Hiking and Climbing in Argentine Patagonia
Concierge.com's insider take:
Argentine Patagonia rivals its Chilean counterpart for the sheer number of trails that wind among Andean peaks, valleys, fjords, and glaciers. Covering a huge variety of terrain, routes range from half-day strolls to ten-day hauls requiring advanced wilderness skills. Spectacular, well-marked trails traverse Lanín, Nahuel Huapi, Los Alerces, Los Glaciares, and Tierra del Fuego national parks, although most official trails are limited to one or two days' duration. For demanding cross-country forays through rugged backcountry, it's best to look beyond park boundaries. Hikes are best attempted between November and April—heavy snow can close trails the rest of the year—although snowshoe-equipped hikers find winter trails blissfully empty. Even in summer, full-length waterproofs, warm underclothes, and sturdy hiking boots are required. Hiking poles are strongly advised. With myriad crystal-clear lakes and streams, Patagonia has plenty of potable water sources. Official campsites are all situated near water, but remember that refugios, or mountain huts, are usually uninhabited. Much of Patagonia is still true wilderness, with little human settlement, so don't expect clusters of villagers offering portering services; discard any thought, too, of airborne medical evacuation in emergencies. Given Argentina's woeful lack of topographical maps, even hard-core outdoors enthusiasts should consider using a local outfitter. Check in with one of the services found within Condé Nast Traveler's Travel Agent Finder; alternatively, contact Bariloche-based outfitter Meridies (54-2944-462675; www.meridies.com.ar) or, in Ushuaia, Compañía de Guías de Patagonia (54-2901-437753; www.companiadeguias.com.ar).