In Patagonia, visit icebergs, glaciers, penguins, whales and some truly stunning scenery. Patagonia, the magical land at the far south of the Americas covers Chile and Argentina and makes for some really spectacular vacations.
Did You Know?
Patagonia describes the 625, 000 square miles (one million kilometers) that make up southern Chile and Argentina; an area three times the size of Texas.
Dominated by the southern Andes mountain range, the Patagonian landscape embraces the pretty Alpine – like Lakes region, Chilean fjords, homes of whales and penguins and the end-of-the-earth remoteness of Tierra del Fuego. 6, 500 miles of Patagonia are covered by the largest expanse of ice on earth outside Antarctica and Greenland; commonly known as the Southern Patagonian Ice Field. In places, the ice field spills out into lakes and fjords. It is where ice meets mountains and water that we can go and visit some of these stunning glaciers.
Heading south from Santiago, Chilean Patagonia in an area known as the Lake District. From Pucon and Temuco to Puerto Montt and Osorno Volcano, this is a verdant area with snow capped volcanoes and numerous outdoor activities.
Pucon is known as the adventure capital of Chile. It is deservedly popular with many outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, rafting, fishing, lazing in the many hot springs, or just leisurely drives through gorgeous countryside. Towns in this area still retain many characteristics of the original German settlers, with wood framed houses and traditional cooking styles.
Lakeside Puerto Varas is another good base for outdoor activities and trips to the snow capped Osorno Volcano. Puerto Varas is the start of the Lake Crossing to Bariloche, Argentina. From Puerto Varaas, there are easy trips to Futalefu – the white water rafting capital of Chile, as well as the mysterious and other-worldly scenery of the island of Chiloe.
Beyond the Lake District is the area known as Northen Patagonia. More than 1, 000 miles from Santiago, this is remote Patagonia at its best. Road access via the Careterra Austral only arrived here in the last few decades and the area is best explored on a self-drive tour. Remote and rugged, the Careterra Austral road covers, the 1200Km from Puerto Montt to Villa O´Higgins- the last connected road in Chile. This is wilderness at its most pristine.
The far south of Chile´s Patagonia is a beautiful land of fjords and glaciers. A great way to explore this part of Patagonia is on a 4-5 Day Patagonia Cruise. Torres del Paine is a stunning National Park populated by condors and huemul deer. Torres del Paine is Chile´s most popular park with a staggering range of jagged mountains, forest and lakes. Access Torres del Paine from the port towns of Punta Arenas and Puerto Natales, or from El Calafate in Argentina.
Argentine Patagonia is larger than Chile although most of the area is flat steppes, the home of the gaucho.
Argentina´s Lake District begins in Neuquen, the transport hub for the region. Follow the roads south past the Seven Lakes – an incredibly scenic cycle route, to Bariloche – Argentina´s favorite outdoor playground. Despite its popularity, Bariloche and around offers plenty of opportunities to get away from the crowds and discover hiking, biking, rafting, fishing and climbing. The Lakes Crossing goes from Bariloche into Chilean Patagonia past snow capped Tronador and Osorno Volcanoes.
The area is often likened to the Alps, with rugged mountains, peaceful blue lakes and lush forests. As in Chile, the Argetine Lake District attracts visitors in July and August for the ample skiingopportunities.
Over on the coast of Argentinan Patagonia, is a knobble of land sticking out into the Atlantic. This is Peninsula Valdes, the best place to see Patagonian wildlife. June to December is whale watching season with southern right whales making an appearance. Then the estimated one million Magellan Penguins arrive to nearby Punto Tombo for breeding, as well as killer whales. All year though Peninsula Valdes is a great place to spot seals, sea lions, and a large variety of sea birds. Southern
Patagonia is dominated by the Southern Ice Field, a huge expanse of inaccessible ice covering 5, 400 square miles of Patagonia. In places, the ice spills out between dramatic mountains and into lakes and glaciers. Los Glaciares National Park in Southern Patagonia is a showcase of the magic and drama of Patagonia. El Calafate draws visitors for the nearby Perito Moreno Glacier. Other excursions in the area include lake trips to Upsala and Cristina Glaciers. A short drive away is the town of El Chalten, the trekking center of Argentina. From El Chalten, short to long hikes take you to the rocky massifs of Torre and Mt Fitzroy.
Patagonia has always conjured up images of remote exploration and nowhere is that more true than the most southerly town in the Americas; Ushuaia. A port town backed by mountains and fronting the Beagle Channel, Ushuaia really does feel like the end of the world. In season, ships depart from here for Antarctica. Around Ushuaia is the Tierra del Fuego National Park, some outstanding scenery and a fascinating history of the first inhabitants of this remote town- 1470 miles from Buenos Aires.
Argentina and Chile with 4 Day Cruise
8 Days US$2,195+flights
Discover Patagonia across Chile and Argentina incl. Iguazu Falls.
14 Days US$ 3,995 + flights
Humpback whales, big blue glaciers and thousands of penguins.
8 Days US$1695 + flights