Destinations // Patagonia Chile & Argentina

PATAGONIA DESTINATION GUIDE

One of the best parts about venturing around the world is soaking up Mother Nature’s natural beauty. There is no better way to do this than on your own two feet and is why I love trekking so much. You get access to remote corners of the world and have a unique experience as you soak up the alluring beauty first hand. You probably think I say this all the time, but Patagonia has got to be one of the most beautiful corners of the world I have been to. In this Patagonia Destination Guide, I will share with you why Patagonia is so special and outline some of the top places to go as you experience it for yourself.

People are almost always aware of the clothing brand named after this beautiful place (it also happens to be my favorite) but often can’t really place where it sits on a map. Patagonia is vast and makes up almost half of both Chile and Argentina boasting some of the most picturesque natural beauty you will ever see. 

Patagonia has a handful of very unique National Parks for you to enjoy – most you will find featured in this Patagonia Destination Guide series, including Glacier, Torres del Paine, Nahuel Huapi and Tierra del Fuego National Parks. These treasures offer its visitors jagged mountain peaks, dramatic ice fields, brutal glaciers, unpredictable weather and some of the best trekking in the world.

Patagonia was on my travel bucket list for years and to say that I was excited about venturing through was an understatement. When we travelled through Patagonia – we knew we wanted to get off the beaten path and put some miles into our hiking boots. Due to its remoteness you’ll find pockets of established tourism throughout region. Anything outside of that – you are on your own. 

You are looking at combinations of trains, planes, local busses, boats, border crossings, hiking routes, trail guides, accommodation etc. It can be done on it’s own, but to ensure that we maximized our time (and limited the number of travel mishaps along the way) we relinquished control and got local expertise involved. With an idea of what we wanted to experience in this vast land, we found and booked the perfect three-week trip for us as part of a small group tour. There are a lot of local and international tour companies that specialize in this region. Read through the various destinations, get an idea of where you would like to go and what you are keen to see and you’ll easily be able to find the the one that ticks your boxes. Then what? Get prepared to have the trip of a lifetime.

In this Patagonia Destination Guide, I share the seven Patagonian destinations we visited and the adventure filled activities that await you in each of these adventure hot spots. We made our way from the northern Lake District of Argentina and worked our way down to the southern most cities in the world – crossing the Chilean border a few times along the way. This fantastic journey combined all of our Patagonia highlights (and then some), 100% of the logistics, a fun group of likeminded adventurers,and loads of free time to pick and choose the adventures along the way.

This is Patagonia.

//BARILOCHE, ARGENTINA

After a long weekend in beautiful Buenos Aires, we put on our backpacks and took a short flight to Bariloche, the entrance to Northern Patagonia and the Andean Lake District. Take a couple days to explore this alpine ski town and make your way up to Cerro Llao Llao – the highest point in Bariloche’s Llao Llao Park. In addition to exploring the surrounding area, we took advantage of the nice weather during our trip and made a bee-line for the Manso River in the Nahuel Huapi National Park for some kick-ass white water rafting – Video here on YouTube.

During our stay in Bariloche we were at the Soft Hotel. Simple, ski lodge-type of accommodation but was within walking distance of tons of shops and restaurants.

Be sure to check out my Bariloche, Argentina Destination Guide for a closer look at Bariloche.

//PUERTO VARAS, CHILE

Hop onto a local bus and make your way across the Chilean border to Puerto Varas. Border crossings on land are quite the experience in South America, especially as you enter Chile. The trip itself takes about six hours and meanders across the Andes through more of the beautiful Lake District.

We opted to stay a couple nights at the Hotel Park Inn which overlooked the views of Lake Llanquihue and the Osorno Volcano. You’ll have plenty of acrivities to choose from, but our mission was to get up close and personal with geology. Doing the same will see you trekking up and around the ice-clad Orsono volcano. After your big trek, head over to the six kilometer Sondero El Solitario trek into the Petrohue River Valley. We arranged to meet with a local fisherman who took us out on the water and prepared a lovely trout lunch for the group. Really cool experience to look into.

Be sure to check out my Puerto Varas, Chile Destination Guide for a closer look at Puerto Varas.

//PUNTA ARENAS, CHILE

Drive to Puerto Montt to catch an early flight to Punta Arenas – at the end of the Chilean mainland. It is considered the furthest southern continental city in South America. While there is not too much to do here, it’s central location makes it a standard port of call for travellers heading through Patagonia. Take advantage of your time here and take a long walk alongside the Straight of Magellan (this may ring a bell if you paid attention to your high school history teacher). Another popular spot to visit is the as well the Punta Arenas Cemetery. It’s less commercial than the Recoletta Cemetery in Buenos Aires, but certainly rivals it in terms of uniqueness and beauty.

During our time in Punta Arenas we stayed at the no-frills Hotel Patagonia Bed & Breakfast.

Be sure to check out my Punta Arenas, Chile Destination Guide for a closer look at Punta Arenas.

//PUERTO NATALES, CHILE

After a short stay in Punta Arenas, hop on a local bus and make your way to Puerto Natales – the window to Torres del Paine National Park. We stayed at the cute Hotel Capitan Eberhard, which sits on the shores of the beautiful Seno Última Esperanza. It is here that you will want to make sure you take care of any last minute preparations for your upcoming multi day W- Trek or O Circuit Trek. These treks are known to be some of the most beautiful in South America and were definitely what drew me into Patagonia.

If you partake in the trek (and you should), you’ll trade your mattresses in for sleeping bags and hit the trails for an unforgettable adventure. Jagged mountain peaks, glacial lakes, suspension bridges, and refugios stocked with craft beer. Is there anything better? Check out W Trek – Torres Del Paine National Park – Part 1 and Part 2 for deep dives into the actual trek.

After your trek hop on the ferry and cross Lake Pehoé for one of the most picturesque boat rides you’ll ever take. With a sense of accomplishment, head back to Puerto Natales to get some much-needed rest.

Be sure to check out my Puerto Natales, Chile Destination Guide for a closer look at Puerto Natales.

//EL CALAFATE, ARGENTINA

When you are ready for your next adventure, hop on a local bus and make your way back across the Andes into Argentina to a town called El Calafate. We opted to stay here a few nights and based ourselves at the Hosteria Posta Sur. El Calafate is another one of the stops many make as they transit through the region BUT is located just around the corner from the beautiful Glacier National Park.

It’s in the park that you can visit the gorgeous Perito Moreno Glacier. Take advantage of the boat tour in the park to marvel at the size of the glacier and watch for the calvins breaking off into the water. There are also a series of walkways that allow you to get different vantage points of the glacier as you make your way through the park.

Be sure to check out my El Calafate, Argentina Destination Guide for a closer look at El Calafate.

//EL CHAlTEN, ARGENTINA

After your visit to Perito Moreno Glacier, continue further north in Glacier National Park to the town of El Chaltén. Only founded in 1985, this little town sprouted up for the pure purpose of the love of the mountains and trekking. We only stayed here for two nights (at the Hosteria El Paradiso) but I could have easily stayed much longer. I loved the bohemian, trekking vibe that pulsed through this place. There are trekking options galore here. We opted to spend a full day hiking in Glacier National Park and made our way to Laguna de Los Tres on the famous Fitzroy Trek.

Pack a lunch and picnic under the Cerro FitzRoy/Chaltén. If you are a fan of the Patgonia clothing brand, then you will very quickly recognize the mountain range as the one used in the logo. The impressive granite pinnacles spiral upward from the third largest ice filed on the planet.

If you are keen to push your adventure limits, opt to go ice climbing on the nearby Viedma Glacier. With ice picks, crampons, a harness, and meters upon meters of rope I tested some of my fears. This experience will have you leaning backwards over and abseilng into some of the gnarliest ice crevasses you will likely see. Amazing.

Be sure to check out my El Chaltén, Argentina Destination Guide for a closer look at El Chaltén.

//USHUAIA, ARGENTINA

Your last stop on this Patagonian adventure is to the southern-most city in the world – Ushuaia. This busy port and adventure hub is best known for being the departure point for expeditions to Antarctica. While another bucket list destination of mine, it was not a part of our trip this time. We did however take a Helicopter Flight (check out video on YouTube) over the city and through the valleys where the Andes Mountains meet the ocean. It was my first helicopter ride and it certainly didn’t disappoint. It’s just one of the great ways to experience the end of the world.

Visit the Harberton Ranch Penguin Colony or opt to take a cruise on the Beagle Channel. Whatver you do, take the opportunity to soak in as much of the panoramic views of this beautiful region as possible. While simple, our accommodation Hotel Ushuaia was quite central and was a great base for exploring the rest of the town.

Be sure to check out my Ushuaia, Argentina Destination Guide for a closer look at Ushuaia.  
You only have to look at some of the snaps to see how beautiful this region of the world is. It was nice to get off the beaten path and explore the great outdoors throughour Patagonia. While not a cheap trip in any way, shape or form it was one that lived up to my expectations and has me yearning for more.

If you find yourself exploring your own trip to this part of the world be sure to do your research so you get everyhting you want of your experience. This DomOnTheGo Patagonia Destination Guide and corresponding posts in the series is a comprehensive take of my experience, but is admittedly only a fraction of all the amazing things you can see and do while adventuring the region. If you have any questions or suggestions for other great things to see and do – be sure to get in touch or leave a comment for other readers below.

22 comments

  • Patagonia has long been on my bucket list. This article has just further fueled my desire to visit. I love living in the mountains and as a landscape/travel photographer, I love the idea of photographing Patagonia.

    • Honestly, it was a dream. Every corner seemed like a photo opp. We saw a lot in 3.5 weeks but there is so much more there. WE can’t wait to go back.

  • This places looks amazing. I love how colourful the buildings are. I really want to go to Chili and Argentina and this has just made me push it the list of places to go and now I am off to check out some flights.

    • Go. There is so much to see there – my trip only scratched the surface. 🙂

  • We are hoping to go to Patagonia next year for a month. How is it for kids? Ours are pretty well travelled but would appreciate your input.

    • A month is a perfect amount of time to explore this region. There is definitely something for everyone on this trip – you’ll just need to gauge abilities around trekking activities (not just for the kids lol). Travelling time between some of these amazing places can also be quite long so get out the coloring books and load the tablet with a few movies. Enjoy.

  • I think you were right to go with a tour as it sounds complicated arranging travel in the area. I never knew you could go skiing in Argentina! Can I ask what a calvin is – are they ice bergs?

    • Thanks Susan. Plenty of skiing and some dramatic landscapes to go along with it. Calvins are the huge chunks of ice that break off of the glaciers and smash into the water. Go there. 🙂

  • One of the reasons and pleasures of travel for us too is the opportunity to see the different and wonderful facets of nature. Patagonia seems to be a veritable paradise and the opportunities to commune with nature seem manifold. Would love to put on hiking boots and walk into the sunset here. Look forward to your exploits in Patagonia.

    • I’d highly recommend getting there and exploring it. Through the series of posts you’ll have a nice snap shot of the great things that you can do along the way. Enjoy!

  • I visited Patagonia a few years ago and even though I’ve visited over 100 countries, Patagonia remains the most beautiful part of the world I’ve visited. Perito Moreno Glacier is the most incredible glacier I’ve ever seen. Your itinerary and photos are brilliant, I wish I could go back to Patagonia!

    • Thanks for the kind words. I can’t wait to go back and explore more of the region. One of the only places I have been where the landscapes have rivalled Patagonia are in the Everest region of the Himalayas. Has Nepal been one of your 100 countries?

  • Wow that Glacier National Park is awesome. You’ve done so many cool adventures in Patagonia, and I think it’s pretty off the beaten path!

    • Oh man. Patagonia was really a dream come true. If you like the outdoors, this is deffo a region that beckons to be explored.

  • The photos are so beautiful. The one that really caught my eye is the Perito Moreno Glacier. I may get scared taking the boat ride but I am sure it will be all worth it.

  • Wow this is a goldmine of information on Patagonia! It clearly took a lot of time and research on your part, thank you so much for doing all this leg work. It’s the ultimate resource for planning a trip in this region!

  • You are so right! I was aware of the clothing brand but didn’t know where this place was. The place looks absolutely stunning. I’m yet to head to any American country yet and I don’t know if I will. So thanks for this virtual tour.

  • Lovely mountain range that stretches into 2 equally beautiful countries. I would definitely like to visit this region – the ice and snow really accentuates the magical beauty of Patagonia 🙂

  • Amazing photo’s! It looks so cold I think I would die, but there is something beautiful about snow on a mountain. I love reading about places I have never heard of, it just shows you what more is out there to explore, these places look amazing, What time of the year did you go and is it best to go in Winter?

//Add Your Comment Below