Watch CBS News

Best Backpacking Trips Through South America

South America is one of the best destinations for a backpacking trip. Everything from the wide open spaces to the jagged peaks of the Andes, with all of its lush landscape and beautiful climate, make South America an exciting option for hikers. During your backpacking adventure you will be able to enjoy amazing scenery, experience the local culture and trek through some of the country's ancient treasures. It is no wonder that so many hikers make plans to go backpacking through South America for their upcoming vacations.
Photo Credit: Thinkstock
La Ciudad Perdida-The Lost City Trek

Starting in Santa Marta, you will be taken on a five-day backpacking adventure through an ancient lost city. La Ciudad Perdida (The Lost City) in Colombia will take you through Machu Picchu, which was built by Tayrona Indians between the 8th and 14th centuries.

In addition to exploring the lost city, you will also see rainforests, walk through streams and wade through rivers on your backpacking adventure. You will definitely be able to experience a little bit of everything Mother Nature has to offer in this region of South America.

Related: Top Tips for Safe Travel Abroad

Santa Cruz Trek

Enjoy the four-day Santa Cruz Trek into the Cordillera Blanca region of the Peruvian Andes from the mountain city of Huaraz. Reaching 4,750 meters in height, this mountain is the highest tropical mountain range in the world. Your adventure will begin with a bus ride to the tiny village of Cashapampa, which is nestled in the foothills. Most of the walking will be in the morning hours and will last approximately five to six hours.

During the Santa Cruz Trek you will see blue glacial lakes and be able to catch a glimpse of Huascaran, which is the highest mountain in the Andes. The best time to enjoy the Santa Cruz Trek is during the months of April through September.

Related: Tips for Traveling Alone Safely

Photo Credit: Thinkstock
Salkantay – Machu Picchu Trek

A popular backpacking adventure amongst those who make the rounds of all the different South American treks is the Salkantay – Machu Picchu Trek. You will be in the heart of diverse and beautiful landscapes as you enjoy this six-day trek. Sites you will see along the way include forests, hilly terrains, snow (during the winter months), tropical rainforests and an array of wildlife, including bright colored, squawking parrots. On the final day you will trek into Machu Picchu where you will see the sun rise over the lost city.

This trek is named after the Salkantay Peak, which rises more than 6,500 meters in the Cordillera Vilcabamba. The best time to experience the Salkantay – Machu Picchu Trek is during the months of April through September.

Valley Of The Volcanoes

An easy backpacking adventure that is perfect for beginners is the Valley of the Volcanoes. This three-day trek offers an introduction to the stunning Avenue of the Volcanoes in Ecuador. During the trek you will be taken to the highest active volcano in the world. On your way there you will be surrounded by various peaks and parkland. Other activities while backpacking through the Valley of Volcanoes include visiting Quilotoa Crater Lake, seeing Tungurahua (Ecuador's most active volcano) and Chimborazo National Park, which is the tallest peak in Ecuador.

Photo Credit: Thinkstock
Summiting Huayna Potosi

One of the more difficult backpacking adventures is summiting Huayna Potosi, a mountain in Bolivia. This trek departs from the city of La Paz in Bolivia. Over two days you will climb more than 6,000 meters. Some backpackers have experienced altitude sickness during this adventure. However, that does not mean you should not do it. If you have the energy, strength and ability, this backpacking trek is definitely one you should try. Once at the top of the mountain you will have a 360 degree view of Lake Titicaca, La Paz and Cordillera Real.

There are many different backpacking adventures you can enjoy while visiting South America, all of which have varying degrees of difficulty. Everyone from first timers to experienced backpackers will find an adventure within their skill levels. But no matter which trek you choose, you will be surrounded by breathtaking landscapes, unique wildlife and historical sites along the way.

Heather Landon is a freelance writer with more than 20 years of experience. She has combined two of her passions - writing and travel - to share her experiences with others. You can read more of her articles at
View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.