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Experience the southern tip of South America at its most beautiful with these incredible Patagonia hikes.

It’s not hard to see why Patagonia is one of the most popular photography destinations in the world. It’s simply (italics-worthy) beautiful.

Patagonia is the kind of place that you need to see with your own eyes. Even the most stunning photos can’t do it justice. From the enatldless vistas and towering mountains to the glacial lakes, Patagonia is nothing but stunning scene after stunning scene.


Why hike in Patagonia

While the few roads that exist there come with their own epic views, the best of Patagonia can only be seen when you get out into the wilderness. And the best way to do that is by hiking.

Patagonia has plenty of stunning hiking trails to suit all levels and itineraries. No trip to the region would be complete without at least one hike, so make sure you add some hiking time to your Patagonia travel plans. 

In fact, hiking may well be your main reason for visiting Patagonia. With so many different hiking trails, each with their own unique scenery, Patagonia really is a hiker’s paradise.


Patagonia Torres del Paine National Park

Torres del Paine National Park in Chile


The best hikes in Patagonia

With so many great hikes to choose from, it can be hard to know where to begin. And with so much land to cover, it’s impossible to do it all. 

Wherever you choose to go, you won’t have trouble finding an unforgettable hike in Patagonia. As you’ll see below, the region is dotted with unique hiking trails on both sides of the border. 

I asked other travellers to choose their own favourite Patagonia hikes and share everything you need to know. Hopefully it will help make choosing where to go a little easier!

And, if you’ve already planned most of your Patagonia travels, there should be something to fit your itinerary. There are options for every corner of the region!


READ NEXT: Is this the most beautiful hike in the US South West? 


Hikes in Argentine Patagonia

Many of Argentina’s best hikes are found in Argentine Patagonia. Between the iconic sights such as Perito Morino Glaciar and Mount Fitz Roy, and the southernmost city in the world in Ushuaia, Argentina has a variety of hikes to enjoy.

Laguna Torre, El Chaltén

El Chaltén is the hiking capital of Argentina. There are several famous hikes around the area – and many more lesser known ones – but perhaps the most accessible is the hike to Cerro Laguna. The Laguna Torre hike is a moderate hike that will take you to the glacier-fed lake at the base of Cerro Torre. The hike is 9.5km each way and you’ll enjoy almost constant views of the jagged peaks throughout most of it.

 

 

 

Cerro Torre may not be the highest mountain in Patagonia, but it’s one of the most iconic. At 3,128 metres high, Cerro Torre sits on the Argentina-Chile border, to the west of the region’s most famous peak: Mount Fitz Roy.

While you can complete the hike in a single day, it’s worth spending a night in the Laguna Torre campsite if you have time. It’s completely free to camp in the designated area and well worth the extra weight you’ll have to carry. Laguna Torre looks absolutely beautiful at sunset, under the stars and when the sun rises and first hits the peak of Cerro Torre.


Laguna Torre Hike Patagonia


Cerro Llao Llao, Bariloche

Recommended by Lozzy – Cuppa to Copa Travels

Bariloche, Argentina, is one of the most northern towns in Patagonia. For this reason, it’s an accessible favourite amongst travellers who want to surround themselves in the stunning natural beauty of this region without having to spend days on a bus. Bariloche hikes tend to be less strenuous than their deep-Patagonia counterparts. The climate is more forgiving, too, so it’s perfect for people who enjoy hiking but aren’t too serious about their quest into the great outdoors. While a popular skiing destination in winter, the summer months (December-February) transform Bariloche into an ideal spot for epic forest trails.

 

 

 

Llao Llao in Bariloche offers a fairly easy hiking terrain with different circuit options. This combination allows you to create your own trail, from 90 minutes to 6 hours. Stops along the various routes include the peak of Cerro Llao Llao itself, the beach surrounded by forest at Villa Tacul and El Lago Escondido (hidden lake), where you can chill on the jetty or go for a swim.

The Llao Llao circuit is suitable for those with an average fitness level, though the hike to the top of the cerro requires a little more strength in the legs and ability to cope with loose ground. However, going to the top of the hill is not necessary to complete this circuit, and much of the remaining trail is more or less flat.


Llao Llao Bariloche hike in Argentina Patagonia


Laguna Esmerelda, Tierra del Fuego National Park

Recommended by Claudia – My Adventures Across The World 

The hike to Laguna Esmeralda is one of the most fun in Tierra del Fuego, Patagonia Argentina. The trail starts at about 20 minutes’ drive outside Ushuaia, the main city. You can get there by public transport from town. The bus leaves at a parking lot that marks the beginning of the trail and the bus driver usually asks hikers whether they will be using the bus to go back, so that he makes sure to wait for them a few hour later before going back to town. 

 

 

 

The trail goes through a beautiful forest, following a river where chipmunks have created several dams. It then goes through a thick bog. It takes you to a beautiful emerald lake from where there are breathtaking mountain views. The hike itself isn’t challenging because there is little to no elevation and it is only 8 km long (there and back). The main difficulty is the fact that a good part of the walk is done on a bog and, ideally, you need bog shoes. As a minimum, good waterproof hiking boots will do. 

The trail is free to access, easy to follow and no guide is needed. Make sure to bring enough food and water for the duration of the hike.


Laguna Esmerelda in Tierra del Fuego, Argentina


 

Perito Moreno Glacier Big Ice Trek

Chosen by Erin – Sol Salute 

Trekking Perito Moreno Glacier in Argentina’s Patagonia is an epic, bucket list-worthy experience. It’s located in Argentina’s Parque Nacional de Los Glaciares, twenty minutes outside of El Calafate (which you should use as your base). There is only one company that operates guided treks on Perito Moreno. The downside of this is the price – it is not a cheap activity. The upside is that the glacier isn’t overrun with tourists. You can truly break free from the crowds on the viewing platforms and feel alone on the glacier with your small hiking group. 

There are two trekking options. The mini trekking lasts for four hours and is suitable for most ages. You access the glacier right next to the crampon station and the trek itself isn’t strenuous. The Big Ice Trek lasts all day and is limited to younger, fitter hikers. This group doesn’t access the glacier until after trekking alongside it for at least an hour, when you’re deep into the glacier and far from the masses. This is a once in a lifetime experience and was worth every peso spent! The whiskey poured over glacial ice at the end was merely the cherry on top. 


Big Ice Trek Perito Moreno in Argentina


Cerro Cuananco and Sendero Costera, Tierra Del Fuego National Park

Chosen by Lora – Explore With Lora

Ushuaia, the most southerly city in the world, is a perfect base for day hiking in Patagonia. It’s home to Tierra Del Fuego national park, which is full of gorgeous trails.

The park is a half-hour drive from Ushuaia. If you don’t have your own car, there is a bus that runs from the main bus terminal in Ushuaia to the park entrance. There is a fee of $6 to get inside but it’s valid for two days, so you can come back for more trekking the next day. You can also camp inside the park overnight.

One of the most popular but challenging hikes inside Tierra del Fuego is Cerro Cuananco. The hike starts at the parks visitor center and is 15 KM in total. It’s a steep climb to the summit, which takes around four hours. At the top,  you will be rewarded with gorgeous panoramic views with the snow-capped Chilean Andes on one side, and the bay of Ushuaia on the other.

An easier hike in Tierra del Fuego is the Sendero Costera trail. This hike follows the coastline and is relatively flat. Along the way, you will see stunning views of the mountain ranges which reflect perfectly in the lakes. This hike is only 7.5km and takes around two hours. Either of these trails will make for a perfect Ushuaia day hike.


Tierra del Fuego National Park in Argentine Patagonia


Hikes in Chilean Patagonia

Don’t be fooled by Chile’s comparatively compact share of the Patagonia region. Chile is home to many famous and lesser known hikes, and all of them are nothing short of stunning.

O & W Treks, Torres del Paine

Recommended by Roger – Expert World Travel

The O & W Treks in Torres del Paine are among the most spectacular in Patagonia. They both take you to some stunning areas in the National Park, as well as providing a great hiking experience.

The W is the main trek people do, so tends to be a lot busier. You can do it in a variety of stages, and it takes between 4-5 days, covering 50 miles (80km). It spans the front of the park, and takes in the best scenery, in my humble opinion. There are also a variety of overnight options on this trek, such as cabins, and cooked meals in some cases, so it is a lot easier to do and more suitable for less-experienced hikers.

 

 

 

The O Trek is a full loop, going around the back of the Torres massif, taking in the W trek at the end. It is far longer, at 80 miles (130km) and goes over a mountain pass. So, in many ways, this trek is for those wanting a longer and more remote trekking experience. Also, be aware that there are far fewer facilities on this trek, so you will need to carry most of your food, as well as a tent, cooker, etc. Navigation is relatively easy; however, the weight you have to carry is significant. We took 20kg, so do not undertake this trek lightly.

Both hikes typically start from the hotel car park in Torres del Paine National Park, which is around 2 hours’ drive from Puerto Natales, the nearest town. They are best done in summer, as the weather in the area is notoriously changeable (and windy). However, just be aware that this is peak season. We did it in early December and were very lucky with the weather!


W and O Treks in Torres del Paine, Chile


The Laguna Altas trail, Patagonia National Park

Recommended by Steph – Worldly Adventurer

For a truly off-the-beaten-path hike in Patagonia, Patagonia National Park should be your destination. Home to 263,000 hectares of serrated mountains, dense forests and windswept steppe across three different sectors, it’s truly the gem in Patagonia’s crown and one of the best places to visit in Chile.

For hiking, the Lagunas Altas trail in Sector Valle Chacabuco is a truly outstanding hike. Comprising a 23-kilometre loop, it takes anywhere between six to eight hours depending on how many (highly necessary!) photo stops you take. This route climbs up to a flat hillside overlooking the golden grasslands of the national park, with the trail clinging to the shores of a network of spellbinding lagoons. It’s a challenging hike, but one where glimpses of guanaco, endemic bird species and the chance to appreciate the spellbinding Patagonian scenery – without the hordes of hikers found in other parts of the region – make it a must.


The Lagunas Atlas hiking trail in Chile Patagonia


 

The French Valley, Torres del Paine National Park

Chosen by James – Travel Collecting 

My favorite hike in Patagonia is the French Valley in Torres del Paine National Park. You can do this hike as part of the “O” or “W” multi-day treks because it forms the middle part of the “W”). But it is also possible to do it as a day hike. 

For a day hike, take the 9:00AM ferry from Pudeto to Paine Grande, then hike past Skőttsverg Lake to Campamento Italiano.  There are incredible views of the Cuernos del Paine the whole way. You then turn into French Valley and the going gets steep, as you climb up to French Glacier and Mirador Valle de Frances (French Valley Lookout). From there, there is an absolutely breathtaking 360° view of the cracking and grumbling French Glacier right in front of you. It’s surrounded by craggy peaks, the dramatic Cuernos del Paine opposite, and bight turquoise alpine lakes spread out below.  This is, quite simply, one of the most beautiful scenes you will ever see! 

The trail continues, but as a day hike, you should turn back here. The day hike distance is 12 miles in total.  You should get back in plenty of time for the final return ferry at 6:30PM. The hike is difficult because the French Valley is steep uphill and then downhill. The overall distance of 12 miles is also pretty long for such a strenuous hike. However, if you are relatively fit, the French Valley hike is one of the most beautiful hikes in the world!


The French Valley hike in Patagonia


Chiloé National Park, Chiloé Island 

Chosen by Joanna – The World In My Pocket

Located in the North of Patagonia, Chiloé Island is a fantastic place to go to if you want to step into a mythical land. Very rural, Chiloé is a place where locals are living simple lives, believing in the rich mythological culture that the island has been cultivating for centuries, and cooking using old Mapuche methods.

Chiloé National Park is located in the Western part of the island, in the lakes region. The easiest way to get to it is by minibus from Castro to the area of Cucao. The roads are not very good so expect a journey time of at least one and a half hours.

 

 

 

Once you reach the entrance to Chiloé National Park, you have to pay the entrance fee of 5000 pesos. From here, you can see the many trails leading to different points in the park. For a day trip, the trail going down to the beach is the one I would recommend. It only takes around 1-2 hours to complete, depending on how fast you walk. You can also spend longer hiking in the national park if you bring your tent and use the few camping spots around.

The trail going to the beach starts through a field full of tall vegetation, where you can observe different flowers sticking out. Then, it descents into the woods, where you start feeling the humidity. After about 500 metres, the trail opens up to a view point where you can observe the ocean. From there, there is a path that descents down towards the beach and the sand dunes. It is a pleasant walk, through sand and among grazing cows, towards the roaring sound of the ocean. 


Hiking in Chiloé National Park in Patagonia


Cerro Castillo, Aysén

Chosen by Emma – WITRAG Travel

Still a somewhat lesser-known hike along the Carretera Austral, Cerro Castillo is one of the Chilean Patagonia trails that you cannot miss. It’s found around 60 miles south of Coyhaique in tiny Villa Cerro Castillo. You’ll see the distinct, spiky outline from just about everywhere in town.

The Aysén region is truly spectacular – and the best way to see it is from the mighty Cerro Castillo Mirador. You’ll get arguably some of the best views in the entire region.

The main summit of the glacial lake can be reached on a four-day trek through the Patagonian wilderness from Las Horquetas Grandes. Another option is the tough but rewarding day hike (approx. 6 hours return) from Villa Cerro Castillo. The sight of Cerro Castillo’s jagged peaks above the impossibly-blue glacial water of Laguna Castillo is a highlight of any Patagonia trip.

Hiking is of medium difficulty and therefore recommended for those with some trekking experience. There is a steep ascent to the peak but, as always in Patagonia, it’s entirely worth the effort.


Cerro Castillo in Chilean Patagonia


 


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Jodie Marie Dewberry

Jodie has been travelling the world full time since 2017, sharing the most unique places in the world along with tips for living as a digital nomad. She has worked with a number of prominent travel brands, including airlines, tourism boards, hotels and tour operators.

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