With so much to see in Patagonia and so much diverse and conflicting information on the internet, it’s often difficult to make head and tail of all the trekking opportunities available in Patagonia. As part of our ‘Top 5’ series, we’ve come up with our top 5 favourite trails, after spending time out in the mountains, trekking in Patagonia. Think glaciers, lakes and stunning peaks and hiking in one of the world’s practically untouched lands…
1) The Big ‘W’ of Torres del Paine – Our first and favourite trail is a fantastic way to see this National Park in all it’s glory, and the W trek takes only 4-5 days to complete depending on your appetite for hiking. It takes in this Chilean park’s most famous spots; The Torres (that give the park its name), Valle Frances and Glacier Grey. With comfortable ‘refugios’ (mountain lodge/hostels) dotted along the route and plenty of spots for camping, this is a great way to get out into the mountains and trek from the east to the west of the park. One of our favourite things about Torres del Paine is the plethora of native flora & fauna you’ll come face to face with, from walking amongst guanacos to eating ripe El Calafate berries. Plus, the water is so clean that you can fill up everyday from the park’s rivers and lakes. If you want to feast your eyes on sprawling glaciers and granite peaks, the Torres del Paine W has to be on your list…
2) Laguna de Los Tres – A second and important trail to hike is to Laguna de Los Tres in Los Glaciares National Park, Argentinian Patagonia. The hike to this lookout is one of the main trails in the park and it’s not hard to see why. The trail leads you to look out over Mount Fitz Roy, the infamous granite spire that remains one of the most technically challenging climbs in the world. Although a reasonably easy hike (apart from the 1 hour uphill climb at the end), the spectacular view of the blue lake, the snow and Mount Fitz Roy behind it, make Laguna de los tres a must do.
3) Southern Patagonian Ice Cap – Looking for that spectacular and once-in-a-lifetime trek? head out to Chalten and get out onto the ice on a Southern Patagonian Ice Cap trek for 9 days, with the opportunity to summit a mountain. The Southern Patagonian Ice cap is the second biggest in the world after Greenland and trekking on it for 8-9 days is both physically and mentally demanding. You’ll be surrounded by white snow and ice and camp each night but it’s an incredibly exciting and rewarding way of seeing glaciers and mountains up close (and something you can brag about for years!)
4) The Full Circuit – 4th place goes to a challenging but less strenuous trek; the Full Circuit of Torres del Paine, camping for 8 nights in the national park. You’ll cover the same route as the W Circuit and also visit the northern part of the park, seen by on 5% of visitors to Paine. Along the way you’ll stop at Dickson and Perros Glaciers, possibly see the endangered Huemul deer and hike through Paso John Garner, a challenging pass that brings you out to look down on the sprawling Glacier Grey.
5) Mount Tronador – For another beautiful trek, head north to the alpine town of sunny San Carlos de Bariloche and the location of Argentina’s first National Park created in 1937. ‘Nahuel Huapi’ National Park is a wonderful place for mountain biking and hiking, and in particular the hike to Mount Tronador is breathtaking. As you follow the trail upto the peak, you’ll come to a wonderful amphiteatre of mountains before carrying up to climb Tronador itself.
We’ve got lots more inspirational blog posts about holidays in Patagonia coming your way, so watch this space.