There are few views that rival the glistening glaciers and sparkling ice fields of Patagonia. With over 400,000 square miles of vast landscape to explore, Patagonia is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream. With all of this epic scenery it can be intimidating to plan a trip, so check out the best places to visit on our […]
There are few views that rival the glistening glaciers and sparkling ice fields of Patagonia. With over 400,000 square miles of vast landscape to explore, Patagonia is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream. With all of this epic scenery it can be intimidating to plan a trip, so check out the best places to visit on our Patagonia itinerary to get a sense of what this idyllic place has to offer.
The best times to visit Patagonia are spring and summer (October through February) when temperatures are milder. You’ll still need many layers to combat the heavy winds, but temperatures are usually in the high 60’s (20 C) during this time. In the summer months, the sun rises at 5:00 in the morning and doesn’t set until 10:00 pm, providing some of the longest days around the world.
If you’re traveling to Patagonia in the winter months of May through August, expect very short days and temperatures dropping below 20 F (-6 C). With that said, the chilling temperatures freeze the picturesque scenery and keep tourism booming at all times of the year.
Layering is key when traveling to Patagonia. Thin long sleeve shirts with thicker layers on top are ideal. Consider bringing a down jacket since it will keep you warm during the cold nights yet can easily be packed when the sun comes out during the day.
Even when temperatures are low, the sun can be deceiving. There’s a hole in the ozone in the southern hemisphere, meaning UV rays are especially strong. With sparkling snow caps and glaciers reflecting the sun, make sure to pack plenty of sunscreen and wide-brimmed hats to protect yourself from harmful rays.
Since Patagonia is full of natural sites, you will probably be doing a lot of hiking in order to fully soak in the views. Bring a sturdy pair of hiking boots, preferably waterproof, so you can comfortably explore everything that this epic landscape has to offer.
*Useful Tip- Bring extra socks in your day pack when going on excursions. You never know if your feet are going to be cold or if your socks will get wet, and nothing ruins a hike faster than damp, cold feet.
You could spend months exploring the vast landscape that encompasses southern Chile and Argentina. To help you narrow down the acres, we came up with five must-see sites to add to your Patagonia itinerary. However, one week is the minimum amount of time we recommend in order to be able to fully appreciate all of Patagonia’s natural highlights.
Located in the province of Tierra del Fuego and nicknamed the “End of the World”, Argentina’s southernmost city is the gateway to Antarctica. During the summer months, you’ll have plenty of time to explore this city, considering you’ll get 16-18 hours of sunlight. If you’re not one of the lucky few who are going on an expedition to Antarctica, we recommend a boat tour of the Beagle Channel where you’ll get to experience the same chilly waters that Charles Darwin sailed on his ship, “HMS Beagle”, subsequently giving the channel its name.
Near the Valdes Peninsula, wildlife comes to mate, nest, and hunt. What draws crowds to Puerto Madryn from June to December is the Southern Right Whale. Just stroll the pebble beaches during these months and you’re sure to catch a glimpse of these majestic creatures frolicking in the sea. If you want to get up close and personal with the sea creatures, you’ll find a variety of boats offering sightseeing tours of the Southern Right Whale. Botazzi Whale Watch is a reputable company offering tours from a range of prices. They even have a more personalized sunset tour where you can venture into the ocean and catch a glimpse of the whales as the sun sets over the waves.
Punta Tombo is just a short trip from Puerto Madryn and a must-see if you’re in the area. Although many regions in Patagonia are rich with wildlife, Punta Tombo is the place to see penguins. This narrow national reserve on Argentina’s coast is known for its massive colony of Magellanic penguins. Walk with penguins over wooden bridges and gravely paths as you experience the Magellanic penguins in their natural habitat. To combine the penguins of Punta Tombo with the sites of Puerto Madryn, we recommend this 4-day tour.
Torres del Paine
Located in Southern Chile, this national park is full of huge granite mountains and crystal clear lakes. In order to fully explore the park, rent a car so you can venture around at your own pace. After taking in the views, stop for any of the hikes ranging from beginner to advanced terrain.
Easy – The Fauna Trail
This lesser-known trail is perfect for beginners or travelers looking for a quick day hike of about 3 hours. With stunning views of Paine Massif and herds of guanacos, this trail will captivate hikers of all abilities.
Advanced – Mirador las Torres
Probably the most iconic hike in all of Torres del Paine, hikers looking for advanced terrain should check out Mirador las Torres. Although this landmark is often the climax of multi-day treks, it can also be accessed on a day hike.
Perito Moreno Glacier
Located in Los Glaciares National Park, if you are going to see one thing in Patagonia it might need to be the Perito Moreno Glacier. What makes this massive glacier so remarkable is it continues to advance up to 2 meters a day, causing building-sized icebergs to crash below. Tourists flock to not only watch the glacier break off, but hear the crackling crashes as well.
Below, you’ll find a sample itinerary for a 2-week trip to Patagonia.
Day 1: Puerto Madryn
Your first day in Patagonia should be spent in Puerto Madryn. Since it’s one of the more northern cities in Patagonia, the weather will be a little milder and temperate. Spend the day whale watching off the coast and sailing the chilling waters of the Valdes Peninsula.
Day 2: Day trip to Punta Tombo
From Puerto Madryn, it’s a quick day trip to Punta Tombo nature reserve. You’ll spend the day sightseeing and waddling alongside the largest colony of Magellanic penguins in South America.
Day 3: San Carlos de Bariloche & Parque Municipal Llao Llao
After walking with penguins in Punta Tombo, head West towards the Andes and the quaint town of Bariloche. During the day, explore Parque Municipal Llao Llao. There are multiple easy day hikes to choose from where you can explore the lush vegetation, providing a stark contrast to the icier regions of Patagonia. The parks highest point, Cerro Llao Llao, offers a panoramic view of surrounding lakes and mountains. After exploring the park, go back to the main street of Bariloche where you can browse the shops and make sure to try their local chocolate!
Day 4: El Calafate
Spend the day traveling from Bariloche to El Calafate, the town closest to Los Glaciares National Park. The 3 ½ hour flight will take you to the southern region of Argentina where you can enjoy delicious meals before venturing into Los Glaciares National Park. For traditional Argentine cuisine, check out Pura Vida for huge servings of home-cooked meals.
Day 5: Los Glaciares National Park
After spending the night feasting in El Calafate, it’s time to head into the park. If you only have one day, spend it driving the Going-to-the-Sun Road. You can rent a car and drive the road at your own pace, or opt for a guided tour. A Red Bus Tour will provide history behind some of the parks greatest attractions, allowing you to just sit back and enjoy the ride.
Day 6: Perito Moreno Glacier
What makes the Perito Moreno Glacier so enthralling is the fact that while most glaciers are retreating, Perito Moreno continues to advance up to 2 meters a day. Located inside Los Glaciares National Park, spend the day walking around the bridges that provide magnificent views as giant icebergs calf off and crumble to the icy depths below.
Days 7-11: Torres del Paine
Torres del Paine is full of an abundance of sparkling lakes and glistening glaciers. If you want to fully experience Torres del Paine, the multi-day W trek will take you along most of the park’s highlights. This trek can take anywhere from 3-5 nights depending on your pace. Also, the trek is not a circuit, so you will have to arrange transportation from different start and endpoints. Throughout the course of your trek, you’ll hike past Glacier Grey, Nordenskjold lake, and Las Torres to name a few highlights.
Day 12-13: Punta Arenas- Fjords
There are multiple cruises and ships that can take you into the breathtaking Fjords near Punta Arenas. However, if you really want to be up close and personal with the icy fjords, there are kayaking tours from Punta Arenas. This 2-day kayaking tour will take you exploring the Magallanes region where you’ll be paddling next to humpback whales as you’re surrounded by stunning fjords and massive glaciers.
Day 14: Ushuaia
Now that you’ve explored some of Patagonia’s highlights, end your journey in Argentina’s southernmost city. Experience what it’s like to stay at the “End of the World” as you wander the streets of this quaint town. Take in the views of the surrounding Martial Mountains and Beagle Channel as you reflect on all of the other stunning views you experienced on your Patagonia trip.