February 7, 2022
So Patagonia has been on your bucket list for a while now and you want to make sure you have all the good things covered. Or maybe you’ve been hearing about Patagonia but are not too sure what to expect. Either way this complete guide is exactly what you need to prepare for one of the best adventures you can live in your life. We’ll tell you everything you need to know from why you need to visit Patagonia to how to get there, without forgetting packing essentials and a list of our favourite local places.
Why should you visit Patagonia?
First things first let’s start with the main part, and probably the most important. There is an almost endless list of reasons why you should visit Patagonia, but we’ll keep it short for now and let you discover the rest for yourself.
Only very few people can claim they have been to the end of the world and once you visit Patagonia, you’ll be in the perfect local to tick that off your bucket list. It’s the perfect place to spot incredible wildlife and be mesmerised by the breath-taking landscapes. Speaking of landscapes, you’ll want to bring a camera on this trip, there’s some incredible trails that lead you to the best viewpoints and most importantly… the glaciers. You will come so close to them you’ll almost be able to touch them and trust us you’ll definitely want to picture them from every angle possible.
There is no better way to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of our daily life and for some of us our newfound working from home habits than to enjoy the fresh air surrounded by nature and beautiful skies from sunrise till night. You’ll rarely see more star in the sky!
How do you get to Patagonia?
We wish there was a more straightforward way of getting to Patagonia but unfortunately, or fortunately for you, you’ll have to stop at Buenos Aires in Argentina or Santiago in Chile before you can make your way down here. If you have time why not take a couple of days there first, there’s plenty to see and these two capital cities offer plenty of options for you to continue your onward journey down to the edge of the word.
Lost cost airlines will get you here at a very unfordable price, especially if you depart from the Chilean side. We do however recommend that you book your flights nice and early to get the best deals and avoid disappointment as it can get rather busy in the high season (December to March).
If you are feeling brave enough, or if you just have plenty of time and want to take in all the beauty of South America you can take a bus from Buenos Aires to El Calafate. You might not think that is long but to give you an idea that journey will take you at least two days, depending on the stops along the way. It’s well worth it if you don’t suffer from any motion sickness but might cost you more in the end. Generally speaking, the most cost-effective way will remain a combination of domestic flights, public buses and private transfers.
When is the best time to visit Patagonia?
Now the important question because nobody wants to travel in bad weather conditions. Patagonia is best enjoyed in the spring and summer of the southern hemisphere. Spring runs from October through to November and summer from December through to February, so if you stuck in cold and rainy Europe then now is the perfect time to book your flights. With clear blue skies and pleasant temperatures there is no better way to visit Patagonia and make the most of all the hiking and spectacular views.
Our favourite places to visit in Patagonia
Your escape to Patagonia will start at El Calafate, in small town at the edge of the Southern Patagonian, in the province of Santa Cruz. From here you’ll be able to access the “Los Glaciares National Park” and surrounded yourself by the wonders that nature has to offer us. Of course, we recommend you spend a day or two here to absorb the culture and magnificent views.
El Calafate is also the starting point for the “Perito Moreno” glacier that will leave you in awe. Regular buses will help you get there and pick you up.
If you’re feeling a lot more adventurous Patagonia also offers white water rafting in Futaleufu or just as thrilling but less high intensity why not go whale watching in the Peninsula Valdes.
Finally, lace up your hiking shoes as you start your hiking days from El Chalten. This tiny city doesn’t have much to offer but will definitely charm you and be the perfect place to leave your bag and tackle the trek to the glacial ‘Laguna de Los Tres’. Don’t worry there’s something for all abilities so even you aren’t the most sportive person there is definitely something here for you to enjoy.
If you decide to visit the Chilean part of Patagonia, Torres del Paine National Park is an absolute must visit. You can't really ask for a better hiking spot! Then head off to Punta Arenas and visit Magdalena Island to see the largest colony of Magellanic penguins.
What should you wear during your trip to Patagonia?
This can be a little tricky especially due to your potential stop in Buenos Aires or Santiago. You will be going from one extreme to another but absolutely nothing to worry about, you just need to come prepared with the essentials and we’re here to help.
Here is a list of unmissable items
- A good waterproof jacket/windbreaker as it sure can get windy during those hikes.
- Some good sunblock as the sun is deceptively strong despite the cold. You wouldn’t think you’d get a sunburn here, but we are here to tell you that it’s possible.
- Good hiking shoes to be able to hike up some of the famous trails of the region. Something waterproof or at the very least water repellent as you’ll want to keep those feet dry all day.
- Warm base layers that you will be able to take-off when the temperatures pick up during the day or as you warm up for walking up the narrow trails.
How can you travel responsibly to Patagonia?
Something we believe in greatly is travel that is done responsibly so here are a few things you can add to your holiday to play your part whilst also enjoying this beautiful region.
Contribute to the local economy by shopping locally, getting to learn about the culture, and enjoying the food from the region you visit. Of course, we are here to help but if you want to look up your own tours and activities make sure you are using service that benefits the locals.
We can’t emphasize this enough: clean up after yourself. We all enjoy snacks, and we know how important it is to carry food and water especially if you’re hiking for a few days but please make sure you leave nothing behind. Clean up after yourself and double check before setting up your tent that you are not overstepping onto the nature that surrounds you. Like with all places, avoid plastics and littering that would ruin the ecosystem and the views for others.
Best things you can eat in Patagonia:
Cordero al palo (spit roast lamb):
Patagonia’s most renowned dish, Cordero Al Palo is a meat-lovers dream and a must-try when you visit the country. Consisting of spit-roast lamb that is cooked over an open log fire for multiple hours to ensure a tender and delicate inside in contrast to the crispy outer layer. This technique of cooking also ensures that a smokey, barbecue flavour is instilled into the meat for a tasty and unmissable dish that is a staple of Chilean and Argentinian Patagonia. If there’s one dish you have to try while you’re here this is the one.
Chupe de Centolla
King Crab Pie known by its original name Chupe de Centolla is one of the best seafood dishes you will find in Chile. Thanks to the nearby Humboldt Current that offers a variety of different fish, this is a very popular dish in many of the households in the region. The stew is mad by chopping the King Crab into bite-sized pieces and adding breadcrumbs and cheese to it. These two key ingredients turn the soup into a thick and creamy dish that is as tasty as it looks. For those looking for some extra indulgence, you can also top up the dish with some grated cheese. The perfect dish to warm you up after spending the day discovering the wintery slopes of Patagonia.
A variation of the infamous Pisco Sour, the Calafate Sour is a typical Patagonian drink that is made similarly to its cousin with sugar, lemon juice and Chilean Pisco. The difference between the two drinks is the addition of Calafate berry juice which gives the drink a sweet flavour compared to the slightly tart flavour of the traditional Pisco Sour. An important fact to know is that the Calafate berry is known as the symbol of Patagonia and many other products, such as jams are made from this sweet little berry. The perfect gift to bring back to friends and family as a reminder of your trip.
Empanadas de cordebo
We all love baked dough in any form or variation so we can guarantee that this will be a treat for all. Empanadas de Cordero is not your regular baked dough though, this is filled with a thick and flavoursome lamb stew that will instantly have your taste buds tingling. It’s a popular dish in other areas of South America, including Chile and Argentina but each community likes to put their own twist so try it out and then let us know which recipe you like best!
Of course, this is just an overview of what to expect during your trip, and if there’s anything else we can arrange for you feel free to reach out to us and we’d be happy to help. We can’t wait for you to visit and hear your thoughts on this incredible region.