If virgin forests, turquoise lakes, mountainous landscapes, and dramatic glaciers are what inspire you to get outside and explore, make sure to put Patagonia on your travel bucket list this year. Covering the majority of Southern Argentina and Chile, Patagonia offers extensive natural landscapes ideal for trekking, camping, kayaking, and fishing.
Must-Know Info for Travelers
Patagonia is a dream destination for many adventurous travelers. However, it’s a good idea to know what you are in for before embarking on your trip. Both the geography and climate in Patagonia varies widely within the region, so it’s best to be prepared for all types of weather. At any time of year, it’s common to experience up to four different seasons in one day! From sun to rain, wind, hail or snow, it’s important that you have the basic necessities with you in order to withstand the forces that Mother Nature may throw at you.
If you are backpacking through Patagonia, it’s important that you carry light, versatile and quick-dry clothing and ensure that you have a quality jacket, hiking shoes, sunglasses, and a tent if you plan to set up camp. It is also recommended that you do not use hiking boots for the first time when trekking through Patagonia. Bring boots that have been worn beforehand to ensure they are well broken-in. The last thing you want is a blister ruining your day!
In terms of pricing for accommodation, food, transport, and tours, Patagonia can be a little expensive, due to being one of South America’s most popular travel destinations. Although there are fees to enter the national parks, once you are in, you can walk any trail as many times as you want, for as long as you’d like. If you are on a tighter budget, it’s recommended to book accommodation and transport well in advance.
Best Time to Visit
The best time to explore the region is between October and April. This is the summer season in Patagonia and will most likely provide the best weather conditions (although they can be unpredictable) and the most daylight hours. If you are looking to escape the crowds, opt to travel during the shoulder seasons. October to November and March to April are great months to visit due to preferable weather conditions (highs of 71 degrees Fahrenheit) without the masses. The windy season is usually from November to March when winds of up to 55 miles per hour enter the valley from the west.
Unless you are an avid adventurer keen on camping in temperatures below the freezing point in the snow, hail, and rain, it’s best that you avoid traveling to Patagonia during the winter season. The cold temperatures of fall and winter begin in April and last until mid-September, and is a time where many hotels close, transportation becomes more difficult and daylight hours dwindle. During its summer months, Patagonia may see up to 17 hours of daylight, as opposed to about eight to 10 hours during the winter.
Patagonia is a vast region that is best explored by traveling slowly. If you cannot allow for any longer than a month, break up the trip into multiple smaller adventures. In order to best take in the epic landscapes, give yourself plenty of time to enjoy each place. Although it’s beneficial to have a plan, be open to spontaneity and the discovery of new sights and experiences as you move along.
Top Areas to Explore
Here are some of the best places to explore within areas in both the Chilean and Argentinian Patagonia:
For a once in a lifetime road trip, look no further than Chile’s Carretera Austral. Stretching over 745 miles from Puerto Montt to Villa O’Higgins, this iconic highway runs through some of the most pristine landscapes the country has to offer. If you’re up for a challenge and have a little extra time up your sleeve, you could also choose the wild but popular option of cycling the Carretera Austral highway.
Torres del Paine National Park
This breathtaking national park in Southern Chile is admired worldwide due to its diversity of natural landscapes, world-class trekking, and abundance of rare wildlife. Welcoming over 250,000 visitors a year, it’s safe to say that Torres del Paine is at the top of many outdoor adventurers’ bucket lists. Here, trekkers can experience all that Mother Nature has to offer via multi-day walking tracks, with views of shimmering lakes and sweeping glaciers.
Los Glaciares National Park
Massive glaciers and dramatic icefields are what you can expect when visiting this national park. Situated near the Chilean border amidst the Austral Andes in the Santa Cruz province of Argentina, this national reserve is another outstanding location to add to your list. Within the park visitors can witness the stunning Perito Moreno Glacier as it merges with the vast waters of Lake Argentino. Other notable glaciers to check out within the reserve include Upsala and Onelli.
Stretched along the coast of Argentina in the province of Chubut, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is a unique spot to witness various types of marine wildlife and experience breathtaking beaches. From endangered southern right whales to orcas, dolphins, penguins, elephant seals and more, Valdes Peninsula is a haven for wildlife photographers and those with a passion for marine wildlife.
Top Outdoor Adventure Activities
Patagonia is a paradise for lovers of the great outdoors. Whether it’s trekking, rock climbing, kayaking or biking, the region has plenty to offer during the summer months, as well as world-class skiing and snowboarding for those looking for some fresh powder during the winter. When it comes to trekking, Torres del Paine and Tierra del Fuego offer the best multi-day treks to completely immerse yourself into Patagonia’s diverse environments. If you are a rock climber, the western region of Argentinian Patagonia offers plenty of options for moderate climbers.
For kayaking enthusiasts, the Lake District near Bariloche in Argentina offers ample waters to explore. You could also take a kayaking or canoeing excursion out to the astonishing “Marble Cathedral” on General Carrera Lake, a body of water so large that it stretches across both Chile and Argentina. Patagonia is also a wonderful spot for fishing and fly fishing. From Punta Arenas to Puerto Natales, Torres del Paine and Tierra del Fuego, you can try your hand at catching dinner yourself or practice casting a line with experienced local guides.
Do you have any recommendations for Patagonia? Feel free to share in the comments below!
Header photo by Amar Adestiempo.