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  • Dalit Gliksman

Hiking in Rural Patagonia

Updated: Sep 21, 2019

Breathtaking snowy mountain and endless turquoise rivers at the heart of South America.

Marval Caves at Puerto Rio Tranquilo, Carrtera Austral, Chile

Few tips for your Patagonia journey. The best season to travel in Patagonia is definitely January-March. Later it gets too windy and cold. The roads are closed and the trails is unsafe to hike. We felt completely safe during the whole trip. I always carry a fake wallet with expired credit cards and passport in a spot that is easy to reach in my bag, and it stayed safe for the whole trip. The ATM rates are extremely high and the amount of cash permitted per transaction is low (200 pesos), so keep that in mind.

We started our trip from Ushuaia, the southern city in the world "Fin del Mondo". We recommend day hiking to Laguna Esmeralda and Laguna Turquoise. Shuttles are available from the bus terminal. If you've got enough time and money don't miss the cruise to Antarctica (approximately two week, $2000 per person)

Torres del Paine Trek

Book in advance a bus to Puerto Natales for the great Torres del Paine W trek.

I used Allen's Adventure blog to prepare for the trek, but I recommend a different hiking route. Book the camping ground through this website. (we booked the campground and Refugio six months in advance) I recommend to book busses online with two bus companies; and

“Pack light for the trek, we used to wear the same outfit during the day and same pajama during the night. I brought light hiking shoes but at the end preferred hiking with my sports shoes. Ziplock bags are the solution for so many things on this trip”

The W circuit in 85K, 5 Days

Hiking the W circuit can be done in many routes if you don't manage to book a camp on time, hike each part of the park and return daily to Puerto Natales. Or rent a car to explore the park without too much hiking. Go to the daily 3PM free lecture at Erratic-Rock for more information about hiking the park. Gear rental is available in many shops in town.

Book in advance the earliest morning bus from Puerto Natales to Torres del Paine National Park and get off at Pudeto Catamaran stop. Take the ferry to Paine Grande.

Day 1 - From Paine Grande to Glacier Grey, 12K - this is the most difficult day of the trek because of the strong winds on the way to Glacier Grey. (About 40-60 km/h) You will get wet. Wrap your belongings with plastic bags inside your bag, external-frame-backpacks rain cover is not recommended because of the strong winds. Walking poles are a life saver in this trail.

stay the night at Refugio Grey.

Glacier Grey

Day 2 - The way from Glacier Grey to Camp Italiano, 19K

Day 3 - The French Valley; leave your tent and climb up the French Valley, 21K (we had two nights reservation for camp Italiano)

Day 4 - The way from the French Valley to Refugio Chileno 21K

Day 5 - Torres del Paine trail and back to the bus shuttle 18K

Camp Chileno

From Puerto Natales take the bus to El Calafate to visit Perito Moreno Glacier. There is a very expensive option of guided hiking on the glacier, if that's on your budget - probably worth it. You can visit the park daily with a shuttle from the city. Don't miss the famous El Calafate blueberry ice cream it's incredible. El Calafate is a good spot for car rental options, check out the local agencies. From El Calafate to El Chalten, we stayed at Hosteria Lago Viedma, boutique hospedaja and it was a perfect stay. El Chalten is a small beautiful town with great vibes. Stay there at least three nights. Hike the Fitz Roy trail eat at Resto Bar Estepa (try their takeaway boot for sandwiches, Empanadas, and Pasta).

Fitz Roy, Argentina

Our next stop is Los Antiguos (take the 12h night bus) we crossed the same day to Chile Chico. Please note that if you choose to travel the Carretera Austral by bus, crossing the border to Chile is by foot (!!!) 5K walk. it's not too bad but be prepared. After you arrive at the Chilean border, take a ride to Chile Chico town.

Traveling by car; Some choose to rent a van for a few weeks, WICKED van is one way to do it. It's also possible to rent a car in the main cities, but that's more expensive than public transportation.

Climbing the Fitz Roy trail

There's not much to do in Chile Chico, but you can find a local driver to take you to Lago Jeinemeni (Make sure it's not the flies season unless it's impossible to walk the trail) and Cueva de las Manos - it's possible to visit both at the same day.

Lago Jeinemeni, Chile

From Chile Chico head to Coyhaique (the biggest town in Carretera Austral) this is a good place to refill your food supply and other goods needed. There are many car rental agencies here as well, but during the high season it gets limited. We recommend to rent a jeep since the roads in Patagonia is stiff. The next day drive 2h to Villa Cerro Castillo. We stayed at Refugio Cerro Castillo - brand new boutique home-stay. The next day hike the Cerro Castillo trail (available in one day or more if you choose to hike the whole trek)

Cerro Castillo Mountain, Carrtera Austral, Chile

The next day we drove 3h to Puerto Rio Tranquilo and stayed at a local hospedaja.

In the morning we sailed to the Marvel Caves (about 2h total) and head back to Coyhaique.

Mountain Bike Trail at Futalefu, Chile

Our next destination is Futalefu -make sure to book the bus in advance since it's running only once-twice a week. Futalefu is a beautiful city, mostly known for Its river rafting activities, there are many bike trails as well.

Futalefu, Chile

Our next stop is Esquel, you should also check for bus tickets at Futalefu in advance.

Visit Parque Nacional Los Alerces for a day hike. We recommend Bendita Patagonia Hostel which was very welcoming and warm. Brand new, owned by a friendly young couple.

From Esquel take the bus to El Bolson, a beautiful village, we stayed at Earthship Patagonia Hostel; an ecological-vegan-organic farm run by volunteers located in the middle of the village. That was a cool experience and the food they served was fabulous.

Earthship Eco Lodge, El Bolson , Argentina

Go swimming at Lago Puelo and eat ice cream at Heladeria Humus farm (15min walk from the center but worth it) the next day hike to Rio Azul (start the trail as early as possible).

From El Bolson to Bariloche - the chocolate capital of Patagonia.

Bariloche is much more touristic and after traveling a whole month in small villages it was refreshing. The view is outstanding and we fell in love with it immediately.

There are so many good restaurants and bars so we choose two to recommend; Alto de Fuego and Manush bar (yes, it's spelled right).

Few recommendations for daily activities in Bariloche; Take the local bus to the Austrian Village, hike to Llao Llao trail, take the cable car to Cerro Catedral and hike the top of the mountain. Our next destination is Mendoza. I don't recommend the city of Mendoza but it's a necessary stop to rent a car and travel south to see the Andes Mountain and enjoy the wineries. Drive to Reserva Natural Villavicencio for a day hike, relax at Cacheuta Spa for Natural Hot Springs.

The Wine Resort and Spa, Argentina

We traveled to Los Sauces following the greatest chef of Argentina Francis Mellman. We booked dinner at The Wine Resort and Spa and stayed across at Casa de Huespedes Gimenez Rilli which was much cheaper and still beautiful, a winery owned by four brothers.

Casa de Huespedes Gimenez Rilli, Argentina
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