South American Hike: What Not To Do

Patagonia Travel Posted on 04/09/2024

A South American hike can be an interesting challenge. This is our expert “Not to-do” list followed by a “Favorite Thing to Do” inescapable catalog in Patagonia.

Updated to April 2024





What makes a South American hike special? Almost everything you’ll get to see on the road. But, we are not necessarily unbiased. Most of us were born in Argentina or other countries in South America. Before learning to speak, we tackled our first mini hikes in Patagonia, North Argentina, or the Iguazú Falls jungle.



But, a South American hike is special for other reasons too:

  • You can discover UNESCO Heritage Sites on a South American hike.
  • You can choose between easy, medium, and high-difficulty hikes, without giving up the quality of landscapes and a sense of adventure.
  • You can discover animals, like the Puma in Patagonia or the vicuña in North Argentina or Peru.



However, you shouldn’t do the following in a hike when traveling through South America.



South American hike




1. What not to do on a South American hike



Don’t take distances for granted


Some countries in South America are ten times bigger than most European countries. USA citizens may know what this means.

But, let’s dig in on this matter in case you were born in any other country.

Hikes in Patagonia (Argentina and Chile), for example, can take you to a hidden waterfall in 20 minutes, or explore one of the Natural Biosphere of the Earth in 5 days.

We are used to walking, driving, and hiking long and far distances to discover the region. However, all hikes in South America can be adapted to your needs. 

You can relax and enjoy.



Do not assume the connection is good everywhere


In this part of the world, we’re accustomed to dealing with circumstances, whatever they are. This is why, most think about Southamericans like a resolving and creating people.

Which means we are always ready for the worst.

The worst when talking about a hike in South America isn’t that bad, but it can be painful if you come cold feet.

Think about downloading your favorite routes, and bringing a non-digital map.



Do not pet or feed animals you see in a South American hike


Although it is hard to ignore the call, don’t fall into the trap. Most hike trails in South America are in real inhospitable areas. 

Depending on the season (high or low), your chances of seeing wildlife on a hike are higher.

However, you shouldn’t go wide-open arms to their encounter. Look at these examples.



Pumas in torres del paine national park





The Puma


Where: Torres del Paine


The major wildlife experience while doing the W Trek in Torres del Paine National Park, Chile. They are hard to spot, at least during high season. But, if you see one, be sure there are no calves on the whereabouts. 

A Puma mum can change her behavior if she feels you could be threatening her family.



The Vicuña


Where: North of Argentina, Patagonia and Peru


The vicuña, our beautiful camelid of the North, share their domains with the guanaco, the alpaca, and the llama, variations of the same species. 

Guanacos are commonly seen on desertic roads in Patagonia, while llamas and vicuñas are more common in the north of the country and the Andes area, like Peru.

The noble animals are peaceful until they feel in danger when they prepare to spit in your face.

You can notice because they fall down the ears. That is the signal to step aside.



The Coatí and Monkeys


Where: Iguazú Falls and Brazil


Monkeys are usually kings of the jungle, in Argentina, Brazil, and everywhere else. They are known for being adorable, but also wicked.

Coaties are not monkeys, but they are similar in spirit. Coaties are a type of raccoon native to South and Central America. 

Most travelers run into them in Iguazú National Park where coaties wander freely. They are used to interact with people inside the park and usually beg for food. 

But coatíes nor monkeys distinguish between packaged food, packaged money on a wallet, or home keys in a pocket…

So, do not ease your guard in front of these jungle guys.

Coati in iguazu falls





Do not trust the weather


Where: Anywhere


Patagonia is the first region you need to check the weather when considering a full-day hike. Weather is 90% impredictably and changeable in Patagonia. From sun to wind and rain in 24 hours you can experience it all. But the wind is the worst

Do not save on windbreakers for Patagonia.

In Iguazú, do not save in raincoats and repellent. The weather is always humid and the variety of insects in the jungle is up to your expectations.

North Argentina and the Andes Region (Perú, southern Bolivia, and north of Chile) are known for their hot weather which drops dramatically at night. And during Summer, do not expect to avoid rainy days. 



Do not wear just your most comfortable sweatpants


Like the weather, you shouldn’t take hiking clothes for granted. If you plan on tackling a South American hike, your favorite outfit for the gym won’t do the trick.

Be prepared for really low temperatures even during summer in Patagonia. And, be prepared for constant rain in Iguazú, the Andes, and Brazil. Colors are important too since insects feel more attracted to some. 

Heat can be a challenge too. Sun is healthy and strong in almost any area of South America. Sleeveless T-shirts don’t always help.

Rather a strong sunblock and sunglasses are better allies. Even in Patagonia, when walking on an iceberg, the sun reflects on the ice and hits straight into your sensible eyes and skin.



Hiking in the Patagonian woods





2. Summing up


Follow the above 5 and you’ll be just fine to enjoy any South American hike you dream of

And if you are still doubting you can always contact us and talk to one of our experts.
We told you at the beginning there is a list of our “Favorite Things to Do”. Here are our recommendations to travel and hike in Patagonia this year.


Questions? Write to Us