Trek through a variety of unspoiled Patagonian landscapes, in both Argentina and Chile. Camp out beneath the stars in the shadow of Andean peaks, on the homestead of a 200-year-old house of a longtime local, and riverside in the Rio Blanco Valley. Bathe in natural thermal pools in the middle of the forest and take a refreshing dip in Esperanza River. Take in unforgettable views of the Tronador volcano and the beautiful Todos los Santos Lake
Join Intrepid on a new off-the-beaten-track expedition the through the great landscapes of Patagonia. This challenging but rewarding journey explores the real Patagonian wilderness, revealing the beauty behind its well-earned reputation as a premier trekking destination. Kick things off on the shores of stunning Nahuel Huapi Lake in Bariloche, Argentina, and head across the Andes and into Chile. This Patagonia expedition offers some of the most spectacular scenery on the continent, with lush valleys and rainforest, pristine rivers and lakes, and awe-inspiring mountains such as the majestic Tronador volcano.
Breakfast Included: 8 Lunches Included: 7 Dinner Included: 6
Hola! Welcome to Bariloche, Argentina. Other than a welcome meeting and equipment check, your day is free, so be sure to explore around town if you arrive with time up your sleeve. Not only is Bariloche nestled in the foothills of the Andes, it sits on the shores of Nahuel Huapi Lake, so there are many beautiful scenes to take in on foot. The town is famous for more than just its location; consider a sample of fine local artisan chocolate or beer. Epicureans might take advantage of the strong restaurant scene and sample some Patagonian lamb or that famous Argentinian steak. Be sure to get a good rest tonight, as the first day of walking is a rigorous one.
Embracing an early start, drive (approximately 1.5 hours) to Pampa Linda. This is the starting point for the day's hike, which will be a fairly strenuous one to kick off the adventure (approximately 7 hours; 12 km). You'll go through border control on the Argentinian side before we start. The path starts off low and follows the Cauquenes River upstream through bamboo and Nothofagus forest. After our first river crossing we start our slow climb up the pass. We stay inside the forest most of the time till we reach the border monument. Here you officially cross into Chilean territory. Half an hour later we reach our final destination for the day. It's an adventurous journey across the pass today, and an elevation of 500 metres is gained. At the day's end, set up camp at Chilean border control and enjoy some well-earned rest and tasty food.
Rio Blanco Valley
Today we descend, dropping roughly the same amount of altitude which was gained yesterday. Though it's a descent, it's by no means an easy walk (approximately 7 hours; 12 km), so be prepared to sweat a little and make good use of your walking poles. Today the landscape opens up to some incredible views of the southern face of Tronador with some great view points. We can observe the Blanco Glacier and moraine coming down the Blanco Valley. Tronador is the biggest mountain in the area, 1000 metres taller than all the rest. It has seven overhanging glaciers which provide water to several surrounding valleys. Watch as the vegetation slowly begins to change as we find some new species compared to the Argentinean side. Tonight we camp next to our friend Don Oyarzo's 200-year-old house. Don has been living in this residence for more than half a century and lives self-sustainably there all year round. He always has a story or two to share and hopefully he has some chicha (home-made liquor made from apples) or homemade cheese to share as well.
Time to enter the great Patagonian rainforest. Today's walk is a relatively easy one (approximately 4 hours; 9 km). It's a beautiful thing to watch the shift in landscape and vegetation as the rich green of the forest reveals itself. Arrive in La Junta (The Junction), which is situated between the Esperanza and Blanco rivers. We will stay here two nights, so make yourself comfortable in paradise. From here you can access the famous Leticia thermal waters and enjoy a relaxing soak, which by now your hard-working limbs will surely welcome. Kicking back and relaxing in these natural pools, enveloped by the atmosphere of such a pristine rainforest, is sure to be one of the trip's memorable moments.
Enjoy a day to relax and chill out. There’s plenty of tasty food to be enjoyed, and when the hot springs get tiresome – if that's possible – change it up by taking a dip in the Esperanza River. The beauty of this spot makes for a perfect rest day. You can go on short walks around the area, read a book, write in your dairy, help harvest some fruit on the other side of the river or introduce yourself to the concept of a siesta under a tree. It’s a tough life.
Rio Blanco Valley
Hike out through the rainforest that becomes thicker and bigger as we head west, following the Blanco River and passing several abandoned farmhouses. Today it's a moderate day of hiking (approximately 6–7 hours; 14 km). In addition to the eyepopping landscapes of the Rio Blanco Valley, a bonus of today's route is the abundance of fruit trees. Feel free to pick some fresh apples or plums to snack on along the way. Reaching La Bandurria farm, set up camp and settle into a relaxing evening in this remote spot. Your host Tito Velazquez is a younger farmer with lots of experience in the area. He also happens to be the best Patagonian lamb chef Intrepid has come across, so enjoy.
Rio Blanco Valley
From La Bandurria Farm we leave the Blanco Valley to follow the Conchas River south. The path follows animal trails settlers have been using for centuries. Farmers move cows and sheep up the valley for the summer to bring them down over the winter. The Patagonian rain forest is here at its best. The terrain is quite flat compared to other days so we move fast below the big trees. We camp by the river and enjoy the last camp fire. Anyone for a dip in the cristal clear river?
After a breakfast at camp we face our last hiking day. We keep following the same river down crossing it twice to arrive to our last big uphill to descend to Cayutué Lake. This is a small lake with incredible views of Puntiagudo Volcano and other surrounding mountains. We are already very close to sea level and the terrain goes through some amazing Arrayan (bambi) forests. From the lake its an hour and a half last push to our transport. A Private Transport is waiting to take us to Puerto Varas (1.5 hours drive). Last dinner at a nice restaurant after a deserved shower of course!
The adventure comes to an end after breakfast.