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Backpacker Magazine – August 2010

New Life List: Explore Patagonia

Experience the thrill of being a pioneer: Trek to a remote corner of the globe.

by: Michael Lanza

Plenty of treks are insanely gorgeous (see page 66), but few hikes offer such world-class scenery combined with the feeling of off-the-map exploration—yet can be done without quitting your job. What does ultimate remoteness look like? On the Dientes Circuit (below), it’s sharp-edged, weather-lashed, and totally deserted. It’s closer to Antarctica than to an American Embassy. For the first time in a quarter-century of backpacking, I felt like I’d experienced a place that very few people have—or will—see. —M. Lanza

Do it Trek Patagonia’s Dientes Circuit. Just stepping off the 20-seater plane in Puerto Williams, Chile, a town of 2,000 at the tip of South America, feels, well, like the end of the Earth. Then you walk from the dirt streets into the Dientes de Navarino (Teeth of Navarino), and enter a windswept wilderness where help is far, far away. The roughly 35-mile, five-day route loops through peaks that thrust incisors of rock more than 3,000 feet high just a few miles from the sea. After good trail at the outset, the world’s southernmost trek fades to cross-country hiking through alpine tundra and lake-studded valleys. On a clear day, from 2,838-foot Paso de los Dientes, you’ll see Cape Horn. The best campsites are next to the following lakes: Del Salto, Escondida, Martillo, and Rocallosa.

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