I didn’t make it to Patagonia when I briefly visited Argentina, so it is still firmly on my bucket list! Hiking in Patagonia is an incredible adventure which I definitely want to do one day, so I asked Mila from Travel Belles to share her tips and advice for some of the best hikes in Patagonia.
Patagonia offers trekkers a wonderfully diverse landscape to explore, which is why it has become such a popular hiking destination. Offering a variety of day hikes and multi-day treks, Patagonia should definitely be at the top of your adventure-hiking list. There are, however, a few things you need to know about the hikes in Patagonia before booking your trip and getting your hiking boots on!
The Best Time to Hike in Patagonia
It is generally best to hike in Patagonia from October to June. While the summer officially begins in December, the hiking season starts at the end-September or in early-October. Summer is when Patagonia is at its most vibrant and beautiful.
There are 18 hours of daylight in the summer, and although the winds are strongest during this season, the weather will be warm enough for a campsite.
Winter usually lasts from April to September. Most of the lodges will be closed and camping is not advised. While this time may not be great for hiking, it is perfect for skiing.
Essentials for Hiking in Patagonia
Don’t cut corners when it comes to footgear – proper waterproof hiking boots are essential. You will also need thick socks and some Compeed for those painful blisters. Other necessities include strong DEET insect repellent, sunscreen and a hat that won’t fly away.
If you will be doing any multi-day hikes in Patagonia, you might also need some extra clothing (warm, water-resistant and windproof), lightweight cooking gear, trekking poles, warm lightweight sleeping bag, thick sleeping mat, headlamp and a portable charger to make sure you don’t run out of battery for those all important photographs.
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It would also be beneficial to place all your belongings in plastic bags inside your backpack or use dry bags to ensure that they are waterproofed.
It’s a good idea to trek with a professional, so they would take care of all the heavy equipment for you. Make sure you reserve the treks well in advance as these hikes book up fairly quickly.
Best Day Hikes in Patagonia
Los Glaciares – Fitz Roy Range
The Fitz Roy Range is a wonderful day hike, lasting between 4 to 8 hours depending on your preference and level of fitness. The range is in Los Glaciares National Park, which is near the town of El Chaltén, whose San Martín street is dotted with local shops. Most trails to the summits of Mount Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre start in this village. Don’t miss out on a great picture worthy opportunity at the Laguna de Los Tres viewpoint, which is near Fitz Roy. And for the best mountain views head out to the shores of Laguna Capri not far from the town.
During the hike, you will encounter stunning views of both Cerro Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre – both are rather spiky mountain peaks in the Southern Patagonian Ice Field.
Torres del Paine – W Trek
The W Trek is a world-famous, multi-day hike in Patagonia. What many people may not know, however, is that much of the W Trek could also be completed in three separate day hikes.
You should keep in mind that this option may be more expensive than the multi-day hike, due to the cost of transfers to the different trailheads, but it offers more comfort as you can skip the camping and sleep in your hotel.
This famous Southern Highway or Chile’s Route 7 runs for 1,240 km and covers many different trails with diverse and mesmerising ecosystems.
En route, you will have the opportunity to choose between exploring a variety of landscapes and ecoregions including steppe, the Northern Ice Cap and even a rainforest. As all three have quite different climates, so pack your hiking gear accordingly and ensure you always layer up in order to stay comfortable in hot and cold weather alike.
If you can hire a car for your visit and you’d like to skip hardcore hiking altogether but still get to enjoy the fantastic views along the highway, it will be much easier to drive from one trailhead to the next, while staying at any of the fantastic lodges along the Route 7.
Best Multi-day Hikes in Patagonia
Tierra del Fuego – Montes Martial Circuit
This region of Patagonia allows you to experience the wilderness at its purest. The landscape is not only stunning but also diverse. It encompasses beech forest, rocky ridges, boggy pampas and more.
Tierra del Fuego is an incredibly dramatic archipelago at the southernmost tip of Southern America. With its snowy mountains, glaciers, tundra and wind-sculpted trees, you will find yourself wondering about what the part of the world you are in.
Located in the area there is a resort village called Ushuaia, known among visitors as the End of the World, the area is an entry point to the region and most Antarctica adventures.
The Montes Martial Circuit is an exciting trek which loops behind Ushuaia and takes 3 days to complete.
Torres del Paine
There are two prominent multi-day treks in Torres del Paine – the W Trek and Circuit Trek or O Circuit. These are very popular during high season so booking several months or even a year in advance is essential. Ensure you have reserved your trek before booking any flights as chances are you might be disappointed.
The W Trek is suitable for fit, active hikers only, so doing a day hike before the W Trek could be a good practice to check your own level of fitness. This trek lasts between 4 to 5 days and you will be hiking from hut to hut. Although you don’t have to have a guide, trekking with a reputable operator is always a good idea in South America. This is a strenuous trek and you could do with all the help you can get!
The Circuit Trek (O Circuit) is more challenging and last between 7 to 10 days. It will likely be necessary to camp in the northern sector, so you should only embark on this trek if you already have some experience trekking in the Andes or in the Himalayan region. Getting a guide is also a pretty good idea as camping for a week or two can get very tiring if you have to carry all of the equipment plus set up your own camp and cook your own food. Professional help could either make or break your experience.
Whatever route you pick, visiting Patagonia is bound to be an exciting, adventure-packed experience, so try to go with something that matches your interests and hiking experience to truly enjoy this wonder of the world and make the most of the best hikes in Patagonia!
About the Author
In the past 10 years, Mila has travelled to 100 cities in 40 countries and lived in 8. Born in St. Petersburg, she grew up in Lithuania and spent most of her adult life in the UK. Her travel blogging led her to a position of an editor of TravelBelles.com. You can also find her on Facebook and LinkedIn.
Have you been trekking in Patagonia? What do you think are the best hikes in Patagonia? I’d love to hear your thoughts, please leave a comment below.
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