7 Reasons to visit Patagonia
For lovers of the great outdoors, Patagonia is a must-visit destination. Spanning the bottom half of the South American continent, its isolation, stoic but kindly inhabitants and unparalleled natural landscapes have fused it firmly in the minds of many adventurers as the last great unknown, the new “Wild Wild West”, the beguiling haunt of mountains, glaciers, lakes, rivers, and grassy pampas. Patagonia belongs to no one, yet beckons to everyone.
Visiting Patagonia in all its raw and unspoilt grandeur is easier now than it was in the days when travel writers such as Bruce Chatwin and Paul Theroux first introduced the world to this stirringly beautiful place. But the essence of adventure and timelessness remains and is yours to discover.
Read on for 7 reasons why Patagonia should be your next holiday destination!
1. Connect with nature
Even though remote Patagonia is now more accessible to visitors, it’s still a wonderful place to disconnect from modern life, turn off the mobile phone, and enjoy the wilderness.
“Did I pay that bill?”
“I wonder how the meeting went at work? I really should call the office to check in”
…all worries and adult responsibilities melt away and are replaced with serenity, happiness, and appreciation.
Patagonia is famous for its world-class treks and hikes, plus a myriad of other sporting and outdoor activities. Being surrounded by all the beauty Patagonia has to offer, it’s impossible not to relax and get close to nature once again.
2. Fantastic opportunities for wildlife viewing
Patagonia is home to a diverse and intriguing collection of wildlife: both on land and in the sea! One of the most common sights for visitors to Torres del Paine are the herds of frizzy haired guanacos (cousins of llama and alpaca) that roam the fields, in addition to sightings of the local foxes, armadillos, and huemules, a small breed of deer.
Many visitors also find themselves blessed to catch a glimpse of the Andean condor – the largest flying bird in the world and kind of the Patagonian skies. The Magellanic woodpecker, lesser rheas (a large, flightless bird similar to an ostrich), owls, and songbirds are also common sightings. The pièce de résistance of Patagonian wildlife viewings, though, would be to catch a glimpse of the stealthy and elusive puma.
Lastly, if you turn your attention to the nearby ocean and Tierra del Fuego in deep southern Patagonia, the waterways also hold a bounty of stunning marine life including humpback whales, dolphins, sea lions, and several different species of penguins!
3. Breathtaking Landscapes
Did we mention the views in Patagonia? Because they are unmissable. Every step reveals a new stunning vista ready to be appreciated. With a sublime natural mix of sky-scraping mountains, deep blue lakes, giant glaciers that fill the air with their cracks and groans, gushing rivers, rippling plains of grass dotted with guanacos and other wildlife, and clear skies that are transformed into stunning canvas at sunrise and sunset…it’s nature’s ultimate treasure trove – there for your appreciation and enjoyment.
4. Awe-inspiring mountains
One of the most memorable characteristics of Patagonia are definitely the amazing spires and mountains of the southern Andes. The peaks, such as the famous Torres and Los Cuernos of the spectacular Cordillera Paine in Torres del Paine and Mount Fitz Roy in Argentine Patagonia, are composed of granite, and have acquired their incredible shapes thanks to the expert carving of ancient glacial forces.
To see the best of the Paine massif, visitors to Torres del Paine have the choice of the popular “W” trek, which takes about 5 days, or the full 8-9 day trek. Either way, no matter where you go in Patagonia, you’re sure to encounter unforgettable views of the mountains, so be sure to have your mental and physical camera ready to catch and preserve the moment!
5. Beautiful glaciers, lakes, and rivers
The jaw-dropping landscapes of Patagonia would not exist if not for the awesome power of the region’s glaciers, which are some of the biggest and most spectacular on Earth. The immense Perito Moreno in Los Glaciares National Park in Argentina is arguably the most well-known. Visitors are treated to an unforgettable views of the front and side flanks of this blue and white ice giant, with slabs of marbled snow and ice crashing into the lake below. The Grey Glacier in Torres del Paine is also a famous stop, and just as impressive. You can take a boat through the lake at its base to get an up close look at this ancient monster. These two glaciers and many others are part of the huge Southern Patagonian Icefield, the largest concentration of ice in the world besides the Poles.
6. Adventure around every corner
The variety of outdoor sports and activities one can do in Patagonia is almost never ending! Hiking. Treks, nature walks, horse riding, bike riding, kayaking, boating, wildlife watching…. The list goes on and on. One of the most popular stops is the “W” Trek in Torres del Paine, which shows off the park’s must-see highlights like the Torres, the Grey Glacier, and French Valley.
Once in the park, visitors have a plethora of choices for how to enjoy the landscapes, from soft to hard difficulty, and suited to all ages. So what’ll it be, adventurer?
7. Immerse yourself in the rich natural and cultural heritage
Patagonia is a fascinating melting pot of culture! Waves of immigrants from countries like England, Wales and Germany have infused the wilds of Patagonia with a mix of backgrounds bringing their food, languages, beliefs, architecture, and arts with them.
Throughout Patagonia, you’ll encounter diverse foods, traditions, and stories of the people who moved there, as well as plenty of cultural attractions to learn more about the history and culture. In Chilean Patagonia, there is a splendid tradition of craft brewing imported from Germany, so be sure to visit the local pubs! The grassy pampas are also home to the baqueanos (Chilean) and guachos (Argentinean), the region’s version of a cowboy. The cultural side of Patagonia is just as interesting and memorable as the natural side!