Hiking In Patagonia: 15 Best Hikes In Patagonia

Hiking in Patagonia is as good as it gets. The quality and variety of the trails; the unique wildlife; the clean air and – most importantly – the incredible views throughout make it an incredible experience.

One thing you must understand, though, is that Patagonia is huge. It spans between the southern regions of Chile and Argentina, where it comprises the provinces of Chubut, Neuquén, Río Negro, Tierra del Fuego and Santa Cruz.

There is no way you can tackle all the hikes in Patagonia in one trip – unless that one trip lasts a few months! So you may be wondering about the best ones. Continue reading this post for a selection of the best Patagonia treks – by region and access point. I will also share a few tips to help you make the most of hiking in Patagonia.

Patagonia hiking
Perito Moreno Glacier can be hiked!

The Best Hikes In Patagonia

El Calafate

El Calafate is one of the best places to go hiking in Patagonia. This small town in the province of Santa Cruz is the best access point to Argentina’s lakes region. Most people go there to visit Los Glaciares National Park, but remain positively surprised by how many more things to do there are.

The good news for hiking lovers is that there are some interesting hikes in this part of Patagonia. Here are the best ones.

Perito Moreno Glacier Trek

Overall walking distance: varied, depending on whether you go on a big trek or mini trek

Overall walking time: between 1 and a half hours and 8 hours

Difficulty level: easy

The classic tours of Perito Moreno Glacier involve walking along the various view points and, at most, a boat ride on Lake Argentino. A more fun way of experiencing Perito Moreno, however, is going on an ice trek.

Hiking expeditions usually start from the southern banks of the lake, with a boat ride to a base camp where you’ll meet local guides who, after a short walk through the forest, will stop by the moraine and help you gear up for the trek, for which you have to wear crampons and gloves.

There are two different itineraries – a longer one, that takes up to 8 hours; and a short one that takes around one hour and a half. The latter one is actually very easy, slow paced and with very little ascent, yet a great way to get to know more about the glacier.

You can book your Perito Moreno ice trek here.

To find out more about Perito Moreno, check out my post A Complete Guide To Perito Moreno Glacier.

Patagonia hiking
One of the best hikes in Patagonia departs from Estancia Cristina

Upsala Glacier viewpoint and Cañadón de los Fósiles

Overall walking distance: 14 km (8.7 miles)

Overall walking time: 5 hours, including breaks

Difficulty level: easy

One of the nicest day trips from El Calafate is to Estancia Cristina, a beautiful farm located on the shores of Lake Argentino, in Los Glaciares National Park. Most people go to Estancia Cristina to spend the day horse riding and join a 4×4 tour of the surroundings.

However, there is a fantastic hike that starts right at the farm and goes to a viewpoint to admire Lake Guillermo, the eastern front of Upsala Glacier and the South Patagonian Continental Ice Field. From there, it goes down to the Cañadón de los Fósiles for a 14 km (8.7 miles) trek, during which you’ll have a chance to admire beautiful marine fossils.

It’s a fairly easy hike – the only issue is the strong wind that regularly blows in this part of the country. It takes between 4 to 5 hours to complete the hike, including a break for lunch.

For a guided hike to Cañadón de los Fósiles click here.

hiking in Patagonia
It’s easy to see why El Chalten is thought to be Patagonia hiking capital

El Chalten

El Chalten is my favorite to go hiking in Patagonia. This tiny village has direct and free access to an infinity of great trails And when you are done hiking, there are plenty of breweries, restaurants and bars to refuel your energy.

Make sure to read my post An Excellent Guide To El Chalten.

Most hikes in El Chalten can be done in a day. However, if you are keen on staying completely immersed in the nature, you can combine two or more trails (ie the trail to Laguna Torre and the trail to Laguna de Los Tres) to go on a multi-day hike. In this case, you have to be fully equipped with camping gear and food.

Here are some excellent hikes that can be easily accessed from El Chalten.

Condor Lookout

Overall walking distance: 2 km (1.2 miles)

Overall walking time: 1 hour

Difficulty level: easy

This short hike is actually very rewarding. It starts in El Chalten and, with a gradual but steady ascent, takes you to a lookout point from where you can admire the mountains with the backdrop of Lake Viedma.

The best time to do it is sunrise, when (provided the skies are clear) you’ll get that perfect pink glow over the peaks of Patagonia. You don’t have to wake up too early for it, as it’s truly a short walk. You go back the same way you walked in.

Patagonia hiking
The trek to Laguna Torre is one of the nicest ones in Patagonia

Laguna Torre

Overall walking distance: between 21km (13 miles) and 24 km (15 miles), there and back, depending on whether you walk to Mirador Maestri or not.

Overall walking time: between 5 and 7 hours.

Difficulty level: moderate

This moderate trek takes you to the base of Cerro Torre, for spectacular views of one of the most beautiful peaks in the world. The trail starts at the northern side of El Chalten, and after a steep 2 km (1.2 miles) it becomes more moderate, taking you through beautiful meadows with uninterrupted views of Cerro Torre.

Once you get to the lagoon, you have the option to continue walking to Mirador Maestri. This is the only difficult part of the trail, but it’s completely worth the challenge for breathtaking glacier and mountain views.

You’ll have to walk back along the same trail.

The hike to Laguna Torre can be done independently, but if you’d rather join a guided expedition, there are various that depart from town every day. You can book yours here.

Check out my full guide on hiking to Laguna Torre.

Patagonia trekking
When it comes to hiking in Patagonia, nothing beats Laguna de Los Tres

Laguna de Los Tres

Overall walking distance: between 24 and 26 km (between 15 and 16 miles), depending on where you start.

Overall walking time: 8 hours

Difficulty level: moderate to hard

Of all the hikes in Patagonia, this is the most rewarding one in terms of views: you’ll get a first sight of the mighty Cerro Fitz Roy from Mirador Piedras Blancas; gorgeous views from Laguna Capri; and you take a short detour to go to Chorrillo del Salto, a lovely waterfall at km 5 of the trail.

You can start hiking either on the northern side of El Chalten, or at El Pilar. The trail is easy for the most part, but around 1 km (0.6 miles) after Campamento Poincenot, a sign warns you that you should only continue hiking if you are really fit. The trail that goes to Laguna de Los Tres is seriously challenging – a one km (0.6 miles) uphill walk with a steady 40% incline on uneven rocks.

You’ll have to walk back down on the same trail.

The hike to Laguna de Los Tres can be done independently – the trail is well marked and easy to follow. Guided hikes depart from El Chalten. If you’d rather go on a multi-day hike to hit both Laguna de los Tres and Laguna Torre, click here.

For more information on hiking to Laguna de Los Tres, read this post.

hiking in Patagonia

Huemul Circuit

Overall walking distance: 64 km (39.7 km)

Overall walking time: 4 days

Difficulty level: strenuous

This is one of the lesser known hikes in Patagonia. The challenge keep the crowds away. This is the kind of hike where you’ll have to cross rivers and climb to Paso del Viento and Paso Huemul to be rewarded with incredible views of of Viedma Lake and Viedma Glacier – it’s one of the few hikes in Patagonia where you get to see the Southern Patagonia Ice Field.

You have to walk back to El Chalten following the same trail.

Contrary to most of the hikes in this post, this one can’t be done independently (and by all means don’t do it solo). You are better off hiring a local guide that knows how to navigate the trail and which will have all the necessary equipment to move around.

You can book your guided Huemul Circuit here.

Patagonia hiking
Laguna Esmeralda

Ushuaia

Most people travel to Ushuaia to go on a Beagle Channel cruise and admire the local wildlife; they go on a classic tour of Tierra del Fuego National Park and they use it as a base to depart for their Antartica cruise.

Hiking junkies will be thrilled to know that Ushuaia is home to some of the best hiking in Patagonia, with trails that, though moderate, are incredibly rewarding. Besides, there is something special in hiking at the “Fin del Mundo” (end of the world).

The following is a selection of my favorites hikes in Patagonia that can be accessed from Ushuaia.

Check out my post Everything You Need To Know About Ushuaia, Patagonia.

Laguna Esmeralda

Overall walking distance: 9.6 km (6 miles)

Overall walking time: 4 hours

Difficulty level: easy to moderate

The hike to Laguna Esmeralda is one of the easiest yet most rewarding in Patagonia. It takes you to a beautiful, emerald lagoon at the base of Glacier Albino.

The starting point of the hike to Laguna Esmeralda is in Valle de Los Lobos, about 17 Km (10.5 miles) east of Ushuaia, along Ruta 3. You can easily reach it via a public shuttle that departs regularly from Ushuaia. From there you’ll be walking through a beautiful lenga forest; you’ll have a chance to observe the massive beaver dams and enjoy gorgeous mountain views throughout.

As it rains a lot in Tierra del Fuego, the only real challenge during this hike is mud, which makes the trail slippery, and the massive peat moss you’ll have to cross to get to the lagoon. Make sure to keep it moving, or else you risk finding yourself blocked up to your knees in the moss!

You’ll have to walk back along the same trail.

The hike to Laguna Esmeralda can be done independently, for the trail is easy to follow and there are no major challenges. However, if you’d rather join a group, several excursions depart from Ushuaia.

You can book your guided hike to Laguna Esmeralda here or here.

Read my post A Complete Guide To Hiking Laguna Esmeralda.

Laguna Turquesa

Overall walking distance: 6 km (3.7 miles)

Overall walking time: 3.5 hours

Difficulty level: moderate

Literally on the other side of the trail that goes to Laguna Esmeralda, there is the trail that takes to Laguna Turquesa.

The initial part of the trail is quite steep, and goes through the beautiful lenga forest. After that, it opens into a gorgeous green valley that leads to one of the most impressive, clear lakes you’ll get to see. You can actually take a detour and climb up a steep slope from where you’ll enjoy incredible views of Laguna Turquesa and you’ll be able to see all the way across to Laguna Esmeralda and the Carbajal valley.

You walk back along the same trail.

hiking in Patagonia
Río Larsifashaj waterfall

Río Larsifashaj waterfall

Overall walking distance: 5 km (3.1 miles)

Overall walking time: 2 hours

Difficulty level: easy

One of the nicest, easiest and lesser known hikes in Patagonia is that to Río Larsifashaj waterfall. This nice walk has very little incline and takes an overall 2 hour, during which you will be walking through the fields and forests that are Estancia Haberton private land, along a river and to an incredibly scenic waterfall.

The starting point of this trail is practically hidden, and the trail is on private land. This means that you won’t really meet other people while walking, but you will also need special permission from Estancia Haberton to trespass their territory. The only company in Ushuaia that has an agreement to cross this part of the estancia is Tierra Turismo. It’s worth every penny!

traveling to Patagonia
Acigami Lake

Senda Costera

Overall walking distance: 8 km (about 5 miles)

Overall walking time: 3 to 4 hours, depending on the number of stops.

Difficulty level: easy

The Senda Costera (coastal trail) can be accessed at Ensenada Zaratiegui and goes all the way to Acigami Lake.

Throughout the hike, you get to see the incredible views of the national park, the surrounding mountains reflecting in the lake, and even some conchales, piles of seashells left by the Yámana, the indigenous peoples of Tierra del Fuego, and which have high archeological value. If you are lucky, you may even get to see some wildlife, including red foxes and wood peckers.

The trail ends by a restaurant where you’ll find buses going back to Ushuaia at regular times.

Senda del Torbal

Overall walking distance: 2 km (1.2 miles)

Overall walking time: 1 hour

Difficulty level: very easy

This is one of the easiest hikes in Patagonia. It takes an overall hour to go through the peat bogs and you’ll have beautiful views throughout.

Cerro Guanaco
Cerro Guanaco

Cerro Guanaco

Overall walking distance: 8 km (about 5 miles)

Overall walking time: 4 hours

Difficulty level: moderate to hard

This is one of the hardest hikes in Tierra del Fuego National Park, for it is a steady uphill walk. You will be walking for 4 km (2.5 miles) to get to an incredible viewpoint from where you will be able to admire the surrounding mountains and the peat bogs that are so common in Tierra del Fuego.

The main access point is from Senda Hito XXIV, another trail that goes along Acigami Lake until the border with Chile. You walk back along the same trail.

Glacier Vinciguerra

Glacier Vinciguerra

Overall walking distance: 8 km

Overall walking time: 6 to 7 hours

Difficulty level: moderate

The views on the hike to Glacier Vinciguerra make it one of the best Patagonia treks. The trail, which is free to access, starts in Barrio Andorra, at the north eastern side of Ushuaia, and goes through the peat moss and through a forest and through a valley until you reach the glacier.

You walk back along the same trail.

If you are keen on walking on the glacier you can even join a guided tour, so that you will have the crampons and other necessary equipment. You can book it here.

Martial Glacier
Martial Glacier

Martial Glacier

Overall walking distance: 6.5 km (4 miles)

Overall walking time: 3 to 4 hours

Difficulty level: moderate

Accessing the trail to Martial Glacier is fairly easy, as it starts at a fairly straightforward 40 minutes walk from the center of Ushuaia (you can also go there by taxi or bus). The hike is fairly steep, with a steady ascent, but once you get to the top, you will have incredible views of the city, the surrounding mountains and even Beagle Channel.

You can walk back on the same trail or follow an alternate one that takes you to a nice café where you can get a steaming hot cup of coffee before heading back to town.

Patagonia trekking
One can’t say to have been hiking in Patagonia without going to Torres del Paine

Torres del Paine National Park

You can’t really say you have been hiking in Patagonia if you haven’t been to Torres del Paine National Park. This is one of the most popular places to visit in Chile, and for a good reason: it’s simply magnificent.

Unfortunately, my experience in Torres del Paine is very limited as I have only done a day hike there.

For more places to visit in Chile, check out my post The Best Places To Visit In Chile.

Torres del Paine Mirador Las Torres

Overall walking distance: 18 km (11.2 miles)

Overall walking time: 9 hours

Difficulty level: hard

The hike to Mirador las Torres is easily one of the best hikes in Patagonia. The trail goes to a lookout point from where you get an incredible views of the Torres – the famous peaks that tower over an incredibly turquoise lake just below.

This is one of the hardest day hikes in Patagonia. First of all it is mostly uphill, and chances are you’ll have to battle the strong Patagonian winds as you walk along. Having said so, you’ll get spectacular views of waterfalls, forests and mountains throughout, so your efforts will be paid off! Beware that the last part of the hike is very steep.

For an even better experience, I recommend to spend the night at the nearby refugio and to start hiking while it’s still dark outside, so that you get to the viewpoint in time for sunrise and get to see Las Torres beaming in red.

Patagonia hiking
You can expect rain on any given day when hiking in Patagonia

The Best Time To Go Hiking In Patagonia

The first thing you should keep in mind if you plan to go hiking in Patagonia is that it is huge, and the weather varies greatly from place to place. In general, the best time to go is between the beginning of November and April, when the days are long and the temperatures milder. The warmest months are February and March.

However, the weather in Patagonia is as unpredictable as it gets, and you may get rain, wind and even snow on any given day.

The sudden weather changes may have a strong impact on your trip. Make sure to check the weather broadcast and the winds before setting out to hike. The WindGuru is an excellent website to do so.

Tierra del Fuego is especially cold even in the summer, with temperatures averaging 8°C (46.4°F).

Getting To Patagonia

You can either fly to Santiago, in Chile, or to Buenos Aires, in Argentina, and from there connect to one of the main hubs in Patagonia.

From Santiago, catch a flight to Punta Arenas. From Buenos Aires, you can opt to fly to Bariloche, El Calafate (from where you can easily reach El Chalten and even Torres del Paine National Park) or Ushuaia. There are direct flights from El Calafate to Ushuaia.

Getting Around Patagonia

You can cover shorter distances in Patagonia by bus. Both Argentina and Chile have a very good web of buses connecting the main hiking hubs, with comfortable vehicles connecting El Calafate to El Chalten, or Puerto Natales to Torres del Paine. It’s better to book your trip in advance.

Though Torres del Paine is less than 3 hours drive from El Calafate, there are no direct buses (unless you opt for a guided tour). You will have to take a bus to Puerto Natales and from there a connecting one to Torres del Paine on the same day.

Patagonia hiking
Hiking in Patagonia can be costly – but it’s worth it!

The Cost Of Hiking In Patagonia

Hiking in Patagonia isn’t expensive per se. In fact, the vast majority of the trails can be accessed freely: you only have to pay to get into Los Glaciares National Park, where you hike Perito Moreno; and Tierra del Fuego National Park.

What makes a hiking trip to Patagonia expensive are the costs of transportation, accommodation, food and any the equipment you may need to buy.

You can try to cut down the costs by staying in camping sites instead of hotels or hostels – there are some near every major hiking hub; and buying your own food at grocery stores rather than eating out all the time. The camping sites on the way to Laguna de Los Tres and Laguna Torre, near El Chalten, are free – but they are nothing more than a safe, protected area to pitch a tent and there are no toilets, showers and any other basic services. You also have to book a space in advance.

Make sure to read my post 30 Things You Should Consider Before Traveling To Patagonia.

Other Useful Information For Hiking In Patagonia

Water

People that live in Patagonia swear by their water, saying it is absolutely safe to drink. The National Park Service in Patagonia puts a lot of effort in educating visitors on how to keep the streams clean and safe for everyone to drink from, and to prevent contamination.

If you are planning a multi-day hike you don’t have to carry gallons of water on your back but you can refill at the stream any time you need. Use your judgement before refilling your bottle, especially if there is livestock roaming the area. Bringing a water bottle with a filter or some chlorine dioxide tablets may be a good idea.

Toilets and garbage disposal

Patagonia is pristine – yet you won’t find any garbage bins along the trails, so you’ll have to carry a small bag to put all your garbage and dispose of it once you go back to town.

Real toilets are scarce across the trails. You will find the occasional hole in the ground kind of toilet but, for the most part, you’ll have to use the bushes. Make sure to to throw your toilet paper in a bag and bring it back to town with you.

For more information on how to be respectful of the environment and the places you visit, head to my post The Complete Guide To Becoming A More Responsible Traveler.

Dogs

Dogs and other pets are not allowed in national parks in Chile and Argentina. Before you set to hike, double check whether the trail you want to tackle is part of a national park or not. Dogs on leash are welcome on trails that are not in national parks.

Patagonia trekking
Make sure to be properly geared for your trip

What to pack when hiking in Patagonia

I won’t ever stress the importance for being properly geared up for a hiking trip. The same obviously goes for a Patagonia hiking trip. Whether you are planning to only do day hikes or to be out in the nature for a few days on a row, pack smartly, carry everything you need to be comfortable, safe and warm but at the same time don0t carry too much weight on your shoulders.

The basics include:

For a more complete packing list, head over to my post Hiking Gear And More: The Perfect Patagonia Packing List.

Travel Insurance

Get a good travel insurance before your Patagonia hiking trip. A lot of locations where you will be hiking are remote, and if something goes wrong, you’ll need to be evacuated – and that is really expensive.

You can get a quote for a good travel insurance here

Make sure to check my post Why You Need A Good Backpacker Travel Insurance.

Patagonia hiking
Guided Patagonia hiking trips may be a good option

Guided Hiking Trips In Patagonia

One of the nicest things about hiking in Patagonia is that most of the trails are easy to follow and you can hike independently. Having said so, I do not recommend hiking alone (check out my post 11 Reasons Why Hiking Alone Is Actually A Bad Idea.)

If you don’t feel like planning your trip, or if you are short on time but want to make the most of your time in Patagonia, you may want to considered a guided Patagonia hiking tour. This way, you’ll have someone else taking care of all the logistics, and you’ll have an experienced guide help you navigate the trails.

Further Readings

If you are planning a trip to Argentina, make sure to check my other posts:

Pin It For Later!

Discover the best hikes in Patagonia - via @clautavani

2 thoughts on “Hiking In Patagonia: 15 Best Hikes In Patagonia”

  1. Wow, Claudia, you really got everything covered in this post.

    Next time I go visiting my friends in Mendoza, I’ll know where to go from there and hit some Patagonia trails.

    And I’ll certainly impress my Argentinian friends as they don’t know half of what you described here.

    Thank you.

    Cheers,
    Lara

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.