At the very end of South America awaits one of the most unique landscapes of the world: the Patagonia. Glaciers, deserts, grasslands, mountains, coast, forests, sun, snow, freezing temperatures, an endless range of wildlife… whatever! Once you set a foot on Chile or Argentina, you HAVE TO travel south, maybe even south enough that you get to visit Ushuaia, the so-called “end of the world”. It doesn’t matter which kind of a traveler you are, what you’re looking for or the amount of time that you have for your trip: write down this tips, let yourself go and adventure Patagonia.
If you’re an animal lover:
You get home and the first thing you do is look for your pet? You try to pet every single dog that goes by your side in the street? You can’t conceive a trip to a place that doesn’t have a great variety of new animal species to discover? Patagonia is for you. In 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. Although the perfect place to witness the routines of this breathtaking mammals and other marine animals like sea lions, seals, dolphins and Magellanic penguins is definitely Peninsula Valdes, which has been declared world heritage site by UNESCO.
If you’re athletic:
Those who can’t stay still for a long time and enjoy playing sports even during their vacations can find great opportunities to adventure Patagonia. Kayaking through the amazing fiords, 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.
Although perhaps, the most practiced exercise of the region is trekking. The problem is it’s difficult to choose where… all depending on whether you prefer the beauty of the vast Andes mountains or the thrill of the glaciers; a long journey or just a one-day-excursion. Torres del Paine is always a great halfway option, although the best views can be enjoyed after a 6-hour walk in the national park. For more the more adventurous, the best choice is El Chalten, where the best thing to do is to stay at least three days and discover natural beauties that look like works of art, such as the viewpoints of Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre.
If you’re not that sporty but enjoy beautiful sites:
You’re kind of a lazy traveler that gets easily exhausted? You just want to enjoy your trip in a more relaxed, cozy and introspective way? Don’t worry. 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 approachable by boat. Yes, I’m talking about Perito Moreno. Just watching the five kilometers of width and 60 meters over sea level that conform 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 fiords 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…
If you’re a cold-sensitive person:
For those who are really sensitive to cold — like myself — 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 a 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.
Written by Irene Valiente