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Travel to Patagonia | The Best Itinerary

Patagonia, Chile,
Experience all that the vast region of the planet has to offer when you travel to Patagonia.

Enjoy stunning nature with travel to Patagonia. Many discerning travelers are now eager to visit Patagonia after watching the CNN docuseries, “Patagonia: Life on the Edge of the World.” Across six captivating episodes, audiences travel across Patagonia’s diverse and spectacular landscapes. 

“Stretching for more than a thousand miles through Chile and Argentina, Patagonia is a place unlike any other—wild, isolated, pristine and unexplored. The region’s ICONIC wildlife—pumas, penguins, condors and killer whales—thrive in a rich diversity of habitats, and species new to science. Insects, birds and even mammals—are discovered here each year,” CNN exclaims enthusiastically.

Our “best of the best” travel to Patagonia itinerary takes you there. Let’s fly into Santiago, Chile to explore and begin tasting the great Chilean wines in the nearby Maipo Wine Country. 

PATAGONIA NATIONAL PARK, CHILE

Travel to Patagonia begins by flying south and traveling to Patagonia National Park’s Aysen Region in Chile. South of Puerto Montt, is the region of northern Patagonia called the “Carretera Austral” (Austral Route), named for the 769-mile-long dirt and gravel road that bends and twists through thick virgin rainforest, past glacial-fed rivers and aquamarine lakes. You will see jagged, white-capped peaks that rise above open valleys and precipitous cliffs with cascading ribbons of waterfalls at every turn. 

The scenery is remote and rugged. This is Chile’s quintessential road trip. Along the way there are also some of the country’s best fly-fishing lodges, one of the world’s top rivers for rafting, and awe-inspiring glaciers.

The next leg of your journey connects two of the most remote areas in the country by private plane. You will board a private plane to fly 1.5 hours over the glaciers and fjords between Patagonia National Park and Torres del Paine National Park. 

TORRES DEL PAINE NATIONAL PARK, CHILE

Patagonia, Chile,

The spectacular 600,000-acre Torres del Paine National Park in Chile rises vertically more than 6,500 feet. The park was part of a large sheep estancia (ranch) before being designated as a national park in 1959. In addition to the surrounding mountain vistas above pure lakes and glaciers, the region is carpeted with beautiful wildflowers and an assortment of bird species (condors, swans, ostrich-like rheas), and herds of guanacos (cousins to the llamas).

A highlight for many is puma tracking in Torres del Paine with experienced trackers and a specialized guide. This is considered the most popular and sought-after destination on Earth for watching and photographing pumas. The puma, also known as mountain lion and cougar in North America, is the fourth largest cat in the world, after the tiger, the lion and the jaguar. Males usually weigh 110 to 180 pounds and the females are 80 to 130 pounds. In Patagonia, some males can weigh more than 220 pounds. Adult male pumas grow 6 to 8 feet long and females average 5 to 7 feet. This excursion focuses on all the species that live in the area and involves spectacular nature photography. 

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Your visit to Torres del Paine provides fantastic hiking options and complete remoteness, stillness and inaccessibility to most humans. This is a place for adventure. The park has a network of trails which are regarded as some of the most scenic hikes in the world, and it is also a fabulous setting for horse riding, mountain biking and kayaking. 

The three granite Towers that give Torres del Paine National Park its name are the dominant feature of the landscape and can be appreciated from many different angles and many different viewpoints around the park. The Cuernos or ‘Horns’ are twin peaks of rock. A great viewpoint for the Cuernos is the Pehoé lookout point on the trail that runs between Lake Nordenskjold and Lake Pehoé.

A favorite spot is French Valley, one of the best places in Torres del Paine to enjoy a panoramic vista of the mountains. This theatrical view takes in all of the individual rock formations including the Blade, the Mask, the Sword, the Cathedral, the Shark’s Fin and the Fortress. Grey Glacier is one of Torres del Paine’s most ICONIC glaciers and best enjoyed on a boat trip on Grey Lake that weaves amongst free floating icebergs and tours up and down both of the glacier’s snouts.

Based on the area’s unpredictable weather conditions (and often biting wind!) please prepare several layers of adaptable clothing!

LOS GLACIARES NATIONAL PARK, ARGENTINA

Ushuaia

The next leg of your journey is a transnational transfer from Chile to Argentina and the city of El Calafate. El Calafate is the gateway to Los Glaciares National Park, an area of lakes, mountains and glaciers with astounding scenery that is best seen from one of the various boat tour options. Perito Moreno Glacier is the area’s main attraction. This is one of the few remaining glaciers in the world that is getting larger or advancing. It is grinding its way down the Andes range into a branch of the enormous Lake Argentino. For the more active, a glacier trekking experience over its millenarian ice field is highly recommended. 

Another recommended excursion is a gentle hike to the Upsala Glacier Lookout Point. After a 20-minute walk on glacial erosion terrain, admire the imposing Upsala Glacier’s eastern front and the South Patagonian Continental Ice Field.

TIERRA DEL FUEGO NATIONAL PARK, ARGENTINA

The next leg of your journey is a flight to Ushuaia, Argentina. Often referred to as ‘the end of the world,’ Ushuaia was once a penal colony. Now it is a busy port and the capital of Tierra del Fuego, the largest island in South America.

Ushuaia and its surrounding area are a Patagonian paradise with so much to offer visitors – including amazing wildlife, a rich history, treks and walks where you get up close and personal with beavers and unique birds, native to these woods, challenging trips for hikers and climbers, and the opportunity to hit the slopes depending on the season.

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Explore Tierra del Fuego National Park to discover the secrets of this unique park. Here, the Andes are accessible from the sea and the fresh water of rivers and lakes mix with ocean water from the Beagle channel in pristine forests.

On a recommended excursion, arrive at Ensenada Bay and start a moderate 4.5 mile trek along the coast-line. Steamer ducks, upland geese and Magellanic woodpecker are some of the birds that you may spot during this three-hour walk. Then, go canoeing! Your guide will provide paddling technique and a safety briefing, rubber boots, over-pants, and lifejackets before rowing downstream on the Lapataia River in inflatable canoes. Floating at leisure down the Lapataia river will allow you to explore an area seldom visited and concentrate on every attraction the scenery has to offer involving ornithology, geology, ecology, and photography. After some ninety minutes of gentle paddling, you will arrive at Lapataia Bay.

BARILOCHE LAKE DISTRICT, ARGENTINA

On the next leg of your journey, you will fly to Bariloche, Argentina. Guarded by majestic mountains and Lake Nahuel Huapi, Bariloche stands proudly as the gateway to the stunning Lake District. Bariloche is one of Argentina’s most exciting resorts. It offers mountain resort activities and every season is distinctively charming. Summer is best for outdoor activities and sports such as trout fishing, horseback riding, rafting, trekking and hiking. 

Enjoy lazy days at the lake at river beaches or more vigorous mountain climbing. In winter, Cerro Catedral is visited by increasing numbers of winter sports enthusiasts every year. It is the largest and most developed ski resort in South America with 1,482 acres of snow.

On one day, begin with a 50-minute hike through the forest with the opportunity to see the bluffs and valleys along the Nahuel Huapi Lake. For those who are a bit more adventurous, you will have the choice to rappel down the mountainside or hike down to meet your chef who will prepare lunch while you enjoy your surroundings. Complete the day with more hiking and the opportunity to see the native flora and fauna of Northern Patagonia.

Next, discover a favorite estancia or ranch during your travel to Patagonia. The pioneers of this land adopted the gaucho way to manage sheep and cattle. The heritage of more than 100 years of traditions are still alive. Here, you will enjoy a hidden gem within breathtaking nature on horseback (or hiking or by jeep), so saddle up for a two-hour ride along native woodland, mountain and valleys. 

Also recommended is a full-day tour to discover Victoria Island, a universe of natural attractions. Travel by a boat across Lake Nahuel Huapi’s crystal clear waters to the island. Centennial cypresses and coigues (bamboo) woodland and native and exotic fauna are found at every turn. Another part of the island is discovered on your way to Puerto Pampa before embarking for the 30-minute navigation back to Puerto Panuelo.

You will wave farewell to Patagonia as you fly to your international gateway city of Buenos Aires, Argentina….a personal favorite! Elegant, old-worldly, with a touch of Paris here, a touch of London there, a dash of New York cosmopolitanism, and a big splash of Italian exuberance, the city also has a strong Latin America personality. Plus, it has uniquely Argentine elements such as tango bars. 

Here, everything is grand, on a scale fit for kings—Tourists photograph vast steaks at restaurants, Nueve de Julio avenue ranks as the world’s widest, a cemetery so fancy that it occupies one of the poshest parts of the most posh neighborhood, while the entire city fronts onto the world’s widest river. Buenos Aires never fails to impress. It is a perfect send off after your travel to Patagonia, one of the most dramatically beautiful landscapes in the world.

SAMPLE ITINERARY

A “Best of the Best of Patagonia” recommended itinerary is a 20-night journey with luxury accommodations:

Two nights in Santiago, Chile at Magnolia Boutique Hotel, Singular Santiago Hotel, Ritz Carlton Santiago Hotel, Mandarin Oriental Santiago Hotel, or W Santiago Hotel

Three nights in Patagonia National Park, Chile at Explora Patagonia National Park

Three nights in Torres del Paine National Park, Chile at Explora Torres del Paine National Park, Patagonia Camp, Awasi Patagonia, Tierra Patagonia, or The Singular Patagonia

Three nights in El Calafate, Argentina (gateway to Los Glaciares National Park) at Eolo

Patagonia

Three nights in Ushuaia, Argentina (gateway to Tierra del Fuego National Park and sailings departing for Antarctica) at Arakur Ushuaia Resort & Spa

Three nights in Bariloche, Argentina (gateway to the Lake District) at Llao Llao Resort, Golf & Spa or Villa Beluno

Three nights (or longer!) in Buenos Aires, Argentina at Four Seasons Hotel Buenos Aires, Palacio Duhau – Park Hyatt Buenos Aires, Faena Hotel Buenos Aires, CasaSur Palermo Hotel, or Alvear Icon Hotel.

Great expedition cruise add-on options include:

Departing from Ushuaia, Argentina for an expedition sailing to Antarctica and South Georgia aboard Silversea Cruises, Abercrombie & Kent Cruises, Ponant Cultural Cruises & Expeditions, Atlas Ocean Voyages, Scenic Luxury Cruises, Quark Expeditions, National Geographic Expeditions, or Lindblad Expeditions

In Chile, expedition cruising to explore the Patagonian fjords with Australis Patagonia Cruises or a private ship charter.

GIFT OF GIVING

The Nature Conservancy (TNC) of Argentina is doing invaluable work. Among the most important ecoregions in Argentina are El Gran Chaco and La Patagonia, two ICONIC sites in Latin America. Here, environmental degradation represents a risk not only for the country, but globally. TNC provides nature-based solutions to address environmental challenges in those areas providing a triple benefit to biodiversity, climate change and sustainable growth.

TNC in Argentina has three strategic pillars: 

  1. Freshwater—To help ensure water security through the conservation of watersheds. 
  2. Nature and Agriculture—To promote healthy agricultural systems that benefit nature and people. 
  3. Nature Conservation—To preserve strategic natural environments and promote land conservation.

To give a gift membership in TNC go to www.nature.org or to find out more email: argentina@tnc.org

Plus, to see gorgeous photos follow: @tnclatinoamerica

READY TO GO?

To book your business and leisure travels worldwide, call on David Rubin and his team at DavidTravel. In 1996, David moved from a successful law practice, followed a deep passion for travel, and launched his travel company. For more than a decade, David has been on both the Travel + Leisure Magazine “A-List” and the Conde Nast Traveler Magazine “Specialist List” of the best travel advisors in the world. DavidTravel delivers unparalleled style, attention to detail, and insider access uniquely responding to each client’s goals, budget, interests, and dreams.

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