Snow dusted peaks in the distance on a blue sky day in southern Chile's Patagonia.
Camera Rich Brame

Backpacking in Chile's Patagonia - Alumni


10 days


18+ yrs



See Dates

Patagonia's iconic Torres Del Paine National Park is most often the image people conjure up when they imagine Patagonia. On this trip you will embark on the park's hardest and longest established route, the "O." Journey into Patagonia’s backcountry in the company of NOLS Alumni, friends, family, and instructors to immerse yourself in one of the world's most storied regions.

Photo Credit: Judd Rogers

Established in 1959 the park is centered around the Paine massif which was carved by glaciers and erosion over millions of years. Your trek will literally make an “O” around the massif allowing 9 full days of hiking over new terrain every day. Some days, there will be opportunities to explore up the many valleys that lead from the primary trail to the base of the Towers. We can promise that no one will suffer from a lack of hikeable terrain on this trip!

Photo Credit: Eric Mak

The trip kicks off in the scenic, coastal town of Puerto Natales with introductions, an orientation, and route briefing. The following morning, a short hour and half ride will take us into the park for our first day on trail.

Photo Credit: Eric Mak

Over the next 9 days, we will be treated to scenery that shows off the dramatic contrast and complex topography that define why this hike is truly special. Rugged granite peaks tower over peaceful turquoise lakes. Rivers cut steep valleys into the foothills. Some days, we will hike through dense forests, others we will look out across glacial plains of ancient ice.

Patagonia has exceptional biodiversity. Your hike will take you through regions inhabited by guanaco (a llama relative), puma, fox, huemul deer and many more creatures. A vast diversity of birds including Andean Condors inhabit the skies over Torres del Paine. With some luck, you may see some of these locals along the trail.

Photo Credit: Eric Mak

Few people in the world have the opportunity to visit this stunning area and even fewer are able to immerse themselves in the backcountry. Our decision to hike in March, the shoulder season for Patagonia hiking, is strategic. We will have cooler temperatures with ranges in the 40-60s and smaller crowds in the park. Any visit to Patagonia should be prepared for a wide variety of weather conditions from rain to sun, sleet, wind and maybe even snow.

Photo Credit: Judd Rogers

For this expedition, NOLS enlists the support of porters to carry our expedition gear significantly lightening our packs. Lighter packs filled with only personal essentials will help us hike further and cover more elevation over our trek. Our porters are also a large part of our cultural connection to the park. Along the hike we will share maté and hear their stories.

Photo Credit: Eric Mak

To concentrate impact, camping in the park is limited to designated “campgrounds” along the trail. We will tent camp every night on platforms and on occasion we might take advantage of some other campground amenities, grabbing a hot meal from the concessionaire to give us the chance to relax after a long day.

Photo Credit: Judd Rogers

Walk along the feet of giants and camp under the stars with your fellow NOLSies. This trip is a fantastic way to see the Patagonia that inspired conservationists to take a stand and protect some of the world’s last wilderness areas.

Overall Difficulty*:

*You’ll sleep outdoors and carry a pack in remote terrain on this trip.

Course Dates

2 courses

Mar 2 - 11, 2025

Includes pre-and post trip lodging in Puerto Natales


3 spaces Apply Now

Mar 13 - 22, 2025

Includes pre-and post trip lodging in Puerto Natales


Backpacking in Patagonia Media


If you have questions about enrollment or including families/guests on a particular alumni trip, then contact:

NOLS Alumni Department

Other Alumni Courses