World → South AmericaCentral Andes

One of the best hiking regions in the world is the

You might also assume the trekking season is Nov-Apr as it is in Patagonia. It is. But the best weather for the high peaks out of Huaraz, Peru is the drier “Andean summer”: May-Sept.

Central AndesAT A GLANCE

The “central Andes” as defined by Lonely Planet are in 3 countries: Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia.

  • most famous are the Peruvian treks — but Bolivia has the potential, one day, to be just as popular
  • most famous of all is the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu — though it’s too regulated, too crowded for us
  • of the major treks, very popular is Santa Cruz. Nearby Alpamayo is longer, tougher and even better.
  • If you are looking for an extreme experience, you can’t do better than the Huayhuash Circuit.
  • Our favourite hike in the region, however, is remote Ausangate. Do it. 🙂
  • volcano climbs in Ecuador are amongst the world’s best
  • towering peaks, perfect alpine lakes, mystical cloud forest. There is much to do and see.
  • Inca ruins are a huge attraction
  • independent, self-sufficient hikers love Peru, if they speak conversational Spanish
  • but it’s easy to sign on with experienced, English speaking, trekking guides if you prefer.
  • Peru is very “touristy”. Bolivia, just the opposite. Political instability keeps many away. 

188361434_f1191971b7_zview from your rooftop in Huaraz, Peru


  • sparsely inhabited. Almost as wild as North America if you get to the right places.
  • it’s somewhat inexpensive to travel here
  • very inexpensive to hire a guide and pack animals
  • the Andes are the second highest mountains in the world, yet hiking is relatively undeveloped. You can have the mountains to yourself
  • we enjoy the indigenous Quechua peoples and their Andean culture
  • intensely glaciated, intensely beautiful — in the Andes you are almost always “above the treeline”
  • hotsprings, volcanoes
  • unique wildlife including condors, llamas, etc.
  • remote, forbidding mountains are a great challenge
  • few biting insects at higher elevations
  • few dangerous animals of any kind


  • conversational Spanish almost essential
  • prices are often not “fixed”, you must negotiate
  • small bribes & fees are asked of hikers on some trails 
  • altitude sickness is a big risk on many of the best treks
  • acclimatization in Cuzco 3326m (10,912ft), La Paz 3810m (12,500ft), or Quito 2800 M (9200ft) means you need time. A lot of time.
  • evacuation is difficult in many places
  • no rescue service is available. You are on your own.
  • No Park officers. No campsites. No toilets. That’s the reality in most of the Central Andes.
  • risk of robbery has been greatly exaggerated. Still, we personally bypassed the Illampu Circuit in Bolivia because of reports of systematic robbery.
  • in the high mountains you can get snow any month
  • expect high winds and cold
  • tent camping mostly, few mountain huts or shelters
  • if you are flying, you will likely come via Quito, Lima or La Paz.
  • Lima is most often the least expensive destination. Via Lima, many hikers fly directly to Cusco, Arequipa or … take the bus to Huaraz as there’s no major airport
  • the more time you have for your trip, the better, in this part of the world. Logistics are time consuming.
  • sooner or later, someone is going to offer you Guinea Pig to eat, the Andean staple. Be ready.

See ALL Central Andes BEST HIKES on our South America page.  

6 Replies to “CENTRAL ANDES”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: