If you consider yourself a trekker at heart and love nature, then you must check out Patagonia. Even if you have not been out hiking that much lately, this is the sort of place that is worthwhile undusting your hiking boots for –or why not?, even getting a brand new pair.
The Patagonia, extending over the south of Chile and Argentina, is every hiker’s dream. It’s monumental natural beauty has become part of its own brand identity. Walking it is really the best way to take in all those amazing views of imposing glaciers, mountains, pristine lakes and waterfalls, towering volcanoes, flowering meadows and many other ridiculously beautiful settings.
There are alternatives for everyone, from week-long routes that are best suited for experienced trekkers, to shorter and less demanding day hikes… but, trust us, no less awesome in any way! So, let us give you a few reasons for pushing Patagonia up on your bucket list:
1. Prehistoric vestiges at Torres del Paine National Park
This amazing route departing from Punta Arenas, in Chile, will take you through this amazing national park, enjoying views of lakes, rivers, fjords and glaciers, with the breathtaking Torres del Paine as a backdrop… so every picture will look like a postcard. Along the way there are interesting geological and archaeological sites. To top things up, you’ll end up at the Serrano Glacier and will have a chance to visit some prehistoric, over 12,000 year-old life vestiges at the Milodón cave. Camping en route is a plus, with amazing night skies and breathtaking sunrises that you will dream about for years.
2. Huella Andina, Argentinian Patagonia
Huella Andina is Argentina’s first long-distance trail, going through five national parks and some private land. It really caters for fans of hiking, regardless of their experience level, as there are stretches of all different lengths, that can be covered in one, two or three days time. There are also opportunities for going on horseback or by bike. Huella Andina is especially well suited for families, boasting over 20 trails of mid and low difficulty. Scenery is also stunning –as in whole Patagonia, really- featuring forests, cascades, lakes and more. If you are keen on a more demanding hike –and also have the mountaineering experience-, ask about the higher peaks at the information offices.
3. El Chaltén
This is hikers’ paradise. Pretty much every trail departing El Chaltén will shortly lead you into natural protected areas. It’s the perfect basecamp for many day hikes around the Fitz Roy Range, part of Los Glaciares National Park. Trails are very well delimited and there are camping sites, in case you are up for a longer hike and a good night sleep surrounded by nature. There are too many lakes and mountains to name, but heads up… you might not want to miss the twin peaks of Cerro Torre, Cerro Fitz Roy, Laguna de los Tres and the Chorrillo del Salto waterfall.
4. The Perito Moreno Glacier
It’s not really that often that you get a chance to walk on top of a glacier. This might not be a demanding hike, but indeed a very special one… A mini trek on a part of its huge 250 square kilometers surface will allow you to come up-close with this ever-changing natural wonder, exploring its cracks, ice blocks and little lagoons. Safety equipment and a pre-hike safety talk need to be provided by your guide.
5. Torres del Paine
The Torres del Paine W trek is one of the most known hiking routes in Patagonia and a definite classic. It takes 4-5 days and demands for you to be in a very good shape. But you can also ask about the option of breaking it into different day hikes. And there is also a longer circuit (7-10 days), called the Paine Circuit (or the ‘O’ Circuit). Anyway, these treks will reward you with fantastic views of glaciers and the towering granite “Torres del Paine”. It is a good idea to book in advance, securing accommodation and other services availability.
6. Tierra del Fuego
Lots of options for day hikes here using Ushuaia as your base, but also offering some multi-day treks that will blow your mind, taking you through such diverse wilderness landscapes, from the stunning Patagonian fjords, to rocky ridges and beech forests. Ask about the Montes Martial Circuit, a 3-day trek circling behind Ushuaia.