Hiking Itineraries

Six incredible Patagonia hiking trips for backpackers

Patagonia is home to some of the world’s most breathtaking natural scenery. A vast land of rolling valleys, mountains, lakes and glaciers, it is a hiker’s haven at the end of the world.

On the southernmost tip of South America, covering a huge region of Chile and Argentina, Patagonia is like a world of its own. With a population of just 2 million people occupying a million square kilometres of land, it is a maze of dramatic yet peaceful landscapes. These are some of the best Patagonia hiking trips for exploring this remarkable wilderness.

1.  W Trek, Torres Del Paine National Park

The Torres Del Paine W Trek was our favourite of the Patagonia hiking trips
The Torres Del Paine W Trek was our favourite of the Patagonia hiking trips
  • Distance: 74km plus optional side-hikes
  • Time: 3–5 days

The W Trek in Torres Del Paine National Park, Chile, is one of the world’s most spectacular multi-day hiking trails.

Located close to the town of Puerto Natales, the trek’s name derives from the shape formed by its path. The route curves to three points of a W to reach some of the park’s most oustanding features.

The granite towers of Las Torres are one of Patagonia’s most iconic images, rising above a blue-green lagoon on the east side of the circuit.

The middle point of the trek is Mirador Británico, a superb vantage point for a panorama of the park’s picture-perfect lakes and mountains.

Grey Glacier, a sheer white face comprising part of the South Patagonian Ice Field, completes the third prong of the W on the west side.

The trek can be done east-to-west or west-to-east. Organised treks are expensive; for tackling the W Trek self-guided, check out our complete guide for first-timers.

To take it to the next level, you can extend to the full circuit by hiking  the O Trek. This includes all the features of the W Trek plus an additional loop through the north of the park. Altogether the O Trek takes around 6–10 days to complete.

2.  Laguna de los Tres, Los Glaciares National Park, El Chaltén

Mount Fitz Roy at sunrise from Laguna de los Tres is one of Patagonia's most photographed landmarks
Mount Fitz Roy at sunrise from Laguna de los Tres is one of Patagonia’s most photographed landmarks
  • Distance: 24km return hike / 45km extended hike
  • Time: 1–3 days

Another of Patagonia’s most photographed landmarks is Mount Fitz Roy towering over Laguna de los Tres, near El Chaltén in Argentina. The scene is particularly impressive at sunrise as the granite peak of Fitz Roy shimmers in orange.

While Laguna de los Tres can be reached in a day hike from El Chaltén, the sunrise view requires camping overnight. A free site, Campamento Poincenot, is located close by.

The final section of the hike involves a steep climb up to Laguna de los Tres with an elevation gain of about 400 metres. This is the only tough section of an otherwise gentle and scenic hike.

You can extend the route into a multi-day trail by incorporating Laguna Torre further south. The two lagunas form into a loop circuit beginning and ending in El Chaltén.

For the essential information about the full circuit, check out our El Chaltén trekking guide and guide to free campsites on the route.

3.  Bahia Lapataia, Tierra Del Fuego National Park, Ushuaia

Tierra Del Fuego National Park near Ushuaia is full of majestic and moody scenery
Tierra Del Fuego National Park near Ushuaia is full of majestic and moody scenery
  • Distance: 20km approx (depending on side-hikes)
  • Time: 1 day

The Argentine city of Ushuaia is in the very southern reaches of Patagonia, quite literally at the end of the world. It is the gateway to Tierra Del Fuego National Park, famed for its untouched beauty and stark, moody landscapes.

Tierra Del Fuego translates into English as ‘land of fire’. When the explorer Ferdinand Magellan first sailed past the region, he saw fires burning along the coastline.

Despite only a small section of the park being open to the public, Tierra Del Fuego has a whole host of hiking routes to explore. One of the most rewarding and accessible is a day hike around Bahia Lapataia.

There are many different trails available pivoting from the Alakush Visitor Center, which you can reach by bus from the city. We chose to start at Correo Del Fin Del Mundo close to the park entrance station.

From here we hiked 8km through forests along the shore of the Beagle Channel, arriving at Alakush midway through the day. In the afternoon we combined shorter trails to Mirador Bahia Lapataia, the Black Lagoon and Mirador Lago Acigami.

For more information about the hike and other trails around the area, check out our article on things to do in Ushuaia.

4.  Cerro Llao Llao, Nahuel Huapi National Park, Bariloche

The view from Cerro Llao Llao near Bariloche is one of our most special travel memories
The view from Cerro Llao Llao near Bariloche is one of our most special travel memories
  • Distance: 15km
  • Time: 4 hours

At the other extreme of Patagonia, Bariloche is the region’s northernmost city and the hub for exploring Argentina’s Lake District. The city overlooks Nahuel Huapi Lake and is a short distance away from a selection of stunning hiking trails.

The panoramic view from the summit of Cerro Llao Llao is perhaps the area’s greatest spectacle. It is also one of the easiest viewing points to reach by hiking.

You can choose a simple return hike to Cerro Llao Llao in a couple of hours, or extend it to a circular trail incorporating Sendero de los Arrayanes (a forest path on the shore of Lago Moreno) and Villa Tacul (a lakeside beach on Nahuel Huapi).

Whichever you choose, the starting point is at Puerto Pañuelo, some 25km east of Bariloche. You can reach it by taking the number 20 public bus from the city.

For more details, see our guide to trekking the Cerro Llao Llao trail. You can also discover other trails and outdoor activities in our article on things to do in Bariloche.

5.  Cerro Piltriquitrón, El Bolsón

The hike to Cerro Piltriquitrón offers a spectacular view of El Bolsón and the surrounding valley
The hike to Cerro Piltriquitrón offers a spectacular view of El Bolsón and the surrounding valley
  • Distance: 11km / 25km return hike depending on starting point
  • Time: 1–2 days

A short bus ride from Bariloche (well, two hours is short in Patagonia terms) is the hippie hangout town of El Bolsón in the Argentine Andean mountains. As well as an artistic community vibe, the town also has plenty of beautiful hiking trails close at hand.

Our favourite was the return hike to the peak of Cerro Piltriquitrón, which looms high over the town from the east.

The official trailhead for the hike is around 11km from the town centre, reachable by taxi (or by foot if you’re up for an overnighter). Alternatively, you can start midway, and walk up a 7km gravel track from the outskirts of town to the trailhead.

A highlight of the trail is El Bosque Tallado (the Carved Forest), around 1km on from the trailhead. After a devastating fire in 1978, local artists got together to revive the forest area through sculpture, fashioning carvings from the charred tree stumps.

Another 1km up from here is Refugio Piltriquitrón, where you can stop for warm food and drinks, or stay overnight (depending on availability). Outside the refugio hut there is a fabulous view of El Bolsón below and the surrounding valley and mountains.

The final stretch is a further 3.5km to the summit, where a yet-more-spectacular view awaits. For everything you need to know, read our guide to hiking Cerro Piltriquitrón.

6.  Perito Moreno Glacier ice hike, El Calafate

Perito Moreno Glacier is in the South Patagonian Ice Field, the world's largest body of ice outside Antarctica
Perito Moreno Glacier is in the South Patagonian Ice Field, the world’s largest body of ice outside Antarctica
  • Distance: 6.5km
  • Time: 3–4 hours

The last of our Patagonia hiking trips is something a little different. Fancy taking a walk on a glacier? There’s no better place to do it than the awe-inspiring, 19km-long Perito Moreno Glacier.

Hiking on the glacier is not a cheap activity, I must add. The two trekking options – the ‘big ice’ and ‘mini-trekking’ – cost around 240 and 140 US dollars respectively.

The ‘big ice’ hike is a full day from 7am to 7pm, with about four hours or so on the ice. All equipment is provided and no hiking experience is required. It’s an amazing way to get immersed in one of Patagonia’s most striking landmarks.

If the ice hike doesn’t appeal or fit your budget, alternatively you can visit the glacier and see it up close. A series of colour-coded walkways spanning a couple of kilometres on the bank opposite the glacier enable you to see it from various angles and elevations.

Patagonia hiking trips: map

The map below shows how these Patagonia hiking trips are spread across the region. You could combine them all into a north–south or south–north itinerary between Bariloche and Ushuaia.

For travelling between the various hiking locations, you can use Busbud to search for bus routes and book tickets.

Responsible hiking

Patagonia is full of stunning untouched landscapes that are amazing to explore. But as the number of hikers visiting the region continues to increase, it’s more important than ever to be respectful of the wilderness.

Ridgeline Report’s article on how to leave no trace is an excellent guide to how you can leave the natural environment just as you found it when hiking.

Further reading on Patagonia

For everything you need to know about travel in Patagonia, read our Patagonia itinerary and travel guide and guide to getting around Patagonia by bus.

Are you travelling to Patagonia for the first time and unsure how to budget for your trip? Take a look at our breakdown of what we spent during 26 days in the region.

Unsure about what to pack for your Patagonia hiking trips? Check out our packing list for recommendations on clothes and trekking gear.

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Patagonia is home to some of the world’s most breathtaking natural scenery. This compilation features the best Patagonia hiking trips for exploring the region's vast and dramatic landscapes.Patagonia is home to some of the world’s most breathtaking natural scenery. This compilation features the best Patagonia hiking trips for exploring the region's vast and dramatic landscapes.

 

18 comments

  1. I love to hike, but due to a condition in my hips that is caused from pregnancy (and will never heal) I can only manage short hikes. I am glad to see some that I could do when we finally make it to Patagonia!

  2. Some great treks here. We trekked from Bariloche via Pampa Linda to Monte Tronador and Peurto Blest. Amazing few days and a great location for exploring.

  3. The Torred de Paine W Trek does look amazing. I really hope to take up hiking in the distant future and I will be sure to put it on my bucket list. How much experience do you have in hiking and trekking? I am trying to get a sense of the difficulty of the hike as it does not look appropriate for a beginner 😁

  4. These are some of the most beautiful landscapes I have ever seen! Thank you for introducing me to the stunning trails of Patagonia! Definitely up there on my bucket-list

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