Let’s face it, few places on the planet live and breathe adventure more than the glacier-riddled and hiking hot spot that is Patagonia. So make 2017 your year of adventure with these seven awe-inspiring trips to take in Patagonia.
Cycle the Carretera Austral
770-miles (1,240km), passing from Puerto Montt at the edge of Chilean Patagonia to Villa O’Higgins: the Carretera Austral is no mean cycling feat. But what it demands in stamina and endurance, it more than returns in spectacular views.
Depending on how fast you pedal, expect the route to take around 40 days from start to finish, as you cycle beside gleaming glacial meltwater lakes, national parks bursting with rare Valdivian temperate rainforest and tiny communities, miles from civilization.
Take a Road trip along Argentina’s Ruta 40
Argentina’s longest road, Ruta 40 actually travels the full length of the country, skimming the border with Chile and giving an incredible introduction to the natural diversity of this huge nation.
However, the Patagonia section is magical in its own right. Highlights include unmissable Patagonian towns, such as El Calafate and El Chaltén, both of which are within striking distance of Argentine Patagonia’s top attractions, Glacier Perito Moreno and Monte Fitz Roy.
But for many, the real draw of the experience is driving through remote countryside, alone but for the flat expanses of vast Patagonian steppe that surround you on all sides.
Sail through the Chilean fjords
Charles Darwin’s “Voyage of the Beagle” has done much to inspire adventure travelers to follow in his wake and explore the far south of Patagonia, including rounding Cape Horn and cruising through the waters of the Beagle Channel.
Few recreate parts of his incredible journey, but those that do sail through the Beagle Channel and past the bewitching, glacier-hemmed waters of the Chilean fjords, can be safe in the knowledge that the landscapes here have barely changed since Darwin’s time.
Climb Ojos del Salado
Although it’s possible to hike up a volcano in a handful of Latin American countries, for those seeking the ultimate bragging rights, look no further than reaching the summit of the highest active volcano on the planet, Ojos del Salado.
Luckily, it hasn’t erupted for over 1,000 years (save a few plumes of smoke) and at 22,615 ft. (6,893m) above sea level, it remains an impressive mountain to conquer.
Hike the Torres del Paine Circuit
Hailed as the fifth most beautiful place on the planet by National Geographic, Torres del Paine National Park is deserving of being on every budding adventurer’s bucket list. Choose from the three main treks that wind along the windswept shores of glacial lakes, through Patagonian steppe and Magellanic subpolar forest and up to the base of the Paine Massif – the famous granite peaks that are the park’s ultimate highlights.
For the most adventurous, take the challenge of the eight-day ‘Circuit’. This trek passes around the back of the towers and offers up views of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field in all its spectacular, blue-tinged glory.
Ski in the southernmost ski resort, Cerro Castor
Any trip to Tierra del Fuego at the very southern edge of Patagonia is guaranteed to astound but nothing quite beats skiing in the world’s southernmost ski resort, Cerro Castor.
With one of the longest seasons in Argentina (June through October), there is plenty of time to skim down the snow on its 26 trails, passing through forests of native lenga with vistas of unending snow-dappled peaks.
Board the Old Patagonian Express
Immortalized in Paul Theroux’s pivotal travel book, “The Old Patagonian Express”, La Trochita as it’s better known in Spanish is a truly nostalgic Patagonian experience.
Although the route that connects the tiny Argentine town of Esquel with Nahuel Pan, a Mapuche settlement 12-miles (19km) away, now only transports tourists, the one-hour journey will still leave you gasping at Patagonia’s astounding, desolate scenery.