For wilderness and adventure lovers, it’s hard to find a place more beautiful and full of unique destinations than Patagonia. The region spans the southernmost parts of Argentina and Chile and contains a variety of landscapes from lush grassland to beaches to icy glaciers.
Most people that head down there will probably want to take advantage of some of the more active pursuits such as hiking, mountain biking, rafting, kayaking and diving. However, even those people who prefer to take it a bit easier can find ample ways to enjoy the stunning scenery.
Probably the highlight of the Argentine side of Patagonia is the glaciers, a unique and special sight to see. Tours will often begin in El Calafate. This is the entry point for the Los Glaciares National Park which has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
While there are over 200 glaciers in the park, the key one is the Perito Moreno. It’s known for its blue tinted ice and the sounds it makes as it moves. If you’re lucky, you’ll witness and hear the crashes of pieces falling off into the underlying lake.
Another highlight in this country is the Península Valdés. This is a wildlife sanctuary that offers the chance to see a variety of birds and mammals such as sea elephants and lions, several species of whales, penguins, flamingos and egrets.
You might not have thought of Argentina for scuba diving but the nearby Puerto Madryn is the country’s diving capital as well as offering other sporting activities such as windsurfing, water and jet skiing, mountain biking, kayaking and more.
When it comes to Chile, it’s the Torres del Paine National Park that can’t be beat. This is an ideal place for hiking, with opportunities to see many different types of landscapes, flora and fauna.
It’s a definite paradise for people who relish multiple day hikes, either camping in tents or staying in lodges. For people who love to hike but are not quite so adventure minded, it’s also possible to stay in one spot and go on various day hikes.
Think fjords are something you can only see in Scandinavia? Think again. Travel down to Tierra del Fuego, another area spanning both Argentina and Chile, and you can sail the fjords and canals around Cape Horn. The region holds ample opportunities for hiking and fishing as well. For example, you can trek the Dientes de Navarino, the southernmost trail in the world.
Bear in mind that the seasons are reversed in South America as compared to the northern hemisphere. You’ll want to plan your trip to Patagonia around the summer months, that is, from December to February. As this is peak season, plan alternatively for just before or after summer when there will be less people and the weather will still be amenable. When it comes to actual winter, you may not even be able to reach the destinations on your list.