Patagonia’s wild terrain beckons with soaring peaks, plunging lakes, vast grasslands and enticing trails that weave between them. Sprawling across the border of Chile and Argentina, Patagonia rewards hikers with amazing scenery and a real sense of being surrounded by nature and all that comes with it – the captivating beauty, the sense of freedom, and the moody weather.
The trails are moderate to challenging and the climate can be unpredictable, so travellers need to be appropriately prepared to get the most out of Patagonia. If you’re ready for it, it will deliver in spades. That’s why this striking landscape is a nirvana for hikers and one of the most popular trekking regions in South America. Here are some much-loved routes in Patagonia to put on your list.
Some of the most popular trails in Patagonia lie within the Torres del Paine National Park in Chile, where glaciers creak and groan and mountain valleys dip and weave. The W Trek is one of the most iconic routes here. Most people take roughly four days to complete the journey and absorb all the highlights along the way. These include views of Grey Glacier, sweeping vistas from the French Valley lookout, and the iconic Las Torres where three towering rock columns rise above a vibrant turquoise lagoon.
For those who are after a longer trek, the Full Circuit (also known as the O Circuit) takes in all the highlights of the W Trek as well as venturing to quieter areas of the park. Here you have fewer people sharing your views of Perros Glacier and Lago Dickson, although, you may have to contend with some resident guanacos (a native llama-like camelid). Rather than taking a multi-day walk through Patagonia, you also have the option to make one campsite your base and take single-day hikes from there.
If it’s day hikes you are after then Argentina’s trekking capital, El Chaltén, is a gateway to some incredible trails. Two of the most popular routes are Laguna de los Tres and Laguna Torre, both of which can be completed in a day from El Chaltén. Winding through Los Glaciares National Park, these trails are flanked by frozen lakes and glaciers that shimmer as they catch the sun’s rays.
One of the biggest icy attractions in Argentinean Patagonia is Perito Moreno Glacier, and you can hike that too! You can base yourself at nearby El Calafate and take a trip to this huge ice sheet, where you can swap your hiking shoes for crampons and enjoy a walking excursion that takes roughly two hours.
The glacier’s sheer size will astound you, standing an impressive 70m (230ft) tall, and you’ll be in awe of the thunderous cracks that echo out as chunks splinter from the glacier. It is just one of the natural marvels in Patagonia that will remind you just how small you are, and just how big your achievements can be.
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