Below you’ll find information on trekking in different countries. It’s a mix of facts and personal experience. This overview does not include every country I’ve hiked in so far. It only covers those that I’ve made extensive hiking experiences in. Hopefully, it’ll serve you well on your adventure 🙂

This page gets updated when I get the chance to explore a new or find out more stuff about already listed countries. So, make sure to check it every now and then. It was last updated on 29 June, 2020.

Argentina

In most South American countries, there are entrance fees to national parks. In Argentina, within national parks camping is usually free. Huts are charging per night and person.

Responsible for the conservation of Argentina’s national parks is la Administración de Parques Nacionales (APN).

A little summary…

  • The Spanish word for mountain hut or shelter is refugio. As far as I know, it’s used all over the Spanish speaking countries in South America. I can confirm this for Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador and Peru. Definitely a word you want to remember when hiking in one of these countries.
  • Some areas within national parks are private land. So, fees may vary quite a bit.
  • From personal experience, some camping areas in the very busy and touristy spots (e.g. El Chaltén) have a lot of mice and also foxes. Safe food storage, away from the tent is advised.
  • Especially in the South, some areas basically shut down for the off season, which is between April and September (fall/winter). Some national parks close for a specific time period and don’t allow trekking during this time.
  • Be prepared for weather when hiking in Patagonia. You can experience all 4 seasons in one day. Not kidding, not exaggerating.
  • Touristy places will have buses going back and forth between them and major cities or villages. Hitchhiking is common. Make sure to have a ride back though. Some areas get super remote. I had my own car and sometimes I could drive for hundreds of kilometers and a few days without barely seeing another car.

Chile

Like in Argentina, it’s mandatory to pay for entrance to national parks. There are also different prices for Chileans and tourists. Almost every national park I’ve visited had separate prices for locals and foreigners. La Corporación Nacional Forestal (CONAF) takes care of Chile’s national parks.

A little summary…

  • CONAF campgrounds are usually free of charge and provide a minimum. There’ll most likely also be private costly alternatives in touristy areas, like Torres del Paine National Park.
  • When trekking in Chile, and also Argentina, definitely have a look at the Tompkins Conservation. Douglas and Kristine Tompkins initiated this organization to work on the conservation of areas in both countries and turn them into national parks. The work this organization has done is impressive.
  • Same as above: Some areas shut down for the off season, which is between April and September (fall/winter). Some national parks close for a specific time period and don’t allow trekking during this time.
  • Be prepared for weather when hiking in Patagonia. You can experience all 4 seasons in one day. Not kidding, not exaggerating.
  • Read the section about remoteness in Argentina. It can also be applied to Chile.

New Zealand

National Parks in New Zealand are generally without entrance fees. The Department of Conservation (DOC) is a government institution taking care of NZ’s natural heritage.

Major, and especially touristic, walks are usually well preserved and well-marked. They provide a lot of information about walks on their website and near the localities. Most of the time, there’ll be a campground provided by DOC close to or within National Parks. These cost around $8 per person and night. You can pay in cash at the campgrounds. This works on trust. Or you book and pay online. In general, these camps have toilets and sometimes even a sheltered area.

So, if there’s any questions about trekking in New Zealand, you will most likely find it with DOC (or me :P).

A little summary…

  • Trekking is called tramping 😉
  • Always keep an eye on the weather. New Zealand is an island full of mountains. Weather can change quickly and have a major impact on your tramping experiences. Check out MetService. They have a pretty decent 3 and 5 day rain forecast.
  • There’s buses going back and forth between major hiking destinations. Hitchhiking definitely seems like an option even though I haven’t seen a lot of hitchhikers yet. New Zealand is a car, specifically van travel, country. Tourists that travel here usually buy cars from other tourists that are leaving.

Peru

National parks and trekking areas in Peru are usually with entrance fees. In very touristy areas, such as the Salkantay trek, there’ll be fully equipped campgrounds for fees. The more remote it gets, the less there is, sometimes nothing but the ground you camp on. No matter how remote it gets, there might still be someone coming along asking for a bit of money. See these as compensation for the, usually Quechua, communities. As there are still some areas that are said to be dangerous, these fees also guarantee a bit of safety. There’s also trekking areas where camping is completely free of charge, as on the Santa Cruz trek.

A few more infos, nice and short

  • From what I’ve seen, it’s common that multi-day treks are done with tours. Quite often I was one of just a few hikers who were doing multi-day treks on their own. Tours will organize donkeys, or even Quechua women, who carry equipment and food. Since a lot of the treks are at high altitude, there’ll usually be at least one horse, in case one of the tourists gets sick from altitude. I specifically mention this because there are treks that are heavily marked by being used for tours excessively due to a high number of tourists. A lot of tour companies and their guides do not treat the animals they use too well, to say it nicely.
  • The way to get to places is usually by using collectivos. These are little buses that drive back and forth between destinations. Have a look at my Peru section with more insights on how to use them. Some areas are so remote that you have to get a taxi or find someone trustworthy that can give you a ride.
  • If you take your own car to get to the start of a multi-day hike, make sure you leave it somewhere “safe”. I usually left it with a family that had parking spots for a small payment making sure they have an eye on it. I’ve never had any bad experiences. It’s just a general recommendation I make as you can read further down.
  • While fresh water in Patagonia is usually really clean and safe to drink, I’d recommend treating or boiling water on hikes in Peru. From personal experience, there was a lot more left overs from animals and human beings, which made it hard to even find a spot by rivers or lakes that wasn’t contaminated. 
  • A lot of hiking areas in Peru are at high altitudes, within mountains. Be nice to your body and prepare yourself for that. I’ve seen too many tourists ignoring tips and suffering under altitude sickness :/
  • Mountains and altitude also mean weather, weather, weather. Plus, rainy season starts around October/November. This means, lots of rain, no or barely any views. Some treks aren’t accessible during rainy season due to flooded roads or the treks themselves are flooded.

One note on going to trekking destinations with your own car in ALL of the countries: In general, I recommend making sure that the area where you leave your car is somewhat safe. A car that is left unchecked somewhere for multiple days in a row can be a temptation for some folks.