Day hikes in Patagonia

This page shortly describes the different (day) hikes we’ve done in and around Patagonia. In addition a link to Strava is added for each hike, showing the route on the map and the height profile. An account for Strava is not required, although you’ll be able to see more details like pictures and pace when logging in.

The purpose of this section of our website is both documentation of where we’ve been for ourselves, as well as to provide information for others looking to do hikes in this beautiful part of the world. Each hike is described with the official name, the lenght in km and meters of climbing, our experience of how hard it is, and the park’s estimate of hours required to complete the hike (where available), and finally the date when we walked it.

Cerro Leoncito hike

10.5 km / 335 m, easy, 4 h. (27/03/2017)

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Parque Nacional Leoncito, Argentina. https://www.parquesnacionales.gob.ar/areas-protegidas/region-centro/pn-el-leoncito/

http://www.elleoncito.gob.ar

Entrance to the park is for free, and in addition there is free camping, including hot showers and all the creature comforts you need at a camp spot! The Cerro Leoncito hike is the only one you can do and measures 7 km, unless you walk to the waterfall as well in which case it’s a bit longer. The park is owned and administered by the government of Argentina, and is host to several observatories at 2 location that can be visited as well. Besides preserving nature, the park strives to protect the environment for the telescopes by preventing dust and light pollution in the air.

The hike starts at the park office (free wifi) where you have to register upon departure and return, and from there slowly winds it’s way through the valleys towards Cerro Leoncito. The climb itself is quite easy and from the top you can enjoy a spectacular view towards the Andes with several 6000+ m peaks. The route is well marked, and the way down is a bit steeper but still quite easy. The route takes you through a valley with plenty of shy Cuy’s (guinea pigs), and you can see why this is a location where many puma’s occur. We did not spot any, although we saw fresh footprints in tyre tracks on the road! When back at the road you can walk straight back to the park office, or decide to take a short detour towards the waterfall. As we were here at the end of the summer it was not very impressive, but the scenery is nice.

https://www.strava.com/activities/916889227

Cerro Leoncito

Sendero Vega Las Canchitas,

12.5 km / 640 m, tough, 6 h. (23/03/2017)

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Parque Andino Yuncal, Chile. https://parqueandinojuncal.cl

Entrance for park is 5.000 CLP pp. It is possible to camp at the trail head for 2.500 CLP pp. In addition to the described hike below another hike (8km one-way) takes you to the glacier in a valley further east. The park is privately owned and administered, and all proceeds go to conservation efforts of both flora and fauna as well as restoration of old mining structures.

The hike starts at the park office at 2.500m altitude and basically follows an old mining road. Contrary to what we thought, however, the hike was far from easy! In addition to the height, the old road is badly eroded after only 25 years of non-use! It is evident the terrain is in rapid transformation. At several locations gulleys have to be crossed in addition to one river, and as the route is not signed it is sometimes tricky to find the best route on your own. The hike ends (we think) at a small wetland area where it is (according to the map) possible to camp.

The highlights of the hike include the stunning views of the almost 6.000m peaks in the area, the fact that apart from weekends in high season there is literally nobody here, and the significant evidence of erosion as seen by the erosion of the road. And we spotted a puma footprint!

Sendero_Vega

https://www.strava.com/activities/912021247

Sendero Enladrillado and Laguna Alta,

25 km / 1.200 m, moderate/tough, 10 h. (18/03/2017)

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Reserva Nacional Altos de Lircay, Chile. http://www.conaf.cl/parques/reserva-nacional-altos-de-lircay/

Entrance to the reserve by car is only allowed with 4×4. Without 4×4 you have to park at the entrance and walk the first (and last) 2 km. Cars can only enter between 8:30 – 17:00 (with a lunch break). Entrance to the park is 5.000 CLP pp. The camping (at the end of the 2km 4WD road) is really nice with excellent facilities and costs 3.000 CLP pp. The reserve is owned and administered by Conaf, and several hikes from 1-25 km start at or near the campground.

The described hike is a combination of two hikes that are connected by an easy traverse over the plateau at 2.200m, resulting in a nice loop rather than having to walk the same way back. The first few km in the forest are fairly easy and sheltered, but as soon as the steep bit starts you’re exposed to the sun – bring plenty of water! The route is very well marked and maintained and apart from some steep bits it’s easy going. The toughness of the hike is primarily due to the length and the heat of the sun. The end of the first section after 10km at Enladrillado offers a stunning view of several high volcanic peaks with an impressive valley in the foreground. This area is believed to be a landing site of UFO’s, although we did not spot any traces of them.

The 5km traverse to Laguna Alta is over relatively even ground and again well-marked. You can walk all the way down to the laguna for a swim however the water is pretty cold, and you save yourself 3.5km by just viewing it from above 😉 The way down from here it steeper than the way up however it is pretty doable. The last 2.5-3km are along the same track as the beginning through the forest.

Highlights of the track include the stunning views at the top, the fact that few people come here, the good and well-marked condition of the track, and the splendid campground at the start. And the flora and fauna are awesome, including spotting our first ever Tarantula at the campground!!!

Sendero enladrillado

https://www.strava.com/activities/906547923

Sendero Crater Navidad,

4 km / 260 m, moderate, 2 h. (16/03/2017)

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Reserva Nacional Malalcahuello, Chile. http://www.conaf.cl/parques/reserva-nacional-malalcahuello/

Entrance to the reserve was for free, and is possible by normal car. However, the road takes you along the flank of recent volcanic deposits which are decidedly uncompacted along the edge meaning we got stuck!!! You’ll be fine if you stay away from the edge though. The ranger informed us the road is closed in winter (no info on dates). There is no charge for the hike, and it is actually possible to get a good overview of the recent crater from a viewpoint further down the road, which also is a great wild camp spot. No camping facilities are available. The reserve is owned and administered by Conaf, and is part of the highly informative Kutralcura Geoparque. There are no camping facilities, although winter skiing implies there are many cabanas available.

The short hike is quite tough due to the loose material you’re walking on. It is marked by blue poles which tend to fall over, meaning you end up following the footprints down. The route takes you up to the crater of the recently erupted Crater Navidad, a small side eruption of the much higher Volcan Lonquimay to the SW. The surreal landscape makes this hike special, with impressive dune-like hills of black volcanic sands without any vegetation.

Sendero navidadhttps://www.strava.com/activities/904084079

Sendero Sierra Nevada,

13km / 610 m, easy/moderate, 4 h. (15/03/2017)

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Parque Nacional Conguillio, Chile. http://www.conaf.cl/parques/parque-nacional-conguillio/

Entrance to the park was 6.000 CLP pp and it is possible to camp at campsites here as well although we did not do this as it was fairly expensive with few facilities. Free camping is possible at the parking of the cafetaria near the lake if you have a camper. The park is owned and administered by Conaf and is part of the highly informative Kutralcura Geoparque. Several informative short hikes are available, in addition to the longer hike we did.

The well-marked hike gradually climbs through the forest along several viewpoints. After the condor viewpoint (which honoured its name!) the forest gives way to lower bushes and the magnificent and characteristic ‘Monkey Puzzle’ trees. The hike ends at a viewpoint overlooking Lago Conquillio with in the background the peak of Volcano Llaima.

Sierra Nevhttps://www.strava.com/activities/902461808

Volcan Villarrica climb.

9 km / 970 (1.400) m, moderate, 7 h. (13/03/2017)

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*This climb is only possible as part of an organised tour, unless you’re a certified climber bringing all required gear. We joined a tour with Summit Chile*

Volcan Villarrica is an active volcano in the National Parque Villarrica administered by Conaf. http://www.conaf.cl/parques/parque-nacional-villarrica/

Entrance to the park is included with the tour fee of (in our case) 80.000 CLP pp. When we entered the park by car in the evening the Conaf office was closed and we were not charged. Excellent wild camping is possible at the flank of the volcano.

The climb starts at the base of a ski-lift which optionally (at 10.000 CLP pp) takes you the first 400m up. We decided to do this as we were wearing rental boots, and we did not want blisters to ruin our experience of observing real magma!!! After the lift it is still almost 1.000 vertical meters, climbing over rocks, snow and ice. A good part of the climb it made wearing crampons. We experienced the climb as easy due to the slow pace of the group. Just under the smoking top of the volcano the crampons come off and the gas mask comes on. The fumes are not necessarily toxic, however contact with water results in slightly acidic fluids which you can feel in your eyes and throat. All of this is quickly forgotten when observing the active magma several hundred meters below your feet though!!! The way down is where possible made sliding on your butt in the snow 🙂

Even though groups are (since the most recent eruption) regulated to max 12 people and 4 guides, and it was not high season anymore, we were impressed with the amount of people on the mountain. Can’t imagine how that is during peak season!!!

villaricahttps://www.strava.com/activities/899023358

Termas Queni hike.

8 km / 450 m, easy, 2 h. (10 and 11/03/2017)

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Parque Nacional Lanin, Argentina. https://www.parquesnacionales.gob.ar/areas-protegidas/region-patagonia/pn-lanin/. Entrance to the park is free at this location. The camping at the trailhead is free as well, although there are no facilities. 4×4 and ground clearance is recommended to reach the camping.

The hike to termas Queni is an easy and short hike, which goes up and down through the forest over a well marked trail. At the end you reach a warm water stream with a couple of small pools and waterfalls. A true paradise! Not many people come here, so you most likely have the place to yourself.

termahttps://www.strava.com/activities/900516695

Sendero Valle Cochamo,

27 km / 750 m, moderate/hard, 9 h. (27/02/2017)

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Chile. Not part of a national park (yet), and no charge for the hike, although you have to pay for the parking of the car (2000 pesos) and you have to register upon entering and leaving the area.

The hike follows an old path that was originally created by gauchos to transfer cattle from Argentina to the slaughterhouse at the coast in Cochamo. Now it is the only entrance to reach Cochamo valley. The hike is not climbing too much, but the fact that the path is very much eroded though the years (sometimes the path is more than 2m deep!) and because it is almost always very muddy it is a though hike. We went in and out in one day, and enjoyed the beauty of the valley, that often is compared with Yosemite National Park in the US. One of the highlights is visiting the beautiful natural slides (toboganes).It is recommended to bring camping gear and spend a couple of days in the valley, as there are plenty of campings to stay and the place is gorgeous. Climbers can have a lot of fun as well at the steep granite walls!

cochamohttps://www.strava.com/activities/882197172

Sendero Volcan Chaiten,

5 km / 600 m, moderate, 3h. (20/02/2017)

dsc_0260-13Part of Parque Pumalin, Chile. http://www.parquepumalin.cl/en/

Entrance and hikes are for free. There are plenty of camping options in Parque Pumalin. The closed campsite to the hike is Camping Volcan. Here you can camp at places with a shelter which are big enough to pitch a tent in. Very useful in this park since average rainfall is 6000mm! There are toilets and cold showers. Price is 16000pesos per site, although the guardaparque does not always collect the fees.

The hike to volcan Chaiten is a short one, but of moderate difficulty since the way up is only climbing, and pretty steep. Volcan Chaiten surprised everyone by erupting in 2008. Nowadays you can still see it steaming. The views of the below valley are stunning, and the look into the caldera of the volcano impressive! And if you like shiny rocks there is a lot of obsidian lying around :).

chaitenhttps://www.strava.com/activities/875116006

Sendero Ventisquero,

26 km / 500 m, easy, 10 h. (18/02/2017)

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Part of Parque Pumalin, Chile. http://www.parquepumalin.cl/en/

Entrance and hikes are for free. There are plenty of camping options in Parque Pumalin. The closed campsite to the hike is Camping Volcan. Here you can camp at places with a shelter which are big enough to pitch a tent in. Very useful in this park since average rainfall is 6000mm! There are toilets and cold showers. Price is 16000pesos per site, although the guardaparque does not always collect the fees.

The hike to the glacier is fairly long but with relatively little difference in elevation, making it one of the most doable hikes we’ve done. It starts at Camping Ventisquero and basically follows the river to the base of the glacier. The official route is 10 km / 3 h. one way however calculate some extra distance and time when you want to actually touch the glacier. The route is well marked, until you reach the point where you have to cross the river. The easiest way is to cross on your bare feet however if you want to keep your feet dry you have to follow the river until you reach a fallen tree that you can walk across. Mind you this might be washed away since we were here. It is unclear where the trail ends, we did not spot any markers when walking the last few kilometres towards the glacier. Walking onto the glacier is of course not without risk and as such we don’t recommend it unless you know what you’re doing.

ventisqhttps://www.strava.com/activities/875106682

Sendero Ventisquero,

7 km / 300 m, easy. (15/02/2017)

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Parque Nacional Queulat, Chile. http://www.conaf.cl/parques/parque-nacional-queulat/

Entrance to the park is at this location 5,000 pesos pp. and the hikes are for free. We did not explore camping options here.

The trail follows the crest of an older terminal moraine through a dense forrest without many openings, so not a lot of viewpoints. The track gets quite muddy, so bring good shoes and possibly a stick for support. At the end of the trail you’ll find a small viewing platform, which in our case was quite crowded. In addition the view was blocked by trees, and the glacier and waterfalls are still quite far away. In summary, if you’ve seen a glacier before you might save some time and money by skipping this particular hike…

quelathttps://www.strava.com/activities/875114311

Sendero Bosque Encantado,

6 km / 250 m, easy. (14/02/2017)

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Parque Nacional Queulat, Chile. http://www.conaf.cl/parques/parque-nacional-queulat/

No park entrance fee is charged at this location, however the trail starts at a gate where you have to register and pay 3,000 pesos per person. It is not possible camp at this location.

The trail is in very good condition, and the first 2 km lead you through a very pretty (enchanted) forest until you reach a stream that is fairly easy to cross by rock-hopping. The trail ends at a small lake with a view of the glacier. For best views go in the morning, as the suns sets behind the glacier. All in all a nice little hike.

encantadohttps://www.strava.com/activities/867700263

Sendero Laguna Cerro Castillo,

14 km / 1.100m, moderate/hard, 7 h. (12/02/2017)

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Reserva Nacional Cerro Castillo, Chile. http://www.conaf.cl/parques/reserva-nacional-cerro-castillo/

The hike takes you over private ground, and therefore a fee of 4,000 pesos per person is charged. It is not possible to camp at the trail head however the nearest camping is 500m away, and several other options exist in the town of Cerro Castillo.

The hike is very well marked and the trail is in good condition. The first half takes you through a forest, after which the landscape opens up for spectacular views at the valley. The last few hundred meters are over loose rocks and gravel which is quite tough, but the spectacular view of the glacier draping over the granite peaks with the lake below are more than enough reward. It is possible to walk down to the lake, although that will add 200m of climbing back up to your hike. We opted to take the same way back however it is possible to make a loop which adds an additional 9km to the hike.

castilllohttps://www.strava.com/activities/864239634

Sendero Lagunas Altas,

21 km / 940 m, moderate/hard. (07/02/2017)

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Parque Patagonia, Chile. http://www.parquepatagonia.org/sp/index.htm

This park is fairly new, and facilities are still under development. No entrance fee is charged and we camped for free as well. The hike is also free:)

This trail forms a nice loop. We recommend walking it counter-clockwise, so that you have most climbing in the beginning and a more gradual descent. The views across the valley are spectacular, and offer a nice contrast to all the small lakes at the plateau. There is only one trail and it is well marked so it is easy to find your way.

altashttps://www.strava.com/activities/858825023

Sendero Mt. Fitzroy and Piedras Blancas,

27 km / 1.000m, moderate. (24/01/2017)

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Parque Nacional Los Glaciares, Argentina. https://www.parquesnacionales.gob.ar/areas-protegidas/region-patagonia-austral/pn-los-glaciares/

Entrance to the park is for free, and no fee is charged for the hike. We parked and camped at the ‘motorhome parking’ at the trail head with lots of other overlanders. There are no facilities though, except a tap with drinking water. Several hikes exist in the area although we’ve only recorded one on Strava.

The hike starts with a fairly steep climb through the forest, followed by 6km of more or less flat terrain before climbing the final 450 meters to the Cerro Fitzroy viewpoint. As this is a popular destination, we had to share the trail with quite a few others during high season. On the way back we decided to make an extra loop to the Piedras Blancas viewpoint which adds 5kms to the hike but is worth it:)

fitzhttps://www.strava.com/activities/843218937

Sendero Mirador Las Torres,

27 km / 1.000m, moderate, (18/01/2017)

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Parque Nacional Torres del Paine, Chile. http://www.conaf.cl/parques/parque-nacional-torres-del-paine/

Further description follows.

torreshttps://www.strava.com/activities/843217931

Sendero Laguna Esmeralda,

10 km / 200 m, moderate, (13/01/2017)

DSC_0146-1

Tierra del Fuego, near Ushuaia, Argentina.

Further description will follow later…

esmeraldahttps://www.strava.com/activities/833268184

Note: I’ve noticed Strava on the iPhone 7 is highly inaccurate, always recording 5-15% longer distance with crazy pace times for distinct sections compared to the iPhone 6s. As a result, some of the distances in the text don’t correspond to the distance in the linked Strava recording. This difference reflects a correction I applied based on other sources. If anything, distances in practice are shorter that shown on Strava. I’ve contacted Strava to look into this problem but so far have not heard back.

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