ARGENTINA WELCOMES YOU AGAIN! BORDERS REOPENED
There are direct flights to Patagonia Argentina from Buenos Aires or to Chilean Patagonia from Santiago de Chile. There are also flights to interconnect within each country, or ground transportation to connect Argentinean and Chilean Patagonia.
The most important thing you need to consider before packing for Patagonia is the intense and constantly-changing weather. Regardless of when you travel, bring warm clothes! The Patagonian winds are infamous for being harsh and relentless. Even if you travel during the Argentine summer and are blessed with a beautiful, warm day of sunshine, the winds can come out of nowhere and virtually blow you away in no time. So make sure you wear windproof/north-facing jackets, a hat, gloves, long pants, and scarves. Basically, warm clothes.
The best time is from October to April (our summer). The climate is more pleasant for outdoor activities. However, Patagonia has a variety of activities available all year round!
Yes, it is important to have the right clothes to enjoy Patagonian nature. The weather can vary a lot on the same day and we can have the four seasons in 24 hours!
From north to south, the highlights are Bariloche, the capital of the Lake District, Península Valdés, the most important wildlife reserve of Argentine Patagonia where whales come every year to breed their calves, El Calafate, where people go to visit the famous Perito Moreno Glacier, El Chaltén, the Argentine capital of trekking and, finally, Ushuaia, best known as the city “at the end of the world”.
The best thing is to dress in layers, the weather changes a lot and it can be sunny and warm like a summer day, or it can rain, be windy, and even snow some day! Also, wear shoes suitable for trekking, waterproof shoes are better! Sunscreen, sunglasses, a small backpack and a water bottle that you can recharge. For more information your can read our blog: https://sayhueque.com/blog/article/packing-for-patagonia/
When you hear the word “Patagonia” you think of a vast, virgin and distant territory in the southern tip of South America. Shared by two countries: Chile and Argentina, Patagonia offers beautiful and spectacular landscapes, which will take your breath away. Although this region shares its name between these two countries, the landscapes in each of them are completely different from each other.
Patagonia hosts stunning glaciers, and incredibly diverse wildlife, especially in Península Valdés, the famous marine wildlife nature reserve. This is the home of the Perito Moreno Glacier, the penguins of Ushuaia and the most reputed hiking trails of El Chaltén.
Cruising the 800 miles of Chile’s inland waterways from Puerto Montt reveals the archipelagos of Chiloe, Chonos and Aysen, and the mythical city of Castro, before revealing the timeless and spellbinding San Rafael Glacier. Chile’s most famous national park, Torres del Paine, welcomes hikers every day with its three majestic pink and white granite towers guard. Weather permitting, Patagonia is an all-in-one destination that offers something for everyone! You can choose between active trips, hiking journeys, or even family vacations to discover the best of Patagonia.
Patagonia features different regions and natural attractions. It is divided into the lake district, the coastline of Península Valdés where most of the Patagonian wildlife can be found, and the southernmost Patagonia which comprises Ushuaia, El Calafate and different glaciers.
Known as “the capital of glaciers”, El Calafate, is one of the most popular destinations in Patagonia. It was named after a typical blueberry that grows in the area (whoever eats a Calafate blueberry will always return to the city, says the legend…). It features the best of Patagonia in Argentina, giant glaciers, icy lakes, remote estancias and no shortage of breathtaking views accompanying outdoor excursions such as trekking, kayaking and horse riding. This is a small city, really easy to get around on foot, and it has beautiful views of Argentino Lake. The nearest airport counts with a good flight frequency, this is the easiest way to reach El Calafate. The city and its glaciers (around 47 in the park) were discovered at the end of the XIX century. Today, El Calafate offers the famous Perito Moreno Glacier, boat trips in Argentino Lake, day tours to Patagonia ranches to learn about the rural culture, visits to El Chaltén and Mount Fitz Roy to enjoy amazing views and adventure hikes and other activities.
Founded in 1985, El Chaltén is a little mountaineering village located inside the Glaciers National Park (UNESCO World Heritage Site) in Argentine Patagonia. For many years this secluded place remains the unexplored spot for intrepid travelers whose main delight is to hike and explore nature. Today, though it manages to preserve its little-town ambiance, El Chaltén is visited by many people every year who enjoy hikes of different lengths and difficulty levels. Is in this isolated corner of Patagonia where the famous Mount Fitz Roy can be admired.
Mount Chaltén is another highlight near the village which was named after this colossal and sacred mountain for the Tehuelches, the natives of the region. Its summit, frequently covered by clouds, was called by the Tehuelches “Chaltén” which means “smoking mountain” in the Tehuelches’ language. In 2015, Chaltén was declared “National Capital of Trekking”, but, apart from the descent of hiking trails and climbing routes, travelers can also enjoy other adventure activities like kayaking, horseback riding and sailing.
Puerto Madryn was founded in 1865 by a 150 group of Welsh that started to populate the area in 1886. Welsh, Spanish and Italian immigrants worked together to build the railway that would connect Puerto Madryn to the city of Trelew, where today sits the nearest airport.
Nowadays, though the railway it’s no longer used, many travelers fly to Trelew and stay in Puerto Madryn to visit the incredible natural reserve of Península Valdés, the most important wildlife hub of Patagonia. The Southern Right Whale arrives at the coast of the Península (but can also be seen from the very coastline of Puerto Madryn!) once a year, between June and December. And, from October to April, large colonies of Magellan Penguins too, making this coastal region a favorite among both wildlife enthusiasts and those in search of a truly once-in-a-lifetime Argentine experience.
San Carlos de Bariloche arises at the shore of the Nahuel Huapi Lake in the Argentine province of Río Negro, neighboring the Andes Mountain Range. The city is entirely located inside Nahuel Huapi National Park, famous for its stunning lakes and mountains, like the Tronador, which is actually a non-active volcano. In 1903, Francisco Moreno, an intrepid explorer and scientist donated these lands in order to create the Nahuel Huapi National Park, the first in Argentina, and thus, Bariloche started to flourish.
Today, Bariloche is one of the most populated cities in Patagonia, the base for numerous hiking and skiing slopes, artisanal chocolate, and craft beer hub, and also one of the most essential scientific poles in America. Here sits the Balseiro Atomic Center and Institute where it’s possible to follow Physics and Nuclear Engineering studies.
Ushuaia is best known as the destination at the end of the world. It is the southernmost tip of land in Argentina and a favorite destination for adventure traveling. Ushuaia is the capital of Tierra del Fuego a province but also an island, separated from the continent by the Strait of Magellan. The Yamanas are the natives of the region, expert fishermen and sailors. From Ushuaia, the legendary Beagle Channel can be sailed, and Les Eclereurs lighthouse can be visited. On the way, islands covered by seal lions can be appreciated. Tierra del Fuego National Park is the best spot to go hiking in Ushuaia and enjoy a close encounter with the particular vegetation and wildlife of the region.
Torres del Paine National Park, created in 1959, is one of the most visited destinations in Chilean Patagonia. Its first inhabitants were the Tehuelches, a native community of skilled hunters, which only survives today in Argentina. With its 227,298 hectares, extended hiking trails, glaciers, lakes and stunning mountains, the park hosts thousands of travelers per year. In 1978, the park was declared as a biosphere reserve by UNESCO, and the 8th wonder of the world in 2013. The “Torres del Paine” name refers to the three distinctive granite peaks of the Paine Mountain Range that soar more than 6,500 feet (nearly 2,000 meters) into the sky. The park welcomes more than 250,000 visitors every year and the 5-day “W” trek is the most famous hiking circuit inside the reserve.
Known as the ‘City of the Roses’, Puerto Varas is a city in the Lake District in southern Chile. It is located on the southwestern shore of the extensive Lake Llanquihue, which offers breathtaking views of the snow-capped and still active Calbuco and Osorno volcanoes. Traditional German-style architecture characterizes the city. Puerto Varas is a great choice for open-air adventures, excellent kayaking and angling are among the many activities this city offers. Renting a bike in Puerto Varas and riding to the beautiful Petrohué waterfalls while enjoying the many lakeside beaches on the way is one of the unique experiences we recommend.
Puerto Natales is the nearest city to Torres del Paine National Park and features a nearby airport. Some of the highlights of Puerto Natales are the Milodón Cave, an archaeological visit that will make you travel 10,000 years into the past. The Southern Patagonian Ice Field and the Ultima Esperanza fjord. You can navigate to see the largest glaciers in Patagonia.
Besides the great landscapes, another best thing about Patagonia it’s the native wildlife. On the Chilean side, the national park Torres del Paine is home to deer, foxes, swans and solitary but still dangerous pumas that can be found chasing one of the funny-looking “cousins” of the llamas: the guanacos. Also, if you pay enough attention, you might see the Andean condor, known for being the largest bird of the continent.
Meanwhile, don’t think that the unstable weather and freezing temperatures of the end of the world have made it impossible for animals to survive: guanacos, rabbits and aggressive beavers are all over Tierra del Fuego. The province is also one of the many penguin colonies of the region and if you jump on a boat, you may also get to see some Humpback whales.
Those who can’t stay still for a long time and enjoy playing sports even during their vacations can find great opportunities for adventure tours in Patagonia. Kayaking through the amazing fjords, rivers and lagoons of the Lake District, skiing at the end of the world or the breathtaking Chilean volcanoes, horseback riding on the Patagonian steppe, climbing, mountain biking, rafting… the possibilities are endless.
The region is also perfect for calm visitors who enjoy watching and listening to nature for hours without having to undergo a great physical effort. Besides, one of the most amazing points of Patagonia is standing still, waiting for you and being approachable by boat. Yes, I’m talking about Perito Moreno. Just watching the five kilometers of width and 60 meters over sea level that features this breathtaking ice mass is a once-in-a-lifetime experience impossible to forget.
The region is also perfect to take cruises that cross the fjords and glaciers of both countries. Another interesting option is to grab a car in Chile and jump on the Austral road that ends in the idyllic Lake O’Higgins after getting the most out of the beautiful region of Aysen. Meanwhile, on the Argentine side, one of the best drives is through the Lake District, where the stunning setting will make it impossible to resist not jumping out of the car a thousand times…
For those who are really sensitive to cold, looking at the weather forecast can make them want to draw back from their adventure in Patagonia. It’s a huge mistake. It’s true that even if you arrive during the summer months (December-March), the temperatures will still be low and you’ll have to face fierce winds, but it’s definitely worth it because it’s thanks to this unstable and harsh weather that this corner of the world has breathtaking scenery to offer. Besides, there are plenty of places to take shelter and interesting indoor activities, like the Paleontology museum in the city of Trelew, where the dinosaurs will help you warm up. Still, you MUST stay outside as long as you can. Put on your best winter clothes, and don’t forget to cover your feet, hands and head. I guarantee you: it’ll be worth it.
In these hand-picked articles from our blog, you will find useful information for your next trip to Patagonia.
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