The nearly end of the world is one of the the most breathtaking landscapes in the world with snow-capped peaks, ancient forests, massive glaciers and never-ending landscapes. We have prepared a small guide to help you enjoy and explore like a local,the wilderness and raw nature during Patagonia travel.
Expect the Argentinian side of Patagonia to encompass more sprawling land and ranching country. Meanwhile, the Chilean side has more islands and inlets.
- Bariloche is a good starting point – to cover must-see landmarks, and be laden with the many activity-options.
- Río Negro and Neuquén are the most populated and developed provinces in Andean-Argentinian Patagonia. They are glacial lake districts with forest plateaus, whose well-known towns are suitable for lakeside recreational activities: Junín de los Andes, San Martín de los Andes (Lake Lácar) and Villa La Angostura (Nahuel Huapi lake).
- The 110km-long Seven Lakes route opens up a breathtakingly scenic drive.
Perito Moreno Glacier
- Bordering Chilean/Argentinian Patagonia, in the Austral Andes region, is Los Glaciares National Park. This is an absolute must-stop; as it remains incredibly pristine, best to trek responsibly. Perito Moreno Glacier is a highlight – not only from the park, but also of all glaciers worldwide.
- Near the town of Perito Moreno, you can visit the Unesco-listed Cueva de las Manos (Cave of Hands). Prepared to be awestruck by remnants of our ancestors from over 10,000 years ago.
- Egidio Feruglio Museum of Paleontology displays the many fossils found in the region (Trelew, Argentina).
- The South Atlantic is the best for observing marine life. The Valdés peninsula (Puerto Pirámides) is especially renown for Southern right whales from July to Sept., and orcas, elephant seals and sea lions year round. The largest colony of Magellanic penguins can also be sighted between September and March at Punta Tombo.
Chilean Patagonia Travel
- Puerto Natales: A port city with boats to tour the fjords.
- Torres del Paine National Park: Here’s how to hike and navigate through the wondrous, massive landscape.
- Cape Horn: the southern tip of the continent, where the Atlantic meets the Pacific Ocean. Frequented before the Panama Canal’s construction, with legendary infamy for its grueling route.
- Beef or tripe stew, trout and grilled lamb are the traditional mains. Those who know Argentinian cuisine wouldn’t be surprised by the prevalence of grilled meat (parrilla).
- Calafate sour (a type of berry) and fresh King Crab are classics in the Chilean Patagonia.
This can all feel like too much guesswork. Rather, ask a local or expert directly to save yourself the time and effort. Using Talk Travel App may be the most efficient shortcut for that (here’s the link to download the Android version).
- Naturally, vast amounts of untouched nature entails exotic creatures – especially birds in this case. Patagonia is awesome for bird watching; condors, American Kestrels, Buzzard Eagles, and Silver Grebes are among some that can be spotted.
- Horse-riding and correspondingly, the gaucho culture is fairly strong. (Long explanation short, think of it as an Argentinian version of the cowboy. Here’s an additional historical outlook.) There’s more than horsemen involved, as the culture revolves around camping out, and such recreational activities to be enjoyed in the Patagonia.
Horse-riding through the fields
Expectations vs. Realities
While tours are widely available, due to Patagonia’s recent set of developments, it’s also easy to explore independently. Excellent campsites, hostels and frequent buses, mini-buses, or other modes of transport are at your service – as well as widely spoken English. In fact, the surge of visitors/tourists has brought on many major revamping of roads, airports and etc.
Want to truly immerse yourself in the locals’ lifestyle? Why not let a local guide open your eyes up to some exclusive info? Download Talk Travel App to talk to an avid trekker, South American expert or resident.
Transportation during Patagonia Travel
Hiring a car allows greater freedom, though may require lots of planning to line up the major destinations (see Patagonia road trips). The most well-known routes are Carretera Austral in Chilean Patagonia, and Ruta Nacional 40 in the Argentinian.
To list off some main attractions offering ferry rides:
- Across the Strait of Magellan (rough, dangerous route) to Tierra del Fuego
- Andes ferry-and-bus ride to Puerto Varas is one you might not want to miss out – as it opens up Chilean lake sceneries that typically aren’t accessible via other means.
- From Puerto Montt to Chaitén; a long but cheap service.
- Becker Buses operates on the northern section of the Southern Highway.
- Andesmar, Condor, Don Otto and El Pinguino run comfortable, economical long-distance rides to the main towns.
- Minibuses are also frequented in the southern Andean region.
- Bike rentals or guided ride tours are available in major towns in the Argentinian Andean region. Serious mountain bikers mustn’t miss out on Apurabici near Bariloche, or Rio Puelo Valley.
Or to simplify the preliminary research…
- Some firms that cover longer route(s) include Chaltén Travel, TAQSA, or a smaller operator, Cal Tur (i.e. one-way Bariloche to El Calafate).
As for an experience-worthy transportation mode, a steam-powered La Trochita train – aka the Old Patagonian Express – has weekly departures to take you through the most of the Andean Argentinian foothills.
Traveling as a woman, or with a child
- If physically and physiologically well-equipped for the hikes and rough weather, there’s no reason women need to take extra caution. That’s how safe Patagonia is: nill crimes, nor any dangerous animals.
- To all solo travelling ladies: she did it on her own, too. Use such tales to empower yourself!
- For children – assuming you have one somehow able-bodied and tough-skinned enough – , the notoriously windy and unpredictable weather can be a downer. Just be prepared by for instance, not letting your guard down when the sun’s out – because two hours later, a storm could be brewing!
Are you ready to get set, and go?
If you’re thinking of multiple additional steps you “must” take before partaking in actionable plans, just remember: starting is half the game. In regards to travelling, you’re often more ready than you think you are. Patagonia is the perfect naturesque escape to either challenge your own resilience, or take yourself to that bliss of utmost tranquility.
Planning to travel to Patagonia? You can use the Talk Travel App and directly talk to a local to help you with your travel planning and have a much more enjoyable experience during your Patagonia travel.
Let us know if you have any other suggestions to be added to this guide.