Backpacking is gaining popularity in South America. Its rise is an opportunity to help people see the value in protecting and preserving natural resources. The continent is vast and so are exploration options, from deep in the Amazon to 22,000 ft+ peaks in the Andes, here are a few resources to plan your own great wide adventure.
If you are looking to visit the iconic peaks and famous parks, check out these top 3 Patagonia Parks.
Greater Patagonian Trail– A relatively new network of adventure routes in the southern cone (Argentina and Chile). This network contains many great shorter adventures. A few of our favorite sections recommended for 1-2 week long adventures are:
Ruta de los Pioneros: (GPT 36H) Villa O’Higgins-Cochrane, Chile. 100 km.
Unmaintained tracks. Difficult. Nearby attractions: Lago O’Higgins, Fitz Roy.
Parque 7 Tazas, Volcan Decabezado, & Laguna Caracol: (GPT 6) Talca. Varried trails
through a moonscape of volcanic ash, warm(ish) hot springs, and beauty.
Volcan Puyehue: (GPT 13) Bariloche, Argentina. Maintained though largely unmarked
trail. Difficult/exposed. Walk past lava fields which are still steaming. Nearby
Attractions: Lago Nahuel Hapi
(If you go to this area, there are a ton of trails around Bariloche. I recommend a 1-4 day adventure to visit the Huts Circuit)
Simon Dubuis- A basic command of French can help with navigating the page of his extensive adventures but the treasure troves of KMLs make it worth the hunt. Next to Jan, he has been the most detailed resources we have found for long walking in South America, including tracks of the Qhapaq Nan and almost anything of historical importance.
(If the Qhapaq Nan is your interest, also seek out Ricardo Espinosa & his book La Gran Ruta Inca.)
Wikiexplora– The site is a bit unwieldy and having a navigable grasp of Spanish will help but this has the most thorough information on Trails, climbs, and routes across almost every country of South America. The advantage to this site is the details.
Wikiloc– Is a broader resource. Downloadable tracks are nice though there is not usually as much information detail as on Wikiexplora. When I find a route on here, I cross reference it with other online resources
BikePacker– Is a great resource if your goal is biking or distance. We have used several of their routes, downloading and then modifying them for walking. Good routes, good following, good fun.
No man is an island and no great accomplishment is achieved alone. I build our route on whatever information I can get and sketch it largely off of previous long distance tracks. This is our America Long Walking Trail Family. let me know if you come across anyone to add!
George Meegan- 1970s-1980s walked all of South and North America, primarily along roads and pulling a cart. His book, The Longest Walk is a great place to start when dreaming about your own walk.
Karl Bushby– A British Ex-Paratrooper who has walked and hacked his way across the Americas in a bid to walk all the way back home to England. His book Giant Steps chronicles those adventures.
Gregg & Deia– mid 2000s they walked primarily trails from Ecuador to Tierra del Fuego. A KMZ on their website gives locations along the way, though not a detailed route. Their journals provide something of a route description.
Ian Reeves– Walked from TdF to Panama, primarily on roads and with a cart. His website doesn’t seem to be working but he is a great and kind resource if you have specific questions. Also, he buried a burro and got hit by falling tree while walking.
Joey Shonka– Walked the length of South America primarily on back roads. Had a website with helpful route points but doesn’t appear to be working currently. He was rumored to be a giant who eats raw fish.
Skywalkers al Sur– These guys just completed a walk across the length of South America in 2017. Covering ground quickly, the were on primary roads. Their movie is going to be great.
Up and Comers
Holly Harrison (Cargo)- Just completed an FKT across the Americas!
Her Odyssey- Hi!
Lucy Barnard– An Australian aiming to be the first woman to walk the length of the Americas.
Virgile Woisard– A French fellow aiming to cross the Americas over the course of 2.5 years.