Isla Navarino within the Tierra del Fuego archipelago in the South of Chile is home to some of the most spectacular scenery in South America and features one of Chilean Patagonia’s most gruelling treks – the Dientes de Navarino trek. This trek might well be the best trek you could ever do in the great Patagonia and we'll bet you’ve never even heard of it.
This 53.3km trek circuits the Dientes de Navarino mountain range, with its jagged peaks that look like teeth. It is a strenuous hike that includes scrambling across rugged mountain slopes and camping in the wild; not suitable for the faint-hearted. Yet it is a hit amongst trekking enthusiasts because only about 200 people attempt it each year, and of them, even fewer actually finish it.
While the trek is a challenge, those who have completed it, either fully or partially, have raved about the experience. The pure, untapped nature that unfolds before you with every step is sure to take your breath away. Consider the trek when planning your next Chile trip.
|Start/end locations:||Puerto Williams is both the starting and ending point for the trek.|
|Trek difficulty:||Very difficult. Do not attempt to do this route unless you are an experienced trekker, have a very good fitness level and feel confident in your abilities.|
|Trek duration:||4 days. However, depending on your pace, the duration is subject to change.|
|Remoteness:||Very remote. This trek is about as remote as it gets, you won’t see any sign of civilization. The paths are marked but they are very easy to miss. It is also often called the southernmost trek in the world.|
|Accommodation type:||Camping is your only option.|
|Best season:||December to March. Outside of this time frame the weather is simply too treacherous. Even during this time, the weather can be unpredictable.|
|Permit required:||None. But for safety reasons, you must register your trekking plans at the local police station before you head off.|
Whether you are attempting the trek alone or are on a Dientes de Navarino guided tour (such as this one), most treks last 4 days. Find below the standard itinerary to conquer this Patagonian monster.
Day 1: Hike from Puerto Williams through to the Laguna Salto – this is the easiest part of the Dientes de Navarino circuit as you won’t come up against any passes so the walk is reasonably flat.
Day 2: Climb the Paso Australis (805m) and Paso de los Dientes (743m) before camping in the Laguna Escondida.
Day 3: On this day, you will be allowed the chance to explore some of the more untouched parts of Isla Navarino. You will go from Paso Ventarron (696m) through to Laguna Martillo, where you will rest for the day.
Day 4: On this day, you will reach the highest part of the trek. At 859m above sea level, you will climb the fourth and final pass of your journey: Paso Virginia. As you descend the other side you will have breath-taking views of the Beagle Channel before heading back to Puerto Williams.
You can extend your trek to 5 days by camping at Laguna Los Guanacos, located at the base of Paso Virginia, on the fourth day and then make your way back to Puerto Williams on the fifth day. This gives you more opportunity to explore the stark and beautiful wilderness of Isla Navarino.
Puerto Williams is the starting point of the trek. You can either choose to fly (1.5hours) or take a very long boat ride (30 hours) across from Punta Arenas to reach the start point. If you fly you will be transported in a tiny 20-seater Twin Otter plane – not for the nervous flyer!
Before you head off on the Dientes de Navarino trek there are a few things you should know and a few precautions you should take. Check out these handy tips before you embark on your adventure.
- Getting to Puerto Williams is expensive and can take a long time. Remember to factor this into your budget and schedule.
- Prepare for extreme and unpredictable weather. It can go from sunshine to downpour in a heartbeat. Expect strong winds, snow, hail and scorching heat.
- Grab a map from the tourist office in Punta Arenas. The path you will take is not well trodden and getting lost is a very real and dangerous possibility.
- There are trail markers along the route but it is not exactly a well-beaten path. It is highly advisable that trekkers do not stray from the circuit.
- Line the inside of your shoes with plastic bags and take spare socks as your boots will get very wet during this trek. For more information on suitable trekking gear, read our guide to equipment needed when trekking.
- Getting off the island is just as hard as getting there so be prepared to have to spend a couple of extra days waiting around for a free seat on a flight. There are a few hostels and guesthouses in the area where you will be able to stay.
- Be sure to charge up your camera before you leave and take some spare batteries so you can capture your moments forever.
If you have a thrill-seeking side and love the idea of doing something different and challenging, then the Dientes de Navarino Trek is for you. While routes like the Inca Trail, Torres del Paine Circuit and Annapurna Circuit are incredibly popular with trekkers, this one is not. Only the bold take it on and only the truly determined will complete it. Good luck!
Patagonia is notorious for its unpredictable weather, so do check on the best time to visit Patagonia before you make any plans. Click on the link for more information on tours available in Patagonia.