Divided by the Andes as their natural border, Argentina and Chile stretch from north to south and host many different types of climates. Around the latitude of 35 starts Patagonia, which is all the territory (Argentina and Chile) comprehended until the latitude 54, in Cape Horn. In other words: 2800 kilometers of dramatic landscapes and incredible views. If you’re looking for adventure and a great way to see all of this natural beauty is to pack your gear and go hiking. Luckily, we’ve put together a list of some of the most remarkable places for trekking in Patagonia, including how to reach them, and even how to combine multiple hikes – enjoy!
Lake District and The “Huella Andina”
The lake district is an area located in the northwest of Patagonia. It is very popular for its lakes, forests, rivers, volcanoes, and mountains. It comes with lots of villages – on both sides of the Andes – and some important cities such as Bariloche and Puerto Montt.
Bariloche (Argentina) and Puerto Montt (Chile) are the main hubs, and both have flight connections to their national capitals and other areas of Patagonia as well. If you want to see both countries, one of the most epic ways of doing it is through the “Andean Lakes Crossing” excursion. This is a combination of land and water transportation which takes you from Bariloche to Puerto Varas through pristine lakes and forests.
The Argentine Lake District has a huge network of trekking routes known as the “Huella Andina”. This is a compilation of all the trails that exist in places such as National Park Los Alerces (UNESCO site), Lago Puelo, El Bolsón, Bariloche, Villa La Angostura, San Martin de los Andes, Lanin National Park, and Villa Pehuenia (among others).
Most travelers opt for doing just some parts of the “Huella Andina” since the whole route covers more than 500 kilometers. One of the most popular treks is the one known as “4 Refugios” (4 shelters). This is a trail that joins the shelters “Frey” (Cathedral Hill), “Jakob”, “Lopez”, and “Laguna Negra”. It is 45 kilometers in length, and it’s an amazing way to get to know the diversity of landscapes that compose this region.
El Chaltén, Torres del Paine, and El Calafate: The Paradise For Trekking Lovers
El Calafate (Argentina) is the gate to visit the Glacier Perito Moreno and El Chaltén (Argentina). El Chaltén is the village located at the foot of the mounts Fitz Roy and Torre. It comes with dozens of incredible trails that lead to different views of these two colossal mountains. The most popular ones are “Laguna de los 3” and “Cerro Torre”.
The “Laguna de los 3” is a full day hike of medium difficulty that leads to the homonym lagoon with unique views of Mount Fitz Roy. The other one is also a full day hike that leads to the lake Torre, at the foot of the “Cerro Torre”. Both trails can be started (and ended) from the village, and there is also the chance of joining them in the mountains if staying in camps.
Besides those two, there are many other trails to follow and excursions to try out. One of the things that makes this place unique, is the presence of the Continental Ice Cap. The Continental Ice Cap is an ice field on the Andes that’s shared between both countries.This ice field is the third-largest in the world (after Antarctica and Greenland) and from there descends most of the famous glaciers of Patagonia.
About five hours by land from El Calafate is Torres del Paine (Chile). Torres del Paine is home to one of the most iconic trekking trails in the world: the “W trek”. The W trek is a multiday hike (it usually takes 4 days) in which visitors visit the three main valleys of the Park. The three main valleys of Torres del Paine National Park are the valley of the Asencio river, the French valley, and the Grey Valley.
The Park comes with campsites, refuges, cabins, and hotels. However, the popular way of accommodation for the W trek is staying in refuges and/or campsites. Moreover, it’s possible to extend the W trek by doing a circle around the mountains behind the trails. This extension, together with the W, is known as the “O” trek.
Torres del Paine is also fed by the Continental Ice Cap, and trekking is not the only thing to do at the park. This is a great place for wildlife watching, scenic tours, kayaking, horseback riding, and more.
The closest city from Torres del Paine is Puerto Natales (Chile), with flights to Santiago de Chile, and land transportation to El Calafate (Argentina) and Punta Arenas (Chile). Punta Arenas is the most important city in the southern part of Chilean Patagonia and is a strategic hub to visit the Chilean Fjords, Antarctica, and other areas.
Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, Puerto Williams, and other destinations
Until recently, Ushuaia (Tierra del Fuego, Argentina) was the southernmost city in the world. This title now belongs to Puerto Williams (Chile), which is right in front of Ushuaia but on the opposite side of the Beagle Channel.
The Beagle Channel joins the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. North of the channel are the Chilean fjords and the island of Tierra del Fuego (which ends in the Magellan Strait). In the southern part of the channel are a group of islands in which are Puerto Williams and the mythical Cape Horn.
Ushuaia is the main city and most strategic hub to visit this region. It comes not only with flight connections to different parts of Argentina, but also with a port for cruises to Antarctica and other destinations.
From Ushuaia you can go trekking in different parts of Tierra del Fuego. Besides the forests, mountains, and the sea, this is an area with many peat bogs, which in winter are frozen and allow the practice of different kinds of activities. Some of the icons for hiking are the National Park Tierra del Fuego, “Laguna Esmeralda-Ojo del Albino”, and “Glaciar Vinciguerra”.
On the other hand, from Puerto Williams (Chile) it’s possible to join the famous “Dientes de Navarino” trail. Dientes de Navarino means “Navarino’s teeth” and it refers to a mountain chain with the shape of teeth. It’s a multi day trek in the mountains and leads to spectacular views.
Last but not least, it’s important to highlight that Patagonia comes with other incredible places for trekking, such as those spread along the Carretera Austral (Chile) or the Ruta 40 (Argentina).