Patagonia is a vast, expansive region that covers the southern parts of Chile and Argentina. From the northern Pampas to Tierra del Fuego and the pre-andean mountain peaks, Patagonia reveals natural wonders at every corner. We were lucky enough to have spent 2 months exploring, but what if we had to choose between all these mountain lakes, glaciers, hikes and wildlife? Where would we choose to go? This is a hard choice we have been asked many times by other travelers along our journey. So here it is, our top 8 places to visit in Patagonia. What would be yours?
1.Useless Bay, Tierra del Fuego, Chile
Useless Bay is not the kind of place that everybody knows about. Not easy to access, this remote piece of land hosts a colony of King Penguins. It is the only residence for these birds outside of the sub-antarctic islands which are even more remote and expensive to reach. Useless Bay (also known as Bahia Inutil in Spanish) can be visited from the Chilean town of Punta Arenas after crossing the Strait of Magellan by ferry and a 2-hour drive on dusty and bumpy roads. If you are not able to rent a 4WD you can still join a day tour from Punta Arenas.
2. Grey Glacier, Torres del Paine National Park, Chile
Whether you decide to hike the “W” or the “O” treks of Torres del Paine National Park, the Grey glacier is a stop that must be on your list! This glacier which is part of the Patagonia ice cap, finishes into its lake like a giant frozen tongue. At this point you should expect strong winds and incredible colours.
3. Perito Moreno Glacier, El Calafate, Argentina
It is difficult not to include this wonder of the nature in this list. In fact, as cliché as it can be, Perito Moreno is one of our favourite places in Patagonia. It’s a humongous piece of fresh water coming from the Patagonian ice-cap which regularly drops into a very scenic lake. The ice falls here are very impressive and happen every day right in front of the visitors. But don’t worry, it’s also one of the few glaciers that does not regress but remains stable, despite global warming. Finally, what we liked the most about it would be the ramps and decks that allow visitors to walk around and see the glacier from many different angles.
4. Laguna Cerro Torre, El Chalten, Argentina
A couple of hours hike from its neighbour, the famous Mount Fitz Roy, the Cerro Torre is an impressive peak from where a glacier drops huge chunks of ice into a grey-ish lake. This mountain lake impressed us by its size and the many icebergs floating around. We loved our time at Mount Fitz Roy too, but at Cerro Torre there were less people. The laguna is a very scenic and peaceful place where we enjoyed spending time and taking photos.
5. The Marble Caves, Puerto Rio Tranquilo, Chile
Along the Carretera Austral, the lake General Carrera hosts caves made of marble in which the sun reflects the many different shades of blue from the water. Coupled with the yellow and white twisted marble, the caves and rock formations offer an incredible show to the visitors who dare to kayak or visit by boat. The Marble Caves are a part of Patagonia that can’t be missed despite their remoteness and difficulty to access. The effort is worth it!
6. Palafitos of Castro, Chiloe Island, Chile
Along the seaside town of Castro, visitors can admire the colourful “Palafitos“. These traditional wooden houses are raised on stilts over the sea and have been painted by their owners in many different colours. An incredibly photogenic but uncommon prismatic alignment of houses that reflects onto the low tides waters. Walk around town and notice that each palafito has a different design and shape, custom made by the talented carpenters of the town over generations.
7. Refugio Frey, Bariloche, Argentina
This mountain refuge is easily reachable via a 2 to 3 hour hike from Cerro Catedral, a sky resort located close to Bariloche. We loved the hike and the surroundings covered by the autumnal colours. At the top it was freezing cold, and despite staying only 5 minutes at the lake, the hike to Refugio Frey in autumn was a highlight of our trip in Patagonia.
8. Peninsula Valdes, Puerto Madryn, Argentina
The peninsula Valdes is a blessing for anyone that loves wildlife. Indeed, this stretch of land entering jutting out into the Pacific Ocean shelters Magellanic penguins, guanacos, amardillos and many more animals. The peninsula is mainly known to as a place to watch Southern Right Whales during the mating season in December-January and to spot the incredible Killer Whale behaviours from March. In fact, peninsula Valdes is one of the few places on earth where it is possible to see an Orca stranding on a beach to catch seal pups. A once in a lifetime experience if you are lucky enough to be there at the right time.
Do you want to see more about Patagonia? Find all our articles about this region on our dedicated page
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