Imagine walking through 17 national parks, wandering around lakes and volcanoes and over mountains for 1,700 miles.
If that sounds like a glorious feat to you, pack your bags, er, your backpack, and head on down to Patagonia in Chile, where a new ambitious hike awaits.
While the distance Route of Parks (Ruta de Los Parques) encompasses isn’t as long as either the Appalachian Trail (2,181 miles) or the Pacific Crest Trail (2,650 miles), two popular US hiking trails, its 1,700-mile makeup is right up there among the longest trails in the world.
And it’s sure to be a breathtaking one.
Hikers preparing to trek through Patagonia, the southernmost region making up the tip of both Argentina and Chile, are often told to expect to experience all four seasons along their five- or seven-day treks through Patagonia National Park.
The climate and terrain in this part of the world are so diverse that it’s not unusual to see a cloud-free sky one moment as you trek across valleys and witness giant hail storms the next as you make your way up the mountains.
Route of Parks, which is the name the Chilean government designated the new trail, extends all the way up through Cape Horn and will present similar scenery and climate changes. The trek’s website offers suggested itineraries ranging from 5-6 days to 11-13 days, but dedicated trekkers could, of course, devote months to this exploration.
Credited with making this route a reality for avid trekkers looking for their next adventure are husband and wife team Douglas and Kristine Thompson, North Face founder and Patagonia CEO, respectively.
The duo bought millions of acres of land in southern Argentina and Chile with the hopes of preserving the land, and although Douglas passed away in 2015, Kristine has kept their dream alive by working with the Chilean government to ultimately present Route of Parks to the world.
It’s a bucket-list travel destination for the adventurous, outdoorsy type.
It’s also a not-to-be-missed spot for bird watchers – visitors may encounter up to 140 species of birds along the route. But they’ll likely have to wait to post photos of any rare bird sightings, for WiFi in much of the park’s regions is slow and sporadic.