Top 5 Best Hikes and Treks in Chile

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Written By Jessica H.

Chile, a long and narrow country stretching along South America’s western edge, offers a vast array of natural landscapes that appeal to every type of adventurer. From the arid Atacama Desert in the north to the dramatic peaks of Patagonia in the south, the country is filled with diverse landscapes perfect for hiking and trekking.The best time to explore Chile’s magnificent trails depends on the region you’re visiting. Generally, the hiking season runs from October to April, when the weather is more favorable. However, some treks can be done year-round, and each season presents its own unique beauty.

Top 5 Hikes in Chile

In this article, we’ve compiled a list of the top five hikes in Chile, offering an unforgettable experience to avid trekkers and casual hikers alike.

1. Torres del Paine “W” CircuitDifficulty and Duratio

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The Torres del Paine “W” Circuit, located in the heart of Chilean Patagonia, is a world-renowned trek. This challenging hike typically takes 4-5 days to complete, covering a distance of approximately 80 kilometers (50 miles).


The “W” Circuit offers a breathtaking journey through the Torres del Paine National Park, featuring the iconic granite towers, turquoise lakes, colossal glaciers, and vast pampas. Some of the trek’s highlights include the base of the Torres del Paine, the French Valley, and the Grey Glacier.

2 . El Chaltén – Mount Fitz RoyDifficulty and Duration

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The El Chaltén – Mount Fitz Roy hike is a moderately difficult trek located in the Argentinean Patagonia, close to the Chilean border. The hike to the base of Mount Fitz Roy can be completed as a day hike, with a round-trip distance of approximately 26 kilometers (16 miles).


This stunning trek offers panoramic views of Mount Fitz Roy and its neighboring peaks, along with beautiful alpine lakes, such as Laguna de los Tres and Laguna Capri. The trail also traverses lush forests and rugged landscapes, making it a must-visit destination for nature lovers.

3. Cochamó Valley Difficulty and Duration

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The Cochamó Valley is famous for its towering granite walls, pristine rivers, and ancient forests. The area offers excellent rock climbing opportunities and a chance to see the magnificent La Junta viewpoint. Hikers can also explore the hidden waterfalls, such as the Tobogán de la Virgen and the Arcoiris Valley with its vibrant rock formations.

4. Villarrica Volcano

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Photo by Ethan Brooke on Pexels

Difficulty and Duration

The Villarrica Volcano hike is a challenging, yet rewarding, ascent to the summit of one of Chile’s most active volcanoes. The climb typically takes one day, covering a distance of approximately 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) round-trip.


During the ascent, hikers are treated to unparalleled views of the surrounding lakes, forests, and the Andean mountain range. Upon reaching the summit, adventurers can peer into the active crater, witnessing the mesmerizing glow of the molten lava below. The descent often includes an exhilarating slide down the snow-covered slopes using a small plastic sled.

5. Atacama Desert Trek

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Photo by Florian Delée on Unsplash

Difficulty and Duration

The Atacama Desert, the driest place on Earth, offers a unique hiking experience for those who dare to explore its arid landscapes. Treks in this region can vary in length and difficulty, with options ranging from short day hikes to multi-day expeditions.


The Atacama Desert boasts an otherworldly terrain, including surreal salt flats, dramatic sand dunes, and peculiar rock formations. Hikers can visit the famous Valle de la Luna, the Salar de Atacama, and the Tatio Geysers. The region is also known for its incredible stargazing opportunities, with clear skies revealing the Milky Way in all its glory.


Chile is a hiker’s paradise, offering a wide variety of trails and treks through its diverse landscapes. From the majestic peaks of Patagonia to the surreal beauty of the Atacama Desert, there is a hike for everyone. Embarking on these adventures will not only provide unforgettable experiences but also allow you to witness the true essence of Chile’s natural wonders.


  1. What should I pack for a hiking trip in Chile? Pack according to the trek’s difficulty and duration, as well as the region’s climate. Essentials include appropriate footwear, layered clothing, rain gear, sun protection, a hat, a map, a compass, a first-aid kit, and plenty of water and snacks.
  2. Do I need a guide for hiking in Chile? While some treks can be completed independently, it’s recommended to hire a local guide for more challenging or remote hikes to ensure safety and a better understanding of the terrain.
  3. Are there any safety concerns when hiking in Chile? Common safety concerns include unpredictable weather, altitude sickness, and the risk of getting lost. Be prepared, follow established trails, and don’t hesitate to turn back if conditions become unsafe.
  4. Is it necessary to have prior hiking experience to explore Chile’s trails? While some treks require a good fitness level and prior hiking experience, there are plenty of trails suitable for beginners and casual hikers.
  5. Do I need a permit to hike in Chile? Some protected areas, like Torres del Paine National Park, require permits and reservations for overnight stays. Always check local regulations and requirements before starting your trek.

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