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In this article, we will highlight 7 of the top trails so that you can start planning your next adventure to the beautifully diverse Argentina.
There are few people who I have met, who doesn’t enjoy hiking in one way or another. Not everyone wants to spend a week outdoors in the wilderness hiking and camping, but most like to do a day hike to enjoy the beautiful scenery and get some fresh air and exercise.
And the beauty is, that you don’t have to be super-fit or at a certain age to do it. Reasonable health and fitness will get you through a moderate and level trail.
There are many great places on this beautiful planet we call home to get away from it all and spend some time surrounded by nature while making your way from point A to B. And one of those places is Argentina. It offers some of the most magnificent hikes and trails that you could ever hope to find yourself on.
It provides for some of the most beautiful and varied scenic views, that would make memories to last you a lifetime. And of course, it is a photographers dream. When we think of Argentina, usually we think more of the cities and its vibrant culture, but forget that there is a whole other side to it with glaciers, mountains, and forests to be explored.
Adventuring through the rugged landscapes, looking up at granite peaks and down at glaciers that take your breath away, takes you back to nature in a way that is sometimes hard to put into words. You have to see it for yourself. There is so much to see here, that you’d want to come back again and again - and many do - each time to discover something new and different. New memories to take home.
The Monte Fitz Roy Trail
Mount Fitz Roy is one of Patagonia’s most well know trails. It is located in the Glacier National Park and can be accessed from the town of El Chaltén. This trail rates at a moderated difficulty level and stretch over five days. At the highest point, you will be at 2,900 meters.
Over the five days, you will see some of the most beautiful scenery that the Park has to offer. This will include the peaks of Mount Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre, at the top of the list. You will wind along rivers and can go for a swim in the alpine lakes.
Highlights of this trek include the sunrise over the granite peak of Mt Fitzroy when it glows pink and purple with beautiful reflections in the lake below as well as possibly seeing an avalanche on the nearby slopes. The landscape is easy enough to take on if you are in good shape and although it is challenging, the scenic beauty will more than make up for any tiredness you might feel after the hike.
The trail is well marked, and there is no need for a guided tour if you are up for the experience of taking care of yourself for a few days. It is really the best way to explore the area as much as you want and can. In this area, you will also find some world-class climbs if you are into rock-climbing.
Torres del Paine National Park W Route
The W Route (or W Trek) of the Torres del Paine are the shorter of the routes and can be completed in 3 - 5 days, depending on how slow you want to take it. Many people like to go at a leisurely pace and complete it in 5 days. Someone who would like to do a lot of photography, for example, could do a full five days hike.
The route usually starts in the east at Refugio Las Torres and ends in the west at Refugio Paine Grande. The “W” comes from it running up three valleys, Ascencio Valley, French Valley and Lago Grey. There is not a lot of elevation on this hike, and all the trail is more or less at sea level, so no altitude change that needs to be considered.
Trails are well marked, and there is little chance of getting lost, so no need to go on a guided tour. Water is available at the campsites that are about 4 hours apart. This makes for a very safe and easy hike for most levels a fitness. The one thing that you would want to keep in mind, is that the weather can be really bad at times with very strong winds.
The W Route is very busy in high season as there will also be day hikers that will want to see the same attraction as the actual hikers. So, something to keep in mind for when you book.
The route covers the following attractions:
- Glacier Grey
- Valle Frances
- Glacier Frances
- Torres de Paine
Torres del Paine National Park Circuit Trek
The Circuit Trek or “O” trek of the Torres del Paine covers all of the W trek, and then continues on around the back of the Torres del Paine to complete an “O” or a full loop. The additional areas you’ll visit are
- Dickson Lake
- Perros Camp
- John Garner Pass
When you do the Circuit Trek you start in an anti-clockwise direction as the John Garner Pass is too steep to do it the other way round.
The Circuit will take you about 5 - 6 days. But it can be done in 4, 5 days if you are fit and want to go faster. The back loop of the circuit is usually a lot more quiet than the W Route.
Glaciar Perito Moreno
Perito Moreno Glacier is on the Southern Side of the Los Glaciares National Park. It is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Argentine Patagonia. It's known for its dynamic changes which brings about a cyclic phenomenon of forwards and backwards movement. This causes spectacular ice falls from the front walls. It measures 30 km long, 5 km wide and 60 m high and moves forward at a rate of up to 2 m per day.
If you want to experience the Perito Moreno Glacier, you’d probably want to stay in El Calafate. From here you have options of the hikes that you can do to see this magnificently beautiful site.
The tours run from early August to late May. Usually, there are hikes that are either around 1, 5 hours or 3 hours long and they begin at “Bajo de las Sombras” port. Of course, the longer the hike you choose, the more you’ll see of the glacier.
These tours are guided and are made up of small groups of around 20 people, and the guides will provide you with special crampons to help you walk on the ice. The surface is very rough but safe and it makes for a moderate hike.
The guides explain all the detail about the general glaciology and the phenomenon that is happening here as well as details about the fauna and flora of the forest that you'll walk back trough.
A spectacular site that is more or less a must-see if you do travel to the region.
The Futaleufu River Valley is at the southern tip of Parque Nacional Los Alerces. The region is regulated by a unique “rain-shadow” microclimate. Here, the climate is definitely less harsh than that of the Torres Del Paine National Park. There is much beauty that surrounds you on hikes is this area. You will pass lakes, rivers and hot springs, see exotic wildlife and rainforests all against the backdrop of snow-covered peaks of the mountains in the background.
There are a number of options for hikes in the area, depending on how much time you have to spend. Most treks follow the “Ruta de Los Arrieros”, around lakes, through river valleys and over high mountain passes (which is optional). The routes are all still those that the local people use for their travels and it makes for a great cultural experience combined with the beauty of nature.
This hike has become more and more popular over the years as it is truly an unforgettable experience hiking all around the Huemul Mountain. The hike stretches over 60 km and can be completed in 4 - 5 days. The level of intensity is demanding, and you have to be in good physical condition to take this one on.
The landscape is varied and covers snow, glaciers and moraines, and there are a good number of climbs, which makes it quite technical. You will reach elevations up to around 1 600 m.
You will be hiking through mature forests, high altitude meadows and over glaciers. It leads you to the amazing view of the Souther Ice Field and you will also see the source of the Viedma Glacier and Lake Viedma which is breathtaking.
The start point of the hike is at Viedma Glacier and it ends at Pase Huemul.
The Laguna Atlas hike is part of the Patagonia National Park. It is a newer Park, and the Laguna Atlas is the first official trail.
A distance of 23 km is covered, and it is rated at an intensity level of difficult. It will take around 8 hours to complete. The high season here is January to March, and hiking weather ranges between 50 and 70 F.
The starting point is the West Winds Campground, and then it loops up to just about the Tamangito Peak, and from there along the ridge, around alpine lakes, and down the ridge back toward home.
Even though this is just a day hike, it is very popular as it offers magnificent views of the area and such diverse experiences along the way. If you enjoy hiking with relatively few people, then this is the place for you. Something that you don’t often get on the bigger and more well-known trails. So, if it is beauty and solitude you seek, this one should definitely be on your list.
Parque Nacional Los Glaciares / Glacier National Park
The Glacier National Park in Argentina is a treat for any visitor who loves short or multi-day hikes as well as rock-climbing. The terrain lends itself to many scenic trails, catering to various fitness and experience levels and depending on how long you are visiting for, there will be a hike that you will enjoy.
The North side of the Park is Mt Fitz Roy (3 405m) and Mt. Torre (3 102m), where you can witness some of the most magnificent scenery in the world, with the granite peak, glaciers and natural forest inviting you to explore its beauty. The closest town here is El Chaltén, nicknamed the “trekking capital of Argentina’.
On the South side of the Park, there is the very famous Perito Moreno, know for it dynamic changes that produce some of the most spectacular ice falls from its front walls. The closest town is El Calafaté.
Hopefully, this gives you a few options to consider for when you want to book your next adventure. Remember to do a lot of reading up on any area you consider visiting to make sure that you have enough information to make your travels as safe and as enjoyable as it could be.
There truly is something for everyone here and that doesn't happen at too many destinations. So, hopefully, Argentina and it's beautiful places and people will see you soon. They are ready to welcome you to their little piece of paradise.