Highlights and main attractions of Patagonia

Possibly the most famous region in Chile, it is the natural world in its full glory. Located at the end of the earth, Mother Nature has truly worked her magic, where imposing granite towers overlook turquoise blue glacial lakes, raging rivers rush along valley floors past evergreen forests, and majestic glaciers carpet mountain valleys. Endless expanses of flat plains are occupied by cattle and their hard working ‘baqueanos’ (cowboys), dramatic fjords create awe-inspiring vistas, and penguins make their homes on remote islands. Chilean Patagonia is a harsh environment but infinitely beautiful.

Making up an area which is roughly the size of Britain, over half of Chilean Patagonia is Protected Wilderness Area, and there is less than one person living per square kilometre. The area is broken up into two parts; the northern Aisen region and Magallanes to the south. The Magallanes region, or southern Patagonia, is famed for the incredible Torres del Paine National Park. Trekkers from all over the world converge from October to March, to catch an up-close glimpse of the monumental towers, or the infamous horns. The elusive puma roams in the valleys, as the guanaco keeps watch. Flamingos frequent glacial lakes and the condor soars high above the peaks. Accommodation ranges almost as much as the wildlife, with luxury hotels, campsites, and a handful of rustic lodge hotels in between. 

As long as you’ve brought clothes to suit all seasons, you can explore this dramatic landscape on foot, on horseback and even by boat.

Where is Patagonia?

How to explore wild Patagonia

Understandably, Torres del Paine steals the limelight, but there is so much more on offer in this breath-taking part of the world. Another trekking paradise is Cerro Castillo National Reserve found 80 kilometres south of Coyhaique along the Carretera Austral. The park is home to eagles, condors, huemules (deer) and other forest dwelling animals and it is famed for an abundance of spectacular hanging glaciers. A few hours further south you stumble across General Carrera Lake, a 200km long body of water that straddles across the border with Argentina. At Puerto Rio Tranquilo, there is an incredible natural formation known as Capilla de Marmol Natural Sanctuary where the water has eroded the white marble into the shape of a chapel or cathedral. It is a truly stunning sight and it has to be seen to be believed. For adventure seekers, the Baker and Futaleufú rivers are a haven for kayakers and rafters.

Patagonia is shared with Argentina and it lead to many people visiting both countries in one visit. Flying is the easiest way to reach Chilean Patagonia, but it can be reached by boat, or by car, taking the longer route through Argentina. Most arrive to Punta Arenas, a 5 hour drive from Torres del Paine, and it is also one of the gateways to Antarctica. Fly-and-Cruise trips to the great white continent are available from Punta Arenas, but you don’t have to travel quite so far to see penguins, with many colonies on nearby islands or coastlines. Cruises are also available, that navigate Chile’s extraordinary fjords, with some rounding Cape Horn and ending in the southernmost city in the world, Ushuaia, Argentina. A stunning way to experience perfect Patagonia!

This is the best place to track pumas; we have some incredible specialist departures in the right place at the right time 

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