Patagonia, the sprawling region at the bottom of South America shared between Argentina and Chile, is many things. It is beautiful. It is adventurous. It is vast. And it’s all there waiting to be discovered.
Travelling overland through Patagonia is an insight into the region in itself. A drive down Argentina’s Ruta Nacional 40, will take you down long streches of huge, empty roads, past wild, barren countryside and awe-inspiring nature. This is a glimpse at the real South America.
But how should you whittle down what to do when you’re there? Let’s give Patagonia a big High Five, and we’ll give you a few ideas.
Five of our favourite things to do in Patagonia
1. Walk on (frozen) water
Take on the Big Ice Trek and hike across one of the world’s largest glaciers, Perito Moreno. Just a couple of hours from El Calafate, the Big Ice Trek delivers exactly what you’d expect from a name with so many capital letters. It’ll all be worth it when you reach the centre of the glacier – you ‘ll feel like you’re in another world. From there, head to El Chalten and trek to the foot of the giant Mount Fitz Roy, and take in some stunning lagoons. Truly amazing. We’ve got a 6-day tour to show you it all.
2. Explore on 2 wheels
Patagonia’s hills, spills and long, empty roads make it a hit with seasoned and fair-weathered cyclists alike. One of the most famous routes is the Circuito Chico, in Bariloche. The 60km route will take you past mountains, lakes, forests and beaches, as well as lots of opportunities to stop off at local shops and roadside stalls.
The air quality in Bariloche has been affected by the ash cloud that caused all the air traffic havoc last year, but it’s still well worth a visit. Plus, all the hotel rates have come down quite a lot, so you can afford to treat yourself to a bit of luxury after a long cycle ride. Fancy it? Our Southern Sojourn will get you there.
3. Get back to nature
Patagonia is one of the world’s premiere spots for whale-watching, and the Peninsula Valdes is the place to do it. June to December is the best time to go to spot one of these amazing creatures, but Valdes is home to wildlife year-round. Head there between September and April, and you’re likely to meet a few penguins, dolphins and elephant seals. Our four day tour will make sure you get up close and personal with nature.
4. Go Welsh!
Here’s a bizarre fun fact for you: in the province of Chubut, there’s a whole community of Welsh people. Seriously! Back in 1865, some Welsh ex pats found their way to Patagonia and set up shop. Today, it’s estimated that only a couple of thousand people still speak Welsh in Chubut, but you’ll see signs of Cymru in the form of chapels, tea shops, and even Welsh shop signs. Surreal!
5. The end of the world
Patagonia is home to the world’s southernmost city, Ushuaia. It’s as close that civilisation has got to the icy mass of Antarctica, and what a civilisation it is. Trek along the coast and spot penguins, sea lions and exotic birds, or go for a canoe along the Lapataia river. Turns out that the end of the world isn’t so bad after all…