22 March 2019
Read Time: 4.4 mins
Wild and remote, Patagonia’s otherworldly charms have been wooing hardcore adventure travellers for decades. Recently though, the South American region known for its spectacular fjordlands, vast and sky scraping mountain ranges and impressive biodiversity, has begun to lure tourists with a more luxury-meets-adventure sensibility.
Straddling the Andes, and with a foot in two of South America’s most popular destinations (Chile and Argentina), Patagonia is rugged and beautiful in equal measure.
It’s unique simply because it is so remote; while the lack of road and rail access in another destination would be a hindrance anywhere else, here it presents an exciting opportunity for travellers willing to get off the beaten track. Because Patagonia’s sparse vegetation, icy landscapes and surrounding desert are best seen up close. Tour operators in the area offer experiences and daytrips that include hiking, kayaking, horse riding and ocean cruising so you can immerse yourself in the rich cultural and natural experiences of the region.
However you go, know this: Patagonia is a powerhouse of incredible sights and one to add to your bucket list.
Found along the Chilean Patagonia coastline, the immense Pia Glacier jostles for eye space with its almost equally impressive mountainous backdrop. Though there are multiple viewpoints from which to view it, including hiking around the glacier, the
sheer magnitude of this glacier is best experienced from the water below. The most lucky visitors may experience the spectacle of huge chunks of ice splitting and calving off the glacier before crashing into the water below.
Make your way as far south as possible in Chile’s Tierra del Fuego archipelago and you’ll find Cape Horn – the southernmost headland of Hornos Island. The sheer 425-metre high cliff juts obstinately from the sea, explaining its role as an important navigation tool for travellers between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans since it was discovered in 1616. The treeless yet green and rocky island, which was declared a biosphere reserve in 2005, harbours a surprising abundance of opportunities for wildlife sightings.
Torres del Paine National Park
The Torres del Paine National Park is a magnet for hikers and horse riders thanks to its towering mountains (torres), blue glaciers and lush pampas or grasslands, teeming with wildlife including the guanoco – a close relative of the llama. Popular for its seemingly mercurial landscapes – which change appearance with the time of day – this wild and rugged national park is requisite Patagonia. Don’t miss the legendary horn-shaped granite towers, the Cuernos del Paine, from which the park takes its name.
Laguna Sofia Valley
The Patagonian countryside is at its panoramic best in the stunning Laguna Sofia Valley. Experience the grandeur and immensity of this landscape as sweeping plains dotted with placid lakes give way to native Lenga forests, rolling hills and craggy mountains. The scenic region is popular with horse riders, rock climbers and wildlife enthusiasts hoping for a glimpse of the mighty condors native to the area.
The Singular, a luxury hotel blending high end accommodation with the majesty of natural Patagonia, offers unique daytrips and immersive experiences to Laguna Sofia Valley from its location in Torres del Paine National Park.
Expansive yet secluded, Ainsworth Bay is one of Patagonia’s longest fjords. Impressive views of Marinelli Glacier are interspersed with scenes of snow-capped mountains and sub-polar forests on the horizon. From the water or land, the bay is perfect for wildlife watching; from elephant seals basking on beaches to skies filled with various bird species and beavers building dams, there’s plenty to see for hikers and cruisers alike.
The Australis Expedition Cruise, sailing from Punta Arenas in Chile to Ushuaia in Argentina, is the perfect introduction to the region. Taking in Pia Glacier, Ainsworth Bay, Cape Horn and the Tierra del Fuego channel, the five-day cruise offers plenty of opportunities to get up close and personal with the beauty of Patagonia.