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

Wales – Pembrokeshire Coast Path – day 4

Trip Report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles

day 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

I made coffee in the vestibule of my tent in the dark. Packed up and was on my feet by 8am. BIG day ahead. The toughest and most physically demanding of any on the Coast Path.

It was about 2 miles to town. Another 14 miles more (at least) to finish.

I finally saw rabbits on one farm. (SLUGS are much more plentiful.)

Giant mushrooms.

I detoured to Newport town to pick up provisions. There was some chance I’d need to wild camp again. I had no reservation for the hostel. And it was Saturday.

Scones and fruit cake are high calorie. Easy to eat.

For the first time in my hiking career an official trail crossed a golf course. That’s cool.

In the parking lot Duke of Edinburgh hikers were unloading. These are students who had to plan and execute an expedition of at least 2 days and 1 night. They looked woefully unprepared to me.

The steep, sheer, non-stop cliffs begin. The highest 575ft (175m). There’s only one emergency exit all day.

Narrow trails. Far less used than those in the south.

Yes. Muddy.

Most of the coves are inaccessible except from sea.

Stunning scenery. The weather improved over the day.

October in Pembrokeshire. You know what that means? 🙂 It’s Atlantic grey seal breeding time!

I did see dozens of seals. (And 5 distant dolphins.)

But I saw only one pup. The baby (white) looked nearly as big as Mom.

Pups can’t swim yet. And they are very uncoordinated on land. Helpless as a human baby.

Click PLAY or watch a similar baby on YouTube.

Mom was in the perfect protected spot, however. A collapsed sea cave called Witch’s Calderon.

Weather was great. Aside from the wind.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

I was quite happy to round the corner and see that cliffs had ended. I’d been walking for nearly 8 hours.

On a weekend, I feared Poppit Sands hostel would be full. I’d need to wild camp again.

Happily there was space at the inn. I spent about 25 minutes in the hot shower! Welsh hostels are excellent.

It was a fun night chatting with an entertaining, informative Irishman. (Are there any other kind?) He was just finishing up a 3 month cycling holiday.

Before dinner I walked Poppit beach. My Coast Path would be ending first thing in the morning.

____

After coffee in the morning I had 2 miles left to trail end in St Dogmaels.

I visited the ancient Abby. And church built 1847 from Abby stones.

Here’s the finish.

Over 4 days I’d walked the first 20 miles. And the last 25 miles. About a quarter of the Coast Path. It was enough.

Then I walked another 2 miles along the Wales Coast Path, an 870-mile (1,400 km) route around the whole coast of Wales, to the bus stop at Cardigan. From there I planned to catch a bus to the train station.

What! What?

In October there are no longer ANY buses to anywhere on a Sunday. Bus service has been shrinking for years for rural towns in Wales. ☹️

The closest train station was 50£ by cab. I hate taxis. So checked into a lovely hotel instead for 45£. A holiday from my hiking vacation.

Pembrokeshire Coast Path is definitely one of the top 10 coastal hikes in the world.

day 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

Cicerone publishes an excellent guidebook with detailed map.

Morocco’s Toubkal Circuit – day 2

Trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles.

day 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | info | video

I woke at dawn. Shared a couple of cups of coffee with Aziz.

Then told him I might return if I couldn’t find the route.

I climbed back up to the paved road surprised to find this hotel.

If I was to do the circuit again I’d hire a cab in Imlil to deliver me here on the paved road. Begin the hike next morning.

I still had no idea where to start the climb up to Tizi Likemt (3550m), the first high pass.

Happily I saw a brightly coloured people walking down the highway in my direction. It was an Israeli couple who had just finished the circuit the opposite direction.

Waiting on them was the smartest thing I did all week. They told me the entire circuit is available on Maps.me. I had downloaded it in advance. My navigation problems were solved.

Maps.me saves the day again.

I’m sure they thought I looked too energetic. Over-confident.

I was raring to go.

On the other hand, this poor carnivore might have been a bad omen.

The climb was very long. And not all that thrilling.

Looking backward …

There’s a Japanese donated weather station at the pass, but you can’t see it from the side I climbed.

It was hot and sunny. No water.

My Darn Toughs did all 5 days of the hiking. I switched to camp socks / shoes each evening.

It was a long, hot descent as well.

In fact, a pass this high first day is stupid. That’s not smart acclimatization. On the way down I resolve to NOT recommend these first 2 days to future hikers.

Here’s the first water I’d seen in hours. All water sources should be treated in these mountains unless you see it coming out of the mountain with your own eyes.

I was happy to reach the river. A German group had already claimed the best spot.

Further along I enjoyed a couple of pots of coffee.

This is a summer grazing settlement. Animals and their keepers will head down soon when snow threatens.

The next section climbing through a gorge was very entertaining. One of my favourite bits.

I finally camped at an open area on another creek near yet another guided hiking group.

Dinner in the dark was coucous, soup, raisins and peanuts. For Morocco I switched from my usual instant mashed potatoes base to couscous.

day 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | info | video