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Walking and Trekking in South America and the Caribbean

  • Walking and Trekking in South America and the Caribbean

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The countries which make up South America and the Caribbean offer a multitude of diverse and inspiring landscapes that have long attracted walkers and trekkers to the continent. With so much choice available in this part of the world, there is something to suit all interests and fitness levels – from easy walks up to challenging treks.

South America boasts many geographical accolades. It is home to the world’s longest mountain range - the Andes, the highest waterfall – Angel Falls in Venezuela, the largest rainforest – the Amazon and the driest place on earth, the Atacama Desert in Chile. South America is also one of the most bio diverse continents on earth and is home to many interesting animal species such as llama, jaguar and vicuna.

The most famous hike in this region is the Inca Trail in Peru. Suitable for anyone of reasonable fitness, it offers a physical challenge, cultural interest, ever-changing landscapes and the grand prize of Machu Picchu. However walking in Peru is not just limited to the Inca Trail; there are many more walking options including the more off the beaten track Salkanty Trail and trekking to the lesser known Inca site of Choquequirao or the Ausangate Circuit. In nearby Bolivia, there’s the Inca Pilgrim Way; a two-day trek centred around the Island of the Sun on Lake Titicaca, using old Inca Roads.

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Patagonia is also popular – a region which is shared between Argentina and Chile. The main walking area here is Torres del Paine National Park – with plenty of mountains, lakes, rivers and a glacier, this is most definitely an area of outstanding natural beauty. The area around Mount Fitz Roy (3359m) in Los Glaciares National Park in Argentina also offers an abundance of walking opportunities.

To the north, there’s Venezuela, home to the Canaima National Park which includes Mount Roraima (2810m), the inspiration for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s novel, ‘The Lost World.’ The tabletop mountains of this park are considered some of the oldest geological formations in the world. Mount Roraima was first scaled in 1884 and was in fact the first recorded major tepui (tabletop mountain) to be climbed and the route taken by Sir Everard im Thurn is the same route hikers still use today.

In the Caribbean, Cuba has excellent walking and trekking trails. This unique island has a diverse landscape and offers walks through the tobacco fields of Vinales, the tropical forests of Topes de Collantes National Parks and in the Sierra Maestra Mountains, amongst others. In the east of the island there is the famous trail through the jungle to Comandancia de la Plata, Fidel Castros’s headquarters during the Cuban Revolution. While nearby is the start of the trek to the summit of Pico Real del Turquino (1972m), the highest point on the island.

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