With hundreds of trails and two destinations amongst “the best destinations for hiking” (El Chaltén in Argentina and Torres del Paine National Park in Chile) in the Americas, Patagonia is Heaven for outdoors lovers. But make no mistake – if hiking remains the favorite activity of travelers in the Southern tip of South America, there are lots of secret epic places to practice some other sports in the wilds of Patagonia.
There is a good reason to that. Patagonia is indeed famous for its diversity of landscapes – from the dry pampa in the East to the 3rd fresh water reserve in the world (then Southern Patagonian Ice Fields) in the West – yet the best argument is that you can literally find yourself in a completely unspoiled place while practicing your favorite sport. Now, take a look at the best activities and make your choice (or do all of them in a single trip).
Hiking is the absolute must-do activity on a trip to Patagonia. Whether you decide to do a full day hike or a 1-week trekking circuit, Patagonia is a hikers’ paradise. Most famous short hikes include the Towers’ Base Hike (22km/13mi) & Frenchsman Valley (18km/11mi) in Torres del Paine National Park (Chile) and “Laguna de Los Tres” (22km/13mi) and “Laguna Torre” (20km/12mi) in Los Glaciares National Park (Argentina). As for the trekking circuits, the W Trek and Torres del Paine Circuit (Torres del Paine National Park, Chile) and los Dientes de Navarino (the southernmost trek on Earth at the southern tip of Chile) are totally recommended, yet some lesser-known trekking routes are becoming more and more popular (including “Cerro Castilo” in Chile’s Aysen Region). If you were unsure whether there were enough hikes to do in Patagonia, now you know.
2. Horseback Riding
Whoever has head of Patagonia should know the (nearly romantic) picture of the gaucho riding through the steppe on his horse with its beret deep on his head. You must experience this very same feeling of complete freedom and horseback riding should be on your bucket list if you want to fully connect with the immensity of Patagonia. There are thousands of alternatives and hundreds of stunning places both for the amateur riders and the true cowboys. In both Chile and Argentina, gaucho-guides will make you wander through otherworldly landscape. Recommended places: Puerto Natales and surroundings, Torres Del Paine (Chile) and El Chaltén (Argentina). Now you’ll know what it’s like to be driven with wind-in-hair.
The only way to really get an idea of how giants the Patagonian Ice Fields are is to get next to them. In both Chile and Argentina you’ll find plenty of options to get close to some of South America’s most iconic glaciers, like Grey Glacier (Torres del Paine, Chile). If glaciers are not particularly your thing, you can still explore Magallanes’ region fjords, wander through the Magellan Strait, go and see the incredible Marble Caves from up close (Aysen Region, Chile) or even take a high-adrenaline dose on the Futaleufu River (Aysen Region, Chile) – a Rafting paradise, too.
We are tempted to say “Mountain Biking” but biking in Patagonia does not necessarily mean you’ll go through slopes of steep valleys. Even families with almost no biking experience can enjoy the remote roads of Torres del Paine National Park and meet the local fauna (hundreds of guanacos and the elusive puma if you’re lucky). Here, a biking experience becomes an unforgettable way to see beautiful waterfalls, dramatic granite peaks and turquoise blue lakes. Now, if you want something demanding, there are wild trails almost everywhere in the region, making it a destination for all kinds of bikers.
Forget about diversity: in Patagonia you may not fish anything else than wild trout and salmon. However everything about fishing in Patagonia has to do with the scenery and that very feeling of being alone with the river. In the remote corners of Navarino Island, you may even need to fly on helicopter to reach some of the southernmost watercourses on Earth. In the vicinity of Torres del Paine National Park, you may spend a whole day fishing while seeing more fishes than humans. There are rivers almost everywhere, and due to the grandness of the region – from the Aysen Region to Tierra del Fuego Island – you have plenty of options to fully enjoy fishing.
6. Glacier Hike
Patagonian Glaciers carved out the region’s most incredible landscapes and you cannot avoid to see them on a trip to the world’s end. The good news is that walking on them is actually pretty easy if you do it with the right gear (and the right guide). In Argentina, you can ice-trek on Perito Moreno, one of South America’s biggest glaciers and one of the 48 glaciers fed by the Southern Patagonian Ice Fields. Put on your crampons and explore the mystic immensity of the “white desert”. If you want something less crowded, Grey Glacier ice trek is a fantastic alternatives, with smaller groups due to the remoteness of the ice.
Forget about air contamination. In Patagonia, you can run for hours while breathing pure air and drinking the cleanest water on Earth. Only those who run along some of the most beautiful mountains on Earth will understand how special Patagonian running truly is. Luckily, this sport has become so popular some folks created the Patagonian International Marathon – one of the most epic marathons on Earth in Torres del Paine National Park, Chile. Lace up your running shoes and go to Patagonia!
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