Huemul Route, Fitz Roy, Argentina – day 4

trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles

Huemul Route – day 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | info

Day 4 was my walkout back to El Chaltén. Everyone hikes counter-clockwise.

Here’s the whole circuit visiting the Southern Patagonian Ice Field.

Circuit map via Travel 2 Walk

Very atypical for me, I didn’t sleep well.

And it rained on and off through the night.

Happily the sun came out about the time I got out of the tent.

Despite my efforts of the previous day, I’d only saved about an hour by hiking past the designated campground. I could still see the glacier. And there was again a rainbow. 🙂

The trail continued in parallel to the Lake Videma shoreline thorough dry grasslands.

Though still beautiful, this was the least impressive day, I’d say. Not much variety.

The highlight was rabbits more rabbits. And one non-rabbit. He may have been a Patagonian mara.

When I caught a glimpse I assumed it was a plains viscacha, but it was more likely a mara.

I was looking forward to the second Tyrolean Traverse.

Arriving alone, I found the pulley was at this, the far side of the river. 😕 There SHOULD have been a slim rope attached to pull it over to the start on the other side.

What to do?

I knew I could walk to the lake and (probably) wade the river mouth. But figuring a way across was more fun.

My alternatives:

1. Attach my pulley carabiner directly to the cable (rather than the pulley)

2. Use ONLY my steel carabiner (normally a redundant safety system). This is what the guide did once on our first Traverse.

I went with #1 thinking it was the safer option. That worked. But I had to pull myself every inch with friction from the carabiner resisting. It was exhausting.

Here are some guys wading.

Walk Patagonia

From there it was easy to find my way down to the Bahía Del Túnel dock.

This boat takes tourists to the Videma glacier.

I saw no people. No vehicles. So stayed on the ‘trail’ headed towards a ranch.

Actually, my hiking map showed the trail ending at the dock. Some probably walk the (much longer) road to town.

I could find no trail. Instead I worked my way through more grasslands in the direction of El Chaltén.

Ready to be done, I stumbled on to this calf. It was the second dead cow I’d seen.

When I hit the first fence, being a polite Canadian, I tried to walk around the ranch.

That was a mistake. In the end I hopped about 5 fences and opened one gate. It wasted at least another hour. I should have hopped the first fence and headed directly to the highway.

It was with satisfaction and relief that my final fence hop delivered me to this roadside lookout.

From there was an easy 3km to town on pavement.

I dropped my registration form at the Parks information office. They seemed happy to see I had survived.

With a big smile on my face I returned my rental Tyrolean Traverse harness to ‘Camping Center’ in town. That was the only gear rental store I could find that doesn’t close for siesta.

It was back to the hostel for a long, hot, long shower. 🙂

YES my hostel had a 24 hour a day restaurant! It’s popular with the late night partying backpacker crowd.

All I’d consumed this day was coffee. At 6:30pm I splurged on a huge meal. Breaded chicken a lo pobre.

The Huemul Route out of Fitz Roy, Argentina is superb. Some of the best vistas of my life. One of the very best hikes in the world.

____

If you are worried at all about the Traverses … and navigation, consider signing on with a guided group. Chalten Mountain Guides, for example.

related:

For a MUCH BETTER trip report – Travel 2 Walk: El Chaltén – Fitz Roy and Huemul Circuit, March 2017. (They did it again January 2019!)

bookmundi – Argentina 2019 – Huemul Circuit Parque Nacional Los Glaciares of Argentine

If you prefer your trip reports in video format, here are a few to check out.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Huemul Route – day 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | info

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.

Darwin’s Frog trail, Pumalín, Chile

trip report by site editor Rick McCharles

Distance: 2,5 km. loop

Difficulty: easy

Darwin’s frog is native to the forest streams of Chile and Argentina.

The most striking feature of this frog is the tadpoles’ development inside the vocal sac of the male.

Sadly it’s endangered in 2019 due to habitat loss and amphibian disease.

It’s tiny. You’d never be able to find one in this park. Or anywhere.

Darwin’s Frog relies on camaflague and tricks.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

This hike is an interpretive trail showing the damage done to the temperate rain forest by farming. AND how Pumalín is allowing nature to return it to rain forest.

At the information kiosk at the park gates you can sign out waterproof cards explaining each species, guiding you through the circuit.

If you get anywhere near El Amarillo, Patagonia, be sure to do this short walk. There are other longer hikes nearby in Pumalín, as well.

hiking Lake Chaiguata, Chiloe, Chile

trip report by site editor Rick McCharles

I cycled in to the Lake Chaiguata as part of my Patagonia bikepacking trip. Cycling is a great way to get to trailheads in this remote part of the world.

Parque Tantauco is fantastic. And fantastically well organized and funded.

The campsites are as good as I’ve seen anywhere. They put down wood chips to keep them dry.

There are a number of day hikes of various lengths, all well signed.

This is a wet, wet landscape. Thus they’ve built a LOT of boardwalk. And I love boardwalk.

Though the topography is fairly flat, trails are built to take you to overlooks.

It’s an interesting place.

This is the start of the best hike in Chiloe, the 4-8 day Sendero Transversal hut-to-hut.

best hike Chiloe Island, Chile

Sendero Transversal is by far the best hike in remote Chiloe.

I cycled in to the Lake Chaiguata trailhead staying only 1 night and did some day hiking. 

It’s a unique and impressive Park. Very well organized.

Tantauco Park (Spanish: Parque Tantauco) is a 1,180 km2 (456 sq mi) private natural reserve on the south end of Chiloé Island in Chile.

The park was created by Chilean business magnate and President of Chile Sebastián Piñera in 2005 …

The park is open to the public with two campgrounds and a 150 km (93 mi) network of hiking trails. …

Tantauco Park is an attractive ecotourist destination due to the remarkable biodiversity of its nearly untouched Valdivian temperate rainforest and the rather easy public access. Precipitations in the area average about 2,500 mm (98 in) annually. …

Details on the Sendero Transversal.

  • 4 – 8 days
  • hike only 1 direction (counterclockwise)
  • download the map
  • start Lake Chaiguata, finish Inío
  • hut to hut
  • maximum 8 hikers / day
  • exit by floatplane or boat
  • peat bogs, Tepu forests, Cypress trees
  • plenty of boardwalk
  • trails well maintained, but you’ll be getting wet
  • only about 7000 people / year visit this Park
  • there are a couple of other multi-night options

Click PLAY or watch on trip on YouTube.

related:

Home page – parquetantauco.cl (Spanish)

WikiTravel – Parque Tantauco

Wikipedia – Tantauco Park