Argentina is a nature lover’s wonderland. Outdoor enthusiasts flock to the country in summer to see the tremendous glaciers of Patagonia, the lush pine tree forests, the crystalline waters of the Lake District and the surreal cactus-filled deserts of the north. So pack your camping gear, put on your hiking boots and read on to learn more about the 10 best hiking spots this amazing country has to offer.
Mount Fitz Roy
The highlight of hiking in Argentina and a serious rival to Chile’s Torres del Paine, Mount Fitz Roy is the place to go if you can only do one trek in the country. Hikes begin in the town of El Chaltén, the country’s premier hiking destination, and venture into the wondrous Los Glaciers National Park, with trips ranging from easygoing day hikes to lengthy five day slogs. Whichever route you choose, you won’t be disappointed with the spectacular scenery of snow-capped peaks and pristine lagoons.
Most people travel between countries on a bus or an airplane. From El Chaltén in Argentina, however, it’s actually possible to get to Chile on foot. The adventure lasts two or three days and has travelers hiking through wild forests and along pristine lake shores under the majestic peaks of Mount Fitz Roy. After passing through a remote and unsupervised border crossing, hikers must jump on a ferry for the final leg to Villa O’Higgins. The ferry only leaves once a week on Saturday afternoons, so plan accordingly.
Starting with a two hour bus ride from Bariloche towards the border of Chile, this a relatively easy overnight hike that passes through a lush forest before heading up a rocky path towards Tronador Glacier. The climb is pretty easy-going and there’s a comfortable refugio to sleep in up the top, although it must be booked ahead at the Club Andino in Bariloche. Those preferring to camp may do so, a highlight of which is watching the stars twinkle over the glaciers down below.
Meaning the ‘Path Through the Clouds’ in English, this is another stunning trek through Argentina’s picturesque Lake District. The 14 mile (23 kilometer) two-day trek begins at the town of Pampa Linda and climbs up a lush forest path with views over Mount Tronador on the border between Argentina and Chile. Hikers camp or spend the night in a refugio before descending to the pristine Laguna Frias and taking a boat back into town.
An extremely popular option departing from Bariloche, lazy hikers can save energy by taking one of the ski gondolas which still run in summer. From there, there is an option of either taking a shortcut that requires some strenuous bouldering, or a longer but more relaxed route through a forest. Refugio Frey is well equipped with comfortable beds and good facilities, although camping is an option too.
This five-day trek is usually tackled by more experienced hikers due to some lengthy walking days and steep ascents up rocky terrain. The adventurous route is a great way to sample the majestic mountains, thick forest valleys and glistening lagoons of Nahuel Huapi National Park in the Patagonian Lake District. Stopping at four refugios along the way means there is no need to lug a tent, though camping is possible for those on a budget.
This hike only lasts an hour and a half but is an unmissable opportunity for sightseeing, as it traverses the top of the continent’s most beautiful and famous glacier. Trekkers don a pair of crampons and make their way across the icy bright blue landscape, passing over gentle slopes and around steep crevasses and sinkholes. At the end of the trip the guide whips out a bottle of whisky, which is happily consumed with fresh ice chipped right off the glacier.
Not exactly secluded or off the beaten track, what hiking the circuits of Iguazu can promise is breathtaking views of the most amazing waterfalls on earth. The lower circuit takes in the best views via eight different strategically placed lookouts which can be visited in about two hours. At the end, a ferry whisks passengers away to a small island where they can sunbathe on the beach, swim or rent canoes. For the more daring, there’s an insane speedboat ride that goes right into the foam. The upper circuit passes the same waterfalls but from a higher angle, culminating in a great viewpoint of the epic Garganta del Diablo (Devil’s Throat).
This quaint town near Bariloche in the Lake District sees far fewer visitors than its neighbor but has equally stunning scenery on offer. Thirteen refugios are scattered around the wilderness outside of town, linked together by a series of trials that pass through lush green forests, beautiful valleys and crystal clear lakes. Hikers can choose from either short and sweet day trips from town or create their own itinerary which could last a week or more.
The arid northern Argentinian state of Jujuy is home to some of the country’s most colorful attractions. The Hill of the Seven Colors, as the name implies, is a spectacular multicolored mountain just a short hike away from the main plaza of Purmamarca. The Painter’s Pallete is an equally beautiful sight that can be enjoyed from the nearby town of Miamara. Keen to see more? The region has plenty of other great hikes though its gorgeous high altitude desert landscapes.