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The hikes we loved in South America

We didn’t have days and days in any one port, but we did find some wonderful hikes to take on this trip.



Ushuaia was a magical place, partly because the weather cooperated there. We’re that others have had a very different experience this close to Antarctica. But we had decent weather, and took a taxi (four about $10) up to the Martial Glacier trailhead. From there we hiked up a few miles towards the glacier, with amazing views, and only moderate numbers of other hikers. As we got higher into the Andes, the clouds began to lower, and most of the glacier was enveloped in mist.


When it started snowing on us, we turned around and took a side trail out to a ridge overlooking the city of Ushuaia and the Beagle Channel. Quite Spectacular. And then an alternate trail down took us through a dense beech forest that captured out imagination. A wonderful way to spend a day.



The next day we joined a group out to the Tierra del Fuego National Park, and got in a few more short hikes there. Stunning scenery, particularly around the “end of the world” where the only land in sight was Tierra del Fuego itself—beyond that lay Antarctica.



In Puerto Montt we drove out past Puerto Varas and Lake Llanquihue to Petrohue Cascades–impressive, both for the cascades, and for the visible remnants of recent volcanic eruptions that altered the landscape.



In Coquimbo we drove out to see the petroglyphs in the Valle del Encanto, which were charming, although they don’t compare to those in our own Southwest.



But it was in Cusco that we really hit our stride. We hiked the Inka Trail to Machu Picchu about ten years ago, but there is so much else to see. This time we visited Chincheros, where we explored the massive terraces built by the Inkas, and then the Maras salt works, and another Inka site called Moray. Amazing places that simply take your breath away–helped by the fact that they are at about 12,000 feet of elevation.



We took a taxi up to Q’enco and hiked down to Cusco via the Sachsayhuayman Inka site the next day, and loved every minute of it.



And to finish it off, we spent hours exploring the unbelievable Inka terraces and cascades of Tipon, again at 12,000 feet. We never ended up hiking more than about 6 miles on any given day, but we did use our feet to see things that most visitors miss. And boy, was it worth it.


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