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Patagonia: The Land of Giants

In Patagonia — the 400,000 square miles of South America’s southern tip, shared by Argentina and Chile — you’ll find a region of extreme adventures and jaw-dropping panoramas. Journey to the Argentine Patagonia to discover the resort city of Bariloche, where the Lloa Lloa lodge provides activities for every taste and inclination. Further south awaits El Chalten, the epicenter of South American trekking, while not too far away is El Calafate, the jumping-off point for a trek across the indomitable Perito Moreno Glacier. Meanwhile, in the Chilean Patagonia, Torres del Paine Park has built up a legendary status among travelers for it its impossibly blue lakes, towering snow-dusted mountains and its surprising numbers of wildlife species. In this expansive reserve, atmospheric lodges such as Awasi Patagonia and Explora Patagonia provide privileged and intimate connections with the Paine’s iconic granite peaks. Venture even further south to “The End of the World,” discover the earth’s southernmost city of Ushuaia. A destination in its own right, this frontier village is also the gateway to the White Continent: Antarctica.

 

Contact us here at Surtrek to start the beginning plans for your own “end of the world” adventure.

Highlights

 

  • Make your way to the through sunshine and snow to reach Patagonia’s treasured peaks: Paine Massif’s granite Torres (“towers”) and the dramatic Mount Fitz Roy 
  • Witness ginormous chunks of ice calve off the massive Perito Moreno glacier and crash ceremoniously into the cyan-blue lake below
  • Saddle up and ride on horseback alongside real-life Gauchos across pristine Patagonian plains
  • Lose yourself among some 200,000 pairs of breeding penguins in Tierra del Fuego
  • Experience the Valdes Peninsula’s natural menagerie of Southern right whales, elephant seals, fur seals, dolphins, sea lions, and orcas on the prey
  • Brave the famed “W Trek” of Torres del Paine National Park, the undisputed highlight of the Chilean Patagonia
  • Tantalize your taste buds by sampling a scrumptious Argentine barbecue, and other must-tries like spider crab or black hake dishes
  • Spot amazing wildlife, from condors and guanacos to rheas or ñandues …perhaps even spotting a puma along the way

 

Top things to do and see in Patagonia

 

On a Patagonian adventure tour, you’ll have a chance to go on long treks in which you’ll hike through the most pristine wilderness, climb soaring granite towers, or kayak as close as prudently possible to massive, thundering glaciers. Learn what it takes to be a real “gaucho” when exploring the plains on horseback, making camp and firing up a Patagonian grill – a definite must!

 

Though by no mean exhaustive, here are some of the region’s most popular activities,

 

Wildlife Watching: Throughout Patagonia, opportunities abound for amazing chances to observe the region’s captivating wildlife in their natural habitat. Travelers flock to Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park to spot the region’s “Big Five,” consisting of pumas, llama-like guanacos, South Andean deer known as huemul, Andean condors, and the ostrich-like rhea, or Ñandú. Meanwhile, further south on the shores of Punta Arenas, you can visit colonies penguins numbering in the thousands on Magdalena Island, and look out for the water’s sea lions and whales before heading out on an Antarctic voyage.

 

Hiking: Visitors wanting to explore on foot have many options in the Patagonia region.  Day hikers can bag the dramatic sunrise views of Mount Fitz Roy from the town of El Chalten (Argentina). Alternatively, long-distance trekkers can tackle the crown jewel of Patagonia:  The Torres del Paine Park’s trekking circuit known as the “W” route (named for the shape of this Chilean trail).

 

Glacier & Ice Field Exploring: Every year, more than 100,000 visitors converge at the 97-square mile Perito Moreno Glacier, a declared UNESCO World Heritage Site in Los Glaciares National Park, near the scenic mountain town of El Calafate (Argentina). The glacier, a UNESCO “World Heritage Site” since 1981, remains one of the most awe-inspiring landscapes in Argentina.

 

Cruises: From the colorful fishing town of Puerto Natales, embark on a cruise through the area’s labyrinth of scenic fjords, where immense glaciers and unusual marine life can be admired from the deck of your ship. Similarly, boat voyages on the Grey Glacier will take you to often-overlooked Chilean inlets and the Serrano River, as well cruise the lakes in Nahuel Huapi National Park or shove off from Puerto Madryn, on the Valdes Peninsula,  in search of Southern right whales.

 

Ranch Stays: Visiting the area’s historic estancias offers travelers a glimpse into the rural life of Patagonian ranchers. The century-old Estancia Cristina on Lake Argentino is a destination in its own right. Unspoiled landscapes and opportunities for horseback riding and visiting the area’s stunning glaciers are abundant.

 

In addition to what’s above, you’ll find plenty of places in Patagonia for skiing, horseback riding, windsurfing, scuba diving, kayaking, bike-packing, whitewater rafting and a host of other awesome activities.

 

Surtrek welcomes you on your own unique and personalized journey through Patagonia.

 

Is it safe to visit Patagonia?

 

Absolutely! As crime here is virtually non-existent Patagonia, it’s considered an extremely safe destination for travelers. Likewise, there are no dangerous creepy, crawly or slithering things to worry about in this region. There are, however, infrequent sightings of the elusive puma in the region, but these are exceedingly rare and they flee human activity; in fact, you’ll actually be lucky to see one!

 

The primary safety concerns involve trekking and exploring, which is why Surtrek contracts with experienced local guides who are familiar with the summits, elements, terrain, and weather patterns. In addition, these expert tour leaders are qualified in administering first-aid and CPR, and are knowledgeable of safety precautions and emergency care. Likewise, your vehicles will be fully equipped with a basic first-aid kit, a satellite phone, and GPS locators to ensure that first responders can reach you quickly in the case of an emergency. What’s more, after returning to your Surtrek-vetted lodge, you’ll find that the food, beverages, water, and ice are all safe.

 

In any case, as you’ll be trekking through this untamed “the end of the world” destination, we highly recommended travel insurance …just to be extra safe.

 

Best time to tour Patagonia

 

Keeping in mind the Southern Hemisphere’s summer takes place during the Northern Hemisphere’s winter, the best time to visit the Argentine or Chilean Patagonia is between November and early March. While these months have the mildest weather, keep in mind that temperatures rarely go above 70 degrees and the winds are strong. Although you'll meet up with crowds of fellow tourists during this peak season, the weather is ideal for exploring this spectacular region of moss-veiled forest trails and indomitable glaciers. Otherwise, the months or April to October can be harsh, with many lodges closed due to the biting cold weather and violent storms that can sweep in from the Pacific.

 

What to pack for Patagonia

 

Being a mountainous region with varied terrain, weather in Patagonia is unpredictable, with it not uncommon to experience intense sunshine, wind, rain and even snow in a single day. Therefore, to experience and enjoy this natural paradise to its fullest — without the weather affecting your daily activities — it’s important to come well prepared.

 

Though you’ll receive a detailed packing list after you book your once-in-a-lifetime Patagonian adventure tour with Surtrek, the following tips and general pack list provides useful guidelines for traveling in southern Chile and Argentina:

 

Patagonia Andean Packing Tips

 

  • Pack warm, fast-drying clothes:  Keep in mind that layer-able, non-cotton clothing designed for hiking and athletics with a rain shell is the recommended outfit for a day in this cool and off times frigid region. Pack warm, fast-drying hiking clothes – synthetic performance fabrics and wool, but avoid cotton, especially directly against the skin).
  • Dress in Layers: Since temperatures can vary between 5 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit in the course of a single day, it’s crucial that travelers layer clothing. A waterproof jacket and trekking boots are highly essential, as is sunscreen and a pair of quality sunglasses (the sun is extremely bright).
  • Hiking shoes or boots: Protecting your feet is serious. Bring quality, ankle-supporting hiking shoes of boots that either dry quickly or are water-resistant. Boots or shoes must be worn-in before and should be robust to protect ankle and heel, but should be flexible at the same time. A Waterproof inner lining will help to keep your feet dry. It is a good thing to spray all over your boots or shoes a waterproofing product. 

 

Essential Items for Patagonia

 

When packing for a trip to the unpredictable Patagonia region, consider packing these items in addition to your general travel items.

 

  • Hiking backpack – for trekking. 60-70L (men) and 50-60L (women)
  • Hiking boots – Waterproof, sturdy, ankle supporting, with anti-slip rubber soles, and comfortably broken in
  • Hiking socks – Moisture wicking with medium-to-heavy cushioning, depending on the cold)
  • Long pants (jeans, khakis or leggings) – For walking around town, horseback riding
  • Hiking pants – Sturdy & waterproof but breathable
  • Moisture-wicking base layer tops and bottoms (“long underwear” or “ski underwear”) – Mid-to-heavy weight fabric that’s next-to-your-skin. For hiking and sleeping. Merino wool (recommended) or polyester blend. No or little (moisture-retaining) cotton.  Fleece leggings can also be worn in especially cold areas (i.e. Tierra del Fuego)
  • Insulating mid-layer “soft shell” micro-fleece &/or puffy jacket – for insulation. Fleece or synthetic down or water-resistant down recommended.
  • Rain/wind-shielding “hard shell” outer layer jacket – Waterproof (but breathable) and wind-proof “hard shell,” i.e. Gortex waterproof jacket
  • Skullcap or “beanie”
  • Hiking Gloves
  • Trekking poles
  • Camelback water dispenser

 

How do you get to Patagonia

 

Wherever you choose to venture in the ruggedly beautiful Patagonia, keep in mind that you’ll be met by a Surtrek representative the moment you touch down at whatever international airport. From there, you’ll be continuously accompanied by a Surtrek representative and guide throughout your adventure, ensuring that your trip is hassle free.

 

To reach the Argentine Patagonia, most travelers fly into Buenos Aires’ Ezeiza International Airport. From there, you can then take a hopper flight to your desired Patagonian city in either:

 

  • the Lake District, where Bariloche is the major hub
  • the Atlantic Patagonia, the area surrounding Puerto Madryn
  • Argentina’s Southern Patagonia, at El Chaltén or El Calafate
  • or the Tierra del Fuego archipelago, landing in Ushuaia)

 

Chile’s Patagonia covers the lower third of this beanstalk nation. Traveling here, you’ll fly from Santiago de Chile to either:

 

  • the northern Lake District, landing in the gateway town of Puerto Montt 
  • the Southern Coast, touching down in Puerto Natales or Punta Arenas, where you can travel on to Tierra del Fuego for a taste of the rugged spirit of that breathtaking natural setting

 

NOTE:  Airline seats fill up quickly during Patagonia’s peak travel season (especially December—February), so you should purchase tickets as far in advance as possible: Six months is ideal. For other months in the high season (October until early May), book three months ahead to avoid steep fares and limited options.

 

Why tour Patagonia with Surtrek?

 

With over 25 years of introducing adventurous travelers to authentic, tailor-made luxury travel experiences across South America, Surtrek is adept at offering some of the best and most complete tour services in the Chilean and Argentine Patagonia.

 

With our experienced travel team of 25 members strong — including native speakers of five different languages — we will work one-on-one with you to custom-design a Patagonia tour that perfectly suits your particular interests and needs.

 

Contact us here at Surtrek to start the beginning plans for your own “end of the world” adventure.

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“I had a great trip with the liveabord at Agressor II, everything was just perfect, the boat, the trip, the team and the dives. I would like to thank for all the support from Surtrek team.”Alex