When I was younger, my dad used to take my brother and I hiking and camping and although the novelty factor of camping and living in the bush was there, I never really understood or enjoyed having to walk hours on end to reach our campsite. But after spending a solid month in Patagonia, in both Argentina and Chile, my appreciation for hiking and nature has reach an all-time high.
Before arriving in Ushuaia, I didn’t know too much about Patagonia but was quickly informed by other travellers about how good the trekking and hiking was in the region. I suffer from ‘fear of missing out’ (FOMO) at times, and although it’s a bit of a joke, I couldn’t pass up the chance to join some of my roommates in hiking the national parks.
My first taste in South America was a hike in the Parque Nacional Tierra del Fuego, just on the outskirts of Ushuaia, which is part of both Argentina and Chile. It took our group about six hours to complete and left me sore for about three days but I wanted more. Yeah, I was unfit!
I continued my travels north and stopped in the Chilean town of Puerto Natales, which is the main hub for travellers wanting to undertake the W Trek in Torres del Paine, or for the more adventurous, the full circuit. My initial plan was to just do a day hike in this national park, but FOMO kicked in and within hours of arriving, I had hired tents and bought food for four days and three nights to complete the 60km W Trek. Crazy.
Although I was cursing my decision to hike after being greeted by some dismal weather, the experience was truly amazing with stunning views of emerald lakes, mountain peaks and granite outcrops. I was fortunate enough to meet some cool people along the trek whom I immediately bonded with and continued to travel with for the next couple of weeks!
My favourite hike in Patagonia was recently named on news.com.au as one of the 10 most incredible wonders to trek, and I can certainly verify that! It was the hike to Monte Fitz Roy, just outside the town of El Chaltén in Argentine Patagonia. The weather was perfect and although it was a steep 45-minute and over 400m increase in elevation to finish the hike, the views were well and truly worth it.
I usually find myself drifting off with all kinds of different thoughts when I’m out hiking and when you’re surrounded by mountains, lakes and incredible nature, it’s easy to forget about any pain your body might be experiencing and just feel content. Despite my preconceived notions, hiking isn’t just glorified walking.