My last adventure was an expedition to Chilean and Argentinean Patagonia, with a group of 18 people guided by eco-friendly walkers. It was an 18-day walk through 130 km in Los Glaciares National Park, Tierra del Fuego National Park and Torres del Paine National Park, in Chile. We reached the cities of El Calafate, El Chaltén and Ushuaia.
They are among the ones with the most natural beauty, together with other South American countries. Patagonia is very big; I knew only part of it. It embraces Bariloche, Peninsula Valdes, the lake region, Chilean glaciers and Punta Arenas. I believe one month would be enough to know all the places. The best time to go is winter and summer, when the views change, as well as the leisure options.
On the way, we met travelers from all around the world, alone or in groups and very impressed with the view. Among mountains, snow, glaciers, rivers, lakes and roads we found winding paths, difficult climbs, wild animals, exquisite views, smiles, new friends, singing and companionship. Travelers between 15 and 70 years old, with a lot of energy to walk, camp and share bedrooms in the refuges.
The feeling is unanimous: going on a trail like this is wonderful, and makes up for all the difficulties you may face. Happiness is always present. And there is an explanation for this – while we walk endless kilometers, our body produces endorphin, a chemical reaction that brings a feeling of well being. Everybody producing endorphin is a burst of happiness. The hard work is relative and can be minimized if you take ear protection to muffle other peoples’ snoring, cold weather clothing with high technology, a good pair of sneakers to avoid blisters and previous resistance training to lighten the weight of the backpack.
Being fit and healthy is vital, you cannot be sedentary. Most people in the group were used to going trekking and walking, but did not have a specific training for this trail. As a result, they had a sore body in the end of the day, but that was never a reason to regret it; when they started walking the next day, the pain was gone. In order to improve my resistance, I worked out and went running every other day about 3 months before. It worked pretty well; I did not have muscle pain, even though I had an injured tendon that got better with the use of the walking stick (essential equipment for uneven grounds and descents). In the beginning, we carried a 9 kg backpack so it was hard, the shoulders were aching – but then we took it off and the pain went away. The next days I was already used to the backpack and did not feel any more pain. I even had muscle relaxant and anti-inflammatory with me, but did not take them.
This trip can be quite expensive or cheap, depending on how demanding you are and how willing you are to have things done yourself. You have all kinds of accommodation and tours. In order to be comfortable, it is necessary to plan and make reservations in advance, for it is full of foreigners who crowd the refuges in the summer. In other seasons, the trails are limited.