The Dientes circuit leads around the most spectacular mountains on Isla Navarino. Perfectly shaped like teeth, the spectacular Dientes range rises vertically towards the sky. Since the tree line is located at around 500 meters only, an extreme alpine environment can be experienced at very low altitude. Most of the time, the trail stays well above the tree line, leading through exposed terrain. If you are lucky with the weather, you can enjoy breathtaking views not only of the mountain environment on Isla Navarino, but also over the Beagle Channel and the Argentine Fuegian Andes to the north and even over the islands of Cape Horn to the south. In the valleys, out-of-control beaver populations are shaping the landscape. In every place where they find water and trees, they have constructed numerous artificial ponds, in addition to inhabiting the many natural lakes, and left traces in the appearance of the vegetation. Although very isolated, the route is becoming relatively popular during the peak season. This does not mean that you will be facing crowds, but it is likely to meet other parties especially at the recommended campsites.
You should plan for a five-day trek, although if in a rush it can be done in four or even three days as well. Sticking to the clockwise direction makes it easier to find the 38 signs (“snupies”) and, in addition, may be easier to walk. A detailed description of the trek and recommended day stages are included in Lonely Planet’s “Trekking in the Patagonian Andes”. Alternatively, German-speaking trekkers find information in the Rother hiking guidebook “Patagonien und Feuerland”, although I found directions not always sufficiently described therein. Very detailed route descriptions are also available from this document compiled by the Chilean Ministry of National Assets (describing all “snupies” and the sections between them) and online from the very useful Chilean outdoor community wikiexplora.com. Detailed hiking maps remain unavailable. Careful navigation is required especially in bad weather conditions. The first and last sections of the trail seem to have been relocated in recent years and do not follow the description in the Lonely Planet anymore.
It is obligatory to register at the Carabineros de Chile office in Puerto Williams before and after doing the trek. The challenges of this trek should not be underestimated, but are mainly defined by the weather. Expect steep ascents and descents, often on scree, and muddy trails in between. Trekking poles are strongly recommended, in addition to a warm sleeping bag and mattress, a stable tent and warm and waterproof clothes including gaiters. Even in summer, snowfall in the mountains is not uncommon. In general, weather conditions can change very quickly here, with the risk of emerging southerly storms. It is advisable to pitch camp only at the recommended places and, in particular, not above the tree line in order to keep safe from sudden strong winds. Better do not attempt this trek before the peak of the summer season (December – February) due to the risk of lots of old snow. Lastly, and very important on Isla Navarino, potentially contaminated water (Giardia) by the innumerable beavers has to be purified.
Travelling to an isolated place like Isla Navarino requires some planning. Essentially, there are three different possibilities:
The trailheads of the Dientes circuit can be reached from Puerto Williams by car or an additional walk only. Especially on the last day of the trek (in clockwise direction), it makes sense to take a lift. Although vehicles are not passing very frequently, drivers usually stop for hitchhikers.