My name is Maria, 23 years old from Sweden. I'm currently working at a municipality as an environmental inspector. I love to travel and my next trip is a week-long trek in Abisko, Sweden. I'm also planning a trip to south America for some hiking this summer. I'm probably be going alone scene my friends aren't in to hiking as i am, so i wonder if you guys have some advice or recommendation on a trip-plan for South America/ Central America!
My absolute favorite hiking destination in South America is El Chaltén in Patagonia, Argentina. (You'll have seen the pictures of Mt. Fitzroy e.a.; get there by flying on El Calafate and take a 2.5 hour bus). I find it hard to describe what makes the hiking so absolutely excellent there, but I think it's a combination of the absolutely stunning backdrop of the mountains, with the relatively level ground (there's certainly some hard climbing at times (and the climb up to Laguna de los tres (which is a must) is an utterly exhausing solid hour of steeply slogging upward), but many more stretches where there isn't) which allows you to make meters at a very good pace. The scenery varies tremendously as you hike along, you can drink the water straight from the streams, and I somehow just never run out of energy when there, always wanting to take the next side-track as well so I end up looping a couple of tracks together for 7-10 hour hikes. (The only way to do roundtrips there; otherwise it's mostly 4-6 hour "there and back again" trips.)
El Chaltén as a town isn't anything special; food options have improved to a decent level, but mostly it's just in an incredibly convenient location, with all the trails starting right outside town.
The season for hiking is relatively short - November through April at most, I guess (I love the autumn colors in March!), so that doesn't fit with your plans at all, but imho that's just a reason to change your plans.
Otherwise, good in June-August, consider the Cordillera Blanca in Peru (Laguna 69 is gorgeous!). Logistically much more involved what with arranging transport to the trails (and back), but Peru is cheap, so it'd doable to hire a driver for the entire day and have him idle around or pick you up at the end of the day. Altitude acclimatization is a definite issue there, so you need a plan for that (most of the good hikes are at or above 4000 meters, but the convenient towns are down around 2500 meters, which does not make for a good combination - the way I did it was doing the regular gringo trail first, acclimatizing at Arequipa and Puno to start, and then making a bee-line for the Cordillera Blanca; acclimatization had worn off noticeably after a week, though, and altitude sickness hit me hard, which was no fun).