Travel Guide to Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego
Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego might be one of the most beautiful spots you can travel to and explore. Patagonia is located at the southern tip of South America in Argentina and Chile.
Patagonia is the southern region of South America that includes the countries of Chile and Argentina, the Strait of Magellan separates Patagonia from Tierra del Fuego.
Patagonia is a beautiful region of mountains at the southern end of the Andes Mountains with glaciers, mountains, forest, wildlife, ocean coastlines, lakes and lagoons. The separate areas of Argentina Patagonia are The Lake Region, Tierra del Fuego, Atlantic Region and Southern Patagonia.
Lago Grey, Patagonia. Photo by flynut/flickr
Argentina Patagonia – The Lake Region
When you travel to Patagonia; Bariloche, Argentina could be the first place you land as it is the main city in the Lake Region of Argentina Patagonia with an atmosphere of a European Alpine resort. You can hike, sight-see the lakes and mountain areas, go whitewater rafting, biking and skiing. For the more adventurous, you can do mountain climbing and repelling.
Near Bariloche is Argentina’s oldest national park, Parque Nacional Nahuel Huapi. You can also travel to the Llao Llao Peninsula and stay at the beautiful Llao Llao Hotel and Resort.
Summer or winter you can take a trip across the land and lakes between Bariloche, Argentina and Puerto Montt, Chile. During the summer this is a one day trip and two days during the winter. You can also stay along the way and catch up with the next trip back.
Llao Llao Hotel in Bariloche, Argentina Photo by Diego Rivera
Atlantic Patagonia and Peninsula Valdes
If you travel to the Atlantic Patagonia region, Puerto Madryn, Argentina is the main city and where you will most likely base your activities from. This is where you can go whale watching, visit huge penguin colonies, go bird and sea lion watching not to mention the seals. Atlantic Patagonia was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its beautiful pristine land and animals.
Southern Patagonia and El Calafate
El Calafate is the main city where you will most likely land when you travel to Southern Patagonia. This is the land of glaciers and bordered on the south by Tierra del Fuego. Southern Patagonia is home to the Los Glaciers National Park, the small village of El Chalten and the Perito Glacier.
El Chalten is called the Trekking Capital of Argentina with mountain climbing of Cerro Torre and Cerro Fitz Roy mountains. This region also has the beautiful Perito, Onelli and Upsala glaciers surrounded by forests and lakes.
Excursions to the Los Glaciers National Park leave every day from El Calafate. You can explore the area on your own or have a tour guide, which could be a better option to fully appreciate the region.
The climate of El Calafate is dry and cold in the winter and moderate in the summer. The average summer temperature is 68° F (20° C). When you travel to Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego, remember the summer season there is during the winter of the northern hemisphere (October – May).
El Calafate offers several hotels to stay in or you can also stay in nearby Estancias or hostels to get a flavor of local life in southern Patagonia.
Mount Fitz Roy near El Chalten. Photo by Adroar/Wikimedia
Argentina Tierra del Fuego
This travel spot has been called the most beautiful region in the world. The main city is Ushuaia and is known as the world’s southern-most city, which you can reach by plane from Buenos Aires, Argentina or El Calafate. Ushuaia has plenty to do and see in the city itself. Outside of Ushuaia, you can travel by land and water to explore and sight-see the beautiful mountains, forests and wildlife including condors, rheas, pumas, penguins, sea lions and an occasional whale.
The Tierra del Fuego National Park straddles the border of Chile and Argentina. The border is marked by the Beagle Channel where you can take full or half day cruises during the summer months of mid-October through mid-April. You can also explore by ship the Strait of Magellan or the Antarctic waters. Because of its extreme southern location, remember to take along warm clothes and you might have to dress in layers. There are many hiking and mountain climbing trips based out of Ushuaia.
There are numerous luxury, 4-star and 3-star motels in Ushuaia including the Tierra de Leyendas, El Viejo Lobo de Mar and several others. If you prefer to spend a night inside the Tierra del Fuego National Park, there are free and organized campsites near Lake Roca. Summer is the best time of year to travel to Tierra del Fuego for most activities and winter travel is best for skiing.
Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse near Ushuaia in the Beagle Channel. Photo by Ricardo Pereira
Chile Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego
If you travel to the Chile side of Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego, there is the Torres del Paine National Park and is called one of the most unspoiled regions in the world. Both Torres del Paine National Park and Los Glaciers National Park are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. In this area are the Torres del Paine and the Cuernos del Paine mountain ranges with the beautiful Salto Chico and Salto Grande waterfalls. In the park you can also see the del Frances, Dickson and Grey Pingo glaciers with nearby Verde and Azul lagoons.
When you travel to Chile Patagonia, the main city is Puerto Arenas located on the shores of the Strait of Magellan. Not far from Puerto Arenas you can go mountain climbing, mountain hiking and mountain biking, sailing, kayaking, fishing and explore with organized guided tours by land, water and by air.
The hotel with the highest rating is the Explora Patagonia - Hotel Salto Chico located in the Torres del Paine National Park. Other hotels to consider are Hostería Las Torres and Hotel Río Serrano. Your travel agent should have updates on various hotels.
Torres del Paine National Park. Photo by Alastair Rae
Travel to Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego
Travel to both Chile and Argentina require you have a valid passport. In Argentina you do not have to have a visa, you will get a 90 day renewable tourist stamp. In Chile you will need a tourist visa. Check with a local travel agent for specific requirements.
© June 2010 Sam Montana
Resources to help you with your travel plans to Patagonia