Greater Patagonian Trail (GPT part 1 )
Updated: Dec 14, 2020
The Greater Patagonian Trail, GPT for short, connects Chile's capital Santiago with the town of El Chaltén in Argentina. It runs across the borders of both countries, but remains mainly on the Chilean side. The main route is approximately 3,000 km long. However, in countless locations, the trail branches out to form a wide network of paths that offer many choices. It is a very diverse track system. These include routes created by local cowboys (Arieros) who herd cattle to meadows high in the mountains in summer. Sometimes it runs along old, neglected tourist routes or side roads. In addition, it is not uncommon to walk many kilometers through very demanding terrain using only the coordinates. Or struggling through a dense "jungle" where 3 km a day turns out to be a great pace. Most of the sections are not marked in any way and cannot be found on tourist maps. GPT Uses marked hiking trails only in popular areas such as Cerro Castillo or near El Chaltén. It is also not an official trail, it is more of idea of the route. The entire project was created by a German mountain enthusiast. Jan Dudeck is currently helping the community with mapping individual parts. Anyone can support the project by sending him a GPS record of a path or mountain crossing on which probably no tourist's foot has yet been reached. There aren't many places in the world where this is possible.
When I say "Patagonia" most people think of Tores del Paine, Cerro Torre, and Fitz Roy. However, places visited by crowds of tourists, were only a small part of our amazing adventure. Months spent in parts of Patagonia, that almost no one has heard of, was a unique experience. What I liked the most on the trail was its constant diversity.
Following the route of the GPT, you will start from the semi-desert of the Precordillieras. Surrounded by sandy and rocky mountains, you will be mentally begging for a patch of shade to hide for at least a moment from the strong, burning sun.
Then, you will dive into the inaccessible, beautifull valleys of the Andes. With multi-day streaches, you will not meet a living soul or find any traces of civilization. The paths are crossed by numerous active and inactive volcanoes, where you pass countless hot springs that give relief to tired and aching muscles.
You will make your way through the dense Valdivian rainforests that covers spacious valleys, between the snow-capped mountains.
Numerous climbs will take you above the tree line into barren terrain, revealing an endless wasteland. And when you are sure you have seen everything and nothing can surprise you, you reach the Southern Patagonian Ice Field ...