Things to do in Patagonia
If you’re a lover of nature and wildlife, then you’ll find numerous things to do in Patagonia. Patagonia is a vast expanse of breathtaking landscapes, from glistening lakes to beautiful forests and impressive glaciers. Some of the most popular activities in Patagonia include hiking to incredible vistas, such as Mt. Fitz Roy and Torres del Paine, kayaking on glacial lakes, ice trekking, and wildlife spotting. While Patagonia might come off as a destination only for adventurous travelers, it is true that visitors of any age and mobility can explore Patagonia. There are plenty of low-difficulty hiking trails and boat excursions for those who aren’t up for long-duration hiking or trekking. For those looking for relaxation, there is a number of Patagonia lodges that people enjoy sipping wine and eating local asado while enjoying the gorgeous mountain views.
Best Things to Do in Patagonia:
Hike in Los Glaciares National Park
A tour of Argentine Patagonia really wouldn’t be the same without visiting Los Glaciares National Park. Los Glaciares National Park is one of Argentina’s largest national parks and boasts a variety of wildlife. While on a hike in the park, spot rheas, guanacos, cougars, huemul deer and plenty of birds. You’ll also find the Perito Moreno Glacier in Los Glaciares National Park, one of the last advancing glaciers in the world. Hike to see great views of the glaciers or enjoy kayaking right in front of the natural landscape!
Ice Trek or Kayak near the Perito Moreno Glacier
People from around the world come to Patagonia to see the Perito Moreno Glacier. The Perito Moreno Glacier is one of the last advancing glaciers in the world. One of the best things to do to get fantastic views of the glacier is to either directly ice trek on the glacier or kayak in front of it. Local, professional guides can assist with both activities to ensure you have the best experience.
Whale Watch in Puerto Madryn
Another excellent thing to do in Patagonia is whale watching. Travelers can spot whales from the shoreline of the sandy beaches in Puerto Madryn, or opt to venture north to Peninsula Valdes. Peninsula Valdes, in the province of Chubut, is one of the most famous spots in Argentine Patagonia to spot southern right whales. Another option is to travel to Puerto Piramedes where you can board a yellow submarine for a rare whale-watching adventure. An engineering masterstroke, the Yellow Submarine allows passengers to observe whales through windows that run along the ship’s subaquatic sides. The upper deck allows passengers to observe whales by more traditional means, however down below is where one can enjoy a truly unique and much more complete whale watching experience.
Trek or Boat Around Torres del Paine
Torres del Paine has one of the most stunning sceneries of any place in the world. Approximately 600,000 acres, this massive park is renowned for its distinctive natural rock formations, mountain lakes, and abundant wildlife. Hiking the various trails of Torres del Paine is an absolute must on any trip to the region. Whether you are a beginner or seasoned hiker, there’s a scenic trail for everyone. From Laguna Azul, Glacier Grey Viewpoint, or the Merrido Ferrier, travelers can choose from an endless selection of sceneries. Speak to an expert travel consultant to learn more about recommended natural sites in the area.
Sail to the Marble Caves
The Marble Caves in Chile Patagonia are growing in popularity. Seeing the Marble Caves is an exceptional activity in itself. Travelers must sail the calm ripples of Chile’s largest glacial lake while en route to the remote marble structure. Alongside an expert, watch as the bow of your boat moves straight through the mouth of the grotto and opens you up to a ceiling of fantastic blue, green, turquoise, and yellow ceilings and rock walls. These beautiful rock formations are one of the best things to see in Patagonia, and the boat-ride up to and under the caves is one of the best things to do.
Ride Horses at a Local Estancia
There are a couple of local estancias in Patagonia that are perfect for travelers looking for a horseback riding experience. Two of our favorite estancias are Nibepo Aike and Estancia Cristina in El Calafate. Nibepo Aike is a very rustic, working ranch. Here, you can learn about the lifestyle of a living Gaucho and also take a horseback riding excursion. Estancia Cristina is a more secluded ranch, ideal for tourists. In general, guests can ride a horse on the surrounding hiking trails. This is a perfect thing to do if you’d like to see the landscapes in Patagonia.
Things to See in Patagonia
From vast national parks to grand ice sculptures and glaciers to quaint port cities, there are so many things to see in Patagonia. Our guides recommend combining both regions of Patagonia (Argentina & Chile) to see all of the main highlights, such as Mount Fitz Roy, the Perito Moreno Glacier, Torres del Paine, and the Marble Caves.
Fitz Roy, located near the town of El Chalten in Argentine Patagonia, is an impressive natural wonder. The several jagged, towering peaks that dominate the skyline are the symbol for the Patagonia clothing brand. While the entire region of Patagonia is world-famous for its hiking, the trails at Fitz Roy are renowned for being some of the best in Patagonia. For the truly adventurous, climbing the individual peaks are an option. However, simply catching a glimpse of the peaks and the glacial lake at its base is reward enough.
Nahuel Huapi Lake
Nahuel Huapi Lake, near Bariloche, Argentina, is a massive glacial lake in Patagonia. Renowned for its spectacular nature and crystal-clear waters, the coast is dotted with quaint villages and hiking trails. Surrounded by steep, mountainous and forested terrain, the entire lake offers beautiful viewpoints. The Nahuel Huapi Lake can be seen on our Argentina to Chile Lake Crossing Tour.
Perito Moreno Glacier
While in Patagonia, visiting the more unique landscapes is a must, and what better way than with a visit to Perito Moreno Glacier. Located in Los Glaciares National Park, Perito Moreno is enormous, listed as the third-largest water reserve in the world. Despite the melting of many glaciers in this region, Perito Moreno has maintained a constant size since its discovery. Travelers are able to trek directly on the glacier or kayak in front of it for gorgeous up-close views.
Penguin Rookeries (Magdalena Island Rookery)
The Penguin Rookeries of Patagonia are perhaps one of South America’s most adorable experiences. At various rookeries, often islands in the icy waters of the Strait of Magdalena and Southern Ocean sits the habitats of thousands of penguins. At multiple locations, like the famous Magdalena Island Rookery, up to 18 species of penguins come to mate, nest, and raise their little chicks until adulthood. For visitors, the rookeries are an excellent opportunity to observe the remarkable wildlife of Patagonia up close. Whether on a day trip from Punta Arenas or while relaxing on a Patagonian cruise, a Penguin rookery visit is an absolute must.
Cave of the Hands
Cave of the Hands, or Cueva de las Manos, is one of Patagonia’s best works of pre-historic cave paintings. Travelers enjoy seeing the colorful handprints, boasting hues of red, black, white, and yellow. While here, you can learn how the Cave of the Hands was decorated by the Teheulches people. Local guides can help you spot depictions of hunting scenes and guanacos. The cave is accessible from El Calafate, which means you can seamlessly add a trip to the Perito Moreno Glacier in Los Glaciares Park to your adventure to the Cave of the Hands.
Reaching an impressive height of 2,652-metres is one of Chile’s most active volcanoes, Mount Osorno. The glacier-covered volcano dwarfs nearby Todos Los Santos and the scenic Lake Llanquihue, providing visitors with an unforgettable view of the province. Mount Osorno is explorable in several ways, including trekking its many trails and skiing down the slopes at the Volcán Osorno Centro resort. Or, enjoy a relaxed sailing experience on Lake Llanquihue, appreciating the uninterrupted view of Mount Osorno on its eastern end.
Bariloche & the Seven Lakes
Bariloche is the gateway to marvelous Patagonia landscapes, something you must see on a trip to Patagonia. On a tour of Bariloche & the Seven Lakes, you can see several lakes, mountain peaks, and sprawling waterfalls. One of the most beautiful lakes to see is the Nahuel Huapi Lake, considered to be the centerpiece of Bariloche. In addition to its natural beauty, wildlife such as river otters, foxes, and cougars can be seen around the lake.
Festivals & Events
Chiloe Folk Festival: This celebration started in 1979 and became one of the most significant gastronomic events in the Chiloé archipelago and the south of Chile. It usually takes place in the third week of February at the city of Castro’s Municipal Park. The latest editions have brought together more than 50,000 visitors and 150 exhibitors of several local produce.
At this festivity, attendees taste typical dishes, see local crafts, and listen to local musicians and comedians. It is ideal for children because it includes an educational farm and a ludic forest. In parallel to the Festival, there’s a Biodiversity Fest, in which Chilote artisans show their crafts and products.
Food & Drink in Patagonia
There are some great food and drink opportunities in Patagonia. Enjoy a traditional asado at a luxury lodge, or a dish of lamb at one of the local restaurants. There are also some new breweries in Patagonia that are receiving some attention.
Is Patagonia Safe?
Patagonia is very safe. There are plenty of comfortable lodges that have all the amenities you’re looking for in addition to the highest safety standards. One thing we like to note for our travelers is that when you travel to Patagonia, it’s important to take precautions while hiking and trekking. A local, professional guide will be there to help you choose which trails fit your interests and skill level to give you the best experience.
Best Time to Visit Patagonia
Our experts believe that the best time to visit Patagonia is during the shoulder season, from October to November and March to April. From October to November, Patagonia blossoms into spring with wildflowers of every color. From March to April, watch as the autumnal hues of fall transform the national park into a spectacular display. In addition to mesmerizing scenery that happens during the shoulder season in Patagonia, travelers can enjoy freely walking the trails as there are, in general, fewer crowds during this time.
What is Patagonia Known for?
Patagonia is known for its incredible wildlife and nature. Enjoy seeing vast glaciers, sharp mountains, fjords, and wildlife such as pumas, guanacos, and whales.
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