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Outdoor Destinations

5 Best Hikes in Chile

January 5, 2017
Torres-del-Paine

From Patagonia to the Lake District, there are plenty of great hikes for every activity level.

As an avid hiker, I’ve been on trips all over the world, including hiking the Inca Trail in Peru and trekking to Angel Falls in Venezuela. However, for the ultimate hikes, Chile’s long been my favorite South American destination. This long narrow country is home to Patagonia which boasts some of the most beautiful scenery in the world. I pack a few pairs of my Royal Robbins Backcountry Zip N’ Go hiking pants (lightweight, quick drying, and has UPF 50) and I’m ready to hit the trails. Here are five hikes worth exploring.

Torres del Paine National Park

Torres del Paine National Park

Torres del Paine National Park

W route

Hands down my favorite hike. Why? The scenery is simply stunning and this hike can be done in four days. I recommend booking with a reputable tour operator; it’s great to be with a group and their porters will carry the heavy backpacks so you can focus on the trail. The route is so named because the trail resembles a W. On the way, you’ll get amazing views of Lago Grey and Glacier Grey, as well as waterfall views of Valle Francés. The highpoint of the hike is view of both Los Cuernos and Las Torres peaks.

Torres del Paine and Lake Serrano

Torres del Paine and Lake Serrano

Torres del Paine National Park

Circuit route

 If you have more time and want to really explore this amazing national park, do this route. It will take 7-9 days to complete; it’s basically the whole W route, plus it continues on to the back side of Torres del Paine National Park. You’ll sleep in refugios along the way and wake up to stunning views. What makes this hike so fabulous is that in one day, it can be sunny and 80 and in an hour it can be snowing. So not only are you hiking to some of tallest peaks in Chile, but you can experience all four seasons in one day. Make sure to pack your fleece in case it gets chilly.

Sunrise in Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia in Southern Chile. South America

Sunrise in Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia in Southern Chile. South America

The Lake District

The hiking here is great because the scenery is so diverse. Think active volcanoes, lush forests, and, of course, clear-blue lakes. Trekking near Todos los Santos Lake is moderate and great for those intermediate hikers. Tip: After hiking, partake in one of the many other activities for which the area is known: rock climbing, kayaking, and horseback riding.

Todos los Santos Lake

Todos los Santos Lake

El Morado Glacier Trek

If you’re near Santiago this hike is a no-brainer. It’s a great day-trip trek up in the Andes and it will bring you close to this stunning glacier and its pool of floating ice.  Added bonus: it’s also a great spot for birdwatching.

Valparaiso, Chile

Valparaiso, Chile

Urban Hike in Valparaíso

If you only have a few hours and want to stretch your legs while exploring one of Chile’s colorful port cities, then this urban hike is for you (and you can wear everyday pants. Located on the coast, you’ll walk up steep hills to see clifftop homes and amazing architecture. Make sure to stop by the the former home of Chilean poet Pablo Neruda; it’s now a museum and has gorgeous views of the Pacific Ocean.

Related Links:

The 5 Best Kid-Friendly Hikes in the National Parks

Hiking New Zealand’s Great Walks: The Insider’s Way to See the Country

5 Tips for Hiking the Inca Trail

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