headed to Patagonia today

My January 2016 Patagonia trip was cut short. Only a month.

I’m planning to stay longer this time.

Departing today. Arriving Santiago January 20th. Planning to start hiking out of Mendoza. Head to Bariloche from there for hiking and cycling.

I’m looking at photos of the Patagonian Andes for inspiration. These are from the upcoming documentary Unbounded. It should be released sometime Spring 2018.


OK … I’ve downloaded Gaia GPS

Apps and maps.

Viewranger offers no coverage for Chile and Argentina. Sounds like Gaia GPS is best for those nations.

I can download Patagonian maps and use them offline on the trail.

sample Gaia map

Gaia GPS is free to try for a week. Subscription membership costs $19.99/year while a Premium Membership is $39.99/year.

I joined the lower tier plan hoping the additional maps would help in South America. For Aconcagua Park, Argentina, for example, none of the layers are much good aside from Satellite with Labels. You can see the trails clearly beside water sources, tents, etc.

I’ll try it when I get there in a week or so.

Gaia claims to be superior to AllTrails in most regards, as well. And less expensive.


logistics for the Paine Circuit

Without question Paine in Patagonian Chile is one of the finest and most memorable treks in the world.

But the logistics of getting everything booked in advance is daunting.

Backpackers Review posted a detailed trip report of their December 2017 circuit. It includes the latest details on getting reservations:


It is mandatory to attain all reservations for camping and refugio shelters prior to entering Torres del Paine National Park.

If you do not have reservations for your trek, you will not be able complete the Circuit trek. Reservations fill up fast for the prime season (November-March), so you should book several months in advance (for the Circuit trek, the number of trekkers is limited to 80 per day).

Outside of your camping reservations there is no separate permit needed to hike the Circuit. You simply pay the 21,000 peso (~$35) entrance fee when you arrive at the park and show proof of your camping reservations at several spots along the trek.


If you book your campsites early enough, you will have multiple options for itineraries and can decide to hike the circuit over anywhere from 6-9 days.

A map with the various campsites and refugios highlighted is shown below.

Note that there are free campsites run by the Chilean government (CONAF) and there are sites run by two different private companies (Fantastico Sur and Vertice Patagonia).

Prices for the accommodations run by the private companies range from ~$10 per person per night for camping to over $75 per person per night for a bed and meals in the refugios.

Some of the refugios are now requiring people to purchase meals, even if you camp (Chileno and Los Cuernos require full board meals in 2017-2018). This adds a lot of cost and is annoying, but the only other option is to not stay at these sites and adjust your itinerary. …

Which camps you decide stay at will largely depend on how many days you have in the park, how much money you want to spend, and whether you prefer to camp or stay in shared bunks. A few example itineraries are as follows (we hiked the 9 day one):

9 days: Seron > Dickson > Los Perros > Paso > Grey > Paine Grande > Frances > Chileno or Las Torres

8 days: Seron > Dickson > Los Perros > Paso > Paine Grande > Frances > Chileno or Las Torres

7 days: Seron > Los Perros > Grey > Paine Grande > Frances > Chileno or Las Torres

6 days: Seron > Los Perros > Paine Grande > Frances > Chileno or Las Torres

5 days or fewer: good luck! …


That’s the best trip report we know. Read it closely if you want to have a hope of getting a reservation for yourself.

related – our Paine Circuit information page

OK … I’ve downloaded Viewranger

Apps and maps. For the first time I’m going to try navigating with them on the trail.

First download was Viewranger. It’s free for basics. You pay to download specialty maps.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Unfortunately their shop offers none for Chile nor Argentina.

I’m really keen on augmented reality showing me peaks, towns, lakes, cliffs, ridgelines, mountain passes, and even glaciers up to 20 miles away. That’s the Skyline feature available from within ViewRanger.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

It works with my Apple Watch too, though I may never use that feature.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Click PLAY or watch Alastair Humphreys on YouTube.

Adventure Podcast – Episode 2: 10 Essentials of Hiking

Dave Adlard and Kraig Becker talk gear on their new audiocast.

Dave referred to his 2003 edition of Freedom of the Hills. The Ten Essentials first appeared in print in the 1974 version of that classic.

He and Kraig added 3-4 more essentials, only briefly touching on the non-essential electronics most of us carry.

Check it out:

The Adventure Podcast – Episode 2: The 10 Essentials of Hiking


  1. Navigation. Topographic map and assorted maps in waterproof container plus a magnetic compass, optional altimeter or GPS receiver.
  2. Sun protection. Sunglasses, sunscreen for lips and skin, hat, clothing for sun protection.
  3. Insulation. Hat, gloves, jacket, extra clothing for coldest possible weather during current season.
  4. Illumination. Headlamp, flashlight, batteries. LED bulb is preferred to extend battery life.
  5. First-aid supplies, plus insect repellent.
  6. Fire. Butane lighter, matches in waterproof container.
  7. Repair kit and tools. Knives, multi-tool, scissors, pliers, screwdriver, trowel/shovel, duct tape, cable ties.
  8. Nutrition. Add extra food for one additional day (for emergency). Dry food is preferred to save weight and usually needs water.
  9. Hydration. Add extra 2 liters of water for one additional day (for emergency).
  10. Emergency shelter. Tarp, bivouac sackspace blanket, plastic tube tent, jumbo trash bags, insulated sleeping pad.

The textbook recommends supplementing the ten essentials with:


Pennsylvania’s Loyalsock Trail

Though it occasionally appears on lists of “short long trails” in the US, Pennsylvania’s Loyalsock Trail is still fairly unknown. That’s unfortunate …

Total Distance: 59.2 miles

Location: North-Central PA, between the towns of Williamsport and Dushore.

Western trailhead: PA-87, Williamsport, PA Eastern trailhead: Mead Rd., Dushore, PA

Time to Finish: 4-6 days, depending on fitness, desired pace, and arrival time

BRIAN CIPPERLY hiked it — Pennsylvania’s Loyalsock Trail: a Thru-Hiking Guide

Here’s the guidebook.