Although Patagonia covers a huge area of over 402,700sq.-miles (over one million km²), three weeks is enough for seeing some of the region’s most celebrated sights. This Patagonia trip planner sets out the unmissable attractions to fit into your itinerary and gives practical information about how to travel between the different cities and towns.
Patagonia Trip Planner: Argentina
The actual boundaries of Patagonia might be disputed, but most agree that Bariloche sits at the very edges of Argentine Patagonia. Most famous for its hiking and skiing at Cerro Catedral and in Nahuel Huapi National Park, Bariloche is also renowned for water sports thanks to its location at the heart of the Argentine Lake District.
Established by Welsh immigrants to the region in the mid-1800s, Puerto Madryn is a small town within striking distance of Argentina’s most significant area of wildlife: the Valdes Peninsula. Colonies of lazing sea lions and elephant seals lie the coast, while a short distance away in Punta Tombo exists the largest Magellanic penguin colony on the planet.
How to get there: Puerto Madryn is only connected to Bariloche with a bus service that takes 12 hours.
El Calafate and El Chaltén
El Calafate is known for one thing and one thing only: the majestic Perito Moreno Glacier that sits atop the green-blue glacial waters of Lake Argentino. This natural spectacle can be seen either from a boat tour or from the walkways that pass a few hundred feet away from the glacier’s snout.
Nearby El Chaltén lies in the shadow of impressive Monte Fitz Roy, one of the most technically challenging peaks to summit in the world. This town has access right from your hotel doorstep to a series of excellent hiking trails.
El Chaltén is connected to El Calafate with a three and a half hour drive from El Calafate bus terminal.
The southernmost city on the planet, Ushuaia impresses with its mountainous backdrop and the undulating waters of the Beagle Channel in the foreground. Trips into Tierra del Fuego National Park are top of the list of attractions in the region, but cruise ship tours to Cape Horn and along the waterway to the Chilean fjords are alternatives.
Patagonia Trip Planner: Chile
The capital of the Magallanes Region of Chile, Punta Arenas sits in a dramatic location at the edge of the Magellan Straits. A friendly city, it is well-connected by boat tours and expedition cruise ship trips to nearby islands and the fjords beyond, as well as having excellent transport links to Puerto Natales and to the jewel in Chilean Patagonia’s crown, Torres del Paine National Park.
Situated in the Los Lagos region, Puerto Varas is characterized by luscious green Valdivian temperate rainforest, German and Swiss-inspired architecture and the looming mass of the nearby Osorno volcano. Hot springs, hiking and boat trips across any one of the huge lakes of the region are easily organized from this relaxed and charming town.
How to get there: Flights from Santiago to Puerto Montt leave eight times daily with a duration of one hour and forty five minutes, operated by Sky Airlines and LATAM. From Puerto Montt, it’s a twenty-minute bus journey to Puerto Varas.
Another volcano dominated town, Pucón swells with visitors in the summer months, when a mix of hikers and sun worshippers descend on this lake-side location. Treks up Villarica Volcano can be organized with a local tour agency, while further afield, Huerquehue National Park has breathtaking views across the lakes and hot springs of the region thanks to a series of trails.
How to get there: Four flights a day fly between Santiago and Temuco with a duration of one hour and twenty minutes, operated by LATAM and Sky Airlines. From Temuco, it’s a one hour and twenty minute bus journey to Pucón.