Ultimate Southern Patagonia Checklist

Patagonia’s untamed frontier is too big for most to see all in one trip so to maximise time spent adventuring, we suggest focusing on Southern Patagonia. With everything from horseback riding to river rafting, visiting penguins colonies to canoeing through icebergs, Southern Patagonia is an adventurer’s wildest dream.  In Patagonia’s heartland there are a magnitude of postcard worthy national parks and protected biospheres to explore across both Argentina and Chile.

1. Trek Torres Del Paine National Park, Southern Chile

There are many opportunities to explore the fiercely blue glaciers and lakes and view the picturesque mountains in Patagonia’s most popular park.  Visitors come from far and wide to see ‘Los Cuernos Del Paine, a stunning range of granite peaks, and the park’s jaw dropping towers, ‘Torres Del Paine’. All can be seen from the two most popular trails ‘W Trek’ and ‘O Circuit’ that zig zag through and circumnavigate the park respectively.  To take in the full beauty of the flora, fauna and terrain, the hikes shouldn’t be rushed. For another immersive experience, consider kayaking through icebergs across the aquamarine waters of Lago Grey, over 500 meters deep. 

W Trek and O Circuit Differences Explained
Hike the W Trek

2. Explore Los Glaciares National Park, Southern Argentina

Los Glaciares National Park is the biggest national park in Argentina in addition to being a UNESCO world site. It’s characterized by imposing peaks dominating the skyline and views that stretch for miles like the wind across the pampas. Within Los Glaciares the most famous hike is to Mount Fitzroy, with views of Laguna De Los Tres that are nothing short of spectacular.  Other notable hikes around El Chalten, include the trek to Laguna Torre at the base of Cerro Torre’s distinctive mile high ‘needle of granite’ set high in the snow capped Andes. Los Glaciares also hosts Argentina’s largest lake, the massive Lago Argentino, composed primarily of glacial meltwater from the park’s giant ice cap. Nearly covering half the park, the Southern Patagonian Icecap and its 47 glaciers are the park’s namesake. The centerpiece being the famous Perito Moreno. Read our blog post about El Chalten Treks for more information

The Perito Moreno glacier in Argentina

3. Gaze at Perito Moreno, Los Glaciares National Park, Southern Argentina

Outside El Calafate resides the one of the most famous glaciers in the world, Perito Moreno. It is easy to spend a full day here to take in this monumental display of nature that stretches 3 miles across. Hours can be spent perusing the multileveled boardwalks to find the best vantage point of the glacier.  Alternatively take a ferry across the creamy blue lake for closer inspection of the glacial walls, on average standing 240 feet above the surface of the water. It is a unique treat to witness the thunderous cracking of sizable ice chunks crashing into the Iceberg Channel below. Perito Moreno also extends a world class opportunity to ice trek; strap on some crampons and explore in a way you’ve never before. Check out our 5 Day Los Glaciares Package.

4. Greet Penguins at the Penguin Colony Isla Magdalena, Punta Arenas, Southern Chile

In the heart of the strait of Magellen lies the Isla Magdalena, home to the most significant breeding ground of the tuxedoed magellanic penguin and one of the largest rookeries in Patagonia. Pass sea lions and whales on the boat ride from Punta Arenas to the extensive, healthy colony of over 120,000 penguins.  The penguins migrate to Isla Magdalena over the summer to lay their eggs and raise their chicks. Over the entirety of the island, they can be seen nesting in burrows, frolicking in the ocean, and waddling in and out of the designated pathways for tourists. Named the number one thing to do in Punta Arenas, this is a definite ‘do not miss’.

River near Laguna Esmeralda in Tierra del Fuego

5. Hike in Tierra Del Fuego National Park, Ushuaia, Southern Argentina

This gateway to Antarctica captivates the minds of scientists and explorers alike from all over.  Outside of Ushuaia, Tierra Del Fuego’s turquoise hued lakes, snowy mountains, and unusually shaped wind bent trees are the regional landforms that visitors are clamouring to explore.  This untamed park offers a unique geographical intersection of the Andes mountains and coastal lagoons. In the winter, the slopes provide excellent conditions for skiing and snowshoeing. Year round the glacial cruises that glide down Beagle Channel viewing the plethora of aquatic life are requisite for nature lovers.  Alongside the fjords, the marine habitats Zaratiegui Bay, Acigami Lake and Lapataia Bay are highly popular visitor destinations. The intrepid should also venture out to the fabled Cape Horn on an Antarctic voyage for the ultimate ‘End of the World’ experience.

Additional Reading: More Things To Do In Ushuaia

If you’re ready to make the plunge, click here to….Explore Ushuaia With U

6. Visit Isla Navarino, The Southern Tip of Argentina

Even further south than Ushauia is Isla Navarino, upon which Puerto Williams resides.  If you can’t afford a trip down to the South Pole then you might be in luck, Chile claims this island to be the “Chilean Antarctica”.  This island is known for birdwatching in Omora Ethnobotanical Park, kayaking the icy waters of Patagonia’s tip and trekking the most southernly trekking route in the world, Dientes del Navarino.  It is hailed as an alternative to Torres Del Paine, albeit a much more rugged and less marked one. Los Dientes del Navarino translates to “The teeth of Navarino” because of the jagged peaks resembling teeth that scrape at the sky.  Another novelty of Isla Navarino is the small town of Caleta Tortel. This tiny coastal and lumber village is famed for being held together by 5 miles of wooden walkways and stilt houses wrapping around the bay side

View of Puerto Williams and Dientes del Navarino
View of Puerto Williams and Dientes del Navarino

If thrilling outdoor excursions like kayaking high altitude lakes or ice trekking ancient glaciers define your ideal getaway then you should be zeroing in on Southern Patagonia.  The rugged landscape in Patagonia’s national parks is that of inexplicable beauty and has long been exalted for premier trekking. Take in the beautiful sights of calving glaciers, guanaco herds on Andean steppes, and sea lions breeching in the fjords. These experiences of a lifetime are waiting for you here between the soaring Torres Del Paine and the End of the World.

We hope when you visit Southern Patagonia you’ll use this guide to become as enrapted as we are. Our comprehensive 14 day adventure spanning across Argentina and Chile covers many of these destinations and will guide you through the unforgettable Los Glaciares, Torres Del Paine, and Tierra Del Fuego National Parks.