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 a must for anybody who enjoys being in the nature. There is little doubt that this is one of the ultimate things to do in Argentina.

To discover more things to do in Argentina, check out my post A Guide To The Greatest Things To Do In Argentina” and for a fantastic itinerary, read A Flash Pack’s Argentina Itinerary.”

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. This is to say – it takes a good amount of time and effort to get to know it all, and I am by no means done with it, despite having been there multiple times.

In this post, I select my favorite hikes in Patagonia, dividing them according to the closest access point and sharing a few tips to help you make the most of it. Please keep in mind that this list of hiking trails in Patagonia is by no means exhaustive!

Patagonia hiking

Perito Moreno Glacier is one of the most fun hikes in Patagonia

16 Fantastic Trails For Hiking In Patagonia

Hiking in El Calafate

El Calafate is one of the best places to go hiking in Patagonia, since it is very well connected to the rest of Argentina both via plane and bus.

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.

The following are my favorite hikes in Patagonia that can be accessed from El Calafate. Make sure to read my post A Complete Guide To El Calafate, Argentina.”

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 to see the glacier in all its glory. A more fun way of experiencing Perito Moreno, however, is going on an ice trek. As far as hiking in Patagonia goes, this is by far one of the most unique experiences.

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 right by the moraine and help you to 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.

These are some of the best guided tours of Perito Moreno that also include an ice trek:

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

Patagonia hiking

One of the nicest Patagonia treks departs from Estancia Cristina

Upsala Glacier viewpoint and Cañadón de los Fósiles

Overall walking distance: 14 km

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. Though most people who go to Estancia Cristina end up spending the day horse riding or, at most, on a 4×4 to explore the surroundings, this area is home to one of the nicest Patagonia trekking.

The hike that departs from Estancia Cristina 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 trek, during which you’ll have a chance to admire beautiful marine fossils.

It’s a fairly easy hike – the main challenge is represented by 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.

These are some excellent guided tours to Estancia Cristina that include the hike to Cañadón de los Fósiles:

hiking in Patagonia

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

Hiking in El Chalten

Of all the places to go hiking in Patagonia, El Chalten is my favorite. Chances are that, if you visit, it will become yours too. What I love about it is that such a tiny village has direct and free access to an infinity of great trails. All you have to do to go hiking in El Chalten is walking out your door – that’s how accessible the trails are. And when you are done hiking, the village has plenty of breweries, restaurants and bars to refuel your energy.

Make sure to read An Excellent Guide To El Chalten.”

Most of the Patagonia treks that you can access from 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 hiking trip. In this case, you have to be fully equipped with camping gear and food for the duration of the hike.

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

Condor Lookout

Overall walking distance: 2 km

Overall walking time: 1 hour

Difficulty level: easy

Hiking in Patagonia doesn’t have to mean spending a full day on the trail. This short and sweet 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 of day to do it is sunrise, when (provided the skies are clear) you’ll get that perfect pink glow over the peaks of Patagonia. The good news is that 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 19 and 24 km, depending on whether you walk to Mirador Maestri or not

Overall walking time: between 5 and 7 hours.

Difficulty level: moderate

If you go hiking in Patagonia, you simply can’t skip the hike to Laguna Torre. 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 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.

Check out my full guide on hiking to Laguna Torre.

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. Here is a selection of the best ones:

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, depending on where you start

Overall walking time: 8 hours

Difficulty level: moderate to hard

Patagonia trekking reaches perfection on the trail to Laguna de Los Tres. I’d dare say that, of all the hikes in Patagonia, this is the most rewarding one in terms of views: you’ll get a first peak 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 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 uphill walk with a steady 40% incline on uneven rocks.

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

For more information on hiking to Laguna de Los Tres, read my post A Guide To Hiking Around Fitz Roy, In El Chalten.”

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. These are some of them:

If you prefer hiking Laguna de Los Tres and Laguna Torre together, you can join a 2-day hiking tour. These are the best ones:

Huemul Circuit

Overall walking distance: 64 km

Overall walking time: 4 days

Difficulty level: strenuous

One of the lesser known hiking trails in Patagonia is the Huemul Circuit. Chances are that the fact that it’s really challenging 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.

This Patagonia trek goes to places where you can get a proper understanding of how Cerro Solo (alone) got its name. You’ll also get to see Cerro Huemul, whose views are just as impressive.

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

Contrary to most of the hiking in Patagonia, this one can’t be done independently. You are better off hiring a local guide that knows how to navigate the trail and overcome all the challenges it presents. Either way you do need a harness to help you cross the river, and a GPS as the trail isn’t easy to follow.

You can book your guided Huemul Circuit here.

Patagonia hiking

There are many incredible hikes near Ushuaia. This is Laguna Esmeralda.

Hiking in 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

Overall walking time: 4 hours

Difficulty level: easy to moderate

The hike to Laguna Esmeralda is one of the easiest in Patagonia, yet incredibly fun and very rewarding. 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, at about 17 Km 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; and you’ll have a chance to observe the massive beaver dams and will enjoy gorgeous mountain views throughout.

While hiking in Patagonia mostly tends to be challenging, the walk to Laguna Esmeralda is hardly difficult. As it rains a lot in Tierra del Fuego, the only thing you have to watch out for 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.

Read my post A Complete Guide To Hiking Laguna Esmeralda.”

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. This is a selection of the best ones:

Laguna Turquesa

Overall walking distance: 6 km

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. This is one of the lesser known hiking trails in Patagonia, yet incredibly rewarding.

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

One of the lesser known hikes in Patagonia is the one to Río Larsifashaj waterfall

Río Larsifashaj waterfall

Overall walking distance: 5 km

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!

Senda Costera

Overall walking distance: 8 km

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

Difficulty level: easy

Among the best hikes in Patagonia there are some that are located inside Tierra del Fuego National Park. 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.

Patagonia trekking

Patagonia trekking often means walking on peat moss. This is on the way to Laguna Esmeralda

Senda del Torbal

Overall walking distance: 2 km

Overall walking time: 1 hour

Difficulty level: very easy

If you are up for hiking in Patagonia but want a very easy trail, then head to Tierra del Fuego and walk the Senda del Torbal trail. It takes an overall hour to go through the peat bogs and you’ll have beautiful views throughout. , in the national park, is an easy trail of about 1 km that goes through the peat bogs.

Cerro Guanaco

Overall walking distance: 8 km

Overall walking time: 4 hours

Difficulty level: moderate to hard

This Patagonia trek is one of the hardest ones inside Tierra del Fuego National Park, for it is a steady uphill walk. You will be walking for 4 km 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

Overall walking distance: 13 km

Overall walking time: 6 to 7 hours

Difficulty level: moderate

Patagonia hiking often means having the chance to admire mighty glaciers. The hike to Glacier Vinciguerra is one of those, and the views 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. These are some good tours:

Martial Glacier

Overall walking distance: 6.5 km

Overall walking time: 3 to 4 hours

Difficulty level: moderate

One of the most popular hikes in Patagonia, near Ushuaia, is that to Martial Glacier. The reason is that it is fairly easy to access, as the trail 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.

hiking in Patagonia

Beautiful views when hiking in Tierra del Fuego National Park

Sierra Valdivieso Circuit

Overall walking distance: 48 km

Overall walking time: 4 days

Difficulty level: difficult

The Sierra Valdivieso Circuit is one of the most challenging trails, yet a must for hard core adventure junkies when hiking in Patagonia.

The access point is along Ruta Nacional 3, in Tierra Mayor Valley. You will walk up steep trails to go through passes such as Paso Beban and then back down to valleys such as Five Lagoon valley and Carabajal valley; you will have incredible forest and mountain views throughout; and most importantly you will be able to enjoy the unspoiled nature and peace that makes Tierra del Fuego such a fantastic place.

Very few people walk the Sierra Valdivieso Circuit. The trail is hard to follow, and the peat moss, which seems to be almost a constant for Patagonia treks in Tierra del Fuego, makes it all the more challenging.

There are no official camping sites along the way, so you will have to do with wild camping in any place you think suitable. Just make sure not to light up any wild fire and not to leave any garbage behind. As the weather in this part of Argentina is even more unpredictable as usual, make sure to pack accordingly and to carry more than enough food supplies.

Patagonia trekking

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

Hiking in 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.

For more places to visit in Chile, check out my post Ten Incredible Places To Visit In Chile.”

Unfortunately, my experience in Torres del Paine is very limited as I have only done a day hike there. This means that I will have to go again for more (something I am always keen on doing). Having said so, the day hike I did in Torres del Paine easily qualifies and one of the nicest Patagonia treks I have been on.

Torres del Paine Mirador Las Torres

Overall walking distance: 18 km

Overall walking time: 9 hours

Difficulty level: hard

When it comes to Patagonia trekking in Chile, the hike to Mirador las Torres is the most popular one. 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 day hike is one of the hardest 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 this Patagonia trek 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

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 can hardly be bothered to organize 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.

There are several excellent options around, and they don’t have to cost an arm and a leg to guarantee an incredible experience.

These are some of the best guided group Patagonia hiking tours:

  • Patagonia Hiking: the name is rather self explanatory. This is the best tour around for hiking junkies. It lasts 9 days and among other places, it stops in El Calafate and El Chalten.
  • Argentina Multisport: not just Patagonia trekking! This is the perfect option if you are keen on hiking, rafting and cycling in Patagonia.
  • Hike Patagonia In Depth: if multi-day hikes are your thing and you like the idea of camping, then this Patagonia hiking tour is the one for you.
  • Best of Patagonia: a bit more classing, this 13 days tour goes to all of Patagonia’s landmarks.
  • 6 Day tour of Patagonia: the best option if you only have a short time for hiking in Patagonia.
  • Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego: if Tierra del Fuego is high on your list, this is the tour for you. It includes all the best Patagonia hiking.
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, keep in mind that 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 Patagonia hiking 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 degrees (though a few weeks before I visited a major heat wave hit it, and it was as hot as 22!).

Getting To Patagonia

The majority of people that are traveling to Patagonia will either fly to Santiago, in Chile, or to Buenos Aires, in Argentina, and from there connect to one of the main access point to go hiking in Patagonia.

From Santiago, your best bet will be to then 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

The best way to cover shorter distances in Patagonia is 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 at less than 3 hours drive from El Calafate, there are no direct buses connecting the two (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!

Other Useful Information For Hiking In Patagonia

The costs 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 Patagonia hiking trip expensive are all the incidental costs such as transportation, accommodation, food and any the equipment you may need to buy.

You can try to cut the costs down 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 – though keep in mind that it’s 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 booking a space in advance.

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

Water

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

The good news, if you are planning a long Patagonia trek, is that you don’t have to carry liters of water on your back but you can refill at the stream any time you need. I still recommend using your judgement before refilling your bottle, especially if there is live stock roaming in 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 and it’d be great if it continued being this way. 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 when hiking in Patagonia. You will find the occasional hole in the ground kind of toilet but, for the most part, you’ll have to do with going behind the bushes. Make sure to to throw your toilet paper in a bag and bring it back to town with you.

Dogs

Dogs and other pets are not allowed in national parks in Chile and Argentina. Before you plan your Patagonia trek, make sure to double check whether the trail you are setting to hike 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 Patagonia hiking 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, make sure to pack smartly, carrying everything you need to be comfortable, safe and warm while at the same time not to have to carry too much weight on your shoulders.

The basics for a good Patagonia trek include:

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

Travel Insurance

I wholeheartedly recommend that you 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.

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Discover where to go hiking in Patagonia - via @clautavani

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