Trekking Patagonia (Section 1) – Coyhaique to El Gato
- Total Distance: 110km
- Days: 6 – 10
- Start / End: Coyhaique ; El Gato
- Treks: Gravel (50%), Trails (30%) & Paved (20%)
- Difficulty: Medium
- Towns on trek: Nicgriaga (Lots of Mini Markets) and El Gato (One Mini Market)
- Navigation: InReach Explorer & iPod
- Direction: Can be walked in both directions
- Coordinates: At the moment, you can find our travel routes and co-ordinates HERE. Will update KMZ files later
Guide to Trekking our Route across Patagonia
I will be doing blogs and add detail as we progress throughout our 1500km trek across Patagonia. If the Sections become more difficult, I will add the things to look out for and what you need to take on the complete trail or if you only want to do one section. If any questions, please get it contact and I will try to assist.
Most of the sections we are not regular trekking routes. So please read the MUST HAVE LIST before thinking of taking on this trail.
Cheers and enjoy!!
Here we go
Its been a very good start on our long distance hike towards Santiago. We’ve been waiting a long time to get the tent, but it was worth it. My backpack will be 2kg lighter and we can once again close the tent after months of spiders and mosquitos as sleeping companions.
The first few weeks have been better than expected. The scenery had been magnificent and the camping even better. 90% of the camping spots has been some of the best I’ve had. It’s also been sunny after one week of rain in Coyhaique.
I’ve never done a long distance hike in my life, or not even a proper trek for that matter. So l knew there was a lot to learn and most of it will happen in the first few weeks. That’s how its been with all the other legs of this adventure.
We quickly learned that we don’t need to carry 4 liters of water and that we could find a water source every few kilometers along the way. So the 4 liters was cut down to only 750ml, which saved us over 3 kg’s on our backs! The other thing was food. We could not get much detail on the small villages along the way. But it turned out that all these villages have Mini Markets where you can get most of the food you want and need for trekking.
The start has been perfect to phase into long distance trekking… A good mix of roads, gravel and trails. I planned averaging around 15km’s during the first month to get our muscles use to the long distances.
We were very happy to leave Coyhaique after waiting over a month to get the new tent. We were now heading north towards Santiago!
First day on trek
Our first day consisted out of mostly gravel roads and encountered our first problem when we were stopped by military guys which tried to enforce their “power” onto us. The told us we can’t continue and must turn back to Coyhaique. After trying to explain to them very patiently where we wanted to go they were still convinced we wanted to cross illegally into Argentina. We gave up trying to persuade these guys and told them we will turn back… But they don’t know me and turning back was not an option.
We found our way across some farms until we bypassed the military base. This bypass actually gave us more beautiful views over the lush green valley towards Coyhaique. We were on our way again…
Lost our way for the first time and going in a loop
We are navigating using a InReach Explorer and have waypoints and routes pre-programmed onto the device. I do not check the device every 5 minutes, so I knew at some point we will wander off the trail. It was not very long before it happened for the first time. When I saw we were about 1km off the set trail, with a long mountain range in front of us and a stretch of woods, a swamp and bushes between us and where we should be.
I grabbed the machete for the first time to made some sort of path heading towards the trail. We emerged on the other side seeing a farm, two horses, few cows in the distance and a barking dog, but no people. It was a beautiful area and after climbing through a few fences to get where we should be. After passing the farm, we found a nice cozy camping spot on top a hill.
The start of our next day enquired us to cross through a dense forest. At first sight we could not find the trail, so I set into a direction that we needed to go. It was still a fun walk and the views were amazing, especially the second half before we got a nice surprise. After an hour and a half of hiking, I looked at the tracker and saw a massive loop on the device… Karen told me that she thinks the mountain was now on the wrong side. We continued on for a few hundred meters and then we saw the same farm, we saw the day before, in front of us… We just walked a massive loop!! I always wondered how it would feel if this happens to me J We learned why a GPS is so important when doing a trek like this. You can get lost so easily!
Patagonian Views & Locals
Each day the views were different and absolutely amazing! I love this part of the world and is slowly falling in love with the nature. The mountains, rivers, waterfalls and wildlife are awesome. Trekking gives a complete different feel to the adventure. I can now go where I never could on a bike to more remote places. I can move more freely without having to worry about the bike. The more remote, the better!
Our first awesome encounter with people were in El Gato, a small village at the end of the first section of our trek. This small town consist out of about 10 houses (maybe even less). At the end of the village we saw a Coca Cola and Ice ream flag waving in the wind, which meant there was a shop. We then decided to take two rest days here, eat well and continue on to the second section.
The extremely friendly Chilean family, who owns a nice equipped shop, with more food options than we needed. They had a Cabana available, but was over our price range, so asked to camp where the sheep spend most of their day. They agreed and we only paid $5000 (about $7) Chilean Pesos per night. We spend some time in the barbeque area charging devices, journaling and eating.
The family was amazing and extremely friendly. It was the mom and dad, daughter and their small son (about 5). The dad, Julio, was a character… a jack of all trades. Such a nice guy to be around with. He was very patient with our shitty Spanish and took time that we could understand each other. We quickly learned he loved hunting. After he found out Karen was from the Alaska, he quickly ran into the house and came back with his American hunting knives and clothing. Top notch gear! He was also the area doctor, dentist, herdsman, owner of the shop and much more. After pulling out his US knives he cut us some dried beef and it was…. Good! Tasty and soooo salty. He was very happy and proud when we wanted to taste his makings.
Their five-year-old son caught a liking in Karen and kept following her around. He got comfortable around us and helped himself to our chips. He also liked to stick anything into his mouth from rocks, gravel, grass, the satellite dish and flowers, to give it a taste. Funny little boy that will put a smile on our face.
The two days gave our feet a little break before we embarked on Section 2
Things to notice on Section 1
- Bypassing the military base (S45°30’26.7480 ; W 71°53’34.9728)
- Have a GPS!
- Always make sure you have two extra days of food
- This section is not that difficult, but the distance makes your backpack heavy.
More information about Section 2
- Total Distance: 78 km
- Start / End: El Gato ; Villa Amengual
- Difficulty: Easy
- Direction: Can be walked in both directions