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Patagonia Hiking Tips for Beginners

Hiking in Patagonia is a rewarding activity but, as is clear, is not one to be taken lightly. Get ready to enjoy the beautiful scenery, to marvel at glaciers, but also to push your limits on the region’s stunning hiking trails.

How to prepare for a trip to Patagonia

It’s worth undertaking regular exercise in the months before you travel, particularly if you are not in the habit of doing so. Doing mountain walks or even just climbing long staircases with a pack is useful preparation. As is walking, jogging, swimming or riding a bike.

Walking boots need to be comfortable, lightweight and have a good grip. Waterproofing them is also recommended, but the most important thing is to ensure they’re worn-in enough. Better to spend time wearing in a pair than buying new ones!

What to pack on a trip to Patagonia

Whenever you end up deciding to go, Patagonia is famous for its constantly changing weather. You can experience rain, sun, cold, snow, wind, hail and heat in the same day, sometimes in a matter of hours. Trekking there then doesn’t mean you need the latest gear but it is about using it wisely.

In terms of clothing, think layers. Hike in shorts or pants and a short-sleeve shirt, but have the following at the ready in your day pack: a long-sleeve shirt, fleece, rain jacket, hat, gloves and scarf. Wrap them in plastic bags tucked inside your pack then take them on and off according to the weather.

In terms of clothing, think layers. Hike in shorts or pants and a short-sleeve shirt, but have the following at the ready in your day pack: a long-sleeve shirt, fleece, rain jacket, hat, gloves and scarf. Wrap them in plastic bags tucked inside your pack then take them on and off according to the weather.

One of the few glaciers that’s advancing rather than melting, it’s one spectacular sight, and a must-see.

Just the same as when you travel to other places, it’s worth bringing a neck wallet or money belt. It’s great for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items. And other must-pack items are fairly obvious, but include: a torch (with batteries), an electrical adapter, sun protection, and insect repellent.

Patagonia trekking rule 2: be sensible

Common sense is important in Patagonia, like it is anywhere else. Respect the rules, only camp and cook in designated protected areas, alert park rangers if you see anything amiss, start hiking early, know your strengths and limits, and always help a fellow hiker in need. Simple actions make for a better hike.

In terms of camping and lodging facilities, it’s best to have fairly low expectations. The region is remote and though campsites have everything you need, they’re pretty basic. Torres del Paine National Park and Parque Patagonia are two examples of parks with lodges and campsites.

The facilities on Patagonia’s trails obviously vary, but as a general rule, toilets tend to be in camping areas and close to trails (though not directly on them).

Patagonia trekking rule 3: be green

The first thing you need to know about hiking in Patagonia is that water from the rivers is drinkable; fresh and clean from the glaciers, so grab your fill every time you cross one. But if you’re worried, feel free to bring water purification tablets like Micropur, which is available from camping stores or pharmacies.

It’s great to pack food with little or no packaging: it’ll lighten your pack and mean you have less trash to carry back with you. Some people like using cloth bags for carrying snacks (they’re light and sustainable!).

The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. So, it’s a good idea to bring a water bottle with a 1.5 litre capacity (or two smaller bottles) and then use it the entire trip.

And last but not least, ensure that your treks leave no trace. Follow the trails at all times and ensure the only things you take with you are memories and pictures.

In other words, there’s no doubt that trekking in Patagonia will be forever engraved in your heart and mind – enjoy the experience to the fullest but make it one that nature won’t remember.