Ask Me: Trekking Patagonia’s Dientes Circuit

Hi Michael,

I recently came across your website while looking for information on the Dientes Circuit. Thank you for putting together such a comprehensive summary of your trip. We are headed down that way for three weeks this winter and are planning to backpack the Paine Circuit while we’re there. We’re also looking at the Dientes Circuit and Fitzroy to fill our trip. Did you find a spot to leave gear in Punta Arenas? Is it possible to buy backpacking-type food in Puerto Williams or did you fly with it from Punta Arenas?

Thanks for your help,
Boise, ID

Hi Erik,

We’re fellow Boiseans, I see. The Dientes Circuit is worthwhile, very remote, windy and cold (even colder than Torres del Paine), very impressive mountains. Route-finding is very tricky. I did it with a local guy who grew up in Puerto Williams and knows those mountains well, he works as a local guide sometimes, Maurice van de Maele (see his e-mail at the end of the story linked above). Tell Maurice I said hi if you contact him.

Check out my story about Torres del Paine, too, if you haven’t already. I recommend trekking the “W.” Unless you have a perfect weather forecast, you could spend a lot of time in the rain seeing nothing on the north side of the mountains, while the south side may be drier with great views. Plus, part of the track on the north side gets flooded during heavy rains. Check on that.

Nearing Paso de los Dientes, Dientes Circuit
Nearing Paso de los Dientes, Dientes Circuit.

You could probably leave gear at a hotel where you stay in Punta Arenas. It’s a city by Patagonian standards, with plenty of amenities.

Puerto Williams has just two very small markets with limited offerings. You could buy perishables in them, but bring other backpacking food with you. You won’t likely be able to buy any stove fuel in Puerto Williams, either. Maurice helped us out with white gas because he was connected and could get it.

Do you speak Spanish? We met very few people who spoke English, so that was a challenge for us.


[In Ask Me, I share and respond to a reader question. Got a question about hiking, backpacking, gear, or any topic or trip I write about at The Big Outside? Send it to me at or tweet it to @MichaelALanza. I will answer the ones I can in a post, using only your first name and city, with your permission.]


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