquén, Observatorio Callowara, Museums in Chile, Los Ojos del Caburga waterfalls, Climbing, Plaza de Armas, Parque Natural Dos Rios and Villarrica volcano.





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