World → South America → Patagonian Andes
One of the best hiking regions in the world is the
PATAGONIAN ANDES Top 10
The very name evokes. Inspires a wild, exotic urge to explore.
AT A GLANCE
- most famous is the double adventure: Paine and Fitz Roy
- but Patagonia offers much, much more
- great variety: arid desert, lush tundra meadows, rich rainforests, smoking volcanoes, towering granite spires, some of the largest ice fields on Earth
- here are the world’s most southerly established treks
- parts are similar to south island New Zealand and the Coast Range in BC, Canada
- 5 hiking districts (North to South):
- The Araucania
- Lakes District
- Central Patagonia
- Southern Patagonia
- Tierra del Fuego
- most of the best hikes are challenging
- independent, self-sufficient hikers will love it
- hiking season is Nov-Apr. Feb-Mar is the best weather
WHY WE LIKE THIS REGION
- South American Explorers club
- sparsely inhabited. There are places here never ever seen by any man.
- travel in Argentina is still relative inexpensive. Chile, not so much.
- glaciers at low elevation (no risk of altitude sickness)
- some treks have alpine huts (refugios) providing meals & basic supplies. But most require you carry a tent.
- steaming thermal springs
- easy-to-climb volcanoes
- The Lake District called “Switzerland of South America”
- few biting insects at higher elevations
- few dangerous animals of any kind
- conversational Spanish almost essential
- Argentina is less expensive and more welcoming than Chile. (Be aware that Chile charges an expensive reciprocal tourist visa fee for some nationalities if you arrive by air. In 2018 Australians and Mexicans paid that fee. Americans did not.)
- access to The Lake District is easy by bus from Santiago, Chile. Or, better, from Bariloche, Argentina.
- transportation to distant southern Patagonia, however, can be problematic
- check the map for airports. Most hikers fly via Santiago, or, better, Buenos Aires.
- the more time you have for your trip, the better, in this part of the world. Logistics are time consuming.
- the trails are busiest Jan to mid-Feb
- the west coast is too WET, even for us. Stay inland.
- In fact, the major downside to Patagonian hiking is the weather. Wind, cold, rain. Be prepared for everything.
- Public transport is limited to some of the best hikes.