Pataganoia, set both in Argentina and Chile this place is truly amazing, especially if you are into hiking and seeing the beautiful scenery.
- Puerto Natales (Chile)
- Torres Del Paine
- El Calafate (Argentina)
- El Chalten (Argentina)
- El Bolson (Argentina)
- Barioloche (Argentina)
- Pucon (Chile)
Puerto Natales (Chile)
This is always the place from where you do the famous Torres Del Paine trek. There are lots of different ways to hike around Torres Del Paine. Day tours from Puerto Natales, camping, hotels (refugios) or a mix. We opted for the camping option.
There are the two famous hikes, the “W” or the “O”. The O is the longer of the two routes most people who do this walk also incorporate the W, so the route can take as long at 8 days.
Then there is the W, which has three main attractions to it. If camping, its suggested to do the hike west to east, since the easiest hikes is on the west side and by the time you get to the hard walk you would have eaten most of the food you carry.
- Glacier gray
- Valle Frances mirador
- Mirador Las Torres (this is the one with the famous picture) This hike is around 10 hours up and down and is by far the hardest of the three walks.
El Calafate (Argentina)
The main attraction to do from El Calafate is the famous Perito Moreno Glacier. The 250 km2 (97 sq mi) ice formation, and 30 km (19 mi) in length, is one of 48 glaciers fed by the Southern Patagonian Ice Field located in the Andes system shared with Chile. This ice field is the world’s third largest reserve of fresh water. There are lots of ice carving events especially on a warm day.
You can take the bus from El Calefate return for around 450 pesos (Nov16) which gives you enough time to wonder around this spectacular piece of ice. The entrance to the park (Nov16) 330 pesos.
A popular option is to walk on the glacier, there are the “Big Ice” and the “Little Ice” options, prices here are up to 4000 pesos for the “Big Ice” walk. The difference between the two is the length of the walk.
El Chalten (Argentina)
The main thing in El Chalten is Mt Fitzroy. This is a free one day hike (other options available as well). The lagoon here was just as impressive, if not more than, the lagoon at the top of Torres Del Paine. So if Torres Del Paine is out of your budget then this is a great option.
A lot of people hitchhike the route from El Calafate to El Chalten because the bus prices are extortionate (600 pesos for 3hrs). If you are going to do this we recommend getting to the road out-of-town early before everyone else start at bridge just after the roundabout.
Accommodation in El Chalten is typically very expensive even by Patagonian standards. A couple of cheap accommodation options we found there were
- Cuatro esquinas – 100 pesos per night (Nov 2016)
- Hem Hermu – 200 pesos per night (Nov 2016)
- Laguna Torre, 11km , 6hrs
- Laguna de los tres, 12.5km, 8hrs
- Laguna Viedma, 12km, 8hrs
Tips for El Chalten:
- The cashpoint there only fills up once per week, so try bring all the cash you need with you
- Supermarkets there are very expensive so it’s also good to bring some groceries with you if you are trying to save pennies
- You can get free maps from the tourist office
A bus from here to El Bolson was 1920 pesos (Nov16) and took 26 hours.
El Bolson (Argentina)
El Bolson is small town just two hours south of Barrioloche. Its surrounded by mountains which makes this place perfect for hiking.
Cerro Piltriquitrón. It’s worth taking a taxi from town to the beginning of the hike, as the hike starts around 1000m. From here you follow the signs to the top. It’s possible to camp at the refugio on the way, with very amazing views. We really likes this hike as it easy in the beginning, then gets harder as you get closer to the top and its more of a scramble to get to the top rather than a walk. With this mountain you have the view over El Bolson and you get to summit the mountain. The whole day up and down was around 7 hours. Its worth organising for the taxi to pick you up after certain amount of hours, or you can get the refugio to call a taxi for you.
Lago Azul. The walk here is not very hard, it’s just very much up and down and up again. However once you get to the end you can jump in the very beautiful but cold water. This walk is around 6 hours for there and back. You can order a taxi from the cafe at the end to get back to El Bolson or you can take the bus.
La Casona de Odile. This place is run by a swiss guy and this had turned out to be one of our all time favorite hostels. The hostel is more like a relaxing retreat than a hostel. The hostel has a large garden with a river going through and lots of hammocks for relaxing. The place is around 15 min taxi from El Bolson, a taxi here is pretty cheap or you can jump on a bus from town. The hostel has a fully equipped kitchen with oil, salt, pepper and other useful condiments.
As per Nov 16 we paid 180 pesos including breakfast (homade bread and jam) free tea and coffee 24/7.
Between the hostel and the town there is a small dairy farm, Humus. Here you can get fresh yogurt, milk, ice cream, cheese and other lovely stuff. This is totally worth going to this place, also a lovely walk into town.
Buses leave all the time to Barioloche, around 2 hours and 50 pesos.
This city is surrounded by lakes and is a very beautiful city. There are lots of different walks to do here and all very easy to do from the town. Jump on a local bus for 30 min and you can start the walk.
National Geographic named Cerro Campanario one of the “Top 10 Views in the World.” You can take the cable car up for 150 pesos or you can save your money and walk up for 45 min.
We also really enjoyed the Llao Llao hike where it’s also about 1 hour up and spectacular views over the region
Bariloche is also known for chocolate and ice cream. If like me you are a fan of chocolate I can highly recommend walking around the town for a couple of hours and going into to all of around 12 chocolate shops and tasting. They offer you tasters in pretty much all the shops, so you can walk away feeling slightly sick of chocolate. We of course did end up buying both chocolate and other treats.
Pucon town is like the what Queenstown is to New Zealand a ski resort village in Europe. Lurking in the backdrop to the town is Volcán Villarrica, an active volcano that, if you are lucky, can see lava bubbling away in the crater.
The tours are pretty expensive ($100 usd) but a great experience. You get given a bag with the necessary things like:
- Gas mask
- Ice Axe
- Waterproof Jacket and Trousers
- Snow sledge
You can tell by the gear list this is no ordinary mountain hike.
Once you get dropped off you get the option to take a ski lift which cuts off an additional 45min hiking and its $10usd. We opted to walk and we ended up catching up to all the people who caught the lift anyway.
It takes about 3.5hrs to get to the top. Unfortunately for us there was too much gas coming from the crater so we couldn’t get a clear view of the lava.
The best part for us was coming back down. Snow Sledges! You put a piece of plastic underneath your butt and slide down the hill. What took you 3hrs up, you just came down in about 15-20minutes
There are so many activities available in Pucon. Another one we tried was Hydrospeed
You are given a thick foam body board and a padded wetsuit, then you make your way down a river with up to grade 3.5 rapids. The cost was around $30000 Chilean peso
We stayed at Chile Kiwi after a lot of recommendations from other travellers we met along the way. This turned out to be a good decision to stay here even though the price is slightly more than we would normally pay. As soon as we arrived and was greeted by the super helpful staff we knew was wanted to extend the stay. The place has 3 kitchen, 12 bathrooms, a tree house and lots of places to hang out and be sociable with the other travellers. They even have fire places for when its a bit cold outside, what more could you ask for.
We also booked all the tours through the hostel as it turned out to be either the same price or slightly cheaper.
You can book the hostel here chilikiwihostel.wixsite.com/chilikiwi