A country to which superlatives can do no justice, Chile is probably my favourite place on earth for hiking and trekking.

With virtually all the world's landscapes packed into one slender stretch of land, the scenery oscillates between arid desert, tropical islands, and piercing mountains, volcanoes and glacial lakes; of which a whopping 21% is protected by law.

And, with much of Chile’s natural areas unspoiled by roads or heavy infrastructure, the best way to explore – the only way, in my view – is by foot.

I’ve been travelling to Chile for eight years as a travel journalist and guidebook author. In my three years living in the country and multiple visits since, I’ve explored pretty much every key hiking destination and have been bowled over by both the beauty of the landscapes but also the general accessibility of the hiking.

Sure, Patagonia and Torres del Paine are well known for their flagship multi-day treks, but beyond that the hiking in Chile is relatively straightforward. You won’t find any extreme, high-altitude expeditions here as with other trekking heavyweights like Peru or Nepal. In many places, Chile is more about day hikes and more gentle walking holidays. You certainly don’t need to sign up for a mega trek to enjoy what the country has to offer.

Ready to go? Here's my essential guide to trekking, hiking and trekking in Chile.

Where to go hiking in Chile

Our experts' top picks

The best treks and hikes in Chile

Chile's most popular – and some lesser-known – treks

Steph Dyson
By Steph Dyson

If you're going trekking or hiking in Chile, chances are you'll be heading to Torres del Paine. The blockbuster national park deserves its fame, but it's far from the only show in town. Here are a few other treks and hikes that I'd highly recommend:

Cerro Castillo National Park

Cerro Castillo Traverse

By HorizonGuides
  • Distance: Approx. 31.6 miles (51 km)
  • Duration: Three to four days
  • Start and end point: Villa Cerro Castillo
  • Difficulty: Stenuous

The Cerro Castillo Traverse is a multi-day trek, typically completed over three to four days. The route is moderate to challenging, with some steep ascents and descents, and it is often compared to the more famous W-trek in Torres del Paine National Park, but with fewer crowds.

The trail takes you through diverse landscapes, including old-growth forests, rivers, glacial lakes, and vast moraines. One of the main highlights is the view of Cerro Castillo's glaciated peak, particularly stunning from the vantage point of the glacial lake at the base of the mountain.

The trek involves a combination of camping and hiking, with designated campsites along the route. These campsites are basic and do not offer amenities like food or gear rental, so hikers need to be fully self-sufficient and carry all necessary equipment and supplies.

The trail is relatively well-marked, but it's still recommended to carry a map and compass (and know how to use them). Always register with park authorities before starting the trek, and let someone know your plans.

Torres del Paine National Park

Torres del Paine Full Circuit

Rudolf Abraham
By Rudolf Abraham
  • Distance: Approx. 75 miles (120 km)
  • Duration: Eight to ten days
  • Start/end point: Amarga Lagoon ranger station
  • Difficulty: Strenuous

Despite the huge number of visitors, and Chile’s insistence on building a large number of lodges as well as luxury hotels within the national park, I still consider this one of the most breathtakingly beautiful hikes on the planet.

If your hiking boots demand more, this is the trek for you. You’ll spend days with rivers, glaciers, mountains, and take in wild, rugged views which stretch out as far as you can see. The Full Circuit makes its way around the entire Paine Massif, taking in the same highlights as the W Trek – plus so much more.

Chiloé Island

Sendero Transversal trek

By HorizonGuides
  • Distance: Approx. 32 miles (52 km)
  • Duration: Five to seven days
  • Start and end point: Vizcachas Trailhead, Parque Tantauco
  • Difficulty: Moderate

Parque Tantauco is a large private nature reserve in the southern part of Chiloé Island. Its 118,000 hectares are home to rich biodiversity and significant conservation areas, which include unique ecosystems of cold rainforests, peat bogs, and a variety of endemic and threatened species.

The Sendero Transversal, or Transversal Trail runs from the northern sector of the park (Renihue) to the southernmost part (Inío).

The trail traverses dense forests to stunning coastline. Along the way, there are numerous camping areas and shelters. These amenities are basic, and you'll need to carry all your necessary supplies, including food and camping gear.

Conguillío National Park

Sendero Sierra Nevada day hike

By HorizonGuides
  • Distance: Approx. seven miles (11 km)
  • Duration: Five hours
  • Start and end point: Conguillío National Park entrance
  • Difficulty: Mild

The Sendero Sierra Nevada is a popular day hike within Conguillío National Park and is considered one of Chile’s most beautiful hikes.

With a bit of luck, you might spot species such as the Magellanic Woodpecker or even the elusive Pudu, the smallest deer in the world.

The main highlight of the hike, however, is the panorama from the Sierra Nevada Lookout: breathtaking views of the park, including the Llaima Volcano, Lake Conguillío, and the surrounding araucaria forest.

Puerto Río Tranquilo

Exploradores Glacier day hike

By HorizonGuides
  • Distance: Approximately 7 miles (11 km) round trip
  • Duration: Six hours
  • Start and end point: Puerto Río Tranquilo
  • Difficulty: Mild

The Exploradores Glacier day hike is a fantastic experience if you're in the Aysén region of Chilean Patagonia.

The trail is located in the vicinity of Puerto Río Tranquilo, a small town known primarily for its proximity to the stunning Marble Caves. However, the opportunity to get up close to a glacier makes the Exploradores Valley a noteworthy destination in its own right.

This trail leads you to the viewpoint of the Northern Ice Field and the Exploradores Glacier, a part of the massive Patagonian Ice Fields.

The trek starts off easy, meandering through a forest, but gets progressively more difficult as it ascends through moraines and rock fields. The last section requires walking on the glacier itself, which demands special gear like crampons, and in some cases, ropes and ice axes.

From the viewpoint, the sight of the Exploradores Glacier is a stunning spectacle, with its immense wall of ice surrounded by sharp peaks. On a clear day, you may also be able to spot Mount San Valentín, the tallest peak in Patagonia.

Easter Island (Rapa Nui)

North Coast Trail day hike

By HorizonGuides
  • Distance: Approx. 11 miles (18 km)
  • Duration: Six to seven hours
  • Start and end point: Tahai to Anakena beach
  • Difficulty: Mild

This is a spectacular but challenging trek along the remote and rugged northern coast of Rapa Nui.

The route begins at the Tahai Ceremonial Complex, which is within walking distance from Hanga Roa, the island's only town. Tahai hosts three significant ahu, or ceremonial platforms, featuring restored moai statues—a breathtaking sight at sunrise or sunset.

From Tahai, the trail takes you along the coast, passing some important archaeological sites including Ahu Tepeu and Ahu Akivi, the latter of which is unique for its seven inward-facing moai. Further along the path, you'll encounter Puna Pau, a small crater that served as the source for the red scoria stone used to carve the moai's topknots, or pukaos.

The hike also provides the chance to see other intriguing sights, such as fallen moai, petroglyphs, and caves. You'll walk through varying landscapes, from rugged coastline to rolling pastures, occasionally encountering wild horses.

The final stretch of the hike brings you to the beautiful Anakena Beach, one of only two sandy beaches on the island. Anakena is also home to the Nau Nau ceremonial platform, with some of the best-preserved moai on the island. From here you’ll take a road transfer back to Hanga Roa – this must be pre-arranged in advance!

Huerquehue National Park

Sendero Quinchol day hike

By HorizonGuides
  • Distance: Approx. 14 km
  • Duration: Seven to eight hours
  • Start and end point: Park entrance
  • Difficulty: Mild

Huerquehue National Park, in the Araucanía Region of Chile, is known for its ancient forests, stunning lakes, and beautiful mountain vistas. This park is famous for its Araucaria (Monkey Puzzle) trees, some of which are over 1,000 years old.

The Sendero Quinchol is one of the main trekking trails in Huerquehue National Park. The route begins at the park entrance and climbs through beautiful native forest until you reach the Quinchol lookout. From there, you have a stunning panoramic view of the park, including the Villarrica Volcano and Tinquilco and Verde Lakes. You'll also see the Pucón Valley and other smaller lagoons.

The San Sebastián Extension is an additional trail connected to the Sendero Quinchol. This extension leads to the San Sebastián peak and provides an even more spectacular view, including sights of the three volcanoes: Villarrica, Quetrupillan, and Lanin. The entire hike, including the extension, can take around seven to eight hours to complete.

It’s a great choice for more experienced hikers seeking an all-day adventure with rewarding views. However, less experienced hikers might find it quite challenging due to the distance and the steep ascent to the peak. As always, consider your physical fitness, experience, and comfort with navigation when deciding to undertake this hike.

Pumalín Douglas Tompkins National Park

Volcán Chaitén day hike

By HorizonGuides
  • Distance: Approx. three miles (4.8 km) round trip
  • Duration: Two to three hours
  • Start and end point: Chaiten Volcano trailhead
  • Difficulty: Mild

The Volcán Chaitén trail in Pumalín Douglas Tompkins National Park is an absolutely stunning hike.

The Volcán Chaitén is a volcano situated within the boundaries of the park, and it famously erupted in 2008 after being dormant for over 9,000 years. The eruption dramatically reshaped the surrounding landscape and the hike gives you a firsthand look at nature's powerful processes.

The trail to the volcano's rim generally takes about two to three hours to complete depending on your pace. It's a steep ascent, often over rough volcanic terrain, so it can be challenging, but the view from the top is worth every bit of effort.

From the top, you can see the resurgent lava dome in the centre of the crater, an impressive testament to the volcano's most recent eruption. There are also panoramic views of the surrounding valleys and forests, some still showing the effects of the 2008 eruption.

Puerto Williams

Dientes de Navarino trek

By HorizonGuides
  • Distance: Approx. 28 miles (45 km)
  • Duration: Six days
  • Start and end point: Puerto Williams
  • Difficulty: Strenuous

The Dientes de Navarino trek is one of the southernmost treks in the world, departing from the town of Puerto Williams on Navarino Island in Chilean Tierra del Fuego. It's renowned for its rugged beauty, remoteness, and the spectacular, tooth-like peaks that give the trail its name - "Dientes" means "teeth" in Spanish.

The hike is a circular route that takes you through untouched Magellanic forests, over mountain passes, past beautiful lakes, and gives you stunning panoramic views of the Beagle Channel and Cape Horn.

The trek involves multiple steep ascents and descents, and the trail often involves hiking over rocky, uneven terrain. Additionally, the region's weather can be extreme and change rapidly, with strong winds, rain, and even snow possible, even in the summer months.

Patagonia National Park

Lagunas Altas Loop

By HorizonGuides
  • Distance: Approx. 13 miles (21 km)
  • Duration: Eight to ten hours
  • Start and end point: Valle Avilés
  • Difficulty: Moderate

The trail is approximately 21 kilometres long and takes about 8-10 hours to complete, making it a challenging but achievable day hike for those with good physical fitness. If you prefer a slower pace or wish to fully enjoy the experience, you can turn it into an overnight trek as there's a designated camping area along the route.

The Lagunas Altas Loop is so named because it takes you past several high-altitude lagoons, offering beautiful views and opportunities to observe local wildlife. It's a moderate-to-difficult hike with some steep ascents and descents, but the rewards are incredible panoramic views of the park, including vistas of the Chacabuco Valley and the distant Jeinimeni and Tamango ranges.

The trail starts and ends at the park's visitor centre, and along the way, you'll traverse through lenga forests, alpine meadows, and rocky landscapes. One of the highlights is the view of the Avilés River, which carved the stunningly beautiful Avilés Valley.


The Atacama Desert is one of Chile's preeminent hiking locations

Planning a Chile trek

Everything you wish you’d known before booking

Don’t just follow the crowds

Parts of Chile, like many places around the world, have become a victim of their own tourism successes. Interest in Torres del Paine far outstrips any of Chile’s other marvellous hiking locations, and so the mainstream travel industry has focused on marketing this one place at the expense of virtually everywhere else. As a result, Torres del Paine can sometimes feel like it’s bursting at the seams with hikers.

My standout piece of advice to anyone visiting Chile is to look further afield, especially if you’re more interested in solitude and crowd-free campsites than bragging rights. Yes, Torres del Paine deserves its fame, but there are plenty of incredible alternatives which get a fraction of the visitors.

I found the scenery along the Carretera Austral – with its 1,000-year-old alerce trees, wildlife-packed temperate rainforests and glut of glacier-wrapped mountains – more than comparable with Patagonia’s more famous national park.

The Lakes District and Chiloé – one of my favourite parts of Chile – showcase the country’s epic scenery just as well, but without the peak season crowds.

Then there’s Cerro Castillo National Park, which has been billed as the “new Torres del Paine” for its similarities minus the blockbuster popularity.

Treks vs hikes vs walking holidays

Chile is rare in that it is marketed as a destination for both trekking and walking holidays. There are true multi-day treks in Torres del Paine, Parque Tantauco and elsewhere in Patagonia, and countless day hikes across the entirety of the country. Most of these day hikes can be done solo, while in the more popular tourism regions such as Atacama and the Lakes District you can book onto guided hiking tours.

Finally, lots of companies run walking holidays to Chile. These tours are typically run as “multi-centre” tours. You’ll visit several different locations and do guided day hikes and walks at each place, with off days and other activities programmed into the itinerary. Organised self-guided walking holidays aren’t common in Chile.

Chile hiking & trekking FAQs

Your questions, our expert answers


When is the best time to go trekking and hiking in Chile? Is it year-round? What are the best and worst months?


Because of its southerly latitude, Patagonia has a relatively short trekking season, with trails opening around September and closing late April—although this is typically weather dependent. Most visitors head to the national parks along the Carretera Austral and in Southern Patagonia during the Austral summer (between the months of December and February).

However, the climate in Patagonia is famously unpredictable and four seasons’ weather can be experienced in an afternoon—even during the height of summer. My usual advice is to travel during the shoulder seasons either side of Austral summer. While you can’t guarantee the weather from September through early November and late March through the end of April, you can expect to share trails with far fewer visitors.

For the Lakes District heading north, national parks are typically open year-round, although heavy rains and snow can close trails between June and August.

Steph Dyson
Answered by Steph Dyson

Are there any less popular alternatives to Torres del Paine for multi-day trekking?


Most national parks in Chile have multi-day hiking trails, however, none have the same tourism services as found in Torres del Paine. As a result, they’re far quieter and more likely to fulfil the vision of trekking in remote, untouched places.

Sendero Transversal in Chiloé’s Parque Tantauco is a great alternative to Torres del Paine National Park. The scenery couldn’t be more different: set within the thick, damp Valdivian temperate rainforests, this trail won’t show you mountains, but you will encounter 2,000-year-old forests and—if you’re lucky— rare, endemic species of pudú and Darwin’s frog.

Alternatively, experienced trekkers armed with GPS and lightweight camping gear will find the five-day Dientes de Navarino trek a welcome challenge. Circumnavigating the toothy Dientes de Navarino mountains as it strikes out across the otherwise inaccessible interior of Patagonia’s Isla Navarino, it’s the southernmost trek in the world—and promises staggering views and bog tramping in equal measures.

Steph Dyson
Answered by Steph Dyson

Where's your favourite place to hike in Chile?


Southern Patagonia and, primarily, Torres del Paine, are Chile’s most renowned trekking destinations. However, my favourite places are the national parks that run along Ruta 7, or the Carretera Austral.

Wedged between the Andes Mountains in the east and the Chilean fjords in the west, this remote road winds between what I consider some of Chile’s most beautiful national parks:

Add in the fact that it receives far fewer visitors than those in Southern Patagonia—while still serving up a range of volcanoes, glaciers and rare wildlife—and the Carretera Austral is the true Patagonia hiking mecca.

Steph Dyson
Answered by Steph Dyson

Can you go solo trekking in Chile without a guide?


Most day hikes in Chile’s national parks are possible without a guide. Similarly, routes such as the W and O treks in Torres del Paine National Park, the Cerro Castillo Traverse and the Sendero Transversal in Parque Tantauco can be trekked independently. More extreme routes, such as the Dientes de Navarino on Isla Navarino, and the Aconcagua Summit are best hiked with a local expedition company.

Unfortunately, I’ve experienced first-hand how trails are often poorly marked, a legacy of the considerable underfunding of the national parks governing body, CONAF. Reliable maps are also few and far between, with the best available at the entrances to national. Outdoor hotspots such as Pucón, Puerto Varas and Puerto Natales sometimes have more accurate third-party maps available for purchase, while the free app works without an internet connection and has been my go-to resource.

For most national parks you now need to book a ticket in advance through the official—and irritatingly glitchy—booking website. You’ll receive a QR code confirming your booking; download this when you’ve got internet access. Many national parks have little to no phone coverage.

Steph Dyson
Answered by Steph Dyson

Is Chile safe? How about for solo female travellers?


Chile, as a rule, is a safe place to travel, although increasing levels of crime in the capital, Santiago, means it’s worth taking common sense precautions. However, once you get out into the national parks, the biggest consideration is getting hold of a map, as trails can sometimes be poorly marked and difficult to follow.

Many of the more intrepid multi-day paths are not for inexperienced hikers. There is a serious risk of getting lost—or worse—without GPS, good-quality camping equipment and enough food and water to ride out a couple of days if you end up stuck in inclement weather conditions.

Women can hike alone in Chile, particularly on routes such as the W Trek and in national parks such as Huerquehue that have plenty of visitors. For other destinations, it’s better to hike with a partner, regardless of your gender, because routes are remote and it can be difficult to get assistance if you become injured.

Steph Dyson
Answered by Steph Dyson

What camping and trekking gear can I rent?


Camping equipment, including rucksacks, tents, stoves, hiking poles and sleeping bags are available to rent in a couple of key locations, including Santiago, Puerto Varas, Coyhaique and Puerto Natales. Outside of these places, it’s possible to buy trekking gear but I’ve found it can cost at least double what you’d pay to buy similar equipment back home.

Steph Dyson
Answered by Steph Dyson

Is altitude sickness a problem while trekking in Chile?


Surprisingly, given that the Andes Mountains trace the western edge of Chile from tip to toe, trekking elevations are rarely higher than 1,200 metres. Altitude sickness is therefore not an issue in Chile. The only exception is the Aconcagua Summit trek, where you reach 6,961 metres above sea level at the top.

Steph Dyson
Answered by Steph Dyson

In this guide

About the author

Hiking & Trekking In Chile

Steph Dyson

Steph Dyson is a freelance travel journalist and guidebook author. She specialises in adventure travel to Chile and South America. She spent three years living in Santiago and writes for Moon Guides, Rough Guides, DK Eyewitness Guides, The Independent,, CNN, Time Out, as well as her own South America travel site, Worldly Adventurer.

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