Patagonia is most famous for its mountains and glaciers, but there’s so much more to see. The volcanoes of the north? The steppe with its vast canyons and amazing rock formations? The wilds of Tierra del Fuego? The Chilean fjords? The rugged Atlantic coastline with its abundant wildlife? The less travelled and Jurassic region of Aysen? The beautiful lakes and rivers of the north?
Patagonia offers some extraordinary opportunities to witness sea-life, birds, and mammals up close. The magellan straits and Atlantic coast offer the perfect conditions for whales and penguins; the dramatic escarpments of the Andean foothills provide nesting sites for the condor, and the guanacos of the Patagonian plains are prey for the Puma.
Some trips are designed specifically around these wildlife and photography opportunities, and others can include additional days to enjoy this wildlife for yourself.
More about Patagonian Wildlife.
'Adventure' comes in many forms in Patagonia: a road-trip through a remote region where no-one speaks English, or a 6 day kayak expedition to a place that precious few humans have laid their eyes on, or a mountaineering expedition onto the Patagonian Ice Cap, or a cultural journey into the Welsh heritage of the Chubut Valley. Whatever your definition of adventure, you can find it all in Patagonia.
However, there are also more comfortable, more convenient and easier ways to explore Patagonia. How about exploring Tierra del Fuego and the fjords on a boat trip? How about photographing the pumas, penguins or whales? How about staying in a luxury lodge, or 'glamping' in heated yurts.
A key question to ask yourself early on in your planning is whether you're prepared to camp for a few nights. Some people are desperate to sleep out under the stars; for others, it's a means of getting to the best spots and photographing sunrise or sunset from the best locations whilst for others, it's something to be avoided on any holiday. Have a think and let us know - we'll be able to help you either way.
One word of advice (originating from several of our customers rather than ourselves directly)... Patagonia is a place where humankind has always been pushed out of its comfort zone. Why don't you take the opportunity to push yourself a bit, try something new, immerse yourself in all that Mother Nature has to offer.
The Patagonian Andes are renowned for offering some of the most dramatic hiking anywhere on this planet. Here there are a dozen different national parks for those looking either for day hikes returning to a nice hotel each night or for multi-day treks in the remote wilderness. Some customers visit Patagonia for just a four-day trek, others hike several different national parks over the course of four weeks. You can read our guide to gather some ideas for trekking in Patagonia.
However, there’s so much more to Patagonia than just the hiking trails, and there are plenty of opportunities to explore these unique and wonderful landscapes in other ways...
Discover more about things to do in Patagonia.
Of course, Patagonia has its iconic "must-see’s" and quite right too. The Perito Moreno glacier is a wonderful and hypnotic spectacle (in spite of the fact that it now has a car park). The towers of Torres del Paine will inspire awe in even the most seasoned of world travellers (despite the fact that you might share that view with a hundred or more other hikers).
You can’t go to Patagonia and miss these spectacles, but you can combine them with some more off-the-beaten track corners of these national parks, or with some lesser known regions of Patagonia.
More about Places to go in Patagonia.
Would you enjoy a few days on the open road, with the freedom to stop off as and where you choose? Staying in a different place each night, and enjoying dramatically different landscapes and colours every day. There are some epic journeys on each of the Carretera Austral in Chile and the Ruta 40 in Argentina. These trips are at their best when they connect you from one major destination to another and we’d be happy to help you consider how to weave either a self-drive or guided road trip into your itinerary.
More about Road Trips in Patagonia.
When you see these landscapes with your own eyes you realise quickly why horses are so fundamental to Patagonian life and why the gaucho culture is so strong. You don’t need to be an experienced rider (our own founder Luke had never ridden a horse before his first visit to Patagonia) to enjoy a day or two of exhilarating horseback riding through Patagonia's vast foothills, plains, and steppe. And gaucho-life is about so much more than just the riding itself…camp out under the stars, enjoy an asado, hang out in the quincho and drink mate with the locals.
More about Horse-Riding in Patagonia.
Yes, we know, the dreaded ‘C’ word. Cruises in Patagonia are different! They can get you to remote places that are simply inaccessible by any other means. Furthermore, the ships are smaller (capacity for around two hundred people) and it’s more about what happens off the boat than on it, with zodiac excursions to landing sites, glaciers, and even Cape Horn. It’s also one of the best ways to see the wildlife of the Magellan Straits up close.
Whilst theses cruises are not cheap they do offer a unique perspective on the fjords, straits and islands of Chile and Argentina.
More about adventure cruises.
Patagonia is big…very big. Distances are vast, and flights wearisome and expensive. So as a rule of thumb we normally recommend a week for each of Patagonia’s different regions; much less than that and you end up spending more time travelling than actually enjoying these great vistas.
So, how long have you got for this trip? If you’ve got just a week then think carefully about what you’d most like to see, do or experience, and we can help you choose the place that’s going to tick all the right boxes for you.
Bear in mind that, unless you're in backpacker-mode with complete freedom and flexibility of time, then a trip to Patagonia can be expensive, and sure enough the longer you're here the more expensive it gets. Most trips with good accommodation and great guides tend to cost around USD $300 per person per day excluding flights; they broadly range from around $180 to $500 per day. Some places (like Torres del Paine) and activities (like horse riding and cruises) are more expensive than others.
If you can manage two or three weeks then you’ll have the opportunity to combine some quite different experiences and landscapes. We’ll help you put your itinerary together to make the most of every day you have.
Patagonia has so much to offer that many people spend up to four weeks in Patagonia alone, however, Chile and Argentina are blessed with several other extraordinary regions. In the North, you could enjoy 3 or more days exploring The Atacama Desert on the Chilean side, or the region of Salta on the Argentinian side; lunar landscapes offering a fantastic contrast of colours and shapes against the mountains and glaciers of the south. Chile’s Easter Island, a five hour out across the Pacific Ocean, is extraordinary for both its coastline and its enigmatic cultural history. For wine-lovers, there are the vineyards of the central valley and Mendoza to enjoy. In northern Argentina, and deep in the jungle, there’s the Iguazu Falls. If you’d like to combine your Patagonia visit with some of these other destinations then let us know and we’ll help you work out the best way to combine it into one trip.
One of the things I'm most proud of is how good the team is at really listening to every customer's needs. There are so many ways to see and experience Patagonia that finding the right one is really important.
Luke Errington Founder, Swoop Patagonia