Climbing Patagonia: the place do you begin?

When you’re like me, mountain climbing round Patagonia has been in your bucket checklist for some time however it’s a LOT of (very excessive!) floor to cowl. How have you learnt the place to start out? I actually solely had Puerto Natales in thoughts for the famed W and O Treks, however my analysis turned up loads extra choices. In Argentina alone, 4 fundamental locations saved popping up: Bariloche, El Calafate, El Chaltén and Ushuaia. To assist plan your trek, right here’s my tackle who they go well with, what they provide, and issues to bear in mind.

San Carlos de Bariloche

If you wish to fly to northern Patagonia, you’ll most definitely land in San Carlos de Bariloche, which everybody shortens to Bariloche. It’s a significant vacation spot for individuals who need to ski within the Patagonian mountains. The slopes are a lot of enjoyable with views that I’d say are too distracting to ski safely, however then I’m simply distracted. The ski season ends across the starting of October, relying on climate, after which us hikers reign till Might. However in the event you actually like winter mountain climbing, there are some trails open yr spherical, so go for it!

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Since Bariloche is within the Lake District, many hikers stay up for the a number of glacial lakes within the space, comparable to Lago Nahuel Huapi. They’re all so crisp, clear, and reflective that you simply may end up caught in place looking at all of them day (okay, perhaps that’s simply me). However add within the recent forest air and lovely snow-peaked mountains, and also you’ll be able to arrange camp on any path you’re taking. I imply, we’re speaking about Bob Ross work in actual life right here. One other bonus? Bariloche is known for its chocolate, so make sure to get some for snacking.

Professional tip: Lago Perito Moreno is right here too however don’t be fooled. If you wish to see Glaciar Perito Moreno then you need to head to El Calafate. (Wow! What a segue.)

El Calafate

Positioned at a halfway level alongside the Patagonia vary (and normally the flight stopover to Ushuaia) is El Calafate. Admittedly, there isn’t a lot to do right here however it’s near Glaciar Perito Moreno, some of the essential glaciers in Argentine Patagonia. The glacier is huge and seeing its colors in particular person doesn’t evaluate to pictures. Why is it so essential? Effectively, it’s essentially the most accessible for drinkable water, analysis, and tourism.

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Inside Parque Nacional Los Glaciares there are three fundamental exercise choices: a glacier trek, boat tour, and boardwalk exploration. On the primary, you traverse the glacier itself, uncover its nooks and crannies, and even strive the ice in a drink! I needed to do that one however it was full for the following two weeks so make sure to e book prematurely. On the second, you board a comfortable catamaran to cruise alongside the ice wall. I took this one and actually loved it. You don’t get to be on the ice itself however you do get shut sufficient to completely recognize the enormity of this pure magnificence. And the third is what comes with the park entrance charge. Boardwalks run alongside the cliffs throughout from the glacier, so you’ll be able to see the Perito Moreno Glacier in all of its blue and white splendour. When you’re actually fortunate, you may hear it crack and perhaps even calve and break into icebergs.

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Again in El Calafate, you’ll be able to stroll alongside the promenade that traces a lot of Lago Argentina (the most important freshwater lake in Argentina), which is only some blocks off the principle road. It’s stunning to look out and see a scattering of icebergs and the mountains within the distance. If it’s an particularly clear day you’ll be able to even see a number of the Chilean mountain peaks.

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When you observe the boardwalk to the east, you’ll finally attain Reserva Laguna Nimez the place you’ll be able to stroll round a marsh-like space to identify birds. As summer season approaches you’ll be able to see Chilean Flamingos, in addition to Southern Lapwings, Austral Negritos, Chimangos, and over 40 extra chook varieties. You’ll additionally discover tons of Upland Geese making the funniest sounds! You’ll hear them earlier than you see them up within the bushes alongside the principle road. Truthfully, you’ll suppose somebody’s blowing a noisemaker.

Bought your coronary heart set on free hikes? You’re nonetheless in the best spot as most individuals use El Calafate because the transit metropolis to get to El Chaltén.

El Chaltén

Welcome to hiker’s heaven with quite a few treks you’ll be able to take from city with out park entrance charges. When you look on an app like AllTrails you’ll discover about seventeen. Guide a taxi to simply outdoors of city and your choices get even better. After all, one of many massive highlights right here is mountain climbing to view Monte Fitz Roy together with the gorgeous Laguna de los Tres. You could expertise all 4 seasons on the trek however each step is value it.

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The subsequent widespread free trek is to Laguna Torre and the view of its corresponding Cerro Torre. Each of those treks are positioned inside the Parque Nacional Los Glaciares. Sure, the identical one I discussed for El Calafate, this park is gigantic, we’re speaking 600,000 hectares. My recommendation: watch out for robust winds. You may get your hat blown off whereas admiring the views.

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A wonderful thing about the hikes round El Chaltén is that regardless of your mountain climbing stage, there are trails for you. Some could be multi-day treks for these adventurers geared up with well-oiled joints, and others are simpler day treks for chill surroundings buffs. No matter your stage of expertise, you’ll get to absorb unforgettable views of Patagonia.


And that brings us to Ushuaia, dubbed the “Finish of the World”. Disclaimer right here: I fell in love with this city so my descriptions could also be a bit extra vibrant than the others. Wherever you look, there are attractive mountain views plus the town sits proper on the Beagle Channel. “However Dina,” you say, “the opposite cities even have mountains and water.” They do however it’s all SO a lot nearer in Ushuaia. You’re feeling such as you’re within the mountain vary whereas nonetheless within the metropolis.

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There are a number of hikes close to city or you’ll be able to take a neighborhood bus (or tour) to Tierra del Fuego Nationwide Park. Lots of people decide to stroll to the tip of Freeway 3 to say they went to the very finish of South America because it’s the southernmost level by highway on the continent. It’s very flat and do-able by all mobility ranges. One factor to notice: when selecting your hikes, first examine that they’re open. I needed to forgo a tougher trek after it closed for climate and as a substitute hiked to the border of Argentina and Chile.

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Typically, Argentina is an efficient finances nation to go to however as a result of it’s remoted Ushuaia is a bit costly. I’d return in a heartbeat so it’s value each peso. On one hike it began snowing on my method up and it was so quiet and magical. One other bonus, many Antarctica excursions launch from right here (together with G Adventures) so after mountain climbing your coronary heart out, you’ll be able to hop on a ship to discover the land of ice and penguins.

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Puerto Natales, Chile

And final however not least, Chile! I can’t omit the one metropolis each Patagonian hiker is aware of. Just about everybody in Puerto Natales is right here for the W or O Trek in Parque Nacional Torres del Paine. These treks take wherever from three to eight days relying on how a lot you need to sort out in a day. But when that’s not your factor, there are a ton of day treks like the favored Base of Torres del Paine, which is part of the W circuit.

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Though Puerto Natales isn’t the closest metropolis to the park, the lodging are less expensive so it’s the place you’ll discover finances hikers like myself. I’m more than pleased to take a neighborhood bus to the park entrance. (One be aware: be sure that to have money available in Patagonia for entrance charges as not all take playing cards.) Puerto Natales can also be proper on the Seno Última Esperanza so you’ll be able to benefit from the sound of water whereas looking on the mountains. Town could be very peaceable however the winds are robust so, as soon as once more, maintain onto your hat!

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Of all of the mountain climbing hubs, Puerto Natales leans towards extra succesful hikers as there are only a few straightforward paths. The terrain doesn’t lend itself to all mobility ranges however there are nonetheless non-hiking choices, like a bus across the park or a ship tour to see glaciers. You may even e book a ferry that sails for 5 days alongside the fjords of Patagonia between Puerto Natales and Puerto Montt. However for hikers, you gained’t be upset so long as you put together to have your socks blown off on the high. Have I discussed the wind but? On one hike it was like I used to be standing in entrance of an enormous hair dryer for hours!

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General, in the event you actually need to go off the overwhelmed monitor you’ll be able to take a look at a number of the smaller cities, however in a spot as massive as Patagonia typically it’s simpler to stay with what’s well-known and works. My favorite was Ushuaia however you’ll be able to’t actually go improper so get on the market, hike to your coronary heart’s content material, and benefit from the mountain-and-lake-filled views.

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Getting there

Prepared to achieve new heights in Patagonia like Dina? We’ve acquired a number of really helpful excursions the place the logistics, lodging, and trekking enjoyable is already deliberate out for you.

Hike Patagonia in Depth
Torres del Paine – Full Circuit Trek
Patagonia Climbing


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