The Dientes De Navarino trek is very difficult, yet totally AMAZING, and if you get all the way to the bottom of the world, then you should definitely have a crack. I say that as of the 100-200 trekkers who try per year, many end up turning back – so here are things we learnt from this trek we’d like to pass onto you to help you conquer the world’s southernmost trek:
1. Thank goodness that the trek is free after spending a fortune to get here. It is recommended to do the trek in four nights/ five days, although we managed three nights and four days, and a speedy German couple did it in two nights/three days. Stock up on trekking supplies before you come – particularly if you come from Punta Arenas as the duty free zone there has some awesome trekking foods.
2. Register at the police station – you must do this before you set off. Let them know how many days you will be trekking and make sure you go and see them again on your return. If you don’t return they’ll wait three days then send out a search and rescue. This is somewhat reassuring and terrifying at the same time.
3. This is a very difficult trek only experienced Trekkers or crazy people like us should attempt. You will be scrambling up and down mountains, sliding down rock scree, up and over multiple passes, trekking through boggy mud and loads of snow (even in December).
4. Go in a group. Do not trek alone – I would suggest at least three or more people. You will have no problem meeting people on the boat or plane to Isla Navarino or at the hostel who want to go trekking. We had a perfect group of five and luckily it included three Germans who were super organized and know the snow, helping us sun drenched Australians complete the trek!
5. Map – There is a fantastic booklet produced by the Ministerio de Bienes Nationales – Ruta Patrimonial No.1, Dientes de Navarino, Circuito Cabo de Hornos – which we got at the tourist office in Punta arenas. Try and get a copy there or see if it is available online – www.bienesnacionales.cl. This booklet was a must have as the trail is not well trodden and often the markers are hard to find (we got lost a few times! And did a fair bit of bush bashing along the way!) The booklet contains photos and descriptions of each section of the trail as well as GPS coordinates and compass points. Unfortunately the tourist office is closed in Puerto Williams – the tourist officer fell in love with a solo yachtsman who was visiting the town and she sailed away with him. They haven’t replaced her…
6. Extra Socks – your feet will get wet and muddy. Guaranteed. All our boots were soaked through the whole trek from the snow and mud and river crossings. Extra socks will definetly make the trek more comfortable and your feet will thank you!
7. Be prepared for all weather conditions. It snowed, hailed, stormed, was sunny and hot and then windy and rainy -everyday!! The weather is end-of-the-earth crazy, so ensure you have adequate rain gear, pack cover, sunscreen and hat, as well as warm clothes. Also make sure your tent is sturdy as we were caught in a flash hailstorm that almost blew a tent away.
8. You may not get off the island when you want – now that you have arrived it may be hard to leave. Thereare flights to Punta Arenas for $60,000CLP, but book early as seats fill up fast! You can also try and get a boat to take you to Ushuaia. However, they only go if the weather is good. There’s also ongoing ‘issues’ between Chile and Argentina and so the official ferry service is very unreliable. Ask your hostel owner to help you or go to Turismo Shila for information about boats and planes off the island. Read how we managed to get off the island in our next story.
9. Stay with Cecilia at Refugio El Padrino – This was the most amazing hostel and we had a fantastic time post trek. Cecilia is an angel with a heart of gold. It is $12,000clp for a bed in the four bedroom, two bathroom hostel. Self serve breakfast is included (eggs, fresh bread, condiments, tea and coffee). This place is more of a home then a hostel, each night there were family dinners where people took turns to cook and everybody contributed something to the meal. Cecilia also has a wealth of knowledge regarding Isla Navarino. Contact – email@example.com
10. Relax! You are at the end of the world – we were stuck here longer then usual, the weather was so intermittent for the beginning of December, but all you can do is relax. Walk around the little town, check out the museum about the Indigenous Yagan people (and use the free wifi). You can even go to the bar – you can’t miss it, it’s the little green house near the plaza with BAR written on the front door.