Flying to South America is not a cheap pleasure. So, still deciding on such a long trip, you want not to be disappointed and choose the right route, which will fully meet all expectations, will be moderately difficult, and will bring maximum pleasure and minimum suffering. Each country of this continent is unique – its own culture, its own characteristics of trekking, its own nature. Let’s compare the two most popular destinations: trekking in Peru and trekking in Patagonia. Which suits you better?
Peru is definitely more cultural experience: the country itself and the people are very colorful, exotic and diverse cuisine, many historical sites that we visit along the route. And the climate is also very different – from hot Lima with the Pacific Ocean to the cold highlands and humid jungle. The result is just an incredibly diverse kaleidoscope of experiences.
But at the same time, in terms of physical exertion, the route is more difficult if compared to Patagonia. Mainly due to the high altitude above sea level, which is not equally well tolerated by everyone. It does not mean that it is super difficult, we had participants absolutely not athletes, and at the age of about 55-60 years old. It was just at the initial stages of acclimatization it was a little bit difficult for them, so to say, they had a little less pleasure.
For our part we try to facilitate the route as much as possible – all the cargo is carried by mules, we go only with small rucksacks. In case of feeling unwell there is even a possibility to ride a horse (but only uphill, it can be dangerous on descents). We have our own cook who will cook food for us on the track, which is also more comfortable, and we can try some of the everyday Peruvian food. We rent tents for the trek on site – large 4-person tents for 2 people, plus a portable dining tent, and we even include a portable shower in the updated program 2020. With a mule caravan we can afford this luxury 🙂 Between treks we live in hotels, where absolutely all the amenities are available.
There are a lot of people only on Machu Picchu and the approaches to it, but on the track to the Rainbow Mountains, right up to the observation point, it is not every day you can meet another group.
The most challenging element of the current program in Peru is the ascent of El Misti volcano. All the participants coped with the altitude up to 5 thousand meters perfectly, but unfortunately less than a half of the group reached the volcano of 5822 meters. That is why in 2020 we are planning to conduct the variant of the trek with prolongation of the route to the Rainbow Mountains which is very picturesque, and we are going to offer the more difficult climbing as a separate additional option. Read more about the features of the new program here >>.
The Patagonia trekking route is another kind of exotic. The cultural program is the minimum. Argentina and Chile are quite modern countries, and outwardly and mentally people don’t differ much from the Europeans.
But the rugged nature of Patagonia is almost a legend 🙂 The altitudes of the track are not high and we should not be afraid of the mountain sickness. But sometimes winds blow up to 100 km/hour and it starts raining horizontally. You should be ready to that both morally and with equipment. As a reward for your perseverance, you can enjoy unique views of the rocky peaks of Fitz Roy, Cerro Torre and Torres del Paine, which are, perhaps, some of the most beautiful mountains in the world.
Relief and elevation differences are easier here compared to Peru, but we carry our backpacks with all equipment, food, tents by ourselves. And we cook simple camping food – groats, canned food, tea, for lunch we have sandwiches. The comfort of living on the program varies greatly: in Buenos Aires, it is a 3-star hotel, in the south – hostels with 2-3 beds and if possible his own shower. Campgrounds in Chile are equipped with tables, shared showers, some have an indoor kitchen-dining room, in the Argentine part the campsite is just a clearing and a wooden toilet.
There are quite a lot of people on the routes, all the same places are famous and popular. But I have never had any discomfort or a feeling of crowd, there is enough space for everyone.
Article author: Julia Yurasova, South American teamleader