With all the tour packages and guide books available, it can be confusing to pick where to hike in the huge Patagonia. After travelling from north to south, these are my three favourite day hikes and travel tips to help plan your vacation.
Number One: Laguna Torre
Laguna Torre's pinnacle was at the Mirador Maestri lookout point with views over the Cordón Adela range and down onto Glacier Torre’s gritty arm of ice. Another stunning viewpoint, at Mirador Laguna Torre, afforded a panoramic vista of Cerro Torre’s slivery points among a wider snowy range perched above the chilly Laguna Torre.
Trail: 24 kilometres elchalten.com/eng/actividades/lagunatorre.php
Park: Fitz Roy Range of Parque Nacional Los Glaciares
Nearest Town: El Chalten
Accommodation: Patagonia Travellers’ Hostel
Number Two: Costera Route
The Costera route follows the ocean’s shoreline. Its reputation as a popular pathway to observe the local birds was true. Upland geese poked around the lake’s edge, nuzzling between tiny white wildflowers and stringy turf. Their whitish-grey colouring was in bold contrast to the aquamarine waters and lush green vegetation. Even rabbits frolicked in a meadow before ducking out of sight. Of most interest to watch was a young chimango caracara falcon. He was preoccupied in finding some tasty seafood delight left hidden under the stones at low tide.
Park: Parque Nacional Tierra del Fuego
Nearest Town: Ushuaia
Accommodation: La Posta Apart Hostel
Number Three: Volcán Villarrica
Volcán Villarrica is one of only five volcanoes worldwide with an active lava lake in its crater, so unless a climber is an accredited and experienced member of a mountaineering club, it is mandatory to have a certified guide who is recognized by the Corporación Nacional Forestal, the Chilean forestry service.
The hike itself was not particularly demanding, in part due to the aid of a chairlift, which knocked approximately 1,600 metres from the initial incline. Couple this with the near-lethargic pace set by the guides and the climb could be considered effortless by those in decent shape. This made it an easy warm-up for the rest of Patagonia’s more challenging tracks.
Hike: Volcán Villarrica
Park: Parque Nacional Villarrica
Nearest Town: Pucón
More about these and my other favourite hikes around the world can be found in Dust in My Pack.
Available in paperback and eBook at most online bookstores.