Mountains and glaciers define the glorious region of Chile and Argentina known as Patagonia. Patagonia’s terrain is a dream for any nature or adventure enthusiast, whether you’re a high-risk climber, a slow-and-steady hiker, or somewhere in-between. Three of the best places to go hiking in Patagonia are Bariloche, Chaltén and Torres del Paine National Park.
San Carlos de Bariloche
The city of San Carlos de Bariloche, is commonly nicknamed Bariloche. The place is a paradise for hikers, skiers and trekkers alike. As far as hiking goes, the Refugio Frey/Nuñez Trail is one of the best in the area. Stretching high above the lake and town of Bariloche, this trail features a number of charming surprises. Hikers will be delighted to find crystal-clear streams trickling through the forest portion of the trail, followed by a lovely view of Lago Gutierrez.
“El Chaltén,” or “the smoking mountain,” is a dead volcano that is almost constantly surrounded by clouds at its peak, most likely due to its former fiery status. But don’t let that scare you off. An adventure up Mt. Fitz Roy, on the trail to the spectacular Laguna de los Tres, provides some of the most breathtaking views of Patagonia. It’s a four-hour hike each way, but the gorgeous vista of a dreamlike lagoon and the looming glacial structure known as Laguna de los Tres is more than worth the effort.
Torres del Paine National Park
The mountains, rivers and lake at Torres del Paine National Park, Chile are stellar backdrops to some of the most incredible hiking experiences available in all of Patagonia. The famous natural glacial sculptures known as the Torres del Paine are best accessible via the “W” trail, which takes 3-5 days to complete. It will lead you through the immense French Valley, an enormous natural camera battery drainer crafted by glaciers.
The “W” trail that leads to Torres del Paine possesses a rich natural beauty all its own, emphasized by flowing rivers and thick forests of beech trees. The hike increases in difficulty towards the end, when you’ll be rewarded with the sight of the strong, grimy Torres del Paine rising above a glacial lake. This is a truly incredible naturally-crafted masterpiece that must be seen to be believed.