The region known as Patagonia is shared by the countries of Chile and Argentina, and has two coastlines, on the east and west sides of the continent of South America. The latitude of the Patagonia region ranges from 36° to 55°, a range in which New Zealand’s South Island is encompassed (41 to 47 degrees). So if you’ve travelled to New Zealand you’ll have some idea what to expect from the weather in Patagonia.
Because of its distance from the equator, the Patagonia region has 4 distinct seasons as New Zealand does, rather than a wet and a dry season, like other parts of South America such as Ecuador and the Galapagos. Below we’ve included a really handy infographic to show you when might be best for your Patagonia adventure.
Late December to early March marks the summer in Patagonia.
In summer in the southern region, where our 'Condor' trip is focused, daytime temperatures range from 70-80°F (21-27°C) in the sun. Night time temperatures in Punta Arenas, the capital of Chile’s southernmost region, range in the 40s Fahrenheit (4-10°C) and can dip into the 30s on the trail (-1-4°C). The wind chill in the southern Patagonia region can really keep the temperature down, and due to the region’s proximity to two big oceans, and the Southern Patagonian Icecap, you’ll likely see lots of different weather, at any time of year. You should also keep in mind that the region is a shade over 1,000,000km2 (386,102 square miles) and so conditions can be drastically different from one area to the next!
In the northern part of Patagonia, where we explore on our 'Puma' trip, temperatures tend to be a little warmer, but being prepared for lots of different types of weather is still a great idea.
Photo: Lanin Volcano, northern Patagonia
Spring is another popular time of year to travel to Patagonia. The trails are generally a little quieter, and whilst the temperatures can be a little lower, the photography opportunities are endless, as the winter snows hang around into spring on the high peaks.
Our Patagonia Hiking Adventure ‘Condor’ trip generally operates from mid-November until early March. The earliest trips of the season take in late spring, whilst from late December onwards you can expect a Patagonian summer adventure. We’ve chosen not to operate in Patagonia in winter, when some of the coolest hikes, including the W Trek, are closed. Our other Patagonia trip, the Northern Patagonia Explorer 'Puma' trip runs from late November until mid-March. The 'Puma' takes in the northern region of Patagonia, it is dotted with pristine lakes, dramatic volcanoes, swathes of untouched forest and massive mountains. The fiords of northern Patagonia are a sight to behold, and on the 14 day Puma adventure we'll sea kayak on the Reloncavi Fiord. On Top of all that we'll soak in countless natural hot springs, the perfect way to end an active day.
Photo: Hiking part of the famous W Trail, which closes during winter.
If the southern hemisphere winter is your best chance for an adventurous trip, then check out our Ultimate Peru Adventure 'Jaguar' trip for something a little closer to the equator!
Patagonia is famous for its wildlife, as well as its stunning mountain vistas. Off the coasts you can see several species of both whales and penguins. The endemic Magallenic Penguin is probably the most numerous of these, with a breeding colony on Magdalena Island, Chile, of around 60,000 pairs. On our 'Condor' trip we'll visit Magdalena Island and go and see the penguin colony.
Photo: A Magellanic penguin on Magdalena Island.
Further inland there is some impressive wildlife to try and spot whilst on your Patagonia adventure. One of our Patagonia trips' namesake, the condor (or more specifically the Andean condor), is a large, soaring bird that uses air currents, and the strong winds of the region to get around with minimal wing flaps, searching for the carrion that makes up most of its diet. The condor can be seen all year round, but prefers to roost and breed at elevations of 3000m-5000m (9842ft-16404ft).
Photo: A condor soaring above the hills of Patagonia (credit: National Geographic)
Another very interesting predator in the Patagonia region that you might be lucky enough to see (from a very safe distance!) is the puma. The namesake of our northern Patagonia trip, the Puma's breeding season is December to March, and aside from those months puma tend to live solitarily. A large, powerful carnivore, the puma’s diet consists of anything from mice to deer, and they can hunt just as effectively at night as during the day.
Photo: A lone puma amongst the trees. (credit: National Geographic)
The pudu is arguably the cutest of all the wildlife you might see on a Patagonia adventure. As the world’s smallest deer (only up to 44cm/17ins tall) the pudu inhabits thick forest, where it can find protection from predators. The pudu is a very good jumper, and sprinter, and when alarmed will often flee in a zigzag pattern. Pudu tend to give birth to offspring between November and January.
You should also keep an eye out for Guanacos, a native species of camelid with a sizeable presence in the region.
On the 'Condor', you’ll visit truly some of the most amazing places on Earth, by foot, kayak, bike and boat. Patagonia, for hikers, is always near the top of the bucket list. You’ll enjoy incredible views as you hike in the Fitz Roy area of Argentina, trek in Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park, cycle Milodon Caves and sea kayak amongst icebergs on Grey Lake. Immense craggy mountain ranges erupt straight up from colossal boulder fields, vast rivers of ice calve into deep blue lakes, and its intricate coastline is strewn with uncharted fiords and inlets. It’s the type of scenery that leaves an indelible impression in your memory – one that photos will never quite manage to replicate. For the ultimate Patagonia experience, combine this trip with our 14-day 'Puma' (8-day option available).
Like its southern counterpart, Northern Patagonia is rich in wild landscapes, where nature rules the roost. Exploring Northern Patagonia, you'll develop a new-found respect for the pioneers, who found passages over the immense Andes Mountains, across fiords and through huge temperate rainforests. Luckily, these days, nestled in the renownded parks and reserves, there's comfortable lodgings - making for the perfect combination of adventure by day and relaxation by night. For the ultimate Patagonia experience, combine this trip with our 14-day 'Condor' (10 and 8-day options available).
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