viewpoint above Villa O’Higgins, Chile

trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles

If you head south to the end of the Carretera Austral … then take a ferry … you’ll eventually get to Villa O’Higgins.

The last bit of gravel road was completed in 2000.

The new tourist town is surrounded by mountains and lakes. The only way to go further south is by ferry and on foot.

To get those views climb steeply up (about 45 minutes) through a series of viewpoints.

At the top is a wind battered Chilean flag.

 

hiking the NEW Patagonia National Park

Patagonia National Park was announced January 2018 as part of the fantastic new Route of Parks (Ruta de los Parques) chain of 17 national parks in Chile.

Three conservation areas were combined to create it. Cows and other grazing animals removed. Native wildlife such as guanacos, ñandús, pumas, Andean condors, and huemuls reintroduced.

Patagonia National Park will soon be the best hiking destination on the Carretera Austral after nearby Cerro Castillo. You should hike both on the same trip.

There are already a number of high quality day hikes out of 3 established campgrounds in Patagonia National Park including:

  • La Confluencia 3 km (2 miles)
  • La Vega Trail 7 km (4.5 miles)
  • Lago Chico Loop 12 km (7.5 miles)
  • Avilés Loop Trail 16 km (10 miles)
  • Lagunas Altas Trail 23 km (14 miles) climbing Mt. Tamanguito
  • Furioso Trail 23 km (14 miles)

I’m MORE excited about future long hikes traversing the park.

The Park has one overnight hike called the Aviles to Jeinimeni trail 50 km (31 miles) one way.

As of February 2019 there is no hiker shuttle to and from the trailheads. You have to organize that on your own. ☹️  It’s a hassle.

Even better is the route put together by (Adventure) Alan Dixon and Alison Simon they called the Patagonia National Park trek.

  • October 1 through April. January and February are high season.
  • 4-6 days

They saw condors, flamingos, armadillos and even had a puma walk through their camp at night.

Their very detailed trip report includes a map set of the trek in geospatial PDF, GPS files, hiking distances & times; detailed, day-by-day route descriptions, camping locations, elevation profiles and more.

Read every word of their trip report.

Cochrane town is a few hours easy access south of Coyhaique. The closest public transport access to the National Park.

Torres del Paine W trek

Adventure seeking holiday-goers from around the world flock to Chilean Patagonia to complete the Torres del Paine Treks. Amongst the three trekking routes in the Torres del Paine National Park — the W trek, the O trek, and the Q trek, the Torres del Paine W trek is the most sought-after. …

4 – 5 days. The total trek is roughly 60km. …

Free and Paid Campsites, and Refugios, shared accommodation shelters, and Luxury Hotels …

make bookings months in advance …

Torres del Paine W Trek: Popular and Pristine

Pumalín, Chile – Volcán Chaitén trail

trip report by besthike editor Rick McCharles

Duration: 2½ hrs round trip.
Distance: 4,4 km round trip.
Return: Same route.
Difficulty: Medium-High.

In May of 2008, Volcán Chaitén erupted after 9000 dormant years, causing tremendous damage to Chaitén and Pumalín, and even into Argentina. The park was closed for two years, during which extensive restoration work was conducted.

Parque Pumalín 

Volcán Chaitén seen from commercial airliner 2008

This hike is not dangerous, but it is strenuous.

From the trailhead the volcano looked too far away. I assumed — correctly — that they still wouldn’t allow hikers to get very close.

It’s a steep climb. Interesting to see what vegetation has recovered over the past 10 years.

You arrive suddenly at a crater rim lookout.

It’s an impressive panorama looking over to the still very active mountain.

Another gorgeous day in Patagonia.

Check my cyclist’s tan!

Jenny Tough 650km solo in Bolivia

“No tienes miedo?” – Aren’t you afraid?

It’s the first question I got asked in every pueblo as I ran through the Bolivian Andes. For 17 days, I battled with the fear inside my head – and reflected in the people I met – as I ran solo and unsupported across the Sierra Oriental, the third range in my global challenge to run across a mountain range on every continent.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.