I don’t do much exercise at all, maybe 1 yoga class a week if I don’t have to work late. Yup, I was extremely tired at the end of each day, my whole body ached, but I still had enough energy to take a quick shower and eat dinner. It helped that Darren was extremely supportive throughout and carried all of the heavy items. I only carried a small day pack. You don’t need a guide for the trek, but I would recommend walking with at least 1 other person so you can help each other, physically and mentally.
We stopped in Bariloche and El Calafate before Puerto Natales, and made it a point to do short walks there. Climbing Cerro Llao Llao was a good warm up and also gave me added confidence, though a 3 hour hike is not really the same as a 4 day one. We also realised that the official timings on the treks here are generally quite accurate, so if you walk at a constant pace without taking too many breaks, you can use their timings to plan your day.
(3) Don’t Carry Accommodation and Food
If we had to carry our tent, sleeping bags and food for 4 days, I don’t think I would have been able to complete the trek. This means that you’ll have to pay significantly more (we paid about USD $200 at each site) but bo pian (no choice). Knowing that someone was preparing my tent and food at the next camp gave me motivation to walk on. Also, the food came in big portions and was not bad, extremely expensive but not bad. We only have one food photo, our dinner on the first night. After that, we were too tired and hungry to take any pictures of our meals.
(4) Invest in a Good Waterproof Jacket
The Patagonia wind is crazy strong and the rain comes and goes. What’s worst than being tired is being tired, wet and cold. Ours were from Kathmandu and they worked really well. I didn’t get special waterproof pants, just my normal Nike tights. We also brought along our Uniqlo thermals to wear at night.
(5) Don’t Need Hiking Boots
Some say this is super important but they’re quite expensive and heavy. We went with our normal Nike and Adidas sports shoes and they were fine. We did have to try our best to keep our feet dry by side stepping all the puddles and balancing from rock to rock across rivers. I also used blister plasters to help cushion my feet.
(6) Rent Hiking Poles
This was our first time using them and we found using one pole each quite helpful, especially when going up and down steep slopes. We rented a pair from our hostel in Puerto Natales.
(7) Enjoy Yourself!
Ok, this last tip is more like what I would do differently. I still don’t really get the whole hiking thing, but if I ever do something like this again one day in the very distant future, I would definitely want to try to enjoy myself a bit more. For this hike, I was too focused on getting from one point to the next that I didn’t stop frequently enough to look up and around. Darren definitely had more fun than I did throughout the 4 days and 3 nights.