Hiking and Climbing in Chilean Patagonia
Concierge.com's insider take:
With so many peaks, valleys, fjords, and glaciers, Chilean Patagonia is a paradise for climbers and hikers. Dozens of national parks are found around the region, most accessible from the main road, the Carretera Austral. Park trails and those in the government-run Ruta Patrimonial series (www.bienes.gob.cl/terra/rutas.htm) are well-marked and well-maintained; others are so remote that bushwhacking, river crossings, and orienteering through unmapped valleys are required. Trails range in difficulty from easy one-day strolls to demanding ten-day hauls across the Continental Ice Field. Hikers rarely encounter altitude problems, but adequate protection against rain, snow, and wind is essential: Fickle weather can turn a casual stroll into a dangerous gamble, and sunny days can transform glacier-fed streams into roaring torrents. Even independent spirits should think seriously about using a guide employed by one of Patagonia's many outfitters. We strongly urge at least checking in with one of the services found within Condé Nast Traveler's Travel Agent Finder. Another excellent option is to sign up for wilderness survival and guiding courses run by U.S.-owned National Outdoor Leadership School, which operates from Coihaique (www.nols.cl).