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If you're traveling to South America in summer you should have Patagonia high up on your list of things to do. With this list I show you the best places to visit in Patagonia and give you more information how to plan a trip to this gem in South America![box type=”info”]Find more information about the region in the related travel guides for Backpacking in Chile and Backpacking in Argentina. Moreover you should checkout my Patagonia Packing List if you're planning to go for some outdoor adventures![/box]
The Route for traveling to all the spots described within this post leads from Bariloche in Argentina (north of Patagonia) along the Panamericana (Ruta 40) to the south and ends up in Punta Arenas, Chile. Both cities are very good connected to the rest of the country via air-transport. If you wish you can also do the tour the other way around.
Where is Patagonia located?
The Region “Patagonia” is situated in the south of the continent and describes the area between Rio Colorado (Argentina) / Rio Bio Bio (Chile) and the Strait of Magellan in the very south – this means also that Patagonia has a chilean (west) and argentine side (east).
When is the best time to travel to Patagonia?
The climate down there is pretty rough, especially in the very south – if you plan to do hiking/climbing and camping the best time for a trip is between the end of November and the beginning of March.
1) Bariloche, ArgentinaAs mentioned above the region Patagonia starts a bit further north of Bariloche. The fact that Bariloche is well connected (airport, direct bus to and from Buenos Aires) makes it to the perfect starting point of a roundtrip through Patagonia. But more than that: the combination of mountains, lakes and green forests result in a beautiful scenery.
The largest ski resort of South America transforms into a paradise for hikers and climbers (mountains around “Cerro Catedral”) in summer. The lake region around Bariloche calls for a roadtrip to explore all 7 lakes in 1-2 days.
2) Futaleufú, Chile
Further down south and a bit harder to access is the small chilean village Futaleufú which is located at the border to Argentina. The easiest way to get there is to use a gravel road from Esquel up there. This is why it is totally of the beaten path!
The reason which makes it worth it: the Futaleufu river which is often referred to as one of the best white water rafting spots in the world. The landscape along the river is unique and due to its location still pretty much untouched.
For rafting- and kayak expeditions I recommend ExChile – I have been on a 2 day rafting tour with Chris and his guides and it has been great: the camp as well as the guides. We had a lot of fun!
3) Puerto Rio Tranquilo, Chile
If you want to get there quickly you should travel through Argentina and cross over to Chile Chico as this place is also very remote. The reason to do so: the marble caves in the General Carrera lake.
Here I recommend Explorasur – the owner Pato and his family are experts for excursions in this region, they also operate tours to the nearby Nothern Patagonian Icefield!
4) El Chaltén, Argentina
The trekking capital of Argentina is also the youngest village of Patagonia. Also for non-hikers the well marked trails are comparably easy to hike. Checkout my related hiking guide for the best tours!
The Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre are the most popular mountains in this area, also and especially for climbers. Another Highlight is the Viedma glacier.
guided Tours, via GetYourGuide:
5) Perito Moreno Glacier, Argentina
El Calafate is located just a few hours from El Chaltén by bus and the base for excursions to the famous Perito Moreno glacier. Nowhere else in the world you are able to come up as close to a glacier as here. The view from the several platforms is extraordinary as you can see ice collapsing in front of you without being in danger (the platforms are located on a peninsula facing the glacier). Beside that you can also opt-in to do a boat tour or even an ice trek on the glacier!
guided Tours, via GetYourGuide:
- Perito Moreno Day-tour (transfer, platforms, guide)
- Perito Moreno plus boat excursion (transfer, platforms, guide, boat)
- Perito Moreno Ice Trek (transfer, platform, guide, boat, ice trek)
- Day Tour Torres del Paine from El Calafate (if you're short on time)
Tip: If you don't have as much time you can also consider doing a shorter patagonia round trip by using El Calafate as starting/end-point of your trip, there are regular flight connections to Buenos Aires. To squeeze in also Torres del Paine you could consider the previously mentioned day tour!
6) Torres del Paine, Chile
Personally the national park Torres del Paine is my number 1 attraction in Patagonia – you should take some time and do a multi day trek to experience as much of it as possible: glaciers, forests, impressive mountain ranges, lagoons and rivers.
Use my related Torres del Paine Trekking Guide to prepare, here you'll also find several itineraries to use. The starting and end point for this adventure is Puerto Natales, from there you can take a bus to get to Punta Arenas where you'll find several regular connections to Santiago de Chile.
If you still have some time left I highly recommend to go to Ushuaia and Tierra del Fuego!
What are your best places to visit in Patagonia?
Did I miss any important spot? Tell us your favorite spot in the comments below and feel free to share this article with your friends!