Where the majesty of nature knows no bounds, where towering peaks touch the sky, and where pristine wilderness awaits your exploration. Welcome to the enchanting Patagonia, a land of raw beauty and unparalleled adventure.

In the southern tip of South America, stretching across Chile and Argentina, this vast territory beckons intrepid travelers with its awe-inspiring landscapes ideal for outdoor activities and wildlife spotting. But when it comes to choosing between Chilean Patagonia and Argentinian Patagonia, where should you go?

Argentinian Patagonia
This Patagonia side is more extensive than the Chilean side, due to that, it captivates with its diversity. From the Andean mountain range, vast plateaus, and the serene shores of glacial lakes and rivers, complemented by exotic flora and fauna.

What to do?

  • Explore San Carlos de Bariloche, where the Andean Mountain Range greatness stands over pristine lakeshores and millenary forests. You may also ski, hike, or sail.
  • Go around El Calafate best known for Los Glaciares National Park home of the iconic Perito Moreno Glacier or the Fitz Roy Mount. Also, spend a day learning about the traditional gaucho lifestyle in several estancias (ranches) of the area.
  • Journey to El Chalten, known as Argentina’s hiking capital, and join mountain trekkings with different levels of difficulty. For a complete natural experience camping is available.
  • For a surge of excitement, visit San Martin de los Andes landscapes for mountain biking, trekking, rowing, kitesurfing, rafting, horseback riding, and sport fishing.
  • Whale-watching in Puerto Madryn from June to December, from the shore or by boat ride. Also, a popular destination for its beaches and adventure excursions.
  • Visit Ushuaia, the southernmost city of the world. Sail on the Beagle Channel, and visit the Magellan penguin rockery, between October and March. Also, take a ride on the End of the World Train.

Chilean Patagonia 

This narrow coastal plain extends from Concorvado Gulf to Cape Horn. It features towering mountains, rivers, lakes, islets, islands, and archipelagos in the Pacific Ocean. Also, it contains ice fields, known as the largest freshwater reserve in the world with unique sceneries that include fjords, snowdrifts, and mountains with pristine wilderness and varied fauna species.

What to do? 

  • Traverse the legendary Carretera Austral, starting from Puerto Montt and ending in Villa O’Higgins. This route through a tapestry of landscapes is ideal for adventure sports and self-driving itineraries. 
  • Visit the emblematic Torres del Paine National Park, home to the towers of Paine and the horns of Paine, rivers, lakes, valleys, and breathtaking glaciers. There you can join popular activities such as taking a boat ride to the Grey Glacier or a trek to the W circuit for trekking lovers. 
  • Discover the charming wooden houses with colorful rooms in Puerto Natales and sail through the Last Hope Fjord to witness nearby glaciers. 
  • Go around Punta Arenas, the gateway to Antarctica, and sail by boat or kayak through the Strait of Magellan to spot penguins. 
  • Visit Puerto Montt highlights such as the famous Angelmó market, a boat trip near Tenglo Island, and the natural beauty of Alerce Andino National Park.
  • Find ancient remains of Yamana’s cultural heritage on Navarino Island.
  • Cruise and navigation options in Cape Horn, the southernmost area of Chile.

General tips & recommendations for your Patagonia travel

  • How to get to Patagonia: If you want to visit the Argentinian Patagonia, start the adventure by flying from Buenos Aires to either El Calafate or Bariloche to access this area. On the other hand, to explore the Chilean side, take a flight from Santiago to Punta Arenas or Puerto Natales. From these points, embark on excursions to the main highlights of the region. However, it is suggested to ask your travel designer which routes by air, road, or boat are available according to your planned activities in your itinerary.
  • Best time to travel to Patagonia: It is recommended to visit this region from October to April, as the weather is warmer and there are less windy periods, making those months suitable for doing most of the outdoor activities and you could admire the transition of different landscape colors.
  • Plan your trip in advance particularly if you’re traveling during high season or with a group.
    It is recommended a pre-tour or post-tour option in Buenos Aires or Santiago, depending on the Patagonia side you choose. Because you will need a necessary stop to recharge energies before or after a long trip.
  • What to wear for your Patagonia travel? Pack comfortable clothing for outdoor activities according to the weather. During spring, summer, and autumn wear: a woolen hat, cap, sunglasses, T-shirt, polar jacket, waterproof jacket, gloves, long trousers, synthetic socks, and trekking boots. For winter you need to add a fleece vest, synthetic or wool long underwear, ski gloves, and gaiters. Also pack some essentials such as sunscreen, creams, a flashlight, and a first aid kit.
  • Check your passport validity, entry, and visa requirements before your travel.

Check out some final relevant aspects to take into account before traveling to the Patagonian region:

Information Chilean Patagonia Argentinian Patagonia
It covers 132,033 km² mainland Chile and 1,250,000 km²

Chilean Antarctic territory.
It covers 1,073,060 km²
More remote areas. It requires extensive travel
Easier access via towns like El Calafate and El Chalten
Main places to visit
Carrera Austral/Aysén, Torres del Paine National Park, Puerto Natales, Punta Arenas, Puerto Varas, Puerto Montt, Navarino Island, Cape Horn
Bariloche, El Calafate, El Chalten, Esquel, Puerto Madryn/ Peninsula Valdes, San Martin de los Andes, Ushuaia, Villa la Angostura
Marine fauna: Humpback whale

Birds: Rhea, cormorants, gulls, Antarctic dove, trouts, Pacific salmon, Andean condors

Land fauna: Huemul, Chilote fox, pumas, guanacos
Marine fauna: The southern right whale, killer whale, commerson’s dolphins, sea lions, elephant seals.

Birds: Magellanic penguin, cormorants, gulls, Antarctic dove, trouts, Pacific salmon, Condor

Land fauna: Foxes, wild cats, Patagonian hares
Lamb on a stick: It is premium quality meat with tasty flavor, open-air cooked while enjoying scenic dining with a glass of wine.

Curanto:Traditional dish, cooked in a hole or pot, the ingredients include seafood, sausages, ribs, chicken, potatoes, and spices.

Carbonada: A vegetable-meat soup ideal for cold climates.
Patagonian lamb: It is a famous local dish, consisting of a lean, tender meat cooked in a clay oven, on the grill, in empanadas, or in a stew.

Crab: End of the World classic, try it naturally, in sauces or casseroles.

Red fruits: Try them fresh, in jams, cakes, and chocolate delights.

Seafood: It is very popular across the territory as it includes many kilometers on the coast.

Finally, the Chilean and Argentinian sides of Patagonia encourage a deeper connection with nature through outdoor activities, and the opportunity to admire stunning sceneries and unique wildlife. Yet, it is in the confluence of both perspectives that we find the true essence of Patagonia, a region that captivates everyone. Your final choice, thus, is how you wish to experience this region.
As an expert local tour operator in South America, we will be glad to help you. Contact our expert team in Argentina and Chile for any request to design the best travel to the Patagonia region.

Published in March 2024