The Dientes de Navarino trekking, in Navarino Island, is one of the most famous in Chile. It is not only for its stunning views of the South American continent but also for being the southernmost in the world. There is no other trekking that goes further south than Navarino Island, which is located between Tierra del Fuego and the Hornos Island (famous for its cape).
The name is due to a set of hills located on Isla Navarino, whose summits resemble a row of teeth. But this is not its only attraction: dozens of lagoons, forests, rivers, beaver dams, hills and snowy peaks make this island a unique place in the world.
Preparation of the trip to Navarino Island
To organize the trekking in Navarino Island we read the guide of the heritage route which is facilitated by Chilean Ministry of Natural Resources.
In this guide, we were able to see the circuit options, the days needed for each one and the camping places. GPS coordinates also come, something very useful to avoid wrong roads.
We buy tickets with LAN, to travel to Punta Arenas, and with DAP Airlines, to fly from Punta Arenas to Puerto Williams (Navarino Island).
Accommodation to rest on the last day was somewhat more complicated. There are not many accommodation options in Puerto Williams. Search and book well in advance to avoid problems.
We were ready to complete the Dientes de Navarino trekking in Navarino Island!
Arrive in Puerto Williams (Navarino Island)
We left from Santiago at midnight to get to Punta Arenas as at 03:30. It was a long trip, but we did not have many vacation days to choose another schedule.
We arrived in Punta Arenas and looked for a bench to sleep at the airport. Our flight to Puerto Williams departed at 9:00, so we only had a few hours to rest.
Once we got up, after having slept very little, we discovered with surprise that the flight was delayed. The weather conditions were not the best, so I had to wait 2 more hours. In this case, we did not care, since flying in a light aircraft in these latitudes with bad weather is not good for safety.
While we were waiting, we saw something curious, there were flights from this airport to Antarctica!
In fact, we could see after a while a group that was heading to the boarding area very well equipped. They had special suits to withstand the low temperatures. We searched the internet and saw several companies offering flights to Antarctica, although at a fairly high price (minimum of USD 1,500-2,000).
The 2 hours passed and our plane was ready on the runway. It was not very big, for 12 people, but it looked well maintained.
We boarded inside and the feeling was kind of weird. It was our first time in light aircraft, we did not expect the luxuries of a plane, but we found it quite small and basic.
The pilot and co-pilot told us the flight plan and, more importantly, that the weather conditions were quite stable, so the flight would be quiet. However, they warned us that during the flight we would hear blows against the fuselage, but that we were calm. It would only be the melted ice that would hit the plane when it was released …
We took off and our fears vanished. The flight was pretty quiet, just something uncomfortable because of the space available and the noise of the engines (and the ice). The pity is that we could not enjoy the views, since once we took altitude we were crossing clouds constantly, seeing only a homogeneous gray.
After 1:15 hours, the pilot told us that we were beginning the maneuver of approach to Puerto Williams. We looked through the window of the plane to enjoy the views and saw the Ushuaia city, just across the Beagle Channel.
We left the airport, we went to the Police station of the Carabineros de Chile. There we gave our data, the route to follow and the estimated day of return. Although you may not do it, it is advisable in case you have any mishap along the route, so they will look for you if you need it.
Once the procedure is completed, we go to the start of the Dientes de Navarino trek. On the way we got lucky and in 4×4 we got close to the road. This was perfect since we were just time due to the delay of the light craft.
1st Day of trekking in Navarino Island: Bandera Hill and arrival at camping area
We walk at a good pace and we enter the forest. The trail was well marked, so we moved forward without much difficulty. The weather was gray but stable, it did not look like rain (that seemed at that moment).
After about 30 minutes we reached the Bandera Hill, named for the huge Chilean flag that is located at its summit. And, right in the middle of the climb, a strong wind began to blow and rain abundantly.
The cold and the rain did not matter to us, but we were a little more nervous in case the rain became a thunderstorm. We were quite exposed, although the metal flagpole could make lightning rods …
We advance badly until we already pass the hill and arrive at a forest area. Here we took refuge until it stopped raining. We were still a little away from the Dientes de Navarino hills.
And, as always, after the storm, the sun came out. Incredible climate changes in Tierra del Fuego. In the same day, you can go from winter to autumn, spring and summer …
We continue the path on the slope of a hill observing from this height the first lagoons on the island.
A little further on, we were able to contemplate for the first time the impressive “Teeth” of Navarino Island. How they stood out against the gray sky!
We continue a little further and we arrive at the camping area. It was not a good terrain as it was quite humid, there were streams of water everywhere and it was in slope. However, as we were going to check later, it was one of the best places on the route.
Here we find another 2 groups, most of them from Central Europe. They were doing the route in the other direction, so we did not coincide again with them or with anyone else in the whole trekking.
2nd Day of trekking in Navarino Island: South Zone of the Island
We got up early, picked up things and continued the trail taking advantage of the fact that the weather was fairly stable.
The landscape was changing, of pure rock and arid cliffs …
… to isolated lagoons with snowfields at his side …
… until you reach a lower area with lagoons, rivers and forests.
In practically all rivers,we saw dams formed by beavers. Although it is not their natural habitat, since they were released from farms in Argentina because of the low quality of the hair (in comparison with specimens in Canada), they have thrived very well thanks to the absence of predators. From a few thousand beavers have passed to several hundred thousand by the south of the American continent.
Even, by chance, we were lucky enough to see a beaver. We got confused on a path and arrived at a small lagoon. There, to our surprise, we could see a beaver swimming carefree just 20 meters our. Carefully we took out the camera and we could make a photo, not of great quality because it did not stop.
After a few minutes of observing him, he noticed our presence and submerged. What a great experience to see a beaver so close!
We are still walking with emotion. We still had an hour’s walk and it was already beginning to get dark.
Halfway we stop and we set up the tent in the middle of a path. There was no other option, the rest was riddled with streams. Simply by prodding the cane on the ground, water was pouring out.
3rd Day of trekking in Navarino Island: Back to the northern zone
We rested quite well despite the wind that hit the tent all night. We set off, already somewhat more tired than the previous days, but with the same desire to live this experience at the end of the world.
The first part was simple, low-rise area with forests and lagoons of great beauty.
In contrast, the end of the day was somewhat heavier. Not because of the technical difficulty, but rather it was heavy to walk on small rocks. Although, for the views that we could contemplate, it was very worthwhile.
The only part that seemed more complicated was just at the end of the day. We had to descend from a hill with enough slope and sand.
At dusk we stop next to a forest and camp. It was not the best option, but there was no other option. We were next to several trees, with the risk of falling branches, but we did not want to get in the middle of the wet esplanade with the thunderstorm that was coming on us. However, we take all the metal material and move it about 100 meters from our tent.
4th Day of trekking in Navarino Island: Return to Puerto Williams
We got up a little later than usual, since we had time to spare and we were tired from the trekking days. We picked up the tent, which was still somewhat wet, the metal material and we went into the forest.
This last part was quite tiring. The forest was quite deep and the path was not well marked. There was mud, lots of vegetation and streams that crossed constantly.
We left the forest and saw the Beagle Channel again. We were close to Puerto Williams and to finish this incredible trekking.
We continue walking towards Puerto Williams until, in the same forest, we find a surprise … There was old military equipment! We had seen ships at the Puerto Williams naval base, but not we imagined to find here an anti-aircraft gun, a troop transport vehicle and some barracks … How varied is the Navarino Teeth Trekking!
Once we arrived at Puerto Williams, we went to the house where we had book a room. We left things, took off our boots and took a relaxing shower. While the room was simple, it seemed like a luxury compared to sleeping in the tent.
We chat for a while with the owner of the house. She told us how hard the winters are here, how isolated they were and how the military base was what gave this population some life. The fishing and the tourism of hikers and fishermen of trout complemented the small local economy. He also told us that almost no Chilean came here. Neither many Spaniards, almost the majority of the hikers were French and German, more accustomed to trekking in cold areas.
After resting for a while, we went for a walk around Puerto Williams. Most of the houses were simple, built in wood and with metal roofs.
After the walk, we went to dinner at the restaurant recommended by the owner of the house. There we ate stewed meat and a great souffle of real crab, all accompanied by a good Patagonian beer. A good dinner after the wear of these 4 intense days.
We returned to the house and that night we rested as we had not done in a long time. Early in the morning, we pack our backpacks and return to Punta Arenas, where we also ate very well (Patagonian lamb on the stick) before returning to Santiago.
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Kiss and hugs.