This article was written by Myer Henderson of Say Hueque, a travel company that specializes in tours of Argentina, Chile, and Patagonia.
Mountains and glaciers define the gloriously vast region of Chile and Argentina known as Patagonia, a dream for any nature or adventure enthusiast. Whether you are interested in an easy afternoon walk, a challenging multi-day hike, or something in between, this region has options for everyone. Here's a look at our favorite hikes.
The city of San Carlos de Bariloche, commonly nicknamed Bariloche, is a haven for hikers, kayakers, and skiers alike. As far as hiking trails go, 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, as well as a lovely view of Lago Gutierrez. Try the scenic bike ride and easy hike locally known as the "Circuito Chico" for beautiful views of the mountain lakes and Llao Llao Forest.
"El chaltén," or "the smoking mountain," is an extinct 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. An adventure up Mt. Fitz Roy, along the trail to the spectacular Laguna de los Tres, provides some of the most breathtaking views in all of Patagonia. It's a four-hour hike each way, but gorgeous views of a dreamlike lagoon and the looming glacial structure known as Laguna de los Tres make this trek well worth the effort.
Torres del Paine National Park, Chile
The mountains, rivers, and lake in Torres del Paine National Park, Chile, are stellar backdrops to some of the most incredible hiking experiences available in all of Patagonia. The 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 amphitheatre 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 beech forests. At the end of the journey (which becomes significantly more challenging towards the end), the view of the strong, somber Torres del Paine rising above a glacial lake is your reward. This is a truly incredible naturally-crafted masterpiece that must be seen to be believed.
For more information about hiking in Patagonia, Argentina vacations, or tours in Patagonia, visitsayhueque.com.