There’s a special bond that develops between a trekker and their boots. It starts the moment you take them out of the box and continues long after you lace them up for that final day on the track. Whether you’re following the well-worn paths of the Inca Trail or discovering new twists and turns along Colombia’s Cocora Valley, each step imprints another memory on your sole. By the time you’ve finished the trek your boots will have more stories to tell than a porter on the Inca Trail. The frayed laces and worn-out soles serve as a reminder of your time on the track. If it wasn’t so weird you’d put them in a glass display box in the living room.

 

Inca Trail & Quarry Trek - Peru

Classic Inca Trail

With its spectacular natural scenery and profound cultural encounters, the Inca Trail is an international beacon for trekking. Attracting thousands of hikers each year, it's a challenging yet rewarding hike that stays with you for a lifetime. Although rated moderate, the relentless uphill (and downhill) hiking is tough. Rule of thumb: the fitter you are, the more you’ll enjoy it.

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Inca Quarry Trail

For an impressive hike off the beaten path, consider the Inca Quarry Trail. This lesser known trek offers the same magical scenery of the Andes mountains, passing through local villages and visiting three smaller archaeological sites the other trails don’t. Another bonus is that the hike doesn’t require a permit – so once you book, you’re set.

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Choquequirao Trail

Take your boots further with a challenging eight-day hike moving through high-altitude cloud forest, over mega mountain passes and along an ancient trail leading to the well-preserved Inca city ruins of Choquequirao. Think secluded and not for the faint hearted.

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When to go

First, you should know the both Inca Trail is closed in February for repairs so the Quarry trek is the only option. The Inca will reopen in March, but this is the tail end of rainy season. May to September is your best bet, because conditions are generally dry and sunny (although the nights are still freezing). Tourists flock to the Festival of the Sun (Inti Raymi) at the end of June. The start of November is usually quiet, and you can still get some good trekking in before the rainy season start.

Trip Name Days From CHF
Inca Trail Express

7

CHF 1,053

Sacred Land of the Incas

15

CHF 2,686

Inca Trail

8

CHF 1,422

Inca Trail & Amazon

12

CHF 2,630

Galapagos & Inca Trail Adventure

17

CHF 4,839

Essential Peru

21

CHF 2,095

Cocora Valley, Colombia

If you’re looking for a laidback option then a one-day trek through Colombia’s Valle de Cocora is the choice for you. Expect a few uphill battles and some muddy patches, but it’s mostly smooth sailing for the duration of your 7 hours together. The well-marked trail takes you past lush cloud forest and a river before arriving at a clearing filled with hundreds of soaring wax palms.

When to go

Being so close to the equator with high altitudes means you’ll get fairly warm, even temperatures all year round. However, you are in a cloud forest so prepare to get wet (and muddy). Colombia’s dry season is December to March, with wet seasons throughout April to June and again in October and November.

Trip Name Days From CHF
Cafe Colombia

9

CHF 1,930

Cycle Colombia

8

CHF 2,320

Real Colombia
Ages 18 to 29

12

CHF 1,440

Quito to Cartagena

19

CHF 1,859

Cartagena to Quito

19

CHF 1,769

W Trek, Torres del Paine, Patagonia, Chile

Don’t be fooled by the stunning pictures, this trek is more than just a pretty face. Over 4 days you’ll be put through your paces in order to reach highlights such as Grey Glacier, French Valley and Mirador de las Torres. Along the way you’ll be awed by scenery including alpine lakes, waterfalls, glaciers and mountains. Share humble dinners of chicken and pasta before falling asleep in a tent under the stars.

When to go

The weather in Patagonia is fairly unpredictable and it’s not uncommon to get wind, sun, rain and snow all in one day. As a rough guide, you’ll get plenty of warm sunny days from November to March (end of spring until end of summer). However, prepare for winds of up to 100 km/h. March to June is autumn and winter runs from June to August. In theory, you could trek here at any time of the year. Winter is less windy than summer, and autumn brings with it plenty of colour.

Trip Name Days From CHF
Patagonia Wilderness

15

CHF 4,750

Patagonia Trekking

10

CHF 3,480

Santiago to Buenos Aires via Ushuaia

34

CHF 4,088

Santiago to Ushuaia

23

CHF 3,258

El Chalten, Glacier National Park, Patagonia

Day treks from El Chalten are perfect for those not wanting a long-term commitment. They’re short and sweet, without crossing any tricky terrain and you don’t need to worry about overnight stay at the end. Over a couple of days you can hike to both Laguna de los Tres and Laguna Las Torres, heading back to El Chalten each night for a beer from the town’s microbrewery.

When to go

Expect a fairly similar climate to the Torres del Paine, but a lot colder. From late December to early February you’ll get the southern summer, with long daylight hours and plenty of sun. The winds can be intense though, reaching up to 100 km/h. The southern winter (June to September) has very short days and the temperature can get down to around -4 degrees celsius.

Trip Name Days From CHF
Patagonia Wilderness

15

CHF 4,750

Patagonia Trekking

10

CHF 3,480

Highlights & Gems of Patagonia

14

CHF 4,110

Highlights of Patagonia

8

CHF 2,770

Perito Moreno Glacier

3

CHF 272

Santiago to Ushuaia

23

CHF 3,258

 

Patagonia Trekking - Mendoza

Trip Name Days From CHF
Argentina Expedition: Aconcagua Base & Mt Bonete

10

CHF 2,574

Argentina Expedition: Trek Mendoza & the Valley of Tears

8

CHF 2,065

 

Machu Picchu trekking

Trip Name Days From CHF
Choquequirao trek to Machu Picchu

13

CHF 1,865

 

Training guide

Gear

Invest in a good-quality set of hiking boots, preferably water resistant ones with plenty of support and ventilation. Wear them in the months leading up to the trek to wear them in and avoid blisters. Next, buy some dedicated hiking socks (usually a nylon/wool blend) that will keep out the moisture. Wear two pairs while walking to further reduce the chance of blisters. Other essentials include a daypack, sunscreen and sunglasses, water bottle and a head torch.

Altitude

It doesn’t matter how young, old, fit or flexible you are, hiking in altitude can affect everyone. Hiking as often as possible before your trek (at higher altitudes if possible) will help train your heart and lungs for altitude. On the trail, keep hydrated and avoid alcohol as dehydration can make altitude sickness worse. Even if you’re not hungry, try to keep eating as you burn more calories when you’re up high (even while resting).

For more detail on side affects and management of altitude sickness, see: Read more on altitude sickness

Fitness

The best way to prepare for a long walk is… by going on long walks. Simple, huh? Start small and build up to the actual length of your trek. Focus on some leg-based cardio like cycling, weighted squats and lunging to build muscle. You should be able to walk comfortable for at least 4-6 hours before you leave. Load up your backpack and try to mimic the conditions of your trek by walking on different terrain.

Find our more with our trekking training guide

Reviews

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