Patagonia is a place of sensational beauty and breath-taking landscapes. The downside to this beauty is that the weather is erratic, the area is remote, and trails are often rough. However, this doesn’t deter the numerous hikers who make the journey every year to hike against the backdrop of Patagonia’s beautiful landscape. Countless glaciers and waterfalls of unmatched beauty make the journey worth it. Following is a list of the best hikes in Patagonia:
Located in Torres Del Paine National Park in Chile the W trail exposes you to the most stunning views on Patagonia. Vast grasslands are teeming with flora and fauna, beautiful dense forests, rugged rocks, glaciers, and stunning lakes. Rated at a moderate difficulty, the W trek is considered as one of the best hikes in the world. The hike, when viewed on a map, takes the shape of the alphabet “W”, hence its name. It stretches up to 72 km and has a cumulative elevation gain and loss of 2956 meters. Although the best recommended time to visit is between October and April, the area is visited by hikers throughout the year. A typical multi-directional route takes anywhere between 3 and 7 days. This hike can be taken individually as well as in the presence of a guide. There are a lot of accommodation options available, from pocket-friendly camps to luxurious lodges.
To reach here, you can take a bus from Puerto Natales and begin the hike at Refugio Las Torres. From there, you can hike to the base of Las Torres and then head to the French valley. The hike also covers a visit to the Grey Glacier. Visitors must keep in mind that the weather is quite unpredictable in this hike, and so they should plan accordingly.
Torres Del Paine Circuit
Also known as “The O Circuit”, this is a continuation of the W circuit that takes you along the Grey Glacier, deeper into the Patagonian backcountry. The Gray Glacier is the largest in this national park, almost 6 km in length. The hike is about 120 kilometers long and takes around 6 to 10 days to complete. You go across the amazing John Garner Pass, dense forests, and raging rivers. The advantage of taking this extension is that the backcountry is relatively less crowded, and you get to see more stunning views of the park. However, the O trail is a more challenging journey, as it is longer and more rugged.
If one intends to take up this hike individually, it is highly recommended that they make appropriate arrangements. Visitors should plan everything, including accommodation and supplies well in advance. Apart from the trek, other activities like kayaking, boating, fishing, glacier tours, rock climbing, horse-riding, and wildlife tours are also available.
Laguna de Los Tres
Also known as The Fitz Roy Trek, this hike takes the hikers to the foothills of three spectacular peaks, the Fitz Roy, the Torre, and Poincenot. This trail is especially popular amongst bird watchers, as there are numerous species found here. The hike is 20 kilometers long and is usually completed in a single day, although some hikers like to extend it to two days or more. The total cumulative elevation gain and loss is of 960 meters. The path goes along the edge of Rio Fitz Roy and takes you to Laguna Torre, which is a glacial lake. After this, the path takes you to Mirador Maestri, a jaw-dropping lookout from which you can see the Glacier Torre at a distance.
The hike is of moderate difficulty and is steep with uneven surfaces. Also, during the winter months, it becomes impassable. However, despite this, it sees a lot of hikers, thanks to the picturesque views and relatively short length of the trek. The trail is also easily accessible with lots of accommodation options. Booking in advance might be required in peak season, as they fill up quickly.
The Huemul Circuit
The Huemul Circuit takes you through high-altitude meadows, native beech forests, and frozen lakes of the Patagonian Ice Field. It climbs over two mountain passes, numerous river crossings, and even a zip-line across one river. The four-day hike is 64 kilometers long and treats you to panoramic views and beautiful peaks.
The Huemul Circuit is not for the faint of heart; it is intense and challenging and suitable for experienced hikers. Due to its challenging nature, the Huemul Circuit is relatively free of crowds, so you can enjoy the scenery in peace. The hike takes you From EL Chalten to Laguna Toro, which is 15 kilometers away. There are steep ascents and equally steep descents through Paso del Viento, from where to continue towards Bahia Cabo de Hornos on Lago Viedma, which is a massive frozen lake. The final 18 kilometers through the Patagonian steppe are relatively flat.
Although the trail is challenging and requires strong navigational skills, this journey is worth it, because the views that you get are marvelous.
The Cabo Forward Trek
This 45-kilometer trek is known as “the trek to the end of the world”. It goes along the edge of the Magellan Strait and to the southernmost tip of continental South America. The hike takes four days to complete, and it takes you to Chile’s Brunswick Peninsula. Visitors get to gaze upon the stunning Tierra del Fuego and Isla Dawson. On the way, you come across pebble beaches, cliffs, swamps, and river crossings. This area is uninhabited and there’s a high chance of spotting penguins along the shore. However, the hike is extremely challenging, and the paths are not well marked. The best way to undertake this trek is in the company of an expert guide. To reach the trailhead, you can take a bus to Rio Santa Maria from the regional capital of Punta Arenas
It is very difficult to find a trek on this planet that is more picturesque than Patagonia. If you are just starting to consider Patagonia as your next trekking destination, you may look at our curated Patagonia trek itinerary, which covers the best of Argentina and Chile portions of Patagonia. This is better than any individual trek route as you cover Fitz Roy peak in Torres Del Paine as well as the glaciers of the los glaciares national park. To know more you can reach out to our travel experience designers.
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