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Patagonia is a region located in southern Argentina and Chile known for its stunning natural beauty including glaciers, breathtaking mountains, and expansive grasslands. Some popular activities for travelers in Patagonia include hiking, camping, wildlife viewing, cruises, and adventure sports like rock climbing, kayaking, and rafting. The region is also home to many national parks, such as Torres del Paine and Los Glaciares National Park, which offer opportunities to explore the expansive natural landscape. Patagonia is generally considered to start in the Lake District in the north and extends to Tierra del Fuego, or “The End of the World” in the south.
Getting to Patagonia
To get to Patagonia, many people fly into the city of Punta Arenas in Chile from Santiago or El Calafate in Argentina from Buenos Aires, both of which are gateways to the region’s national parks and other attractions. Ushuaia is also an option and is the choice for most who venture to Antarctica on a cruise. From Punta Arenas or El Calafate, visitors explore the area by car or bus. Believe it or not, there are no flights between Argentine and Chilean Patagonia, so visiting both involves some serious driving or bus time.
Torres del Paine, Chile
Torres del Paine National Park is located in the Chilean Patagonia and is known for its spectacular granite peaks and glaciers. The park offers a variety of trekking and hiking opportunities, including the famous “W” circuit, which is considered one of the world’s top treks. Visitors can also take boat trips on Grey Lake to see a calving glacier up close. The park is home to a variety of wildlife, including guanacos, Andean condors, pumas, foxes, and several species of birds. It is also home to a large population of South American gray foxes, also known as the Patagonian fox, they are known to be very curious, and they can often be seen around the park’s trails, parking lots, and campsites. Visitors may also be lucky enough to spot Andean condors, one of the largest birds in the world, with wing spans of up to 3.2 meters. Other animals such as the guanaco, a South American camelid, can be seen in large herds grazing in the grasslands of the park alongside large flightless Emus, an ostrich-like Rhea.
Punta Arenas, Chile
Punta Arenas is a city located in the southernmost region of Chile along the Strait of Magellan and known as the Gateway to the Patagonian wilderness. Punta Arenas is a good base for exploring the surrounding area including Torres del Paine National Park, which is a popular destination for trekking and hiking. Visitors can also take a boat trip to see the local sea lions and penguins. The city itself has a variety of museums and historic sites, including the Salesian Mission Museum and the Regional Museum.
Puerto Natales, Chile
Puerto Natales is a small town located in the Chilean Patagonia, known as the gateway to Torres del Paine National Park. The town of Puerto Natales itself is small and charming, with a variety of restaurants and outdoor gear shops. It is also a good base for exploring the surrounding area, including the Milodon Cave and the Serrano Glacier.
El Calafate, Argentina
El Calafate is a town located in Argentine Patagonia, known for its proximity to the spectacular Perito Moreno Glacier. The glacier is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Argentina, and a short hike gets you to a viewpoint of a massive calving glacier that sends ice plunging into the lake below. Visitors can take boat trips to get up close to the glacier, or even hike on top of it. The town of El Calafate itself has a variety of restaurants and shops and offers a good base for exploring the surrounding area, including the Los Glaciares National Park.
Los Glaciares National Park
Los Glaciares National Park is located in Argentine Patagonia and is home to some of the most spectacular glaciers in the world, including the Perito Moreno Glacier. The park is also home to a variety of other glaciers, such as the Upsala and Spegazzini, which can be visited with guided tours.
El Chaltén is a small mountain village located in Argentine Patagonia, known as the “hiking capital of Argentina”. It is situated at the base of the Fitz Roy mountain range, which offers some of the most spectacular trekking on the planet. Visitors can take multi-day hikes to the base of Fitz Roy mountain, or shorter day hikes to the Mirador de los Condores or Laguna de los Tres. The village of El Chaltén itself is small and charming, with various restaurants and outdoor gear shops.
Ushuaia is a city located in Argentine Patagonia, known as “the southernmost city in the world”. It is a popular destination for adventure sports such as hiking, skiing, and fishing. Visitors can take a boat trip to see the local sea lions and penguins, or take a trip to the Tierra del Fuego National Park, which offers great hiking and scenic views. Ushuaia is also the primary embarkation point for cruises to Antarctica.
Puerto Williams, Chile
Puerto Williams is a small town located on the southernmost tip of Chile, known as “the world’s most southernmost town” and is frequently visited due to its proximity to the Dientes de Navarino mountain range, which offers some of the most spectacular trekking in Patagonia. Visitors can take multi-day hikes to the base of the mountain range, or shorter day hikes to the Mirador de los Dientes. The town of Puerto Williams itself is small and charming, with a variety of restaurants and outdoor gear shops. It also serves as a starting point for boat trips to Cape Horn and the surrounding islands, including Isla Navarino and Isla Hoste, where visitors can see a variety of wildlife, including penguins and sea lions. Additionally, Puerto Williams is a popular destination for fishing and sailing, as it is located on the Beagle Channel, known for its rich marine life.
Bariloche is a city located in Argentine Patagonia, known for its stunning natural beauty and outdoor activities. Visitors can explore the Nahuel Huapi National Park, which offers hiking and trekking opportunities, as well as scenic drives. Bariloche is also known for its skiing and snowboarding, with several ski resorts in the area. Visitors can also take a boat trip on Lake Nahuel Huapi to see the stunning Andean landscapes. The city is also known for its chocolate shops, traditional patisseries and microbreweries, it’s a great place to indulge in some delicious local specialties.