Visiting Patagonia

It’s been a while since I‘ve written one of these bulletins, but I’m now back from an amazing three month trip around Latin America and I’m raring to get going booking equally fantastic trips for my clients.  One of the highlights of our trip was Patagonia, a vast region of 400,000 square miles encompassing both Chile and Argentina and straddling the Andes. So Patagonia is the destination I’m focussing on this month. 

To have the best weather, trekking conditions and chances of glimpsing those spectacular mountain peaks, Patagonia is best visited during its summer (December to February).  You won’t avoid cloud and rain completely, but your chances of blue sky are higher (as are the temperatures). As this is a popular time of year to visit, you should start planning now if you are thinking of travelling there in 2024.  We were there in the peak season at the end of January and focused on the slightly less crowded but utterly spectacular Los Glaciares National Park in Argentina.  While  we met other travellers, it rarely felt busy.    

Although Patagonia has a reputation for being a great place for active travellers, the development of more comfortable, even luxury, hotels in recent years means that those beautiful glaciers, mountains and lakes are also accessible to travellers who like their creature comforts. If you’re an active traveller, you can spend weeks in Patagonia and never run out of things to do. But  if you just want to spend a few days in Patagonia, as part of a wider trip to the region, then it works really well with a trip to Iguaçu Falls, the Iberian wetlands, Buenos Aires, the Atacama desert and many other incredible Argentinian or Chilean destinations.  I will cover some of these in future bulletins.  

To give you some inspiration for a trip to Patagonia, I have included below some of the highlights of our trip – and yes, these are my photos, taken with an iPhone, not by a professional photographer with snazzy gear, which just goes to show how spectacular the landscapes really are!  

If you are interested in travelling to Patagonia (or anywhere else for that matter) and would like some help booking your trip, please get in touch. I am a small, personal travel agency booking anything from full tours to accommodation only.  And booking through me usually costs the same as booking with a tour operator or online booking platform (and occasionally less). But you’ll have my bespoke, friendly, flexible service as well. In the few years since I started my business I’ve had 100% positive feedback!

Patagonia Highlights

Whalewatching in Patagonia

Whale watching in the Magellan Straits

There are several places where you can see marine life in Patagonia. We chose to take a three day expedition with a scientific research outfit which takes tourists on trips to view humpback whales in their feeding grounds in the Magellan Straits.  It’s a day by boat to get to the grounds but we were rewarded by the most incredible whale sightings and spent two special nights sleeping in eco domes on a tiny island literally in the middle of nowhere.  Whales came up really close to the boat, showing us their flukes and dancing in the teal blue water.  Absolutely magical!

day hikes from el chaltén

El Chaltén is a gorgeous little town nestled in the middle of Los Glaciares National Park in Argentina. It is possible to do a number of beautiful day hikes from the town itself and return to the comfort of your hotel each evening.  You don’t need a guide, the routes are well marked. Plenty of local bakeries sell delicious picnic lunches all bagged up and ready to go.  

El Chalten Patagonia Argentina
Los Glaciares Patagonia Argentina

Multi day trek in los glaciares national park

We spent four days and three nights on a multi-day trek hiking further into the park from El Chaltén.  Longer trips are possible – pretty much any length you want.  We had a fantastic guide, our trip was immaculately planned and booked and we stayed in some wonderful (albeit simple) accommodation including a refuge at the foot of a glacier!  The trails were varied in length and difficulty, we saw some amazing birds, incredible blue lakes, loads of glaciers and, almost wherever we went, the famous craggy peak of Mt Fitzroy.  

El Calafate and Perito Moreno Glacier

El Calafate in southern Argentinian Patagonia is a lively town, gateway to southern Patagonia and full of great restaurants and bars.  It’s a place to stock up on any equipment you might need for trekking and to take a day trip to the fantastic Perito Moreno Glacier. It’s extraordinary how close you can get to the glacier.  We did the glacier mini-trek where you don crampons and set off over the glacier itself, gazing into the vivid blue crevasses and at the meringue like landscape. Even without the glacier trek you can get pretty close.  Walkways and viewing galleries have stunning views and you can gaze at the glacier and, if you’re lucky, hear the loud crash of a glacier calving. 

Argentina - Perito Moreno Glacier

Chilean Lake District

Turning to the north of Patagonia, we spent a very happy, active and sunny fews days staying in a remote luxury lodge in the Lake District in Chile.  We fished for salmon, hiked, kayaked to a waterfall and cata-rafted down the Rio Puelo with a large dog on board our raft.  The lodge was luxurious with incredible food, local wines on tap and glorious wood-fired hot tubs to return to in the evening.  

Chile Lake district

Cruce Andino

A really great way to travel from Chilean to Argentinian Patagonia is via the Cruce Andino, from Puerto Veras in Chile to San Carlos de Bariloche (see below) in Argentina.  More than a transfer from one place to another, this is an experience in itself, involving three buses and three boats, taking twelve hours to cross the Andes by lake and through mountain passes. All with a permanently spectacular backdrop.  

Lake district Argentina

Argentinian Lake District

Northern Argentinian Patagonia has the stunning blue lakes and volcanic peaks of the Argentinian Lake District around San Carlos de Bariloche.  From a serene boat trip across the lakes, to white water rafting or kayaking, your days here will be all about the water. In their winter (our summer) the town is also one of the best places for ski-ing. San Carlos de Bariloche is a cosmopolitan town, seemingly with a chocolate shop on every corner and some great restaurants.  I had the best steak of my life here!

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