View of Grey Glacier from the John Garner Pass | Kevin Phipps
There's something magical about Patagonia. Even the name rings with a certain romance. A region rather than a country, Patagonia is made up of the southern-most part of Chile and Argentina. Divided by the mighty Andes – the world's longest and youngest mountain range, Patagonia is famous for its stunning landscapes. It's a place of rugged mountains, pristine lakes, crashing waterfalls, milky blue rivers, glaciers and forests – a wonderland for trekkers and nature lovers. And with a short season from October to March, now is the time to book for the upcoming season!
What's amazing about the following 5 jaw-droppingly beautiful Patagonia highlights of the region is that they are all so different!
1. Torres del Paine
Where else can you hike amid the raw, majestic beauty of one of the world's most magnificent national parks? One of the most recognized mountains in the world, the three towers of Paine are the highlight of Chile's famous "W trek". An unrivalled landscape of jagged peaks and brilliant blue lakes, flowering meadows and glaciers that are home to a series of mountain lodges that make exploration of the area a pleasure. After a 3 hour walk through the beautiful Ascencio Valley on the eastern side of the W, the Torres tower over the glacial lake at its base. An unforgettable sight with the giant, fang-like peaks majestically rising above the surrounding landscape.
Embark on a self-guided Torres del Paine W Trek or for even more adventurous trekkers keen to witness the vastness of the Grey Glacier, the Torres Del Paine Circuit.
2. Lakes District
Experience the breathtaking mountain scenery of the Lakes District as you travel between Argentina and Chile; a land of picturesque glacial lakes surrounded by extinct volcanoes, jagged peaks and luxuriant forests. While you're there, soak up the fairytale beauty of Bariloche, an impossibly gorgeous lakeside city surrounded by mountains and alpine forests, the laid-back town of San Martin de los Andes, or fly fishing capital Junin de los Andes. There is no shortage of highlights in this spectacular region, though the one that takes the cake is the magnificent Parque Nacional Nahel Huapi, an unspoilt wilderness packed with trekking and outdoor activities to satisfy any adventurous traveller for weeks!
Experience the Lakes District on the Patagonia Parks and Wildlife trip.
If there's one sight you simply must see in Patagonia, it's the magnificent glaciers! Glaciers form when snow is compacted over time - and they are wondrous in Patagonia! The Southern Patagonian icefield feeds some 48 glaciers in the southern Patagonian region - and each has its own personality. On the W trek, for example, the Grey Glacier is quite different to the glaciers at Mt Fitz Roy and the Torres in its scale. Of course, the best known glacier is the amazing Perito Moreno Glacier - and the experience of watching enormous chunks of ice "calve" from the massive ice cliff and fall into the floating ice water below is absolutely unforgettable. The sounds from the cliff of ice leave no doubt that the glacier is on the move - cracking whips and thundery rumbles are deafening and will leave you in awe while you look on from a safe distance.
See the mind-blowing glaciers on the Paine and Fitz Roy Trek, or jump on a short extension to see the Fitz Roy & Perito Moreno Glacier!
4. Culinary Delights
A surprise entrant on the Patagonian highlights list is its emerging culinary scene. Perhaps because of its stunning scenery, Patagonia's food scene has been largely - and unfairly - overlooked. Thanks to an abundance of quality natural ingredients and its rich European historical influence, there are many upmarket restaurants throughout the region serving imaginative and delicious fare. Patagonia's culinary treasure is the southern king crab, recognised by chefs around the world for its strong, deep flavours. From the traditional stews which combine seafood and meat to simply BBQ-ed meats slow cooked over coals, there's a variety that means there's something new to try daily.
There's plenty of reasons Patagonia enjoys its magical reputation and, like the landscape, there's plenty of variety with the way you choose to experience it. Whether you're comfortable with multi day treks and Refugio accommodation or you prefer luxury accommodation and day walks, there's a Patagonian itinerary to suit! It's an unmissable region - grab your camera and go soon!
5. Rich Culture
Though sparsely populated, Patagonia has a rich cultural history including native patagonia tribes. Over time, many of these tribes have become extinct, and the predominant culture that exists today is the Baqueano (Gaucho) culture. Literally translating to "cowboy", the gauchos have a history of rounding up sheep and cattle, hunting for guanaco and nandus to sell their skin and feathers. The estancias (guest ranches) that gauchos used to occupy evoke a lost spirit of the romance of old Patagonia, and are a wonderful insight into the gauchos livelihood.
Visit a traditional estancia for a vivid insight into pioneer life on the Patagonia Parks and wildlife trip!