Argentina has a diverse geographical landscape: mountains, deserts, rain forests, and glaciers. One of the best ways to experience the country is by interacting with its natural wonders, one step at a time. Choose from hour-long treks to full-day adventures, or book a night in a refugio (mountain hut) if you want to do some through hikes. Here are 15 of the best places to grab your poles and lace up your boots in Argentina.
Easily accessible from Bariloche, The Frey offers moderate hiking and rock climbing pitches. The clearly-marked route goes from Villa Cathedral to Refugio Frey through forests, streams, and rocky ascents. The elevation is 5,577 feet and the trail 7.5 miles, about four hours one way. Once you arrive, dip your feet in the lake’s cool waters and order a warm meal at the café. Book a night at the refugio before the climb if you want to stay and climb, or enjoy the views of Cerro Tres Reyes and Torre Principal (Cathedral Tower) before starting your ascent down the mountain.
At 22,831 feet, Mount Aconcagua is the highest mountain in the Americas and only a four-hour drive from Mendoza. It’s one of the seven summits of the seven continents and only 40 percent of those who try reach the peak. People climb it more for bragging rights than the scenery, as it’s known to be relatively plain and rife with scree. It can take up to 10 days to climb, depending on how the body acclimatizes to the reduced oxygen levels. However, you can do a smaller hike on the mountain of only an hour, then combine it with other activities in the area, like seeing the Puente del Inca (a giant arch) and soaking in the Puente del Inca Hot Springs.
For one of Argentina’s most famous and gorgeously lush views, hike 40 minutes to the summit of Cerro Campanario. The trailhead is easy to find next to the base of the chair lift (another option for reaching the top), and the trail clearly marked and heavily trafficked during spring and summer months. At the top, you’ll be able to enjoy 360-degree views of the Lake District’s namesakes, plus the historic Llao Llao Hotel and Colonia Suiza. The trail itself is free, great for families, and has bathrooms and a café at the summit.
This is the place to go hiking in Argentina. Base yourself out of this mountain town to do the famed Lago de Los Tres hike for unparalleled views of Mount Fitz Roy or trek up the other famous peak, Cerro Torre. You can choose from a range of walks from easy, two-hour ones like Los Condores, to the most challenging hike in the region, the multi-day Huemul Circuit with its steep, vertical descents, a lake of icebergs, and views of the Patagonia ice field. Trails are well-marked, and the park offers something for any level of hiker.
Tierra del Fuego
Only a 30-minute drive outside of Argentina’s southernmost city, Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego offers a range of trails and hiking gradients. The Cerro Guanaco Trail takes hikers up a steep route for nine miles to panoramic views of the Chilean Andes and Beagle Channel. Alternatively, the Sendero Costanera Trail (4.66 miles) offers hikers a much more accessible, relatively flat trail along the Ensenada and Lapataia Bays. For waterfalls, hike the Pampa Alta Trail. You’ll have to get a park pass for a small fee to enter, but camping within the park is free.
Paso del las Nubes
Another trek close to Bariloche, this route, translated as the "Pass Through the Clouds," takes two days to complete. You can also add other side hikes, such as the trek to the Castaño Overo Glacier, and easily stretch it into a more explorative four-day hike. The pass has an elevation of 4,380 feet, and the trail gives you the sights and sounds of Mount Tronador (Mount Thunder) from which hanging glaciers melt and crash down. The hike ends in Laguna Frias and where trekkers can catch a boat back to town.
Perito Moreno Glacier
Famous for being one of the world’s only still-advancing glaciers, fly to El Calafate to experience ice hiking on Perito Moreno. Independent ice climbers are not permitted on the 97 square mile ice sheet. However, you can book a tour with Hielo y Aventura to spend an hour and a half to three hours in a small group with an experienced guide. The tours provide the crampons, but most do not include the entry fee to Los Glaciares National Park, roughly about the equivalent of $16 in pesos.
Hill of the Seven Colors
Travel to Purmamarca, a small town about 98 miles away from the city of Salta to see this rainbow hill, called “Cerro de las Siete Colores” in Spanish. The hill, a mixture of shale, copper oxide, and clay, really does have seven distinct colors, each formed during different periods. For an easy hike, walk the trail around the base of the mountain, a flat 1.5 miles. To go on the hill itself, choose from one of two paths: a short one of 10-minutes or an hour-long one. For the base hike, go at sunrise or sunset when the colors are said to be most striking in the pale light.
Feel the tingling mist of waterfall crashes, smell the damp of rain forest leaves, and hear the squawk of parrots mingle with the roar of the Devil’s Throat: this is hiking at Iguazu Falls. The Lower Circuit Trail offers the best views of the falls from eight different lookout points and takes about two hours to hike. The Upper Circuit Trail takes you to the top of the falls to see over the edge and takes an hour to walk. You’ll have to pay a park entry fee (the equivalent of $12 in pesos) and should definitely bring waterproof clothing or a change of clothes.
Uritorco Hill has long been steeped in mysticism, strange phenomenon, and rituals of the area’s native tribes. Located in Capilla del Monte, about 68 miles from Córdoba Capital, the hill is 6,562 feet high and the highest point in the Sierras Chicas range. UFO sightings, reports of strange light flashes, and a meeting point of energy fields are all part of Uritorco’s lore and touristic attraction. The path up the hill is just under 3.5 miles and medium in difficulty. There is an entrance fee of the equivalent $16 in pesos and a river at the base you can swim in before or after the trek.
Cerro Las Señoritas
Just outside of the small town of Uquia, the trail of Cerro Las Señoritas (Young Ladies Hill) guides hikers through a secluded canyon lined by red mountains. While the hike itself is easy, finding it might be harder than actually doing it, as it’s only marked by red ribbons tied to trees on the road out of town. Once the trail dead ends, simply turn around and go back, as it’s not a loop. The trail is straightforward and has no entrance fee. Ask locals for directions if you have trouble finding it.
A popular and well-worn trail just outside of Ushuaia, Laguna Esmeralda Trail weaves through beech tree forests and a valley of peat moss to an emerald green lake. It’s often touted as the best hike in the Ushuaia region, given its easy gradient and gorgeous scenery. Suitable for families, the trail is an easy six-mile out-and-back that runs along a river with beaver dams. Once you get to the lake, enjoy the views of the hanging glacier and the mountains of the Sierra Alvear. Though generally a straightforward trail, be alert in the peat moss section where trail markers are hard to see.
This hike is a circuit of several of the refugios in the mountains around Bariloche in the Nahuel Huapi National Park. The route is 28 miles and takes two days (18 hours of hiking in total). Start from the ski lodge at Cerro Cathedral, then hike to Refugio Frey where you can picnic or purchase food. Continue to Refugio Jakob to pass the night. The next day, hike to the summit of Cerro Navidad then continue to Refugio Laguna Negra. The final leg is the trek to Cerro Lopez from where you can easily travel back to Bariloche.
Argentina to Chile
Most hikers in Argentine Patagonia will also want to go to Chilean Patagonia, and what better way than to hike there? The famous El Chalten to Villa O’Higgins trek takes two to three days to complete and has long stretches where you will likely not see anyone else for hours. The gradient is easy, and you will need your passport at the immigration checkpoint. Check the ferry schedules, as they do not run frequently. Hitchhike from El Chalten to Punta Sur de Laguna Desierto and get ready to trek 25 miles at least before arriving at the Carretera Austral.
Cajón del Azul
Located near the Lake District’s town of El Bolson, this can be a long day hike or an overnight. From Wharton (the jumping-off point for many hikes in the area), it’s five miles to the Refugio Cajón del Azul. The trek is moderate in difficulty, and hikers have to scale some ladders along the way. At the end of the hike, take a dip in the crystal clear water of the area’s swimming holes and relax as you sun yourself on the rocks, taking in the alpine views.