Northern Patagonia is full of beautiful scenery, and there's no better way to experience it than trekking. This 9-day itinerary is based around hiking, and also incorporates a number of other outdoor activities, such as kayaking, rafting, horseback riding, rock climbing, and canyoneering. It's said that a change is as good as a rest, and this action-packed trip is sure to invigorate you long after you return home.

Overview

Patagonia is your adventure playground, and this 9-day tour includes numerous activities (especially hiking) for appreciating the wilderness. After a day in the capital city, you'll make your way to the pretty town of Puerto Varas. From here, fly to Chaiten to visit the impressive Ventisquero Glacier before trekking, horseback riding, paddling, zip lining, rock climbing, rappelling, and rafting your way between towns, lakes, camps, and scenic lookout spots. Stay overnight at charming camps and cabins that have been built seamlessly into their environment

Highlights

  • Marvel at the grandeur of the Ventisquero Glacier
  • Paddle and raft through the Arroyo Blanco
  • Cross a beautiful lake in an outrigger boat
  • Sleep under the stars beside lakes—and in the trees!

Brief Itinerary

Day 1 Arrival in Santiago de Chile
Day 2 Flight to Puerto Montt - Puerto Varas - Welcome Dinner
Day 3 Puerto Montt - Chaiten - Hiking Ventisquero Glacier
Day 4 Yelcho Lake - Futaleufu Town - Trekking to Lago Las Rosas
Day 5 Trekking - Horseback Riding to Espolon Lake - Outriggers
Day 6 Trekking to Tree House - Hiking Condor Hill
Day 7 Trekking, Ziplining, Cliff Jumping, Rock Climbing & Rappelling
Day 8 Trekking - Rafting to Nuns Camp - Canyoneering
Day 9 Chaiten - Puerto Montt - Santiago - Departure

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Santiago de Chile

Santiago is an eclectic, artistic, and historic city
Santiago is an eclectic, artistic, and historic city

Welcome to Chile! Upon arrival at Santiago International Airport, a driver will meet you and transfer you to your hotel. You'll have the rest of the day to explore the city at your leisure. 

Suggested activities include:

  • Hike to the top of Cerro San Cristobal, where you can get your bearings by surveying the area from a high vantage point. Pathways lead 2,788 feet (850 m) up this central hill to a series of lookouts that offer wraparound views of Santiago. If you aren't the hiking type, not to worry: catch a scenic gondola instead.

  • Stroll the cobblestone streets of Barrio Bellavista. On the north side of Santiago, you'll find this trendy enclave, at once fashionable and bohemian with colorful houses adorned with graffiti art, and an eclectic array of eateries and bars—great for people watching.

  • Visit the Plaza de Armas, a stone plaza located in Santiago's historic center dating to 1541. There's also the impressive Catedral Metropolitana, a neoclassical church dating to 1748 whose towering twin bell towers dominate the north side of the plaza.

  • Snap pics in front of the Palacio de la Moneda. Chile's opulent Presidential Palace (known simply as "La Moneda") is a short stroll from the Plaza de Armas. It was here in 1973 that Chile's armed forces, backed by the U.S. government, overthrew President Salvador Allende, kicking off a brutal right-wing military dictatorship that would last for 17 years. Visitors are welcome.

For dinner be sure to get out of the hotel and enjoy a culinary adventure in the city. In recent years Santiago has emerged as a global foodie destination. Chilean chefs are reinventing traditional dishes like empanadas, cazuelas (stews), and seafood with ingredients harvested all the way from the northern deserts and southern Patagonian regions. You can find great restaurants and wine bars not only in the Bellavista neighborhood but also in the revitalized historic barrios of Yungay and Italia.

Day 2: Flight to Puerto Montt - Puerto Varas - Welcome Dinner

Puerto Varas
Puerto Varas

After breakfast at your hotel in Santiago, you'll depart on a short flight to Puerto Montt, a port city in southern Chile that is also known as a gateway to the Andes mountains and Patagonian fjords. When you arrive, you'll meet your English-speaking guide who will transport you in a private vehicle to Puerto Varas—a charming little village next to Llanquihue Lake with a mix of German architecture and Mapuche indigenous cultural influence.

During the day, you will have the chance to explore its streets and contemplate the beauty of the surroundings of the "ciudad de las rosas" or city of roses. In the evening, gather for a welcome dinner.

Day 3: Puerto Montt - Chaiten - Hiking to Ventisquero Glacier

Ventisquero Glacier
Ventisquero Glacier

Your adventure begins back in Puerto Montt, from where we board a plane for a spectacular flight to the town of Chaiten. Then, beautiful trails through the middle of a rainforest lead to the Ventisquero Glacier. On the hike, enjoy the unique flora and fauna of this particular ecosystem. The glacier is a true natural wonder! From there, board a bus and drive to Yelcho Lake, where you'll be welcomed by warm cabins situated in front of the lake.

Day 4: Yelcho Lake - Futaleufu Town - Trekking to Lago Las Rosas

Start today driving towards the picturesque town of Futaleufu, and later head to Las Rosas Lake. The narrow path between the mountains will reveal numerous lakes and other spectacular views as you get closer to your destination. After arrival, there will be time to go swimming and relax before enjoying dinner. Camp that night under a sky full of stars, just beside the lake.

Day 5: Trekking - Horseback Riding to Espolon Lake - Outriggers

Horseback riding
Horseback riding

Today, after a short hike, you will ride horses through a trail with beautiful surroundings. Reach Espolon Lake around lunchtime, and after relaxing and refueling, jump into outriggers - Hawaiian-style competition boats - to cross the lake. Crossing the lake with these boats enables you to enjoy its grandeur from a much closer perspective. When you reach the other side, have dinner and spend the night in cabins by the lakeshore.

Day 6: Trekking to Tree House - Hiking to Condor Hill

Tree House accommodation
Tree House accommodation

Continuing your journey, you'll walk through a forest, around a lake, and hike up to a hilltop. Find your next camp there, which is surprisingly original: a series of tree houses interconnected by bridges and overlooking a lake will be your accommodation for the night. Time has been built into the schedule to enjoy relaxing at the camp (including in the lakeside hot tub), swimming in the lake, or kayaking. There's also the opportunity to hike up to Condor Hill, where condor sightings are very common. Condors are native birds of Chile and have a wingspan of over 10 feet.

Day 7: Trekking, Ziplining, Cliff Jumping, Rock Climbing & Rappeling

Rock climbing and rapelling
Rock climbing and rapelling

After hiking back to the banks of the river, “zip” across through a pulley system, flying through the air and sliding over the river. There's also the option of jumping into the river from different heights (up to 40 feet) to feel the adrenaline of free falling. In the afternoon, you will go rock climbing. Ascend to the top of a rock formation for a spectacular 360º view. Then, rappel off a 300-foot granite wall. The climb has been carefully designed to be suitable for people of all ages, with different levels of difficulty. Finally, relax in the hot tub overlooking the river and enjoy a large meal to regain strength.

Day 8: Trekking - Rafting to the Nuns Camp - Canyoneering

Rafting amongst the spectacular scenery
Rafting amongst the spectacular scenery

Begin your day hiking alongside the river until reaching the boats. From there, you'll raft an entertaining section of the river, with Class 4 and 4+ rapids, until we arrive at our lunch spot. Back on the rafts, we will continue to Arroyo Blanco, a spectacular canyon of white granite and turquoise water, which you'll traverse on foot to a waterfall.

From here, head to a new camp, where you'll have time to relax and enjoy the cliffside hot tub overlooking the river and its landmark mountains, the Nuns. Enjoy a well-deserved Patagonian asado (lamb barbecue).

Day 9: Chaitén - Puerto Montt - Santiago - Departure

Sit back and enjoy the views while traveling back to Santiago
Sit back and enjoy the views while traveling back to Santiago

It's time to say goodbye to Chile! From the Nuns Camp, you'll drive to Chaiten Airport to catch a flight back to Puerto Montt. Upon arrival in Puerto Montt airport, you'll return the rental car and catch your flight to Santiago for your departure home. ¡Buen viaje!

Map

Map of Trekking Northern Patagonia - 9 Days
Map of Trekking Northern Patagonia - 9 Days

Recent Trip Reviews

Related trips planned by kimkim specialists

Trekking northern patagonia: 8 days, Chile - Mar 11 - Mar 18, 2019

Traveler: Hans L. - Local specialist: Catherine Currie

It is difficult to award “stars” for this experience – but something like 8 out of 5 would perhaps do it justice!

Equally difficult to pick a highlight in a trip full of them:

It started with a warm welcome from Ingrid in Puerto Varras. After a spectacular flight to Chaiten the next morning, a walk to a glacier and a first night in a nice lodge at Lake Yelcho, the trekking started in earnest the next day.
We started at our lead guide Ricardo’s family home in Futaleufú before setting off on... read more

It is difficult to award “stars” for this experience – but something like 8 out of 5 would perhaps do it justice!

Equally difficult to pick a highlight in a trip full of them:

It started with a warm welcome from Ingrid in Puerto Varras. After a spectacular flight to Chaiten the next morning, a walk to a glacier and a first night in a nice lodge at Lake Yelcho, the trekking started in earnest the next day.
We started at our lead guide Ricardo’s family home in Futaleufú before setting off on a strenuous trek to Lake Las Rosas where we set up camp in an untouched wilderness area. Dinner was great Italian home cooking on open fires! Next morning Ricardo rustled up a perfectly cooked breakfast before we embarked on an exciting horse ride over a steep, rocky and exposed path and eventually out into the valley to Lake Espolon for a paddle across the lake.
Accommodation this day was with a local family, dinner in their home and an interesting stroll the following morning.
A strenuous walk then got us up to the Tree House – a fantastically set out camp with cabins clinging to trees that leave you just about out in the open, overlooking a little pond – and the first of the wood fired spas we came to treasure in the next two camps!
Then came a walk down the ridge for some zip lining into the Futaleufú River! Another great camp – Cave Camp – with cabins open to the rapids just outside. After lunch, a short climb up a huge crag lead to some phenomenally spectacular abseiling. Another spa to bring down the adrenalin before - another - great open-fire dinner!
Rafting some of the serious rapids on the Futaleufú was the main, crowning event before the last stop in Nun Camp – named after the mountain opposite; and my cabin hanging right at the cliff’s edge over the river! A relaxing spa was followed by a lavish feast with a lamb on the spit and a selection of great Chilean wines as the farewell from the whole team and families.

I cannot think of much at all to improve this trip - it went so completely well: First there is Ricardo’s great leadership – making me feel safe (and pampered!) all the way through; the continuous help with a smile from his father-in law Claudio; then there was the flawless execution of the logistics in an exceedingly extreme terrain; and absolutely excellent professional help from all of the team all along the way.
If really pressed I could perhaps comment that paddling on Lake Espolon is good exercise – but is it equally good adventure value?

But, in a nutshell: this was one of the very best trips of my life.