Trekking in Patagonia

During our trip to South America we spent more than two months in Patagonia, always in search for the next hike. We found some amazing, almost untouched routes, got so close to the wildlife and met many like-minded travellers. But we were also challenged by the cold weather and the level of difficulty of some of the hikes. Sadly, we even had to skip some of the hikes due to snow.

This post provides an overview of the trekking opportunities in Patagonia. It includes the hikes we did and the ones we would have loved to do, providing some detail of the treks in terms of duration, difficulty and recommendations. For more info, just read our posts about the individual treks.

What we did – south to north

Isla Navarino

Lagoon on Isla Navarino

Duration : 6-7 days

Accommodation: Wild camping

Start / End point: Puerto Williams, round walk

Number of hikers met per day: 5

Accessibility: It’s quite expensive to get to the island, either by plane or by boat from Ushuaia or Punta Arenas.

Difficulty: Good waymarking on the Dientes Circuit, less so on walk to Lago Windhond, some very steep parts, tough wind

Highlight: Fishing at Lago Windhond

Cabo Froward

Wind bent trees, hike to Cabo Froward

Duration : 5 days (don’t attempt to make it in 4)

Accommodation: Wild camping

Start / End point: San Juan (70 km south of Punta Arenas), walk to the cape and back on the same route

Number of hikers met per day: 5

Accessibility: Easy access by bus from Punta Arenas, possible to hitchhike

Difficulty: Waymarking gets worse the closer you get to Cabo Froward, a lot of climbing over cliffs and through forests; some river crossings so keep track of the tides

Highlight: Watching the snowy mountains at the horizon.

Torres del Paine

Paine Grande mountains, Torres del Paine

Duration : W trek – 4 days; O – trek 8 days, our route we called the Y trek – 3 days

Accommodation: camp sites or hostels

Start / End point: Access national park via Puerto Natales

Number of hikers met per day: 150 on the W trek

Accessibility: Bus or hitchhike from Puerto Natales, park entry and boats for transport within the park are expensive

Difficulty: W and Y are easy routes, O is more challenging, very well indicated

Highlight: Clouds around the Torres mountains

El Chalten

Sunrise over Mount Fitz Roy, El Chalten

Duration : 3-4 days

Accommodation: Wild camping or day hikes from El Chalten

Start / End point: El Chalten, round walk

Number of hikers met per day: 50

Accessibility: Easy walk out of El Chalten

Difficulty: Routes are very well indicated, mostly flat, take account of Patagonian winds.

Highlight: Mount Fitz Roy at sunrise

Rio Puelo – border crossing from Argentina to Chile

Border crossing, Chile Argentina, Lago Puelo

Duration : 3 days

Accommodation: Wild camping and campsites

Start / End point: From Lago Puelo in Argentina to Segundo Corral in Chile

Number of hikers met per day: 0

Accessibility: Regular busses from El Bolson to Lago Puelo, busses from Segundo Corral much more rare

Difficulty: Good waymarking until Argentinian border, then more difficult, some tiny bridges to cross

Highlight: The Chilean border guards who call you a ferry

El Bolson

Lago Natacion, El Bolson, Argentina

Duration : 3-5 days

Accommodation: Campsites and manned mountain huts

Start / End point: From El Bolson to Warton

Number of hikers met per day: 5 (probably a lot busier in summer)

Accessibility: A bit of a walk out of El Bolson to reach start of a hike, probably need a taxi back to El Bolson from Warton

Difficulty: Good waymarking, mostly easy, steep part down from Hielo Azul

Highlight: Cosiness of the mountain huts

What we skipped

Cerro Castillo

Carretera Austral, Chile

Duration: 4 days

Accommodation: Wild camping, mountain huts

Start/ End point: Town Cerro Castillo, round walk

Accessibility: The town Cerro Castillo can be reached by bus but it’s a long trip

What we had hoped for: Autumn colours in the mountains

Why we had to skip the hike: Too much snow

Cochamó valley and Rio Manso

Lago Tagua-Tagua, Chile

Duration: 5-6 days

Accommodation: Campsites and wild camping

Start/ End point: From Cochamó to El Manso

Accessibility: Bus, taxi to Quila. From El Manso to Cochamo with buses and ferry.

What we had hoped for: Tiny villages with no road running to them

Why we had to skip the hike: Forecast predicted -8°C

Parque Huerquehue

Snow, Huerquehue National Park, Chile

Duration: 4 days

Accommodation: wild camping

Start/ End point: Park entry north of Pucon, possibility to leave park further to the north or do a round walk

Accessibility: By bus from Pucon

What we had hoped for: A bath in the hot springs to the north of the national park

Why we had to skip the hike: Park closed due to snow


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