Hiker's Guide to Patagonia in Argentina
I’m pretty sure God lives in Patagonia. This land is untainted perfection. There is no haze here; the air is clean, unpolluted. Colors are vibrant, hues more saturated, and clarity razor crisp. You can see for miles: layer upon layer of snow-capped mountain peaks, pristine lakes, hearty evergreen forests, and stark glaciers. The wind? I like to imagine it’s the corporeal sense of angels rushing about, doing God’s bidding. They sure are busy!
We visited Patagonia in October, which is early Spring in Argentina and the low season for tourism. The weather is unpredictable this time of year, but we were very lucky. We arrived the day after the northern region’s final snow squall, which blanketed Bariloche’s hills in white. We left El Calafate three weeks later, experiencing just one day of rain. We hiked nearly 100 miles of this vast wilderness, mostly in El Chaltén, and barely scratched the surface of this trekker’s paradise. Yes, we will return!
While Chile’s W and O trails are the most popular (and expensive) Patagonian trekking circuits, Argentina has its fair share of less-trafficked routes, with towering granite peaks that are just as awesome as Torres del Paine. In this guide, we share a few trails you may not have heard about in Bariloche and El Chaltén. The best part? These are day hikes that don’t require any special gear, like tents or sleeping bags. Just strap on your shoes, grab a packed lunch and go!
Why We Did Not Choose Torres del Paine
The short answer: it was too expensive. No matter how we looked at it, we’d be spending at least $150+ a day to hike in Chile, even during the low season. Unlike the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal, the refugios (lodges) along the trails in Chile are super expensive. Just a single bed with linens is $50-$100 per person per night! That doesn’t even include meals. Tent camping is a cheaper option, but we did not carry camping equipment on our Round the World journey. Renting everything we would need (tent, sleeping bags, cooking gear and larger packs to carry it all) would have been too expensive.
We opted to stay in an AirBnB in El Chaltén, Argentina, and simply day hike. A warm bed, hot shower, and a kitchen to prepare our meals cost about $50/night total.
Have you been to Torres del Paine on the Chilean side of Patagonia? What was your experience on the W and O Circuits? Was it expensive? Curious for future reference! Tag us on social media @traveliszen or leave us a comment.