Patagonia – a name forged in mystery and adventure – covers the bottom half of both Argentina and Chile and is easily accessible from North America via Santiago or Buenos Aires. It is home to some of the richest dinosaur fossil deposits and also some of the largest dinosaur species ever found.
“Paleontologists announced that they had discovered the remains of a 105-foot-long dinosaur on the banks of a lake in the Argentine portion of Patagonia.” The region is also home to some of South America’s most famous and natural sites – Torres del Paine National Park in Chile, Moreno Glacier in Argentina – one of the world’s last advancing glaciers, and the world famous Fitzroy National Park – dotted with a multitude of glaciers and a mecca for trekkers.
The most striking feature of Southern Patagonia is its look and geography. It feels of what the earth would have looked like in the days of the dinosaur. No where else can you feel like you have gone back in time millions of years.
Torres Del Paine National Park
Arguably the highlight of all this would undoubtedly be Torres del Paine National Park in Chile’s Southern Patagonia, and at its centre, the three towers of granite. The Park itself is over 12,000 hectares (30,000 acres) and boasts glaciers, open pampas, and endemic wildlife such as rheas, Patagonia hares, vicunas, and jaguars.
The Torres del Paine circuit, around the famous craggy mountains that crown the Park, is one of the world’s classic trekking routes. Breathtaking views, together with glaciers, rivers, lakes, forests and abundant wildlife provide the trip with constantly changing scenery and experiences. This is one of the greatest scenic wonders of the world and one of those places to which all serious mountain lovers must make a pilgrimage at least once in their lifetime.
Other options include day hikes to the base of the 3 towers, kayaking, horseback riding, and relaxation, based at one of our 3 all-inclusive accommodation options: 5-star Explora Lodge, 5-star Tierra Patagonia Lodge, or a stay in Eco Dome suites.
Suggested Itineraries:3-Day Tierra Patagonia Hotel – Stay of Distinction
3-Day explora Patagonia – Stay of Distinction**
Further north and a short 5 hour drive away is the equally famous Moreno Glacier in Argentina. (Five hours is short in Patagonia!)
Calafate is the base to reach the Moreno Glacier. Like the many other glaciers in the region, Moreno is formed from snow falling in the Andes over 100 years ago, and slowly being compressed into ice. Over time, gravity forces this mountain of ice down towards the head land.
Enjoy views of the Perito Moreno Glacier, from the catwalks that snake in front of the glacier or the boat ride that sails up – but not too close – to the face of the glacier. You can also have the ultimate experience – a trek ONTO the glacier. All these modes offer an inkling to the size and wonder of this extreme example of Mother Nature’s power and beauty.
Pushing up against the head land where the catwalks are located, the glacier is under constant pressure, and this pressure sees a continual parade of breaking and falling ice of up to 10 stories high. The sounds of the ice breaking is a constant musical back drop to one of South America’s most amazing sites.
3-Day Calafate & the Perito Moreno Glacier
Fitz Roy National Park
Two hours north of Calafate is Fitz Roy National Park. Somewhat ignored by many travellers, this park offers pristine trekking opportunities in an environment of true tranquility and remoteness, though this aspect is quickly disappearing as more and more people become aware of the beauty of the area.
Staying in Argentina and heading south, true intrepid travellers are able to explore the Patagonian fjords and retrace the navigating steps of Magellan. Explore the Magellan Strait and journey from Southern Patagonia to the tip of the South American continent and southern most town in the world – Ushuaia.
From this furthest point south (other than Antarctica), your journey can continue back north to one of South America‘s many more famous sites and destinations – Buenos Aires, Iguassu Falls, and Machu Picchu.
With so much on offer on a South America vacation for outdoor adventurists, consider an extensive exploration of Patagonia and its magnificent, natural splendour.