Anna Richards shares her top day hikes in Patagonia after extensive travels in the region. And no, Torres del Paine isn’t on the list!

With my sleeping bag zipped right over my head, knees curled into my chest for warmth, I wondered why camping in Patagonia (one of the harshest climates on earth) had seemed like a good idea. 

My sopping wet clothes, far from drying, were solidifying. Crisp, frozen socks hung from the tent pole. 

Hungry and unwilling to brave getting out of the tent to cook, I tried to chisel peanut butter from the jar with a flimsy plastic spork. That, too, had frozen solid. 

Multi-day hikes in Patagonia can be the most incredible experience, but you have to take the lows with the highs. 

For every clear day with a cut-glass view of a glacier, there is a day where the wind sweeps you clean off your feet. 

For every day where the snow-capped mountains replicate the Paramount logo rising amongst fluffy clouds in a pink-streaked sky, there is a day where the snow falls so thickly that the view is less Hollywood-opening-credits and more akin to seeking cotton wool set against a cumulus cloud. 

The advantages of doin day hikes in Patagonia are huge. 

  1. You can (more or less) predict the weather. 
  2. You can hit the trail with a small pack. 
  3. You can cover as much ground as you want without the fear that your legs will feel as though they’re no longer attached to your body the next day. Because all you were going to do was sit around drinking Malbec and feasting on empanadas anyway. And sore legs don’t affect that!

I’ve rounded up 11 of my favourite day hikes in Patagonia to help you enjoy Mother Nature’s finest views and have dry feet at the end of the day for your Malbec and feasting. 

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1. Cerro Guanaco, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina

A hiker facing away from the camera with full pack on and overlooking a stunning mountain vistas with light snow dusting the peaks and lakes below. Taken at Cerro Guanaco inTierra del Fuego, Argentina, one of the best day hikes in Patagonia.

Steep scree, a treacherous peat bog, and 900m of elevation gain mean that this day hike isn’t for the faint-hearted. Factor in 7-8 hours for the round trip and a loss of sensation in your kneecaps the following day. 

The views, however, make it thoroughly worthwhile. 

From the top, gazing across the Beagle Channel at the craggy peaks of the end of the Andes, you truly feel as though you’re at the end of the world.

How to get there: Catch the bus from Ushuaia to Tierra del Fuego National Park 

Entrance fee: ARS560

Related: Solo Camping in Argentina

2. El Cañi, Pucón, Chile

View over the treetops and to the mountains on the horizon from El Cañi in Pucón, Chile
El Cañi

A view of a volcano would be reward enough at the end of a hike, but the viewpoint from the top of El Cañi offers not one volcano, but four. 

The trail is densely packed with araucaria trees so you see very little until you reach the summit, but good things come to those who wait!

How to get there: Regular buses run from Pucón to Santuario El Cañi

Entrance fee: CLP4000

3. Cerro Fitz Roy, El Chaltén, Argentina

Low clouds over the Patagonia mountains from Cerro Fitz Roy in El Chaltén, Argentina
Cerro Fitz Roy

Instantly recognisable as the silhouette on the logo of Patagonia outdoor clothing, Mount Fitz Roy is unforgiving to look at and utterly mesmerising. 

Many people choose to camp below the summit to see the mountain range at sunrise. The final hour or so of the hike is a real scramble.

How to get there: This hike is accessible on foot straight out of El Chaltén

Entrance fee: Free

4. Cerro Campanario, Bariloche, Argentina 

Stunning blue sky over the mountains and lakes of Patagonia from Cerro Campanario in Bariloche, Argentina.
Cerro Campanario

Less of a day hike and more of an amble, this is the easiest hike on the list and rewards minimal efforts with maximal beauty. 

At just half an hour each way, it is very accessible and there’s even a chairlift if you don’t fancy the walk. 

It might not be the quietest trail, but the popularity is deserved and it is still unmissable. Enjoy a cold beer at the top as you soak up lakes ringed with fir trees, reflecting the mountain backdrop so clearly that you could turn the view on its head and no one would know. 

How to get there: Regular buses leave from Bariloche

Entrance fee: Free on foot, the chairlift costs ARS330 

5. Cerro Bandera, Puerto Williams, Chile

The end of the world with a Chilean flag atop the Cerro Bandera in Puerto Williams, Chile
Cerro Bandera

The real end of the world and the first checkpoint on the multi-day Dientes de Navarino trek, which is often lauded as the toughest hike in Patagonia. 

The Cerro Bandera, however, is easy to navigate and very achievable in half a day. 

Panoramic views of the Beagle Channel and a feeling of complete awe at the remoteness of the last inhabited island before you reach Antarctica await you when you reach the flag at the top. 

How to get there: On foot from Puerto Williams

Entrance fee: Free. If continuing to do the full Dientes de Navarino loop you must register with the local office.

Related: Your Antarctica travel guide (join Wanderful for the adventure of a lifetime!)

6. Cerro Benítez, Puerto Natales, Chile 

Beautiful view from a mountaintop on the Cerro Benítez hike in Puerto Natales, Chile
Cerro Benítez

This isn’t an easy trail to reach or to follow. There are no markings, so make sure that you have or something similar downloaded on your phone. 

The trail starts from Laguna Sofía, around an hour outside of Puerto Natales. 

From here, it’s a steep hour-and-a-half to reach Cerro Queso (Cheese Mountain) for views back down over Laguna Sofía and the vast Golfo Almirante Montt. 

How to get there: Drive or hitchhike, no buses run here

Entrance fee: Free

Read next: Adventure travel for women – tips from the travel experts

7. Refugio López, Bariloche, Argentina

A hiker on a day trip in Patagonia at Refugio López in Bariloche, Argentina, with a view of more mountains int he distance and lakes in between
Refugio López

From Refugio López, the marbled islands of Bariloche pool underneath you. Picking out shapes in the islands is like cloud gazing: one a sea monster half submerged in water, one a turtle. 

After three hours of steep uphill climbing, the refugio offers a welcome respite with hot coffee and cakes. 

The interior is quirky and homely, although there is a disconcertingly large number of dangling gnome figurines (duendecitos) lining the walls. 

How to get there: Regular buses leave Bariloche

Entrance fee: Free, but take some pesos for cake at the refugio

8. Huerquehue National Park Loop, Chile 

A bright blue sky and view of a lake below surrounded by lush green mountains, from the Huerquehue National Park Loop in Chile
Huerquehue National Park

One of the easiest and most commercialised hikes on the list, but beautiful nonetheless.

Huerquehue National Park has a number of well-marked routes, fantastic lakes to paddle in, and some spectacular waterfalls. 

How to get there: Regular buses leave Pucón

Entrance fee: CLP7000

9. Laguna Espejo, El Hoyo, Argentina

One of the best day hikes in Patagonia, Laguna Espejo in El Hoyo, Argentina
Laguna Espejo

A tricky trail to follow and very much off the typical tourist trail. 

The little town of El Hoyo is just south of the hippie haven of El Bolsón. From a little further south, close to Hostel Luz Clara, several trails split and rejoin in the woods that run steeply uphill east of the town. 

At the top, after passing remote estancias straight from a Wild West movie, Laguna Espejo (Mirror Lake) is black, windswept, and infinite-looking. 

A short detour after you descend will take you to Catarata Corbata Blanca (White Tie Waterfall), which spills out of a ring of rock like a perfect white necktie. 

How to get there: Catch a bus to El Hoyo and continue on foot to Hostel Luz Clara to ask for directions. Better still, stay at the hostel overnight, there isn’t an abundance of accommodation in the area.

Entrance fee: Free

10. Laguna Cerro Castillo, Coyhaique, Chile 

The Laguna Cerro Castillo hiking trail in Coyhaique, Chile under a snowy sky
Laguna Cerro Castillo

The Laguna Cerro Castillo day hike takes you to the main viewpoint of the longer, four-day Cerro Castillo Circuit, avoiding a dangerous mountain pass. 

On a clear day, the views are meant to be amongst the best in Patagonia. We, unfortunately, coincided with a blizzard so saw very little. It was still pretty dramatic though. 

How to get there: Buses leave Coyhaique for Villa Cerro Castillo. They’re infrequent and often fill up, so plan ahead and reserve before the day of travel.

Entrance fee: CLP10,000

11. Volcán Villarica, Pucón, Chile

Anna Richards with two fellow hikers all donning masks while hiking Volcán Villarica in Pucón, Chile
Volcán Villarica

Impossible to do without an organised tour and by far the most expensive hike that I’ve ever done, this was, nevertheless, worth every peso. 

Donning crampons and packing ice picks, set off from the base of the volcano in semi darkness. The sulphur fumes at the top are so strong that you’ll have to wear a protective mask to breathe through as you look over the crater edge. 

After peering over the crater at the ash and lava spitting below, the descent is easy. Sit on a sledge and speed down the side of the volcano through the snow!

How to get there: Organised tours leave Pucón from numerous different agencies. Transport and hotel/hostel pick up is included.

Entrance fee: The tour cost starts from around CLP40,000

Are you ready to hit the trails? Tell us your favorite day hikes in Patagonia…and beyond!

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