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Fantastic hikes in Patagonia that anyone will enjoy

Patagonia is an incredible place for hiking enthusiasts and nature lovers, it boasts some of the world’s finest hiking routes and offers a great experience whether you do short and easy day hikes or challenging long-distance treks. Patagonia is a massive region it spreads from the Pacific Ocean in the west to the Atlantic ocean in the east and from the snowy peaks of the Andes in the north to the southernmost tip of the continent in the south.

We spent 2 months traveling through Patagonia, most of the time on the Carretera Austral. In these months we did many hikes, camped at several National parks, and saw some incredible places. We enjoyed Patagonia so much that we are planning to go back and explore even more of this fantastic region.

Two colorful lakes between lush green mountains in Patagonia
The stunning scenery is one of the reasons to do several hikes in Patagonia

Main hiking areas in Patagonia

  • Bariloche, Argentina
  • Carretera Austral, Chile
  • El Chalten, Argentina
  • Torres del Paine, Chile
  • Ushuaia, Argentina

There are some good tours that combine the best Patagonia experiences, they offer a great opportunity to see the highlights of the region in a shorter time and hassle-free; no planning, logistic, booking, etc. involved you just enjoy the scenery and the company does all the arrangements for you though it’ll be more expensive than going on your own.

Travel insurance for hiking in Patagonia

Hiking like any outdoor activity involves a risk of getting an injury, breaking gear, losing valuables, etc. Even if you’re planning to do only a couple of day hikes in the region it’s still recommended to have travel insurance that will cover you in case something goes wrong.

It’s important to choose a reliable company that won’t let you down when you need help. World Nomads is a reputable international insurance company that insurance travelers all over the world. They focus on outdoor activities like hiking. A great thing about World Nomads’ insurance policy is that you can buy it online at any time even if you’re already on the road it takes just a couple of minutes. You can buy insurance to cover the whole trip or just a period of the hike, even if it’s only one day.  Get an instant quote here.

Note! Always read carefully Terms and Conditions of the policy.

What to pack for hiking in Patagonia?

In the two months, we spent in Patagonia we camped and hiked the region extensively. We created a detailed post on hiking and camping gear for Patagonia that includes gear and clothes that you’ll need for your Patagonia adventure.

Best hikes in Bariloche, Argentina

Refugio Otto Meiling (Tronador) trek, Bariloche

  • Distance – 30 km/18,6 miles, return
  • Required time – 2 days
  • Difficulty level – medium
  • Starting/finishing point – Pampa Linda
  • Accessibility –  by car or by bus, 2-hour drive from Bariloche
  • Admission fee – ARS 250/US$7
  • Accommodation options – Refugio, must be booked in advance at Club Andino in Bariloche. Camping next to the hut in your own tent – donation.

This hike is basically one steep ascend to the Refugio (overnight hut) and a subsequent steep descend back. The total altitude gain is 1000m. The view from the Refugio over the area is stunning. It’s about 15 min. walk to get to Tronador glacier from the hut. The glacier is quite impressive – hanging from the top of the mountain with several waterfalls falling a couple of hundred meters down.

Refugio Frey hike, Bariloche

  • Distance – 20 km/12 miles, return
  • Required time – 7 hours
  • Difficulty level – medium, 3-hour ascend to the top of the hill with subsequent descend.  
  • Starting/finishing point – Villa Catedral car parking
  • Accessibility –  by car, by bus from Bariloche
  • Admission fee – free

It’s one of the must-do hikes in Bariloche – fantastic scenery; blue lakes, mountains, indigenous forest. It can be done over two days if you stay at Refugio Frey, this way you’ll have more time to explore the area and do some hikes around the Refugio. The hut (Refugio) must be booked in advance in Bariloche, price ARS 600/US$16. As an option, you can bring a tent and camp there for free.

Accommodation in Bariloche

A house that is used as a Refugio for the hikers
Refugio Frey, an overnight hut on the hike

Best hikes on the Carretera Austral, Chile

Waterfall (Cascadas) Trail, Pumalin Park

  • Distance – 6 km/3,7 miles, return
  • Required time – 2-3 hours
  • Difficulty level – easy. The walk itself is easy except for the river crossing on the way if it rains a lot you’ll have to get quite wet and the last part – to get to the waterfall you’ll have to climb a ladder.
  • Starting/finishing point – Caleta Gonzalo
  • Accessibility – by ferry from Hornopiren or by car/bus from Chaiten.
  • Admission fee – free

Pumalin Park is a hidden treasure of Patagonia with many hiking trails, established campsites, and stunning scenery, we’d definitely recommend spending here a couple of days. The Waterfall Trail is a beautiful trail through the indigenous forest with a river crossing in the middle of the walk and some ladder climbing over huge boulders right at the end. The waterfall is truly impressive, it’s quite a big fall surrounded by huge rocks and lush green forest. We hardly saw any people on the trail.

Alya climbing a ladder to get over a boulder on the hike in Patagonia
Alya climbing a ladder on the Waterfall Trail, one of the easiest hikes in Patagonia

El Mirador Trail, Pumalin Park

  • Distance – 6 km/3,7 miles, return 
  • Required time – 2h30min.
  • Difficulty level – easy, there is an ascent to the viewpoint but it’s not very steep
  • Starting/finishing point – Vuelta del Rio campsite
  • Accessibility – by car, on foot
  • Admission fee – free

This trek is located in the southern part of Pumalin park and offers a great view over the area and Amarillo glacier from the Mirador (viewpoint). You can combine this walk with another short trek  – Darwin’s Frog though a lush forest, past small falls and rivers where you can spot an elusive frog.

Ventisquero Amarillo Trail, Pumalin Park

  • Distance – 20 km/12 miles, return
  • Required time – 6 hours
  • Difficulty level – easy
  • Starting/finishing point – Ventisquero campsite
  • Accessibility – by car, on foot though it’s quite far, about 10 km, from the park entrance and the other two campsites.
  • Admission fee – free

A beautiful walk along the river and through the forest with many birds to spot. Not a difficult walk, on a flat surface, not many people, very quiet trek, like most of the routes in Pumalin Park. The trail ends at the glacier, it is so close you can almost touch it. We’d recommend taking food with as it’s quite far to walk, there is no place to buy food on the way. Water is not a problem in the park, there are many creeks and streams with clean water.

You can find more information about hiking in the park in this post – Pumalin park trekking and camping.

Accommodation in Chaiten

Piedra del Aguila, Futaleufú  

  • Distance – 9 km/5,5 miles, return
  • Required time – 3 hours
  • Difficulty level – easy, not very steep ascend to the rock
  • Starting/finishing point – Futaleufú
  • Accessibility – on foot from the town
  • Admission fee – CLP 1000/US$1,5 to go up the rock.

The area around Futaleufu is truly beautiful, you can enjoy the stunning scenery while doing one of the outdoor activities, mainly hiking and rafting.  Piedra del Aguila is quite an easy hike from the town, but don’t underestimate it, the scenery here is amazing. From the beginning of the walk, once you’re out of the town, till the viewpoint – Piedra del Aguila (Eagle’s Rock) you can enjoy beautiful views of the valley of the Espolon river. An enjoyable short hike with great views for taking photos.  

Futaleufu one of the best areas in Chile for day hikes
A typical scenery that you see hiking around Futaleufú

Las Escalas circuit, Futaleufu

  • Distance – 24 km/15 miles, circuit
  • Required time – 6 hours
  • Difficulty level – medium
  • Starting/finishing point – Lake Seno Muerto
  • Accessibility – on foot from Futaleufu
  • Admission fee – free

Another hike with stunning scenery of the Futaleufu Valley and surrounding area. A steep ascent in the beginning to the viewpoint very similar to the Eagle Rock but quite a bit higher. The second part of the trail goes through the indigenous forest where you have chances to spot some animals and birds. Pack lunch with it takes half of a day to complete the route.

Garganta del Diablo, Futaleufú

  • Distance – 20 km/12 miles, return
  • Required time – 6 hours
  • Difficulty level – medium
  • Starting/finishing point – Futaleufu
  • Accessibility – on foot from the town
  • Admission fee – free

If you like big waterfalls and fast rivers with rapids this hike is definitely for you. The English name of the trek is “The Devil’s Throat”, it was named after a waterfall at the end of the trail. The route goes along the Espolon river until it reaches the waterfall, where it finishes. The water from Espolon lake goes through a narrow passage in the rocks with some huge boulders sticking out till it reaches the river, the waterfall is about 60 m high, it’s very loud and powerful. Take lunch or at least a snack with, there is no place to buy anything till you’re back in the town.

Accommodation in Futaleufú

Mirador Ventisquero Colgante trail, Queulat National park

  • Distance – 7 km/4,3 miles, return
  • Required time – 2h30min.
  • Difficulty level – medium, a steep ascent to the viewpoint  
  • Starting/finishing point – Queulat park entrance
  • Accessibility – by car, by bus from Puyuhuapi
  • Admission fee – CLP 5000/US$7.

Another National park with incredible scenery and several hiking trails, though most of them are short and easy. The first glacier we saw in Patagonia and quite a unique one, its name in English means “hanging glacier” – it hangs squeezed between two mountains. The trail goes through the beautiful lush green forest with small waterfalls and creeks, across turquoise rivers and lakes.

After the hike, you can do a short detour and go down to the lake to see the glacier again. It’s possible to do a boat tour to the glacier. The park is more touristy compared to Pumalin, mainly local tourists. You can stay in the park; either camping at the entrance or staying in cabins.

Accommodation in Puyuhuapi

The scenery on the hike Mirador Ventisquero Colgante, Patagonia

Cerro Castillo Circuit, Cerro Castillo National Park

  • Distance – 53 km/33 miles
  • Required time – 4 days, can be completed in 3 days
  • Difficulty level – moderate, two steep ascends and descends.
  • Starting point – Las Horquetas
  • Finishing point – Villa Cerro Castillo
  • Accessibility –  by car/bus from Coyhaique or Villa Cerro Castillo
  • Admission fee+camping in the park – CLP 23 5000/US$35
  • Accommodation options – camping

It’s one of our favorite multi-day hikes in Patagonia. The route goes through Cerro Castillo Natural reserve and offers a great diversity of landscapes; glaciers, pine forests, snow peak mountains, glacier lakes, mountain rivers, rocky passes – some have snow even in summer, meadows, etc.

Sometimes it’s described as the second Torres del Paine, many hikers prefer it over the Torres, the main reason Cerro Castillo is less commercial and far less crowded. The infrastructure in the park is good enough, the route is marked, there are designated campsites with basic facilities. You can find more information about this trek in our Cerro Castillo circuit trekking guide

Cerro Castillo lake a perfect off the beaten path hiking route in Patagonia
Alya at Cerro Castillo lake, 2nd day of the Cerro Castillo Circuit

Mirador Cerro Castillo trail, Cerro Castillo National Park

  • Distance – 12 km/7,4 miles, return
  • Required time – 6-7 hours
  • Difficulty level – medium/difficult, long and steep (900 m) ascend to the lake with subsequent descend back to the village.
  • Starting/finishing point – Villa Cerro Castillo
  • Accessibility – by car/bus from Coyhaique
  • Admission fee – CLP 5000/US$7

The trail starts at Villa Cerro Castillo, climbs all the way up, and finishes at Laguna Cerro Castillo – a small though beautiful turquoise lake formed by melting water from Cerro Castillo glacier. The scenery from the viewpoint is truly impressive; beautiful lake, hanging glacier, mountains in the background. If you look in the opposite direction you’ll see the village, the valley, and the Carretera Austral.

Take snack and water on the hike there will be no water on the way till you reach the lake. You can visit this place as part of a 4-day hike in Cerro Castillo Natural reserve.

Accommodation in Coyhaique

Áviles to Jeinimeni hike, Patagonia National park

  • Distance – 50 km/31 miles
  • Required time – 3-4 days
  • Difficulty level – difficult, very isolated area
  • Starting/finishing point – Jeinimeni lake or Stone House campsite, can be walked either way
  • Accessibility – by car. If you don’t have your own vehicle it’s better to arrange a shuttle that will drop you off and pick you up, very few cars going that way.
  • Admission fee – free
  • Accommodation options – camping

This trek is for real adventurers and probably one of the wildest trails in the region, before attempting it make sure you have the right gear and enough experience to wander in the wild alone.

The route starts or finishes (depending on which way you go) at beautiful Jeinimeni lake followed by even more impressive Lago Verde – a turquoise lake surrounded by mountains and forest. For the following 3-4 days the scenery will continue surprising you; an isolated and untouched area with ice-cold rivers that you’ll have to cross, beautiful valleys surrounded by high mountains, pampa, and forest – here you can see all the diversity of Patagonian landscape.

Furioso Trail, Patagonia National park

  • Distance – 23 km/14 miles, return
  • Required time – 6-7 hours
  • Difficulty level – medium
  • Starting/finishing point – first bridge over Chacabuco river
  • Accessibility – by car, hitchhiking though there are very few cars passing by as the trail is located in a more isolated part of the park  
  • Admission fee – free

Another trail in the Patagonia National Park, though this trail goes through more isolated areas, chances to meet other hikers are even smaller. Half of the time the trail goes along Chacabuco river across four wooden bridges. At the end of the trail, you can enjoy a nice view of Cerro Cristine. It’s a full day trek so take food and snacks with.

Accommodation in Cochrane 

Patagonian mountain at night
Beautiful night sky the you can see on one of the hikes in Patagonia

O’Higgins glacier hike, Villa O’Higgins

  • Distance – 82 km/51 miles, return
  • Required time – 4 days
  • Difficulty level – moderate/difficult, very isolated area
  • Starting/finishing point – Candelario Mancilla
  • Accessibility – by boat from Villa O’Higgins, on foot from Laguna del Desierto
  • Admission fee – pay for return boat crossing and camping on the island (private land) CLP 20 000/US$30.
  • Accommodation options – camping

Any hike you do around Villa O’Higgins is an off-the-grid adventure, the walk to the glacier is not an exclusion. The trail takes you through the Patagonian forest to the beautiful O’Higgins lake. There you have to take a boat to cross it, on the opposite side there is an established campsite that belongs to a family that lives there. From the campsite, it’s a day walk (return) to the viewpoint from where you can see the massive O’Higgins glacier. You walk back the same way.

Before coming to Patagonia we’ve done several hikes in Peru but the O’Higgins Glacier trek was more remote than any routes we’ve done there. It’s compulsory to register at Chilean Carabineros for the hike and indicate a day you’re planning to return. This hike can be combined with O’Higgins – El Chalten walk.

For more detail on both glacier hikes read our post – O’Higgins Glacier hike.

El Chico glacier trek unknown routes in Patagonia
El Chico glacier the end of the trek one of the most off the beaten track hikes in Patagonia

Glacier Tigre trek, Villa O’Higgins

  • Distance – 28 km/17,3 miles, return
  • Required time – 2 days
  • Difficulty level – medium/difficult, the trail is not well marked, long steep ascend and descend, 1000 m
  • Starting/finishing point – 24 km north from Villa O’Higgins
  • Accessibility – by car, hitchhiking
  • Admission fee – free
  • Accommodation options – camping

Villa O’Higgins and hikes in the area are for real adventurers and nature lovers – it’s a wild region with a lot to discover and explore. The route takes you first through beautiful evergreen forest, then as you gain altitude trees are getting smaller, you start seeing bushes and moss.

The way to the top is a steep ascend for 14 km, once there you’ll be rewarded with incredible views over the area; Rio Colorado, El Tigre glacier, Laguna Turquesa, and other rivers, lakes, and mountains. It’s possible to do this hike alone, but we’d recommend hiring a local guide it’s a very remote area and the trail is not well marked.

Accommodation in Villa O’Higgins

| Puesto Canogas Hostal | Cabañas San Gabriel | Robinson Crusoe Deep Patagonia |

Best hikes in El Chalten, Argentina

There are several tour options that combine hiking in El Chalten and visiting Perito Moreno glacier or hiking in Torres del Paine National park or exploring remote Ushuaia. If you short in time and want to visit several places on Southern Patagonia doing a tour might be a good option for you.

Huemul Circuit

  • Distance – 70 km/43 miles, circuit
  • Required time – 3-4 days
  • Difficulty level – difficult, some technically difficult parts  
  • Starting/finishing point – El Chalten
  • Accessibility – on foot from El Chalten
  • Admission fee – free
  • Accommodation options – camping

The trek boasts some of the most impressive scenery in this part of Patagonia; a massive glacier – part of the Southern Patagonia Glacier field, beautiful turquoise lakes, lookouts with stunning views over the area – the experience well worth of effort. The Huemul circuit is a tough hike that we wouldn’t recommend attempting if you’re an inexperienced hiker as well as hiking it alone is not a great idea.

Registration at the rangers office is compulsory, it’s free and done for your own safety in case you’re not back in time rangers can start looking for you. If you are caught hiking without a permit you can get a fine.  The trek can be done as a guided tour from El Chalten but it’ll be quite a bit more expensive than an independent hike.

Laguna de Los Tres

  • Distance – 25 km/15,5 miles, return
  • Required time – 8 hours
  • Difficulty level – moderate, easy in the beginning, steep ascend at the end + long distance  
  • Starting/finishing point – El Chalten
  • Accessibility – on foot
  • Admission fee – free

El Chalten is a real hiking paradise. The park has good infrastructure, beautiful scenery, several trails opt for the whole family. One of the great day hikes is Laguna de Los Tres – the closest you can get to the famous Fitz Roy mountain.

The walk is absolutely breathtaking with evergreen forest, several lakes, rivers, snow-covered peaks, and the highlight of the trek the fantastic Laguna de Los Tres, a mirror-like lake surrounded by the mountains with a perfect reflection of De Los Tres glacier in its calm waters. Don’t miss another emerald color lake – Laguna Sucia on the left-hand side, to see it, you have to walk up the rocky hill.

The best time to see Laguna de Los Tres is at sunrise in order to be there in time you have to stay at Rio Blanco, the nearest campsite, and start walking very early in the dark.

It’s possible to do a 4-day guided tour in El Chalten that allows you to see most of the highlights.

Laguna de los Tres a perfect day hike from El Chalten
Campbell at Laguna de los Tres in El Chalten

Lago Torre hike

  • Distance – 24 km/15 miles, return
  • Required time – 6-7 hours
  • Difficulty level – easy, though quite long   
  • Starting/finishing point – El Chalten
  • Accessibility – on foot
  • Admission fee – free

Another beautiful lake in El Chalten though we were quite unlucky there it was cloudy and rainy so we couldn’t really appreciate its beauty. This trek is easy without hectic climbs or ascends though it is quite long. The scenery is similar to the previous hike; forest, mountains, rivers, valleys, and lakes. There are several lookouts where you can stop for lunch just remember to pack food with there is nothing to buy in the park.

El Chalten – Villa O’Higgins hike

  • Distance – 34 km/21 miles
  • Required time – 2 days
  • Difficulty level – moderate, depending on how much luggage you carry with and if you walk the whole way or take a second ferry
  • Starting point – Candelario Mancilla, Chile
  • Finishing point – Laguna de Desierto, Argentina
  • Accessibility – by ferry from Villa O’Higgins
  • Admission fee – free
  • Accommodation options – camping

This crossing from Chile to Argentina is getting more and more popular every year. It’s the only way between countries here, otherwise, you have to go back from Villa O’Higgins to Chile Chico and cross there. The whole traverse is a combination of one or two ferry rides, walking, and a bus ride.

It’s important to remember that you’ll walk with all your luggage make sure it’s not too heavy. The route is beautiful; starting at turquoise blue O’Higgins lake in Chile, passing through indigenous forest and ending at Laguna del Desierto – another stunning turquoise lake already on the Argentinian side. The walk can be done the other way around from Argentina to Chile. For more details on the walk read our post Walking from Villa O’Higgins to El Chalten

It’s possible to visit Laguna del Desierto and explore the area around with a day 4×4 and hiking tour from El Calafate or El Chalten.

Accommodation in El Chalten

The turquoise color Laguna del Desierto in Argentina
Laguna del Desierto on the hike from O’Higgins to El Chalten, Patagonia

Best hiking routes in Torres del Paine, Chile

The O circuit

  • Distance – 120 km/74 miles, circuit
  • Required time – 6-8 days
  • Difficulty level – moderate
  • Starting/finishing point – Hotel Las Torres
  • Accessibility –  by car, by bus, on foot
  • Admission fee – CLP 21 000/US$32
  • Accommodation options – camping, refugios, hotels

The iconic O circuit is probably one of the most famous hikes in the world. If you have time and like hiking we’d definitely recommend completing the O trek. The route takes hikers through both; off the beaten path areas and must-see tourist attractions. For inexperienced hikers, it can be quite a tough walk especially the part of conquering John Gardner pass, but the scenery on the way is more than rewarding.

Hikers get a chance of spotting guanacos, foxes, condors, armadillos, and in less explored parts of the park even a puma. The route is well marked with several campsites and refugios on the way.

The W trek

  • Distance – 100 km/62 miles
  • Required time – 4-5 days
  • Difficulty level – moderate
  • Starting point – Refugio Paine Grande
  • Finishing point – Hotel Las Torres
  • Accessibility –  by boat from Pudeto
  • Admission fee – CLP 21 000/US$32
  • Accommodation options – camping, refugios, hotels

The W trek goes through the most popular part of Torres del Paine and gives hikers a chance to admire the highlights of the park e.g. Las Torres, Grey Glacier, Pehoe Lake, Los Cuernos, etc. It’s an easier and shorter alternative to the O circuit. The scenery on this trek won’t stop surprising you every day. There are some tough parts on the route, but in general, it’s quite an enjoyable walk.

The infrastructure of this part of the park is quite developed, the trail is marked very well, there are refugios and hotels with restaurants –  you don’t even need to carry a tent or food for the trek though staying at hotels inside the park is quite expensive.

You can do the W trek with a tour company from Puerto Natales. The tour includes all transport, accommodation, and meals.

Laguna and Mirador Los Torres in Patagonia
Mirador Las Torres one of the best hikes in Patagonia

Mirador Las Torres

  • Distance – 19 km/12 miles, return
  • Required time – 6-7 hours
  • Difficulty level – difficult
  • Starting/finishing point – Hotel Las Torres, you can stay closer – at Refugio Chileno and start the walk from there.
  • Accessibility – by car, by bus, on foot
  • Admission fee – CLP 21 000/US$32, the ticket is valid for 3 consecutive days.

Hiking in Torres del Paine National park is an incredible experience. The park offers dozens of great day hikes and two long-distance routes. One can spend weeks in the park and still won’t have time to see and do everything here. Las Torres – the famous “Towers” is probably the main and the most recognizable sight in Torres del Paine and in Patagonia – it’s not to miss when visiting the park.

The hike up there is quite challenging due to the steep ascend, but the scenery on the way and the view of Las Torres and the lake is 100% rewarding. If you want to get Las Torres colored in red by the sunrise you must stay at Refugio Chileno (the closest accommodation option) and start hiking very early morning in order to make it all the way to the top on time.  

Glacier Grey hike

  • Distance – 10 km/6 miles, return
  • Required time – 4 hours
  • Difficulty level – difficult, long steep ascent to the viewpoint
  • Starting/finishing point – Refugio Grey
  • Accessibility – by boat from Hotel Lago Grey
  • Admission fee – CLP 21 000/US$32

Another remarkable landmark in Torres del Paine – huge and impressive is glacier Grey. There are several viewpoints from where you can appreciate it, but to be able to estimate its real size you must hike up to the second suspension bridge from where you’ll be able to see the entire glacier. Two suspension bridges on the way make the walk even more exciting. In fact, if you have time you can continue walking along the glacier towards Paso campsite just remember that you’ll have to go all the way back.

There are several tour options from Puerto Natales that offer day visits to Torres del Paine and multi-day tours in the region.

A view of Grey Glacier on a day hike in Patagonia
Grey Glacier is one of the most spectacular hikes in Patagonia

Mirador Británico hike

  • Distance – 26 km/16 miles, return
  • Required time – 8 hours
  • Difficulty level – difficult, long and steep ascent to the viewpoint, recommended attempting only in good weather  
  • Starting/finishing point – Refugio Paine Grande
  • Accessibility – by boat from Pudeto
  • Admission fee – CLP 21 000/US$32

If you’re lucky with the weather you’ll get a stunning view from the Mirador over the whole area, it’s probably one of the best viewpoints in the park. The hike is quite tough especially the second part from Mirador Frances – very steep and long ascend. It’s highly recommended to start the early morning in order to have enough time to complete it. The best is to walk first to Mirador Frances (you get quite nice views from there as well) and if the weather is good, continue to the Britanico if not rather turn around if it’s overcast and rainy you won’t be able to see anything from the top. Take food with there is no place to buy anything on the way.

Accommodation in Puerto Natales

Cabo Froward trek, Punta Arenas

  • Distance – 75 km/46,7 miles, return
  • Required time – 4-5 days
  • Difficulty level – very difficult, many river crossings, have to plan the route according to tides
  • Starting/finishing point – south from Punta Arenas, where the road ends
  • Accessibility – by car
  • Admission fee – free
  • Accommodation options – camping

It’s the ultimate adventure in Patagonia for those who survived previous weeks of hiking and camping in rain and wind. The trek is very challenging, mainly because of its isolation and several difficult river crossings, sometimes you’ll have basically to swim with your backpack – it’s important to plan the hike according to the tides.

The scenery here is quite different from that in Torres del Paine; no more mountain peaks, glaciers, forest mainly step with many rivers and lakes – big open areas. The trek ends at Cruz de Los Mares – a metal cross that marks the end of the American continent. This trek can be done only between December and March  – the warmest time of the year.

Accommodation in Punta Arenas

Best hikes in Ushuaia, Argentina

Laguna Esmeralda hike

  • Distance – 9 km/5,5 miles, return 
  • Required time – 3h30min.
  • Difficulty level – easy
  • Starting/finishing point – Valle de Lobos
  • Accessibility – by car, by bus
  • Admission fee – free

An easy and beautiful walk to the Emerald lagoon through the lenga forest, along the river where you can see beavers if you’re lucky or just their dams. The lake is beautiful as you can guess from its name, its water is an emerald color. The lake is squeezed between the mountains, with a hanging glacier on the opposite side. A nice trekking option for the whole family.

This hike can be done as a guided hike from Ushuaia.

Glacier Vinciguerra hike

  • Distance – 13 km/8 miles, return
  • Required time – 6-7 hours
  • Difficulty level – moderate
  • Starting/finishing point – Valle de Andorra
  • Accessibility – by car
  • Admission fee – free

Another day hike from Ushuaia though this one is a bit more difficult than the previous one. The trail goes through the forest, with some ascends over the rocks, past a couple of beautiful valleys and ends with Vinciguerra glacier. You get really close to the glacier, you can almost touch it. 

If you don’t want to wander alone you can join a guided hiking tour from Ushuaia.

Sierra Valdivieso Circuit

  • Distance – 48 km/30 miles, circuit
  • Required time – 4 days
  • Difficulty level – difficult
  • Starting/finishing point – Tierra Mayor Valley
  • Accessibility – by car
  • Admission fee – no
  • Accommodation options – camping

Just the idea of hiking somewhere at the end of the world is already quite exciting, add to this fantastic scenery; mountain peaks, forest, valleys, endless lakes and peace and tranquility that you can only experience in isolated places like this. The hike is quite challenging ascending in passes and descending back to the valleys. Nature around is completely unspoiled with very few hikers venturing this way. Note! There are no established campsites on this route – wild camping in a suitable place is the way to go. Just remember, don’t leave any rubbish behind and don’t make wildfires.

More tours and activities in Ushuaia

Accommodation in Ushuaia

Ushuaia a small town at the end of the world in Argentina
Ushuaia a rough region in Argentina with some great hiking routes

Ice hiking in Patagonia

Walking on a glacier is a unique experience not to miss in Patagonia, there are several options in both Chile and Argentina. There are several tours that combine glacier walking with hiking in Torres del Paine.

Exploradores glacier hike, Puerto Rio Tranquilo, Chile

A great and budget (compared to the other glacier hikes) experience, walking on a 1000-year-old glacier wearing crampons and carrying an ice axe. Going through fantastic ice caves and tunnels, climbing up and down the glacier – all these sound too exciting to miss it.

  • Required time – full day activity, a couple of hours in a van to get there and back, about 1h30min. to get to the glacier, 2-3 hours of walking around and the same way back.
  • Cost – CLP 45 000/US$65. This is the most budget option in Patagonia.

Accommodation in Puerto Rio Tranquilo

| Cabañas Don Hugo | Cabañas La Estrella | Cabañas Valle Exploradores |

Glacier Grey hike, Torres del Paine, Chile

Another famous ice giant this time in Chile, in Torres del Paine National park, that you can explore walking. It’s very similar to the experience of the previous hike.

  • Required time – full day.
  • Cost – CLP 125 000/US$200, plus park entrance fee.

Perito Moreno glacier hike, El Calafate, Argentina

Walking on the world-famous Perito Moreno Glacier is a great experience. The tour is basically the same as the previous one, getting to the glacier, walking on it for about 3-4 hours, and then getting back. Includes transport, gear, and guide.

  • Required time – fully day experience.
  • Cost – ARS 7900/US$200, plus entrance fee to the national park.

Accommodation in El Calafate

As you can see the best deal is ice hiking from Puerto Rio Tranquilo it’s three times cheaper than Perito Moreno or Grey glacier though that glacier is not that famous.

Ice and snow scenery, Perito Moreno glacier hike
The scenery on Perito Moreno Glacier hike, Argentina

Useful tips for hiking in Patagonia

Patagonia is a wild region with many hiking trails, especially long-distance hikes, many are very isolated and can be accessed only on foot – make sure you understand what you’re doing and know all the risks.

When going on an isolated, multi-day hike let somebody local know when you’re planning to return, in case you’re not back in time rangers or police can start looking for you.

It might sound scary but it’s always better to take precautions, we hiked, camped and hitchhiked in Patagonia for two months and never had any extreme situations except being soaking wet a couple of times.

Patagonia is famous for strong winds especially in summer (December, January), don’t make open fires, use a camping stove instead. Wind makes fires difficult to control in which case it can cause massive damage to the area.  

Make sure you have the right camping gear (wind and waterproof) and all the necessary stuff for camping in the wild – there are some gear shops in bigger Patagonian towns but everything gets very expensive here so rather bring your own stuff.

Before you go on a hike make sure you’ll have no problem getting back after completing the hike if there is no public transport rather arrange a private shuttle. Hitchhiking does work well in Patagonia on the main roads, but on some secondary roads that lead to nowhere, only one car might pass per day.

Weather and climate in Patagonia

The main characteristic of Patagonian weather is that it is very unpredictable, it might be a nice sunny day and in an hour it turns to stormy wind, hail and rain, be prepared to experience several seasons in one day. Summer, early fall and late spring are the warmest months in Patagonia with day temperatures between 14°C and 20°C. Note! It can be warmer in the north e.g. Bariloche and colder in the south e.g. Punta Arenas or Ushuaia.

Nights are quite cold even in summer – between 8°C and 12°C which is important to remember if you’re planning to camp. Winter months May to August are not the ideal time for hiking in Patagonia most of the places (hotels, campsites) are closed as well as some hiking trails, in some areas expect to see snow, temperatures go below 0°C. If you like skiing or snowboarding some places e.g. Bariloche is great and very busy this time of the year.

A graph that represents average monthly temperature in Patagonia
Average monthly temperatures in Patagonia. It can vary between the south and the north of the region.

As for rains chances of it are pretty equal throughout the year though in summer months you can expect more rains, in winter it might snow. Out of summer months, February is the best for hiking in Patagonia – it’s warm, not much rain and it’s the least windy months as well. Though if you’re going to popular parks like Torres del Paine or El Chalten expect to see many people there, February is the busiest month in Patagonia.

A graph that represents average monthly rainfalls in Patagonia
Chances of rain and average monthly rainfalls in Patagonia

Recommended books and guidebooks for hiking in Patagonia

In the last couple of years, there were many changes in Patagonia (new National parks, etc.) make sure to buy an updated guide book.

A view of Cerro Castillo Lake and the glacier from the trek
Cerro Castillo Circuit - a 4-day trek in Patagonia
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