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The 9 Best Hiking Trails in Patagonia

There aren’t many places on earth that offer the perfect blend of adventure and unspoiled beauty as Patagonia does. Patagonia lies at the southern extremities of Chile and Argentina. Be it a remote mountain range, sunny grassland, windy plains, or glaciers floating in the sea, you can see and enjoy all this and more in Patagonia. This is also the place gauchos call home. These whipcord tough hombres are the cowboys of the southern hemisphere and have a distinct culture.

Patagonia is a trekker’s paradise and offers treks and hikes across all grades of difficulty; the trekking routes cover places of breathtaking beauty, clear waters, and clean air. The best time to go trekking in Patagonia is from October to April.

Here are nine treks in Patagonia that will give you the thrills and memories to last a lifetime.

1 The W Trek

The W Trek is famous for offering a complete package that encapsulates everything on offer in Patagonia. The trek lasts for five days and passes through the Torres Del Paine National Park. With trekking enthusiasts in the region, it is almost a tradition to do this trek. It is a safe trek that you can undertake alone; you will likely make friends along the way. You can carry your camping equipment on your back or rest in refugios where a bed and food await weary trekkers. The trek is 71 kilometers long and begins at Refugio Las Torres. Landmarks en route include Las Torres, French Valley, and the Grey Glacier.

2 The O Trek

Trekkers who get an idea of what Patagonia has on offer are inexorably drawn to other treks. Of these, the O Trek ranks high on their list. The O trek extends along the Grey Glacier and it takes nine days to complete the O, which ends at Refugio Las Torres. The panoramic vistas that open up when you reach Campamento Los Perros are worth the trek up Paso John Gardner. From here, you, the intrepid trekker, will follow the Rio Paine and enjoy the wind beating on your face as you trek the famed steppes conquered by gauchos.

3 Lago del Desierto

All border crossings come with a romance of their own; and this one comes with the added excitement of seeing wild condors, the O’Higgins glacier, and remote border posts that are your only contact with civilization on either side of the Argentina-Chile border. The trek passes through the Carretera Austral, which is in Chile. This road ends at Villa O’Higgins, where you can rest and give some respite to your tired legs. A ferry ride across the translucent waters of Lago O’Higgins takes you to Candelario Mansilla, then a 20-km trek will see you arrive at Lago del Desierto, from here it is only a matter of 15 kilometers along the shores of the lake, and you will reach the bus station from where you will be ferried to the cosy tourist town of El Chalten in Argentina.

4 Laguna Torre

Some of the most beautiful scenery in Argentina, indeed in the whole of South America, can be found in El Chalten. This stunning trekking destination is the launchpad for a trek to Laguna Torre. The route winds along Rio Fitzroy and features many lookout points as well as views of the imposing Cerro Torre, which rises more than three kilometers above sea level. It ends at the Laguna Torre, a glacial lake and site of a campground. From here, the trek proceeds to Mirador Maestri, probably the best lookout point in the entire trek.

5 The Huemul Trek

The Huemul trek is a four-day journey of exploration through the Glaciares National Park. The trek commences at El Chalten and after an envigorating 15-kilometer walk, you reach Laguna Toro, where you set camp at the end of the first day and reminisce about the pine, fir, and beech forests, sweet meadows, and ice fields that you came across. The next day, before you set camp again at Refugio Paso del Viento, you will have walked 12 kilometers. This will include crossing the Tunel River and trekking along the edges of a massive glacier field. By the time you’re done with the 18-kilometer trek of the third day and camp at Bahia Cabo de Hornos, you will have gone around the craggy heights of Cerro Huemul. On the fourth day, you can enjoy the fragrances and sights that make up the vast Patagonian steppes.

6 Nahuel Huapi

The Nahuel Huapi National Park offers a great trek for experienced and novice trekkers. The route is nicely planned, is filled with great sights, and gives you an opportunity to celebrate the end of the trek at Bariloche, a beautiful resort town on the edges of the park, renowned for its old Swiss chalets. The trek takes four days to complete and passes through mountains, glacial valleys, and takes you close to the Argentinean border with Chile. Share rooms with fellow hikers in mountain huts. The first day ends with a rest at Refugio Frey after trekking 12 kilometers from the base of Cerro Catedral. The next day presents a bracing walk of nearly 10 kilometers to Los Catedrales and then a rest at Refugio jakob. On the final day, you can enjoy a mildly challenging hike of 16 kilometers to Colonia Suiza.

7 Cerro Castillo

Cerro Castillo is a 43-kilometer trek that you can do in four days. It takes you through Patagonian outdoors on the Chilean side, and is one of the more remote treks in Patagonia. If you’re lucky, then apart from the imposing peak of Cerro Castillo and clear blue lakes, you may also catch a glimpse of the very rare huemul deer. Unless you’re an experienced trekker who has already undertaken this trek once, it is advisable to hire a guide who can help you navigate the streams and mountain passes. You can hire guides at the base village of Villa Cerro Castillo.

 8 Perito Moreno

Perito Moreno is one of the most famous glaciers in the world; it grows at the rate of two meters a day. The sight of huge walls of ice cracking into smaller blocks and rushing into the Canal de los Tempanos is one to behold. This glacier extends for more than 30 kilometers and is five kilometers wide. It is one of the most awe-inspiring sights in all of South America. Sign up for an icy adventure in the town of El Calafate where experienced guides wait to take you on four-hour treks. But this section of the Los Glaciares National Park features more than just ice; there are rivers and lenga forests to cross before you hit the ice.

9 Cabo Froward Trek

This trek has been labeled as one that leads to the proverbial end of the world. It is a 45-kilometer trek and will have you walking the edges of the fabled Strait of Magellan and you can click a selfie at the most southern point on the South American landmass. The trek takes four days and covers swaths of the totally uninhabited Brunswick Peninsula in Chile. Take the bus to Rio Santa Maria from Punta Arenas and hire a guide who will not only help you navigate the trek but also pass on valuable information about the region, and show you where the dolphins are jumping and penguins are waddling.

Originally posted 2017-03-28 07:06:22.

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