Explore all our tours to South America here.
I could easily shoot off 101 reasons why I love South America above and beyond every other continent I’ve ever travelled through. No matter where one goes, or at whatever time of year one visits, it’s so easy to find a walk that encompasses the best the continent has to offer, namely pristine wilderness and wildlife galore, coupled with enticing cultural and historical attractions. It’s actually difficult to hone in on the ‘best walks for nature lovers in South America’ because almost every walk – even urban strolls around cities like Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires – combine nature with some amazing aspect of the region’s history. I’ve always been more active in South America than anywhere else and, even not being a super avid hiker, find myself seeking out the best walking trails wherever I go.
If you, like me, love stretching your legs for a day, or two or five, in some of the most magnificent nature of our planet, you’ve come to the right place.
Here are 7 of the best walks in South America for nature lovers
Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, Peru
This world-famous multi-day hike appears, at first glance, to be all about history and ancient cultures. Whilst that may well be the case in some way, as you’ll be retracing the steps of the ancient Incas on the way to the most famous archaeological site in the entire continent, the hike will actually be all about the magnificent nature of the mighty Andes Mountains. This amazing walk has it all: snow-capped peaks, high mountain passes, lush valleys, raging rivers and – as a further reward – some of the most prominent historical sites of all.
See how you can tackle this epic walk on our 7-day Inca Trail Trek to Machu Picchu and discover how to pimp out your journey on our Luxury Trekking To Machu Picchu Tour
Lares Trek to Machu Picchu
The end game of this stunning walk may be the same as above but the experience is altogether different. Why? Because Lares is the less-trodden trail, the one fewer walkers choose, so it’s less-crowded yet offers as many nature-immersed experiences as the Inca Trail. Plus, it’s shorter, cheaper (there are no hefty permits to secure for this walk) and includes more cultural experiences in remote villages along the way. The only catch here is that you won’t reach the famed Sun Gate of the ancient citadel by sunrise on the last day but if that’s not an absolute priority then consider this an excellent alternative. Same awe-inspiring mountainous, same end-reward yet a distinct walk experience for those who love getting off the beaten trail.
Tackle this bad boy on our 7-day Lares Trek Tour to Machu Picchu
La Ciudad Perdida, Colombia
A hidden ancient city lost in the pristine jungles of Colombia – this walk for nature lovers ticks all the right boxes. One of the lesser-known yet most rewarding walks of all, The Lost City Trek immerses you in the heart of a wildlife-enriched national park, a thick and fertile jungle that hides innumerable creatures much as it’s hidden La Ciudad Perdida for centuries. This once-thriving city of the Tayrona people is 500 years older than Machu Picchu but has only been accessible to outsiders in the last decade or so. Undeveloped, underexploited and totally authentic, this hike – much like the city – is absolutely spellbinding. To tackle this walk, you’ll have to make do with simple camping accommodation and a sweltering climate that’s hot and humid. You’ll have plenty of places to refresh along the way, however, all the while soaking up startling views. A truly immersive jungle experience in one of the least-visited corners of South America, and a magnificent treasure of antiquity as your grand finale: the Lost City Trek is the ultimate challenge for nature lovers.
Learn more about this incredible walk and see how we can take you there on a weeklong Lost City Trek Tour
W-Walk, Torres del Paine, Patagonia
i should probably start this off by admitting that the W, in Patagonia’s trekking capital of Torres del Paine, is no mere ‘walk’: this is a hardcore trek that’ll test your endurance. But, in return for all your mighty efforts, you will cast your eyes on some of the region’s most astonishing landscapes. The walk to end all walks, the W is only one of Torres’ many hiking offerings, the one that encompasses several separate sections to bring you the best of Patagonia: wild herds of guanacos and Andean condors as well as glaciers, sky-reaching granite peaks, flower-filled meadows, deeply-carved valleys, glacial lakes and jaw-dropping views at every step.
See how we can guide you every step of the way on our 7-day Guided W-Walk Tour
Laguna Torre Walk, El Chalten, Patagonia
Arresting views of Mt Fitzroy, the queen of the El Chalten ball, are at the forefront of just about every walking trail in Los Glaciares National Park. This glorious maze of glaciers, towering peaks and glistening lakes offers walkers a nearly-endless array of options to stretch their legs and the most classic route, Laguna Torre, is a day-excursion no visitor should miss. It’s an all-day affair (6-8 hours) and, given the harsh climate and elevation, a rather arduous task, but the Torre Mirador is one of the most breath-taking viewpoints in all of Patagonia and well worth the effort. This is by far the most popular walking trail in El Chalten and for very, very valid reasons. Have time (or energy) to only do one walk in El Chalten? Make it this one.
Patagonia is a walker’s paradise – see how you can tackle this along, along so many others, on an unforgettable 27-day Patagonia, Pumalin and Chiloe Tour, the ultimate nature-lover’s odyssey.
Colca Canyon Trek, Arequipa, Peru
Peru’s Colca Canyon is one of the most beautiful in the world (almost twice as deep as the Grand Canyon in the US) and certainly one of Peru’s most incredible natural treasures. Problem is, not too many people visit it. Given its remote location and the long, pothole-ridden road to reach it from Arequipa, the Colca Canyon doesn’t receive nearly as many visitors as Machu Picchu and that’s just great if you’d love a marvel of nature with fewer fellow peeps. Of those who do visit, 99% will simply stand in awe at the rim at sunrise, waiting in anticipation as the resident condors take their first flight of the day. The spectacle is awe-inspiring…but so is the walk to the bottom of the canyon. The Colca Canyon Trek is a wonderful first-timer’s challenge, a great beginning trek if it’s your first time in Peru. Don’t let the canyon depth put you off – the measurement is taken from the highest point but walking trails start about two-thirds of the way down. A 3-day walk will see you follow an uncrowded trail, offering views across the high Andean peaks that frame the canyon the entire way. Plus, you’ll come across picturesque villages that offer homestays so you don’t even need to camp out in a tent if you don’t want to.
Ask us how you can customise a wonderful a 5-day Tour of Arequipa and the Colca Canyon
Chapada Diamantina Trek
Flavio, one of Viva Expedition’s expert guides, recently introduced us to Chapada Diamantina on our recent blog and, this month, has come up with a genius Ace up his sleeve. This magnificent national park is one of Brazil’s (many) hidden treasures, a cosmos of immense natural beauty and fascinating history that’s seemingly unknown to the outside world. Options to walk in this park are numerous, ranging from 3-day tasters to 9-day odysseys, all serving up the spectacular sight of striking rocky cliffs and innumerable caves hiding sapphire-hued lagoons. The park lies on Brazil’s largest deposits of diamonds and gold and the entire mineral-rich region (which is absolutely huge) is a multi-coloured splendour. If you think that Rio, Iguazu Falls, the Amazon and the Pantanal are all there is to know about Brazil, you’ll certainly need to pin Chapada Diamantina on your map.
Ask us about adding hiking days in Chapada Diamantina on our private, tailor-made tours of Brazil
Contact us at Viva Expeditions if you’d love to know more about adding nature-based walks to any of our itineraries.