Things to Do in Patagonia: Discover the Top Adventure Spots

two-people-in-torres-del-paines-national-park.jpg

Patagonia is synonymous with intense rugged beauty and you won't be disappointed. With wildly diverse landscapes and 2000 kilometres (1243 miles) of mountain ranges straddling the Argentine/Chilean border, this is where to go for some of the best hiking and trekking in the world. Patagonia can be divided into three distinct latitudinal regions - the Araucanía and Lakes District, central Patagonia and southern Patagonia. Working from the bottom up, each area is around 600 kilometres (373 miles) in length and has its own special attributes and geographical characteristics.

We've naturally included our favourite Patagonia attractions in our 'Condor' trip, a 14-day Patagonia adventure where you hike, trek, kayak and bike from Punta Arenas. If you prefer to leave the logistics to someone else and fully enjoy the adventure, have a look into our Patagonia tours. 



Best places to visit in Southern Patagonia

In the extreme south, the scenery of southern Patagonia doesn't get more dramatic than this - with spectacular vertical granite peaks, immense rivers of ice, wind-swept plains and native beech forest. The Andes of southern Patagonia are covered by the most extensive area of glaciers outside the world's polar regions. The main attractions of this region include the beautiful scenery of the Laguna de los Cisnes and Cueva del Milodón Natural Monuments and the Torres del Paine and Los Glaciares National Parks.

Tierra del Fuego National Park

This National Park became the world's southernmost national park when it was created in 1960 to protect 63,000 hectares (240 square miles) including the southernmost tip of the Andes Mountain Range. It features lenga and guindo tree forests covered with lots of moss and ferns. Wildlife viewing is a main attraction as this is home to some unusual creatures including the 2-metre long black-eyebrowed albatross, steam duck, diving petrel, red fox, and the rare chungungo otter. This is Argentina's only coastal national park, surrounded on three sides by the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, so water-based activities are also popular here.

Los Glacieres National Park, Argentina

Los Glacieres National Park covers approximately 600,000 hectares (2317 square miles) of land and gives origin to 47 major glaciers. Found in the Argentine province of Santa Cruz, this national park straddles the Hielo Sur - the largest icecap outside the Earth's polar regions - making it a glacial wonderland of turquoise lakes, stunning valleys, and majestic ice rivers. It covers an area of 4460 square kilometres (1722 square miles) and public access is tightly controlled and restricted to certain areas. One of these areas is the stunning Fitz Roy sector, an awesome trekking location that is home to the legendary diorite peaks of Cerro Torre and Monte Fitz Roy. Other highlights of the park include Perito Moreno Glacier and Lago Argentino.


Perito Moreno Glacier

Perito Moreno, an advancing glacier in the heart of Southern Patagonia, is a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of Argentina's most popular attractions. There seems to have a whole other sense of scale in Patagonia, and Glaciar Perito Moreno is a prime example. It's one of the largest glaciers not only in Los Glaciares National Park but in South America, with a wall of over 200 vertical feet or roughly the size of a 15-story building that goes back 3 miles. Of course, part of the beauty of the glacier is that it's constantly changing and unlike just about every other glacier in the world, this one is swelling and growing steadily - rather than receding - at a rate of up to 7 feet a day, not counting the massive chunks of ice that fall off the façade into the Canal de los Tempanos as well.

There are lots of ways to get closer to this natural wonder including guided glacier trekking tours and glacier viewing cruises on Lake Argentina. The glacier is located within Los Glaciares National Park about an hour and a half drive from El Calafate.


Cerro Torre

Cerro Torre is one of the highest mountains of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, just west of Monte Fitz Roy. Its iconic dagger-like peak still has a stake in climbing folklore as one of the most challenging summits anywhere. The first controversial summit claim was made in 1959, but it took well over a decade later for the first undisputed ascent to be recorded in 1974.

El Chalten

El Chalten is located at the foot of Monte Fitz Roy and is surrounded by glacial lakes for picture perfect vistas in
every direction. Getting to the "Trekking Capital of Argentina", at the north end of Los Glaciares National Park, recently got a bit more civilized after they paved the 215km road from the nearest town of El Calafate. But it didn't make the jaw-dropping views up to the jagged granite peaks in front of the Southern Patagonian Ice Fields (the most important continental ice mass after Antarctica) any less surreal.

Bring sturdy hiking boots as there are dozens of options here from day hikes and lookout points to expert climbs and multi-day treks in and around Los Glaciares National Park. Or visit nearby Lago del Desierto to step into a landscape painting of glaciers, waterfalls and forest.

You'll spend 2 nights in El Chalten on the Condor, a 14-day Patagonia adventure that starts in Punta Arenas, Chile, and ends in El Calafate, Argentina.


El Calafate

It seems that every town in South America wants to be the capital of something, and El Calafate's tag line is that it's the self-proclaimed Capital of Glaciers. Located on the southern shore of Lago Argentino on the edge of Los Glaciares National Park, El Calafate is a small village surrounded by intensely beautiful wilderness that is indeed a perfect base for exploring the nearby glaciers. With a population of about 7,000, El Calafate is the nearest town to the popular Perito Moreno Glacier and features all the creature comforts travellers expect, including a small airport. For those of us not happy just to gaze at the stunning views from a café, there are hot air balloon trips, horseback riding, quad bikes, fishing, and of course hiking available.

This incredible outdoor adventure town got its name from one of Patagonia's most famous plants, the calafate, which is a bush with exquisite little yellow flowers and wood said to have considerable medicinal properties.

You'll have plenty of time to explore El Calafate when you spend 3 nights in this charming town on the Condor, a 14-day Patagonia adventure.



Punta Arenas

 Punta Arenas, a city of close to 150,000 residents, is the main entry point for Chilean Patagonia and one of the most southern cities in the world. It is a relaxed and beautiful city facing the Magellan Strait and its climate and architecture give it a distinct European feel. It was originally named 'Sandy Point' by the English, before adopting the Spanish equivalent.

Highlights of the city include the Museo de Historia Regional Braun Menéndez (the former mansion of wool baron Mauricio Braun), the Teatro Cervantes (now a converted cinema) and La Polar - the most southern brewery in the world. It is also a launching pad for Antarctic expeditions and exploring the other natural wonders of Patagonia.

Explore Punta Arenas on the Condor, a 14-day Patagonia adventure that begins and ends in Punta Arenas.


Torres Del Paine National Park

Torres Del Paine National Park is without a doubt one of the most astonishingly beautiful places on Earth and the setting for the well-known 4-day "W" trek.

Torres del Paine National Park is the epitome of dramatic landscape: craggy granite peaks that pierce the skyline, cascading waterfalls and lush valleys carved by ancient glaciers. The national park was created in 1959 and the area was declared a world biosphere reserve by UNESCO in 1978. Highlights include the Torres del Paine (Towers of Blue) from which the park gets its name - stunning perpendicular granite mountains - and Los Cuernos - three fantastically sculpted grey and white sedimentary peaks rising 800 vertical feet.

To the north, the Torres Del Paine National Park meets with Argentina's vast Los Glacieres National Park, and on the south-west side it is bordered by the smaller Chilean Monte Balmaceda National Park. Therefore Torres del Paine features a huge variety of flora and fauna.

Popular activities in the area include fishing, hiking, mountain climbing, sea kayaking and rafting.


Grey Glacier, Chile

This is the largest glacier located in Torres del Paine National Park and it's a beauty. Located at the south end of the Southern Patagonia Ice Field, it has formed massive, ice blue crystal-shaped ice floes travelling southward into Grey Lake. Tours are available to hike on the glacier itself.

Best places to visit in Central Patagonia

Heading further north, the fertile plains and valleys give way to the temperate rainforest and sparsely populated reaches of central Patagonia. Of all the Patagonian regions, this area is the most wild with the least amount of infrastructure. On the Argentinean side, it includes the southern province of Chubut and on the Chilean side the long coastal plains that lie between the Andes and the ocean narrow and the coast becomes punctuated by numerous islands, bays and fiords.

Best places to visit in Northern Patagonia: Araucanía and Lakes District

The Araucanía and Lakes District is the northernmost region of Patagonia, and is characterised by fertile green farmlands, snow-crowned volcanoes, forest and of course, dozens of beautiful deep blue lakes. Small and major volcanic eruptions are quite common in this area, with two major eruptions in 2008 - Llaima volcano in January and Chaiten volcano in May.

 

Related Posts

W Trek Patagonia – Everything You Need to Know

Calling Torres del Paine National Park a dramatic landscape is…

Where to Travel in 2022: Top Adventure Trip for Each Month

So, you're ready to make 2022 a year of incredible…

Adventure Travel to Costa Rica: Everything You Need to Know

Photo by Kamchatka/Getty Images

With coastlines on both the Pacific Ocean…

Safe Travel in 2021: Why Small Group Adventure Travel is the New Normal

It's no secret that since March of 2020, the travel…

Keeping Up With Our New Zealand Guides

You’ve heard us say it before, and you’ll hear us…

Northern Patagonia vs Southern Patagonia : How to Choose

Planning a trip to Patagonia but can't decide whether to…

Top 5 Open Destinations to Visit in 2022: Where Can Americans Travel?

The light at the end of the tunnel is finally…

5 Perfect Tours to Replace Your Cancelled REI Adventure Overseas

Your REI adventure tour overseas just got cancelled? We're sorry…

North Island vs South Island of New Zealand: How to Pick?

New Zealand (or Aotearoa as it's known in the Maori…

The Eight Best Things to Do in the Dolomites, Italy

Pictures of the towering rock monoliths of the Italian Dolomites…

Top five things to do in Grand Teton National Park

Found yourself in Wyoming with your hiking boots? Here’s some…

Multi-Day Hike Packing-List for New Zealand

You and some mates have 4 (5 at a stretch)…

Where to Next, with Active Adventures?

We've been adventuring for more than 22 years now, and…

Top things to do in Mount Aspiring National Park

Mount Aspiring National Park is a hiker's paradise and a…

Podcast: Erin Chambers talks with Kit about her 'Condor' adventure to Patagonia

 

 

Podcast: Stan Jacobson talks with Kit about his 'Annapurna Sanctuary Trek' in the Himalayas

 

5 Stars x 3“I rated this as 5 stars, "Excellent,…

Podcast: Kit Parks talks about her adventures on the South Island of New Zealand (Part I)

Add the North Island if you are already doing the…

Podcast: Kit Parks talks about her adventures on the South Island of New Zealand (Part II)

 

Add the North Island if you are already doing the…

Podcast: Kit Parks talks about her adventures on the North Island of New Zealand (Part III)

 

Add the North Island if you are already doing the…

Podcast: Sue Brickey and Rick Pope talk with Kit about their 'Chinchilla' adventure (Part I)

 

More Than I Expected“I only did three days of the…

Podcast: Sue Brickey and Rick Pope talk with Kit about their 'Chinchilla' adventure (Part II)

A varietal overview of Bolivia

“Such a diverse opportunity to experience…

Things to Do in Abel Tasman National Park

Abel Tasman National Park was formed after local conservationist Perrine…

Video: Reviews from our guests

Many of our videos feature interviews with Active guests, and…

Video: Safari Adventures in Africa

Come on a journey with us to the wildest place…

Video : Choosing a pair of hiking boots

A lot of our guests wonder how to pick the…

Mont Blanc Circuit 'Tour du Mont Blanc' Trip

Our 'Tour du Mont Blanc' trip is a challenging hiking…

Video: Fiordland National Park

Fiordland National Park is New Zealand's biggest National Park, and…

Punakaiki

Famous for its 'Pancake Rocks', Punakaiki is also host to…

Our Favourite Hikes on the West Coast of New Zealand

The West Coast of the South Island is a unique…

Things do Do in Queenstown for Non-Adrenaline Junkies

The first thing that probably comes to mind when you…

The Top 6 Roads You Have to Drive On Your Next New Zealand Road Trip

Getting down to us here in New Zealand is easy enough,…

New Zealand Glaciers You Can Easily Hike To

Many travellers to New Zealand are familiar with our 2…

Peru's Rainbow Mountain and the 'Camino del Apu Ausangate' Lodge to Lodge Trek

The beautiful coloured striations of Rainbow Mountain in Peru's Andes…

Inca Trail vs. Lares Trail: How to Get the Most out of Your Adventure

As you plan your trip to Peru and to Machu…

Discover Queenstown, The Adventure Capital of New Zealand

Queenstown is a little town with a big personality. Nestled on…

Top 10 Things to Do in Peru During Your Trip

There is so much to see when visiting Peru, it…

Finding Flights to Patagonia

Sorting out Patagonia flights and Patagonia travel doesn't have to…

Best Time to Visit Patagonia

With years of experience in the travel arena under our…

Little City Guide to Copacabana, Bolivia

Wedged between two mountains, Copacabana is a small and colourful…

Little Guide to Uyuni, Bolivia

Uyuni is the land of the endless horizon, home to…

Video: Franz Josef Glacier and Township

'Glacier country' - the west side of Aoraki/Mt Cook National…

Video: Ultimate South Island Adventure 'Rimu' trip

The 'Rimu' is our signature New Zealand trip. 14 days…

Patagonia Hiking Adventure 'Condor'

Patagonia is a mystical land of glaciers, mountains, and often…

Ultimate North Island Adventure 'Kauri' Trip

Our 'Kauri' trip is 11 days on New Zealand's volcanic…

Video: The trek to Everest Base Camp

Gareth Leonard from Tourist2Townie travelled on our 'EBC' adventure, here's…

Video: Essence of the South Island 'Tui' Trip

Our Essence of the South Island 'Tui' trip is 8…

Ultimate Peru Adventure 'Jaguar' Trip

Dreaming of a Peru adventure? Our 'Jaguar' is our signature…

Travel to Nepal: Everything you need to know

We're big believers in the journey being just as important…

Is it safe to visit Nepal?

There is nothing more exciting than planning a new adventure…

When is the best time to visit Nepal?

So, you’ve decided you want to go to Nepal? Or…

The Full Guide to Nepal’s Annapurna Sanctuary Trek

Celebrated for its amphitheatre of giant granite peaks, the Annapurna…

Hiking in Nepal: Multi-Day Treks

To hikers and trekkers from all over the world, the…

Everything You Need to Know About the Annapurna Massif

The Annapurna Massif is as epic as you imagine it…

Challenge Your Trekking Guide With These Everest Base Camp Facts

Everest Base Camp represents either an origin or a destination…

Nepal’s Everest Base Camp Guided Trekking Tour Itinerary

A trek to Everest Base Camp is a ‘bucket list’…

Popular Religious Sites in Nepal

Nepal is a cultural mecca, it is architecturally rich with…

Learn About Lukla and its World Famous Airport

Lukla is found in north-east Nepal and sits at 2,860m…

Everything You Need to Know Before Travelling in Patagonia

Patagonia has an almost surreal quality to it so it's…

Multi-Day Hiking in New Zealand: How to Plan the Perfect Trip for You

New Zealand has earned itself a reputation as one of…

The Complete Guide to New Zealand's 10 Great Walks

The "Great Walks" are generally regarded as New Zealand's premier…

Sea Kayaking in New Zealand

Sea kayaking tours are a splendid way to enjoy New…

Top 10 Guest Photos 2014

Set your resolution, adjust your white balance, focus, keep still,…

Top 10 Guest Photos 2015

Photo competitions. They're not necessarily a good thing for an…

Top 10 Guest Photos 2016

Happy New Year everybody! We love this annual photography competition…

How to Prepare for a Hike: 8 Fitness Tips for the 50+ Explorer

“Am I too out-of-shape for an adventure trip?” It’s the…

7 Surprising Reasons South America in Winter is a Must-Visit

Looking for a better way to spend your winter instead…

14 Days in Patagonia: The Ultimate Explorer’s Itinerary

So you like to be active, huh? That’s totally cool…

Top 10 Guest Photos 2017

Hello and Happy New Year! There are certain things that…

Our Guides Take On the Everest Marathon

Our guides are pretty amazing people. They're understanding, adaptable, enthusiastic,…

Interesting Peru Facts

Are you about or thinking to head out to Peru?…

5 Reasons to Take up Adventure Travel in Your 40’s

You mean you haven’t already done it yet? That’s OK.…

The 7 Peruvian Drinks You Can't Miss on Your Trip

Just as Peru is a land of diverse and delicious…

Huayna Picchu Hike: How Fit Must you be to Climb?

So you've made it up to Machu Picchu. After months…

Inca Trail Packing List: The 12 Most Important Items and Why

You've done it… You've finally decided to go hiking the…

The 7 Most Beautiful Lakes On the South Island of New Zealand

A trip to New Zealand's South Island isn't complete unless…

15 Bucket List Activities to do in South America

We've been running trips in South America for over a decade…

The Ultimate Guide to the Best Beaches in Peru

When someone mentions Peru images of idyllic mountain pastures, ancient Incan…

How to prevent and deal with Altitude Sickness

Most hikers will never experience altitude sickness, (sometimes called acute…

The Top 20 Things to Do in Peru - That Aren't Machu Picchu!

Let's be honest - it probably shouldn't come as much…

Things to Do in Machu Picchu: How to Get the Most out of Your Experience

Although it's one of the most well-known archaeological wonders of…

Top 4 Facts About the Himalayas That Will Take Your Breath Away

When visiting the Himalayas, you'll get as much of a…

Why Joining a Small Group Tour is the Bee's Knees

I better start by explaining the term ‘Bee’s knees’… I’ve been doing…

The Top 10 Things To Do in New Zealand

Are you planning a vacation in the land of the…

The Top 4 Things To Do In The Peruvian Amazon

Stretching 96,922 square kilometres across the country, the Amazon comprises…

Pisac Market and Hike to Pisac Ruins

The village is perched high in the mountains and surrounded…

Mustang Adventure 2018: Trip of a Lifetime for Body, Mind and Soul

When thinking about hiking in Nepal, a lot of people…

Top 10 Guest Photos 2018

New year, new…. annual photo competition winner! Here at Active…

Benefits of Travelling Alone & Tips to Plan Like a Pro

Solo travel is on the rise and we’re stoked about…

Top 10 Guest Photos 2019

It's that time of year again folks, it's our annual…

Replace Your New Year's Resolution with one of these Bucket-List Hikes

New Year's resolutions are notoriously difficult to stick to, most…