Andes travel guide

2 minute summary

The Andes are South America’s solid spine, a daunting mountain range over 7,000km long. It stretches from the iciest reaches of Patagonia in the far south, almost as far as the Caribbean in the north, and widens out to 700km in places.
Its highest peaks soar well over 6,000m, but while these are reserved for dedicated climbers, any trekking here will involve crossing passes, plateaus and surreal páramo ecosystems, comfortably above 4,000m. This is a land of crater lakes, extinct volcanoes, calving glaciers and soaring condors, but it is a land, too, with a phenomenally rich culture. In the Andes, the Incas have their most famous ruins, at Machu Picchu, but their culture lives on through their Quechua ancestors. In Bolivia, the Aymara people roam the plateaus at altitudes that leave most breathless. For a more contemporary twist, three of the four highest capital cities in the world are tucked into the Andes, with buildings seemly tumbling down precipitous mountainsides.
The Andes are...

the world’s longest continental mountain range, spanning seven countries.
The Andes aren’t...

all the same. They incorporate barren deserts, lush cloud forest, thriving capital cities and ancient glaciers.
If you'd like to chat about the Andes or need help finding a holiday to suit you we're very happy to help.
Rosy & team.
01273 823 700

Andes map & highlights

make the most of your time

Choosing which part of this 7,000km range to visit may seem like a daunting prospect, but most of our Andes holidays focus on the easily accessible regions in Ecuador, Bolivia and – above all – Peru. This was the former Inca heartland, so their history and archaeology features highly on any Andes itinerary, but so too do their modern day descendants, the Quechua (or Quichua in Ecuador), whose vibrant markets, fertile mountainside terraces, traditional food and rather beautiful music and dance bring life to these mountains. Bolivia has easily-crossed land borders with Chile and Peru, while explorations into Ecuador or in the Andes’ southern reaches of Patagonia will require a flight.
Avenue of the Volcanoes Cuzco La Paz Lake Titicaca Machu Picchu & Inca Trail Uyuni salt flats

Avenue of the Volcanoes

Ecuador’s Avenue of the Volcanoes runs for over 300km, taking in the iconic peaks of Cotopaxi and Chimborazo, as well as the smoking summit of Tungurahua, looming over the town of Baños. Hike the Quilotoa Loop, through Quichua villages, windswept farmland and around the turquoise Quilotoa crater lake. And visit the thriving Saquisilí and Latacunga markets, just as wonderful for people watching as for produce.


Cuzco is not a city to race around – and not just because of its 3,400m altitude. This UNESCO site is a fascinating introduction to all things Inca, having been the capital of their empire for over two centuries. There are excellent museums showcasing pre Colombian artefacts, traditional textiles and contemporary art, as well as gorgeous colonial churches and convents. Don’t miss the nearby ruins at Sacsayhuaman.

La Paz

While most South American capitals are rapidly modernising metropolises, La Paz remains chaotic and confusing, ringed by mountains with buildings clinging to mind-bogglingly vertiginous slopes. The city pulses with Aymara culture, all llama wool, handwoven rainbow textiles, long black braids and witches’ markets. Forget about schedules and order; just throw yourself into the merry muddle and enjoy it.

Lake Titicaca

There’s something quite magical about this sacred lake, which straddles the border of Bolivia and Peru, and is vast enough that it appears to be an ocean. It could be the golden light, which gives an ethereal glow at this high altitude. It could be the floating islands, home to Aymara communities. Or perhaps the nightly thunderstorms that you can watch on a distant shore, while tucking into fresh, grilled trout from the lake.

Machu Picchu & Inca Trail

South America’s most iconic sight, the Inca capital of Machu Picchu sits atop a steep, green mountain and is just as breathtaking today as it was on its rediscovery over a century ago. Hike here via the four-day Inca Trail, emerging though the Sun Gate to see the site in all its glory, and exploring other ancient sites along the way. Or take a train from Cuzco through the Andes, with panoramic views.

Uyuni salt flats

This blinding expanse of salty desert warps all perspective, and has become the backdrop of thousands of surreal photos of tiny people standing on each others’ shoulders and being eaten by toy dinosaurs. Stop off at the cactus-clad island of Incahuasi, spend the night in a salt hotel and experience the strange sensation of being surrounded by nothing except flat whiteness – for more than 10,000 square kilometres.

Written by Vicki Brown
Peru tour, small group

Peru tour, small group

Peru on an adventure from mountains & Altiplano to jungle,

From £1512 9 Days ex flights
Ecuador walking holiday, tailormade

Ecuador walking holiday, tailormade

Explore the heart of the Andes on fascinating day walks

From £3450 15 Days ex flights
Andes & Amazon holiday in Ecuador

Andes & Amazon holiday in Ecuador

The best of mainland Ecuador - Andes to the remote Amazon

From US $4325 15 Days ex flights
Peru holiday, Andes to the Amazon

Peru holiday, Andes to the Amazon

Customisable tour of Peru's three diverse regions.

From £1760 12 Days ex flights
Peru holiday, Cusco to Lake Titicaca

Peru holiday, Cusco to Lake Titicaca

Customisable Overland Trip: Machu Picchu & Titicaca Islands

From £1220 8 Days ex flights
Peru holiday, Machu Picchu and the Amazon

Peru holiday, Machu Picchu and the Amazon

Customisable tour of Inca Ruins and the Amazon Rainforest.

From £1280 8 Days ex flights
Ancascocha trek in Peru

Ancascocha trek in Peru

Adventure trekking activity to Machu Picchu in Peru

From US $690 4 Days ex flights
Bolivia tour, Bolivia Backroads

Bolivia tour, Bolivia Backroads

A great main highlights overview of the best of Bolivia

From US $3134 10 Days ex flights
Cordillera Ausangate Lodge trek, Peru

Cordillera Ausangate Lodge trek, Peru

Eco-lodge trek through stunning Ausangate range, Peru

From £1280 5 Days ex flights
Birdwatching holiday in Northern Argentina

Birdwatching holiday in Northern Argentina

Private Argentina bird watching and nature tour, Salta and Jujuy

From US $2137 7 Days ex flights
Photo credits: [Page banner: alphis tay] [Top box: Kevin Rheese] [Helpdesk: Esmée Winnubst] [Map intro: Cathrine Lindblom Gunasekara] [Avenue of the Volcanoes: Eduardo Navas] [Cuzco: Steven Damron] [La Paz: Jean Carreño] [Lake Titicaca: saddlesaw2] [Uyuni salt flats: AHLN]
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