Situated in Argentina’s geographic south, Patagonia is one of the most unique places in South America. From the snow capped Andes Mountains to the numerous glaciers and lakes found within, the Patagonia region is a traveler’s paradise. Each year tourists from all over the world flock to Patagonia to see for themselves what makes this place so special.
If you are planning to visit the Patagonia region of Argentina, you are in for a truly remarkable experience.Say Hueque wants to assist you in making your trip as perfect as possible. For this reason, we have compiled a list of 6 of the Best of Patagonia, which you can find below. Hopefully you will have enough time to visit all of them!
1.Top Destination in Patagonia: El Calafate and Perito Moreno Glacier
Although there is not a single route that is better than others when traveling through Patagonia, many visitors begin their Patagonian expedition in El Calafate, which is located in the northern part of Patagonia. For this reason, El Calafate has earned itself the title of ‘Gateway to Patagonia.’ Though don’t let this moniker fool you; Calafate is much more than just a gateway. Rather, the village of Calafate is surrounded by picturesque mountainous landscapes and offers numerous opportunities for exploration before you depart for the rest of Patagonia. Additionally, Calafate allows travelers the opportunity to see many nearby sites, the most famous of which is the Perito Moreno Glacier.
The Perito Moreno Glacier is one of the largest in the world and is often recognized as one of the few in the world to be growing, rather than shrinking. Beyond its statistical fame, Perito Moreno offers its visitors gorgeous sights and unique opportunities for adventure. While the vast majority of visitors choose to take a cruise across Lake Argentino to see the glacier up close, many opt for an even closer look and take part in a glacier walk. No matter your preference for exploring the glacier, your time at the Perito Moreno Glacier will be an experience of a lifetime.
Beyond Perito Moreno, Calafate is home to a number of other attractions. If you’re looking for things to do in Calafate, you should consider visiting the following places while you’re there.
Glaciarium: An impressive museum offering information about ice, glaciers and the Patagonian Ice Fields. Both entertaining and educational, this 2500 square meter museum is ideal for the whole family.
La Leona Petrified Forest (Bosque Petrificado La Leona): Paleontological site full of petrified tree trunks and numerous fragments of dinosaur bones. Visitors can take a tour of the forest and explore the endless system of gorges and ravines within.
Estancia Cristina: Lodge, founded in 1914, located inside Los Glaciares National Park on the coast of the Argentino Lake. Guests can choose between a variety of activities offered, including glacier tours, horseback riding, hiking and fishing.
2. Top Destination in Patagonia: El Chalten
For visitors interested in hiking while in Patagonia, the premiere destination for doing so is El Chalten. Located within the Los Glaciares National Park at the base of some of the area’s tallest mountains, Chalten is rightfully referred to as the hiking capital of Argentina. Largely isolated from the rest of the country, visitors who wish to make a stop in Chalten must travel through Calafate. Many visitors travel to Chalten, which is located just 3-4 hours north of Calafate, by bus in order to enjoy the scenic views along the way.
Upon arriving in Chalten, you will have a large selection of activities to choose from, each of which will allow you to explore the beautiful landscapes of the popular Patagonian destination. Whether you are interested in a high endurance, multiple day hike, or a low difficulty, leisurely day hike, your preferences will be accommodated by Chalten’s endless hiking trails and other outdoor adventures. Below are just a few examples of things to do while you are in Chalten.
Torre Lake (Laguna Torre): Popular for its secluded location, Torre Lake is hidden within the mountains of Chalten. Accessible only by foot, visitors can journey along trails for 3 hours to reach the lake, where incredible views of the surrounding mountains and nearby Glaciar del Torre await them. As one of the most popular hikes in Chalten, this attraction promises to be a great experience.
Glaciar Huemul: While there are many beautiful sights in Chalten, Huemul Glacier is guaranteed to be one of the best in the area. Located on Huemul Lake, which is famous for its stunning turquoise tint, the Huemul Glacier can be reached by way of a leisurely hike around the lake. Recommended for a unique experience in Chalten, a hike to Huemul Glacier is a great idea for a day trip while in Chalten.
3. Top Destination in Patagonia: Torres del Paine National Park
Named the 5th most beautiful place in the world by the National Geographic Magazine, the Torres del Paine National Park is another phenomenal destination in Patagonia, which couldn’t be missed on our best of Patagonia list. Unlike the rest of the destinations on this list, however, Torres del Paine is not located in Argentina, but instead in Chile. Bordering Argentina’s Los Glaciares National Park to the north, this immense national park is just a few hours from Calafate, offering visitors traveling in Argentina another prime attraction in the Patagonia region. Meaning ´Towers of the Paine’ (Paine is the name of the mountain range), the Torres del Paine are the peaks of the mountain range and stand above the surrounding mountains to form an incredible sight.
Along with this spectacle, the Park is home to large glaciers, a number of lakes and various rivers and lagoons, which collectively make the park an extremely popular tourist destination, receiving an average of 150,000 visitors a year. With a large amount of hiking trails as well as refugios (places that offer overnight shelter to hikers), the park is an ideal destination for nature lovers and outdoor explorers.
If you are interested in making a stop at Torres del Paine, the best time of the year to do so is from late December to late February, as the southern summer months are usually accompanied by comfortable temperatures and increased hours of daylight. However, no matter what time of the year you will be visiting, a trip to Torres del Paine is guaranteed to be a great experience. Below are a few suggestions of specific attractions in Torres del Paine National Park to check out while you are there.
Salto Grande: Within Torres del Paine National Park, along the Paine River, is the waterfall of Salto Grande. One of the most popular attractions within the park, this waterfall offers gorgeous views and its vicinity is home to unique vegetation and wildlife species. Visitors can hike to Salto Grande and from there continue on hiking until reaching the Cuernos de Paine (Horns of Paine) point, which offers an incredible panoramic viewpoint of the falls.
Puerto Natales/Punta Arenas: A few hours south of Torres del Paine National Park are the Chilean cities of Puerto Natales and Punta Arenas. Once populated by European colonists, these coastal towns are on the banks of the Magellan Strait and are popular destinations for day trips among travelers visiting Torres del Paine. With a number of local bus companies offering daily routes from Torres del Paine, visitors should consider making a stop at these quaint settlements for a look into the culture of southern Patagonia.
4. Top Destination in Patagonia: Puerto Madryn
Famous for its arctic wildlife, Puerto Madryn is Argentina’s prime location for whale watching. Located on the Golfo Nuevo, which is formed by the Valdes Peninsula and Punta Ninfas, Puerto Madryn offers numerous excursions for tourists looking to explore the natural wonders of the region and the creatures that inhabit it. The Valdes Peninsula, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is home to sea elephants, orcas and southern right whales. Depending on the time of the year, visitors can get a glimpse of these whales, or can venture a short distance south to find South America’s largest Magellan penguin colony in Punta Tombo.
Penguin season is from October to April, while the whales migrate to the area to mate and give birth between May and December. Visitors will enjoy the experience of seeing these animals up close, as a day tour offers the chance to view them in their natural habitat and even interact with them. Apart from day trips to the Valdes Peninsula and Punta Tombo to see whales and penguins, Puerto Madryn offers many other exciting attractions. Below are a few suggestions for things to do in Puerto Madryn.
Lobo Larsen: For an even closer look at Puerto Madryn’s wildlife than that offered on a boat tour consider diving in and joining them under water! Lobo Larsen is an established diving company that guarantees a safe and memorable experience for its guests. If you’re looking for something completely unique to do while in Puerto Madryn, snorkeling or diving with sea lions is a great idea and is something the whole family will enjoy.
Natural Science & Oceanographic Museum: Take a break from whale watching and visit Puerto Madryn’s Natural Science and Oceanographic Museum. Here you will learn about the whales of Puerto Madryn through numerous educational exhibits. Housed in a century-old, ocean-side palace, this museum offers incredible views of the ocean while you learn about the creatures that inhabit it.
5. Top Destination in Patagonia: Ushuaia and Tierra del Fuego National Park
Holding the title of the world’s southernmost city, Ushuaia is another completely unique part of Argentina and one of its most popular tourist destinations. Once an important hub for European commerce, today Ushuaia is largely uninhabited, making it an ideal tourist haven for travelers looking to explore its unique location and scenic views. Visitors can jump aboard a boat to take a cruise around the southern tip of the continent, where they will enjoy beautiful views of the landscape as well as the wildlife that calls it home. Ushuaia also offers great opportunities for kayaking, hiking, and skiing, ensuring that visitors will always have something to do.
Complete with waterfalls, forests, mountains and glaciers, the Tierra del Fuego National Park is an embodiment of Ushuaia’s beautiful scenery. Accessible by car or train, you will definitely want to allow a day or two to explore the wonders of the world’s southernmost national park. Arguably the top attraction of the Ushuaia region, visitors can hike the park’s various trails, take a boat ride on the Beagle Channel or spend the day exploring the park’s unique wildlife.
In addition to Tierra del Fuego National Park, there are many other attractions in Ushuaia that are worth a visit while you are there. If you’re looking for things to do in Ushuaia, consider checking out the following recommended attractions on your trip.
Beagle Channel: As one of three navigable passages between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, the Beagle Channel is without a doubt one of Ushuaia’s most famous attractions. A fairly narrow passage, which renders it inaccessible for large commercial shipping vessels, the Beagle Channel is ideal for smaller boats providing tours of the area. A cruise along the channel is highly recommended and will offer you the chance to see Ushuaia, and the arctic wildlife inhabiting the surrounding waters, like never before.
Tierra del Fuego History Museum: The premier attraction for museum enthusiasts, the Galeria Tematica “Pequeña Historia Fueguina” is one of the most interesting attractions in Ushuaia. With three floors full of anecdotal information and ancient artifacts, a visit to this museum will educate you on the intricate history of the region. Consistently receiving high reviews from guests, the museum’s reasonable entrance fee is well-worth the experience. You definitely don’t want to leave Ushuaia without making a stop at this museum.
6. Top Destination in Patagonia: Bariloche
Last but not least; San Carlos de Bariloche is among the most popular destinations in Argentina. Bariloche is located in the northern part of Patagonia and earns it spot on the best of Patagonia list. Found within the lake district of Argentina, Bariloche is home to a number of beautiful lakes, each providing ample opportunity for adventure, as well as a mountainous landscape, which contributes a great deal to the overall beauty of Bariloche.
Gutiérrez Lake: A short distance from Bariloche you will find Lago Gutiérrez, one of the most popular attractions in the area. Formed by glacial runoff water dammed in the valley, Lago Gutiérrez is known for its extremely cold temperatures. However, this does not hinder its reputation as a premiere spot for kayaking and fishing. With gorgeous views and a serene setting, this lake is a perfect attraction for an enjoyable and relaxing day in Bariloche.
Victoria Island: Once inhabited by pre-colonial indigenous peoples, today Isla Victoria is one of Bariloche’s top attractions. Located within the Nahuel Huapi Lake, tourists can take an inexpensive ferry ride from the main land to reach Isla Victoria. Upon arriving, you will visit the island’s natural park, which is home to a number of massive tree species, and will be free to explore the accessible portions of the island on your own. A visit to Isla Victoria provides an exciting day full of nature, history and sightseeing and will not leave you disappointed.
Helpful Tip for Visiting Patagonia:
Keep in Mind the Climate When Planning Your Trip
Given its geographic location, Patagonia has a different climate than the rest of the continent and for this reason it’s important that travelers are mindful of the local climate in order to plan accordingly for their visit to Patagonia. While visitors interested in activities such as hiking, horseback riding and kayaking will find the summer months of October-April to be the most opportune for their visit, those interested in participating in activities like skiing and snowboarding will be better suited for a visit during the colder, winter months of May- August.
In addition, visitors should also be aware of the circumstances surrounding Patagonia’s climate. Known for its mountain weather, Patagonia exhibits normal patterns of changing weather, regardless of the particular season, often within the course of even one day. For instance, it is not unusual for it to be warm and sunny in the morning and windy and chilly in the afternoon. For travelers, this means it is important to come equipped with appropriate apparel for the always changing weather.
A visit to Argentina’s Patagonia region will be an exciting adventure for every kind of traveler. Whether you are looking to hike, camp, whale watch or ski, Patagonia is a place where you can do it all. The destinations on this list are some of the most popular in the region and hopefully, after reading about them, you can tell why. Spread throughout Patagonia’s vast territory, these destinations encompass all the great aspects of the region and offer visitors endless opportunities to explore its breath-taking natural wonders. We hope our suggestions on this list have helped you and wish you the very best experience traveling through the gorgeous region of Patagonia.
For more information on these top destinations in Patagonia or trips in Argentina, visit www.sayhueque.com
Written by Will Collier