“The last wild race” may seem a bold claim, but if any event can live up to it, it’s the Patagonian Expedition Race (see it featured in our Ultimate Adventure Bucket List). Deemed by many as the pinnacle of adventure racing, this ten-day endurance competition attracts as many as 20 coed four-person teams from more than a dozen countries. Most years, fewer than half finish, but in many ways, winning is irrelevant. In fact, there’s no prize money—only bragging rights.
Racers sea kayak, mountain bike, trek, and orienteer with only maps and compasses through some of the wildest reaches of Chilean Patagonia (see our Chile guide). They travel for days without seeing other teams through spectacularly diverse landscapes, from the tempestuous waters off Cape Horn to peat bogs, ancient petrified-wood forests, and the 11,000-foot peaks of the Cordillera Darwin.
Though the clock is always ticking and teams endure extreme cold and sleep deprivation, participants emerge from the wilderness with tales of life-changing experiences, such as the sight of a gargantuan humpback whale breaching right next to a kayak or the Zen-like feeling of watching dawn light the eastern horizon, casting an otherworldly glow over a landscape few people have seen.
Two young alpinists, Hayden Kennedy and Jason Kruk, just stirred up the biggest climbing controversy of the last decade on Patagonia’s magnificent Cerro Torre. And now a bitter debate ensues. Should they have chopped down Italian Cesare Maestri’s historic bolts dating back to 1970?
See the first images published from their climb and learn the complex history of the mountain’s first ascents in our comprehensive story.
When to Go: February to March to avoid the crowds of midsummer and enjoy stable fall weather when the infamous Patagonian winds abate
Hike among Argentina’s fabled Fitz Roy Massif, the iconic ridge where the peaks of Poincenot, St. Exupery, and 11,073-foot Fitz Roy itself rise out of the steppes of Patagonia like a vision. This grand tour gives you three views of Fitz at sunrise, with Cerro Torre and Marconi Pass thrown in for good measure. This ramble through Delaware-size Los Glaciares National Park takes you from gnarled, spooky beech forests and open plains to glaciers, roaring waterfalls, and granite monoliths afire with orange dawn light.