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The top 5 hikes in Patagonia

12 November 2019 08:18

Hike the Torres del Paine National Park for breath-taking views

Hike the Torres del Paine National Park for breath-taking views

Patagonia is a hiker's paradise. Spanning the southernmost tips of Argentina and Chile, the region is a rugged wilderness blessed with spectacular glaciers, azure lakes and towering rock formations.

The best time to visit is generally between early November and late April, although the weather can be a little unpredictable.

From short walks to multi-day treks, here's our pick of the top 5 hikes in Patagonia...

1. Peninsula Llao Llao Circuit

Time: 4 hours
Distance: 9 miles
Difficulty: Easy

If you're new to hiking or travelling with children, this is a fantastic starter trek. You'll be rewarded with incredible views without having to do anything too strenuous or go too far off the beaten track.

The route is immersed in ancient forest in the Llao Llao Municipal Park, where you'll encounter unusual trees and crystal-clear blue lakes. There are places to stop for a picnic to admire the scenery if you want to break up the trek.

It's mostly flat terrain, with only a small ascent of about 900 metres to reach the summit of Mount Llao Llao. From the top, take photos of the panoramic views across the entire park.

2. Mount Fitz Roy

Time: 8 hours
Distance: 16 miles
Difficulty: Medium

One of the most recognisable sights in Patagonia, Fitz Roy mountain is characterised by its 'smoking volcano' appearance. Although the trek to its foothills is one of the most popular in Patagonia, it's definitely worth joining the crowds to get up close and personal to it.

Set off early from the town of El Chalten to enjoy the best part of the day, when the sun rises above the peaks.

Most of the trek is flat, taking you through pretty forests. For the final hour or so it zig-zags up a rocky trail until you finally reach Laguna de los Tres, with epic views of the dramatic summit of Mount Fitz Roy towering above you. You do have to exert yourself a bit on this walk, but you are rewarded with spectacular scenery.

3. W Circuit in Torres del Paine National Park

Time: 5 days
Distance: 46 miles
Difficulty: Hard

No trip to Patagonia would be complete without a trek in Chile's famous Torres del Paine, one of the world's most spectacular hiking routes.

Named after the shape of the trail on the map, the W Circuit attracts hikers from all over the world who come to experience the breath-taking beauty of this serene place. This challenging multi-day hike takes you across stunning glaciers, lakes and valleys to the striking towering rock formation of Torres del Paine.

For an even longer trek lasting about 8-10 days, the O Circuit incorporates the W trek and involves circling the Torres del Paine. It also takes in the frozen wonders of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field.

4. Cerro Castillo

Time: 1 day
Distance: 8 miles
Difficulty: Medium

If you're looking for a lesser-known hike through Chilean Patagonia, the Cerro Castillo fits the bill nicely. With its azure blue lagoons and ice-covered black rocks, it's as picture-perfect as the W trek but not half as crowded.

You can do a 4-day trek, but most people opt for the 1-day option. After setting off from the town of Villa Cerro Castillo, you'll pass hanging glaciers, mountain rivers and endangered wildlife along the way.

The hike's crowning glory is the mighty towers of Cerro Castillo. It's a long and steep walk to get there, but when you stand by the glacial azure waters of Laguna Verde looking up at the jagged peaks rising out of the rock, you'll know it's all been worthwhile.

For now, it's a hidden gem, but we're betting it won't stay undiscovered for too long.

5. The Huemul Circuit

Time: 4 days
Distance: 40 miles
Difficulty: Very hard

Not for the faint-heated, this demanding 4-day trek is one of the most difficult in Patagonia and a real test of your stamina. The hike goes around Mount Huemul in the heart of Los Glaciares National Park, taking in native beech forests, high-altitude meadows and the Southern Patagonian Ice Field.

This trek boasts diverse and varied landscapes that will get your blood pumping and bring colour to your cheeks as you breathe in the fresh air.

The Huemul Circuit is known to be a very challenging trek, so if you're not an experienced hiker, it's a good idea to hire the services of a local guide who can help you navigate the rivers and offer expert knowledge on this ruggedly scenic area as you go.

Don't forget your insurance!

Don't walk on the wild side without making sure you're covered for your trip. Check our mountaineering and trekking travel insurance options at World First and travel with peace of mind.