Bespoke Patagonia Travel: What to See and Do
By ~ Eric-Sheets
Divided by the Andes Mountains, South America’s Patagonia region stretches across southern Argentina and Chile, covering an impressive 402,704 square miles (just over 1 million square meters). It is considered to be one of the most breathtaking yet rugged places on Earth. Whatsmore, inhabiting this massive expanse of land, ice, and national parks is a sparse population, turning this awe-inspiring and isolated destination into an incredibly exclusive experience.
As remote as Patagonia may be, the logistics of getting there and planning an extraordinary journey should not keep you from going. Allow us to design your Patagonia travel experience and we will take care of every detail to ensure you and your family or friends have an unforgettable and safe journey.
To inspire your travel plans, check out the following unique things to see and do when you visit Patagonia.
Trek the Towers of Blue (Torres del Paine National Park)
Renowned amongst mountaineers, the Torres del Paine National Park (181,414 hectares) is home to one of the most challenging trekking sites in the world. In fact, the tallest of the three granite peaks of Torres del Paine — Cerro Paine Grande — reaches 2,884 meters high and its summit was first reached as recently as 1957. Since then, the area’s massive glaciers, arid plains and crystal clear glacial lakes have become a must-see for outdoor enthusiasts.
Located in southern Chilean Patagonia, there are various routes to explore the national park depending on each traveler’s physical ability and time allotment. The quickest trek and most popular is the W (so-called for its shape). Over the course of 3-5 days, travelers will cover some 50 miles (80 km) that include many of the iconic Torres del Paine sites: Grey glacier, the French Valley and the Towers’ Base Viewpoint.
Stay at a Local Estancia
Historically, estancias in the pampas (grasslands) of South America were large plots of land used to raise livestock. These days, a choice few in Argentina and Chile have been repurposed as luxurious guest ranches tucked in the ethereal Patagonian plains.
Nestled within the Nahuel Huapi National Park on the Argentinian side of Patagonia, the Peuma Hue Boutique Hotel offers guests a singular opportunity to connect with nature and find inner peace. Surrounded by mountains and resting at the south end of Lake Gutierrez, Peuma Hue (meaning ‘place of dreams’ in the native Mapuche language) balances body and soul with activities including yoga, massage, horseback riding, kayaking, hiking, skiing and snowboarding.
Meanwhile, in Puerto Natales, a port city that acts as Chile’s gateway to Torres del Paine, a cozy Patagonian ranch awaits. Estancia Bahia Esperanza is a tucked away private home surrounded by an organic orchard. Available on an all-inclusive basis, the estancia can provide those cherished moments of togetherness around the fireplace, and is within reach of full-day and half-day adventure activities.
Cruise the Fjords Glaciers
It’s a humbling experience to witness and comprehend how natural history has literally shaped our planet. Southern Patagonia, more specifically, that belonging to Chile, is characterized by glacial fjords – massive geological structures that give you a glimpse into the past.
Formed by slowly moving glaciers, these deep valleys known as fjords dot the southernmost coast of Chile. Thermal springs, lush vegetation, Andean waterfalls, volcanoes and of course icebergs will accompany your journey aboard a cruise to rarely explored corners of Patagonia.
Embrace Your Inner Gaucho
The nomadic horsemen and cowhands of Argentina (also present in Uruguay) known as gauchos are today considered folk heroes – much like North America’s cowboys of yore. And yet, this flourishing and colorful tribe of the 18th and 19th centuries lives on at the ranches of Patagonia.
Surrounded by stunning mountains in Argentina’s far northern Patagonia, gaucho culture reigns in the wide open grasslands, ripe for solitary and social horseback riding. The local estancias provide an authentic gaucho experience that goes beyond saddling up, including fishing, rafting and harvesting. Relishing the simple moments of nightcaps under the stars and conversations around a campfire make it simple to understand why this generation of gauchos have continued this traditional lifestyle.
Navigate the Seven Lakes Road
For the ultimate full-day Patagonia road trip, northern Argentina’s Route of the Seven Lakes (ruta de siete lagos) can’t be beat. A visual feast of pristine landscapes’multi-hued forests, tranquil lakes, looming peaks – follow tourists along Ruta 40 for an adventure that is more than satisfying.
Ruta 40 is a legendary road and the longest in Argentina. Though it runs the length of the South American nation, the winding mountain-and-lake 108-kilometer section of the Seven Lakes is ideal for a one-day excursion during a Patagonia trip. Cruising from the Swiss alpine-style architecture in Bariloche to serene Nahuel Huapi National Park and a refreshing pint at a San Martin pub, this unforgettable road trip is more than just sight-seeing seven (spectacular) lakes.
Listen to the Perito Moreno Glacier Calve
Rumbling, snapping and groaning, Perito Moreno is the noisiest and most famous glacier of Patagonia. Located in Los Glaciares National Park (Argentina), a visit to the strikingly blue Moreno is almost guaranteed to be a show of massive ice chunks falling some 70 meters and crashing through the surface of Lago Argentino. At times as loud as an explosion, it is a privilege to witness (and listen to) the force of nature that is glacial calving.
Boat tours, kayaking and glacier trekking can be performed in the national park, each offering a view of the mammoth glacier. Covering 97 square miles, the glacier can also be seen from the park’s extensive set of walkways and viewing points.
Visit the Serengeti of the Southern Cone
Patagonia is home to a staggering nine national parks, turning nearly any time-constricted outdoor enthusiast into an indecisive traveler. For first-time travelers to the region, we recommend a visit to the Parque Nacional Patagonia in Chile. The 690 square kilometer nature reserve stretches from the Río Baker to the Argentine border and includes mountains, lakes, lagoons and forests. An important wildlife corridor, the park is also home to a variety of fauna, including flamingo, puma, fox, viscacha and guanaco.
The vast and varied ecosystem of the Parque Nacional has earned it the nickname of the Serengeti of the Southern Cone. With an infrastructure of public trails and campgrounds, visitors can hike to their heart’s content in unspoiled nature.
Wondering how to travel to Patagonia? When to go? What the current travel restrictions and/or entry requirements may be? Don’t hesitate to contact us.