Torres del Paine mountain range, Patagonia

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The Highest Mountains in Chile

Chile is a country that boasts around 10,761 named mountains, with two primary mountain ranges dominating most of the landscape: the Coastal Mountain Range and the Andes Mountain Range. The Andes is home to the highest peaks in South America and the tallest mountains in the world outside of the Himalaya. With its abundance of high, snow-capped peaks and biodiverse landscapes, Chile is a dream destination for trekkers.

Towards the south of Chile and across into the south of Argentina is an area known as Patagonia, a region that is home to some of the world’s most iconic landscapes including vast stretches of rugged mountains, towering glaciers, turquoise lakes and expansive grasslands. The biodiversity here is astonishing and it’s clear to see why it’s such a popular trekking destination.

In this blog, we’ll look at the 10 highest mountains in Chile as well as some less technical trekking routes that offer opportunities to experience the most spectacular highlights of Chile at the base of some of the country’s most famous peaks. Here at Kandoo Adventures, we’re travel experts and booking an adventure with us will ensure you get the most out of your trip to Chile!

Trek in Patagonia

The 10 Highest Mountains in Chile

The major mountain range running through Chile is the Andean Mountain range which stretches across 7 countries: Venezuela, Columbia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile and Argentina. Most of the mountains in Chile are of volcanic origin and largely influence the areas around them in terms of alpine biodiversity and climate. Much of the terrain in Chile is rocky, rugged, high and challenging which requires a certain amount of climbing experience, equipment and guides. The 10 highest mountains in Chile are:

  1. Ojos del Salado – 6,893m
  2. Nevado Tres Cruces – 6,749m
  3. Llullaillaco – 6,739m
  4. Tres Cruces Central – 6,629m
  5. Incahuasi – 6,621m
  6. Tupungato – 6,570m
  7. El Muerto – 6,487m
  8. Parinacota – 6,248m
  9. Pomerape – 6,282m
  10. Tres Quebradas – 6,239m
Torres del Paine mountain range, Patagonia

Climbing the Highest Mountains in Chile

Ojos del Salado

Situated along the border between Argentina and Chile, Ojos del Salado is the highest mountain in Chile at an elevation of 6,893m. It holds several Chilean and world records: it is the highest volcano in the world, second highest peak in South America, the highest mountain in the Chilean Andes and the second highest mountain in the Argentine Andes, after Aconcagua at an elevation of 6,959m. Minor volcanic activity still occurs at the peak of Ojos del Salado from time to time and there is a strong smell of sulphur at the summit, though it has not erupted for between 1,000 and 1,500 years.

Despite its location in the Atacama Desert, one of the driest places on earth, snow can fall at any time. In fact, the name ‘Ojos del Salado’ translates to “Eyes of the Salty One” likely because of its salt deposits which appear in its snowfields in the form of lagoons or ‘eyes’. During winter the mountain peak is covered in snow and the mountain hosts one of the highest lakes in the world at 6,390m on its eastern side. This crater lake is about 100m in diameter, but its depth is unknown, possibly as little as 5m or 10m, and exists all year round.

As Ojos del Salado is a border mountain it can be climbed from both Argentina and Chile, though it is a difficult climb that requires a certain level of experience due to its high altitude and remoteness. To join an expedition to the summit of this peak requires a high level of skill and experience using crampons and an ice axe in winter conditions. Not quite as complex as Aconcagua, Ojos del Salado is often thought of as a good step up from climbing Kilimanjaro.

Nevado Tres Cruces

The Nevado Tres Cruces massif is part of the Andes Mountain Range with two major summits over 6,000m and one lower 6,000m summit. With an elevation of 6,748m it is the second tallest mountain in Chile, second to Ojos Del Salado. Like Ojos Del Salado, Nevado Tres Cruces is a mountain that is shared between Argentina and Chile. The volcano has not erupted in the past 28,000 years and the area around the mountain has a desert climate with very low precipitation and night temperatures below freezing point. Moraine glaciers are found at an altitude of 4,400m and relic glaciers above 5,800m on this mighty Chilean mountain.


At an elevation of 6,739m, Llullaillaco is the third highest mountain in Chile and second highest active volcano in the world, second only to its neighbour Nevado Ojos del Salado. Llullaillaco, which means “hot water” in the Aymara language, is located between Salta Province and the Antofagasta Region, on the border between Argentina and Chile in the eastern part of the Atacama Desert. Despite its location in one of the driest places in the world, the high altitude of this region also brings cold temperatures that allow snow and ice to linger on the slopes of this volcano.

In 1999, an expedition of archaeologists climbed more than 6,000m up the Llullaillaco volcano to discover three 500-year-old Incan child mummies, known to be some of the best preserved mummies in the world. At that moment, Llullaillaco became the site of the highest altitude archaeological work ever undertaken. The cold, dry conditions of this region are believed to have helped preserved the centuries-old mummies.

Despite being the third highest mountain in Chile, with beautiful surroundings and small streams that flow between wetlands and grasslands in ravines filled with guanacos, donkeys and birds, Llullaillaco is rarely visited due to the difficult access, challenging terrain and existence of minefields on the mountain from the Argentina-Chile conflict in 1978. There are currently two ascent routes in Chile: the northern route allows you to reach 4,600m by vehicle, while the southern route allows you to reach about 5,000m. On both routes it is necessary to cross large snowfields with hard snow, so crampons and an ice axe are required when climbing this mighty peak.

Trekking in Chile

Hikers during the W trek in Patagonia
Trekking in Chile isn’t all about summiting the highest mountains in Chile. While these mountains attract hikers and mountain climbers from around the world as well as geologists and researchers, some of the most breathtaking Chilean landscapes are best experienced from their bases. This is not only because technical climbing experience is required to summit many of the highest mountains in Chile, but also because the views are equally as impressive.

Kandoo Adventures W Trek offers trekkers the opportunity to experience the incredible scenery of the Patagonian wilderness, trekking along relatively gentle lakeshores, up alpine pathways and meandering in and out of impressive, jagged peaks in the shadow of the giant mountains above.

Alternatively, Kandoo Adventures O Circuit trip includes all the sites of the popular W Trek but on the quieter, northern side of the famous Torres del Paine Mountain range. This trek provides a longer, more challenging experience but with even more captivating views and with very few other trekkers. Visiting Chile between October and February offers the mildest conditions, ideal for trekking.