Patagonia Made Easy
It can take up to two days to reach South America’s wild southern frontier from North America. If you’ve got limited time, Chile’s northern Patagonia is the easiest way into the region. Gray & Co. (from $1,200 per person per day; ++) has customized itineraries: take the two-hour flight from Santiago to Puerto Montt, where the six-villa Cliffs Preserve will be your base for expeditions to spot palm-size monito del monte monkeys and to visit the active Osorno Volcano. Have a few more days? A two-hour drive (plus a 30-minute ferry ride) south is tranquil Chiloé Island, filled with UNESCO-designated churches and untouched nature preserves. Stay at the new Refugia ($$$$$), where all 12 rooms have views of Chiloé’s inland sea.
The Incas created hundreds of footpaths throughout the Andes. T+L charts three routes to Peru’s most iconic site.
Travel Advisory: At press time, the U.S. Embassy in Lima, Peru, was recommending increased security awareness when traveling to the region, including Machu Picchu. For updates and more information, go to travel.state.gov.
Classic Inca Trail
Best For: Ancient ruins.
Mountain Travel Sobek (four days from $3,995; +++) tackles the most famous road to Machu Picchu in four days; for a glamping experience, Austin-Lehman Adventures (10 days from $3,898; +++) offers portable showers and even a massage therapist. Book early with your outfitter: the government issues only 500 trail passes daily.
Apu Huayllanay Trail
Best For: Peace and quiet.
Trekkers here have the Andean landscape practically to themselves. On a private trip from Aracari (eight days from $1,822; +++), you’ll camp for three nights with a guide, a cook, and porters, and finish with a hot shower at the company’s permanent site near Ollantaytambo before taking the 1 1/2-hour train ride to Machu Picchu.
Best For: Creature comforts.
Known as the back door into Machu Picchu, Salcantay is also the area’s highest path (it reaches 15,200 feet). Mountain Lodges of Peru, a string of stone-and-timber inns along the trail, is the only lodge-to-lodge way to reach the lost city of the Incas: take this route on a trip with Wildland Adventures (11 days from $3,800; ++++).
Tech Tool: Looking for the name of that mountain? The GPS-enabled Peaks app (iTunes; $2.99) has a database of more than a half-million summits around the world and automatically generates a tweet identifying the mountains that are closest to you.
Level of Difficulty