What to Expect Backpacking through Patagonia

by Emeri Callahan

Feb 11, 2019

Patagonia, Chile © Steve Allen | Dreamstime

Tips / Destination

Planning a backpacking trip around Patagonia can be intimidating. Your research will suggest both Chilean and Argentinian towns to visit, it’s fairly confusing to get around and hostels/activities can book out weeks in advance. But, once you’re there, all the hassle becomes well worth it.


Make sure to plan your route in advance, especially during high season (December–February). One way of seeing Patagonia is making your way down the coast of Chile to Torres del Paine National Park, the most well-known mountainous region on the backpackers’ circuit of Patagonia.


To do this, fly from Santiago to the quaint yet sleepy little port town of Puerto Natales. This town has long been considered the gateway to the endless expanse of the national park, and it’s about a two-hour bus ride to the base of the region. You can spend a night or two preparing for your trek in Puerto Natales, set on a serene lake with a downtown ideal for long strolls with a hot coffee in hand. Tip: Skip the bare-bones town of Punta Arenas if you can, although a lot of the national park’s tours pick up from the town.


Torres del Paine is breathtaking. You’ll cross wooden suspension bridges over rushing rivers, dip your water bottle into clear streams when you need a refill, hike 15 miles in one day to see the famed Three Towers and probably get rained on a time or two.


Most people who hike the trails make reservations at different refugios each night along the way. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, these refugios may have a campsite for people who bring their own tents or rent one in advance. If you’re looking for a more pampered experience, EcoCamp Patagonia offers incredible guided treks along the W Trail.




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