Would you like to know more about the fascinating Andes mountains? Then you are at the right place because in this article you will learn everything about this impressive mountain range that winds through South America from north to south. The Andes are famous for their varied landscape and are among the most extended mountain ranges in the world. Covering an area of 3,371,000 km², the highest point is the Aconcagua, which is 6,961 meters high.
Where exactly are the Andes mountains?
Located in South America, this imposing mountain range crosses the continent from north to south, crossing Peru, Colombia, Chile, Argentina, Venezuela, Ecuador, and Bolivia. It is called the “Cordillera de Los Andes” in Spanish and “Anti” or “Antis” in Quechua. Did you know that the Andes are twice as long as the Himalayan-Karakorum-Hindu Kush system and surpass the Rocky Mountains by almost half? In other words, this mountain range crosses many countries, climates, and landscapes.
The Andes are classified as folded mountains with volcanic activity located on the Pacific ring of fire, which means the Andes has many volcanoes, especially in Chile. The highest point is Mount Aconcagua, in Argentina. The Andes mountain range is divided into five parts: the Central Cordillera and the northern, eastern, southern, and western foothills in the different countries.
Learn about the origin of the Andes Mountains
The imposing folded mountains began to form about 140 million years ago. The Nazca Plate moved under the South American Plate, extreme pressure was created, and the mountains gradually began to rise. The Andes also came to lie on the pacific ring of fire, which caused strong seismic and volcanic activity. Earthquakes are frequent along the Andes, as it is known, especially from Chile.
Besides many smaller volcanoes, the Andes also hosts the highest volcanoes on earth: Monte Pissis in Argentina (6795 meters) and Ojos del Salado (6864), located between Argentina and Chile. The volcanoes’ presence also brings to light other natural phenomena, such as geysers and fumaroles, whose water and steam are heated by the volcanoes.
In and around the Andes mountains, what can one see?
As long as you have time, you can probably travel along the Andes for at least a year without getting bored. However, for shorter vacations, there are some highlights worth mentioning here. Based on your preference for climate and landscape, the Andes Mountains are suitable for everyone. If you are mainly interested in volcanoes, then a trip to the north of Chile is recommended. There are numerous volcanoes in the Atacama salt desert, which you can even climb on guided tours, such as the Lascar or the Licancabur.
It would be best if you have some mountain experience and endurance for these tours. For those interested in post volcanic phenomena such as geysers, you can take a leisurely tour by car or minibus to the Tatio Geysers near San Pedro de Atacama. At an altitude of 4200 meters, the steaming holes in the earth fascinate everyone. It is best to plan this tour at dawn, to best watch the steam clouds. Another famous summit of the Andes is the Cerro Torre in Argentina. It is located in the Los Glaciares National Park in the Argentinean part of Patagonia. It has a very pointed peak of granite and is one of the most challenging mountains on earth to climb. A must-see for professional climbers who want to push their limits. On the Chilean side of Patagonia is the Torres del Paine National Park, which you should not miss if you love glaciers.
The Andes in Colombia, for example, is a complete contrast. With a tropical and warm climate, green and densely overgrown national parks with waterfalls and lagoons await you there and colonial towns and historic mountain villages. When talking about extraordinary destinations in the Andes, we must, of course, not forget Machu Picchu. The thousand-year-old Inca city is located in the Peruvian Andes at 2,430 meters above sea level. It never loses its mystical charm, which has fascinated humankind since discovering the ruined city. These places and many others await you in the Andes, and every single place is worth visiting. The Andes Mountains should definitely be on your bucket list.