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Hiking in Patagonia: 50 Common Blunders

Whether you’re complete beginner or a seasoned hiker, there’s always room to refresh your trekking knowledge, especially if you’re planning a trip somewhere new. Cascada’s list of the 50 most common mistakes made by trekkers in Patagonia covers all the angles from comfort to safety to preserving this outstanding natural environment, so you can concentrate on having the best time you possibly can on your Patagonia trek.

  1. Hitting the trail with boots that are fresh out of the box.
  2. Forgetting to wear sunblock in Patagonia’s powerful sun, even when it looks cloudy.
  3. Leaving your litter behind you.
  4. Thinking you can take on the iconic Paine Circuit with no physical preparation whatsoever.
  5. Wearing water-retaining, chafe-prone jeans to hike in.
  6. CameraGetting separated from your hiking group or setting out alone.
  7. Forgetting to bring a camera to capture your photo of Argentina’s Perito Moreno Glacier.
  8. Damaging the unique environment by straying from marked trails.
  9. Not bringing enough layers to keep you cool in the heat and warm in the cold of Patagonia’s changeable climate.
  10. Setting out on a trail without either a knowledgeable guide or a detailed map of your route and a compass.
  11. Focussing so hard on finishing the hike that you forget to look around and admire Los Glaciares National Park.
  12. Wearing sports shoes to tackle the magnificent Patagonian Andes.
  13. Underestimating how much longer it takes to walk the same distance in Patagonia than it does in a city park.
  14. Ignoring chafing and rubbing hot spots until the pain gets really bad.
  15. Putting your gaitors on with the buckles on the inside so you keep tripping over yourself.
  16. Forgetting to stretch out your muscles before you set out on the W Trek in Torres del Paine National Park.
  17. CampfireLighting a fire outside of a designated cooking area.
  18. Keeping your arms straight by your side while hiking, instead of swinging them with bent elbows to avoid swollen hands.
  19. Not giving yourself enough time to allow for bad weather days and still see everything you’d planned to visit.
  20. Packing too many clothes so you (or your porter!) are weighed down for the whole trek.
  21. Refusing to turn back if you’re too tired, injured or the weather is too dangerous to continue.
  22. Assuming that hiking is the only way to explore Patagonia (you can also kayak, cycle, sail, or ride horseback!)
  23. Not packing sunglasses - even if there isn’t any sunshine they’re a great help in the wind.
  24. Bringing a camera but forgetting the spare batteries and extra memory cards.
  25. Setting your hiking poles too long - your elbows should be at 90 degrees.
  26. Wearing waterproof clothing but forgetting the waterproof cover for your pack.
  27. Waiting until you're thirsty to have a drink of water.
  28. Making so much noise you miss your chance to see the guanacos, ñandus, pudus, foxes and many other captivating animals of Patagonia. 
  29. Not wearing proper wool or synthetic hiking socks to cushion your feet.
  30. Expecting to have cell phone coverage no matter how far out into the wilds you venture.
  31. Choosing a trek that is too strenuous for your level of fitness.
  32. Assuming that if it’s sunny in the when you wake up, it won't be raining cats and dogs by the time you’ve finished your breakfast.
  33. snacksSetting out so late that you end up hiking in the dark.
  34. Wearing cotton base layers that trap moisture next to your skin.
  35. Forgetting to snack regularly to keep your energy levels up.
  36. Mistaking the staggeringly beautiful Torres del Paine Horns for the majestic Torres del Paine Towers.
  37. Using a sleeping bag with the wrong temperature rating.
  38. Setting out too fast at the start of your trek so you’re exhausted before you’re even halfway there.
  39. Neglecting to bring a woolly hat for warmth and a hat with a brim for the sun.
  40. Taking small rocks or picking flowers as souvenirs of your trek.
  41. Not keeping your camera, phone and any other electronics in a separate waterproof bag.
  42. Assuming that the weather forecast can 100% predict Patagonia’s erratic weather.
  43. Hanging damp clothes in your tent to dry instead of stuffing them in your sleeping bag.
  44. Forgetting your gloves.
  45. Attempting an ice trek on the Perito Moreno Glacier without crampons.
  46. CondorLooking down at your feet so intently that you miss the condor flying overhead.
  47. Using an open fire for cooking instead of a camping stove.
  48. Hiking in wet socks.
  49. Choosing a pack without a waist belt to spread the weight.
  50. Putting off your hike in Patagonia for one minute more!
And if there’s anything important you think we’ve missed, let us know using the comments section below!