Visiting Argentinian Patagonia: What you need to know
- Currency: The official currency of Argentina is the Argentine Peso, however it's common to use US dollars when travelling in the country, and most hotels and restaurants will accept them.
- People/Language: Spanish is the dominant language spoken in Argentina but there are over 40 indigenous and immigrant languages used. Some of the indigenous languages are in danger of being lost as only the elderly people of the communities speak it.
- Landscape: Lakes, mountains, peninsulas, steppe, fjords
- Weather: Moderate climate with hot, humid summers and cold, dry winters.
What are the highlights of Argentina?
Places to go in Argentinian Patagonia
The massive South Patagonian Ice Cap feeds the many glaciers that give Argentina's most famous national park its name. Hikers and climbers flock to the hub towns of El Calafate and El Chalten to explore the famous Fitz Roy massif, Perito Moreno glacier or the giant ice sheet itself on day hikes, long treks or boat trips.
Argentinian Lake District
Combining shimmering lakes, jagged peaks, white water rapids and biking trails, the Argentinian Lake District has something for everyone. Just a stone's throw away are the wide expanses of the Patagonian Steppe, where a horse is your best mode of transport.
Tierra del Fuego
This rugged region, at the foot of the continent, can be explored by wilderness treks to Isla Navarino from the from the town of Ushuaia, or voyages along historic sailing routes through the Magellan Strait, down the Beagle Channel and round Cape Horn.
The Valdes Peninsula is a unique land formation and global conservation site – its shores are home to an abundance of marine life, as well as many weird and wonderful land mammals and birds. There is some fascinating history to be discovered here, as well as some stunning scenery, from vast open steppe to steep sandstone cliffs and salt flats at 42m below sea level.
The Ruta 40 stretches, more or less, the entire length of Argentina. Focus on the Patagonian stretch by starting at Bariloche, where you can kayak and white water raft in the Nahuel Huapi National Park. Visit Welsh Patagonia, a land of chapels, tea houses and traditional festivals, before unveiling the artistic traditions of the earliest settlers at Cueva de las Manos. Drive all the way down to El Calafate, rounding off the trip by trekking the Perito Moreno Glacier.
What I love most about Argentine Patagonia: it's incredible diversity of landscapes, wildlife and outdoors experiences, combined with the wonderful people that call it home - always there to greet you with smiling faces and tales of their passion for Patagonia.
Chloe O'Keeffe Patagonia Specialist
Things to do in Argentinian Patagonia
The abundance of world class hikes in Patagonia puts it firmly at the top of most trekkers lists. From the ice and granite pinnacles of Paine and Fitz Roy and extreme of the ice cap of the south to the volcanoes of the north. From the rainforests of the western coast to the wind tortured steppe in the East.
The vast and rugged landscapes of Patagonia have been explored on horseback for hundreds of years, and horses are still preferred by the gauchos today. Visitors to Patagonia, both novices and experienced riders, can also feel the thrill and excitement of riding through the Andes or across the Steppe.
Patagonia is surrounded by fjords and divided by rivers...what better way to explore the region than from the water. Kayak amongst icebergs in glacial lagoons, through fjords inaccessible by other means, across pristine lakes surrounded by lush forest or Andean peaks, or even take on the white water of some of the world's biggest rivers.
Patagonia boasts some of the most adventurous landscapes in all of South America for mountaineering. The jagged peaks of the Andes and the remote pitches of the Patagonian Ice Cap have attracted budding mountaineers for over a century.
Patagonia is fast becoming a top destination for skiers of all abilities with its snow-covered volcanoes, vast ice caps, undiscovered backcountry and reliable snowfall. Stop off at mountain villages, hot springs, and secluded huts along the way for a truly unique alpine experience.
Patagonia offers anglers some of the world's best fly fishing, and some of the most beautiful and varied landscapes in which to do so. The water ranges from tranquil lakes and streams to whitewater rivers. Patagonia is most famous for its Trout (mainly Brown Trout), but there's also opportunity to fish Salmon, Carp and the native Perca. Generally the season runs from mid-November to mid-April.
Cycling can take you to places inaccessible by car, and enables you to cover larger distances than by foot. Plus, for those of you that aren't horse-lovers, you can still cover a large distance in a reasonably short space of time and it means you're still being active rather than just seeing the scenery from a bus.
A road trip is possibly the only way to fully appreciate the size of Patagonia. The Carretera Austral in the western mountains and Ruta 40, that runs through the central plains, are most famous, but there are some shorter routes that link the region's volcanoes or lakes, as well as stunning drives across the Andes.
How to get to Argentinian Patagonia
All flights to Argentinian Patagonia go via Buenos Aires - and what a wonderful city to see en route. Within Patagonia Argentina there are several airports you can use, including: (from north to south) Neuquen (NQN), San Carlos de Bariloche (BRC), Esquel (EQS), El Calafate (FTE), Ushuaia (USH).
If you're coming from Chilean Patagonia and travelling by car/bus the most popular crossing points are:
- The Dorotea Pass (connecting from Puerto Natales to Rio Turbio (and on to El Calafate) and a common trip for people wanting to trek around El Chalten AND Torres del Paine). It's a 5 hour bus journey from Puerto Natales across the border to El Calafate.
- The River Jeinemeni Pass (from Chile Chico in the Aysen region to Los Antiguos and the town of Perito Moreno (not to be confused with the glacier, some 500km to the south)
- Futaleufu Pass connects Futaleufu in Los Lagos region of Chile to Los Cipreses (and on to Trevelin and Esquel)
- The Cruce Andino provides a great option for connecting from Puerto Montt and Puerto Varas to Bariloche, using the Perez Rosales pass
- The Hua Hum Pass (connecting from Panguipulli to San Martin de Los Andes) is the chosen pass for a number of mountain biking and horse-riding trips that take people into both Chile and Argentina.
Arranging a trip
Whether you're interested in booking a single hike or the holiday of a lifetime, we'll first spend some time talking about your ideas for your trip. We love helping people plan adventures to Patagonia, and with over 15 year's experience we can help you decide when to travel, where to go and what to see. We'll provide advice and inspiration and together, we'll help you choose the perfect trip or craft your dream itinerary.
Our Top Trips in Argentinian Patagonia
More about Argentinian Patagonia
Argentine Lake District
Combining shimmering lakes, jagged peaks, white water rapids and biking trails, the Argentinian Lake District has something for everyone. Just a stone's throw away are the wide …
The Valdes Peninsula is a unique land formation and global conservation site, home to an abundance of marine life as well as countless weird and wonderful land mammals and birds. …
Los Glaciares National Park
356 glaciers tumble into icy blue lakes in Argentina's most famous park. Hikers flock here to explore the Fitz Roy massif, thrill-seekers sail up to the wall of Perito Moreno …
Tierra del Fuego
As you reach the end of the continent, the rugged landscape becomes wilder and wilder, finally crumbling into thousands of rocky islands. Tierra del Fuego is a region of …