From relaxed day treks skirting glacial lakes and spotting local fauna and flora to multi-day hikes through some of the region’s most distinctive scenery, trekking in Patagonia offers enough variety and challenge to keep even the most experienced hikers busy.
Pack a pair of sturdy trekking boots, a rucksack and a sense of adventure and prepare to discover Patagonia as it was intended: by foot.
Trekking in Patagonia: Los Lagos Region, Chile
Although there’s no escaping the fact that Los Lagos Region receives more than average levels of precipitation, if you can cope with a spot of rain, you’ll be generously rewarded with a landscape lush, green and perfect for hiking.
Arriving into the area, you’ll immediately be struck by the 8,701 ft. (2,652m) Osorno Volcano, which looms over Puerto Varas and Lake Llanquihue. To get to the top, an ascent using a local guide takes around six hours and passes through forests of Andean birch thought to be over 5,000 years old
Another prime destination for trekking in this part of Patagonia is Pumalín Park, a conservation project established by Tompkins Conservation with the aim of protecting and restoring the region to its original wild state.
With plenty of trekking routes in the park, a few days allows you to explore the area well. Some of the most exciting hikes are the trail up to the top of Volcano Chaitén, a volcanic caldera which last erupted in 2008 after 9,000 years of lying dormant or to the base of the Michinmahuida Glacier on the southern edge of the park.
How to get there: Puerto Montt is the location of region’s main airport and local buses. From here, private transport and tours can be organized or from Puerto Varas, 26-miles (21.7km) north.
Trekking in Patagonia: Los Glaciares National Park, Santa Cruz Province, Argentina
The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Los Glaciares National Park on the border between Argentine and Chilean Patagonia is best known for being the home of Patagonia’s most famous glacier, Perito Moreno. But further north in Argentina’s largest national park lies numerous hikes from El Chaltén.
From across the town, the spikes of Monte Fitz Roy (the inspiration for the Patagonia brand of clothing) are visible. But, as the ascent of Monte Fitz Roy is considered one of the most technically challenging in the world, the mountain is best viewed from any of the hikes around the area, including the popular day trek to Laguna de Los Tres.
Trekking in Patagonia: Torres del Paine National Park, Magallanes Region, Chile
Few can say they’ve gone trekking in Patagonia without visiting the most famous destinations of them all: Torres del Paine National Park. Options range from the short but popular ‘W’ hike to the Circuit and the Q, the latter two demanding up to eleven days of trekking in the park’s unforgettable mountain, lake and glacier-dominated landscapes.
Although these three hikes are the most famous, you can also find a few other short treks to keep you occupied for a day. It’s also possible to stay in hotel accommodation outside the park’s boundaries and visit with a guided tour.
How to get there: There are several different options for getting to Torres del Paine National Park. The closest airport to the park is in Puerto Natales, which has twice-weekly flights from Santiago during peak season. It’s also possible to fly to Punta Arenas, from where various transport options, including a bus or hire vehicle, can get you to the park.