Patagonia is one of the most incredible trips I’ve ever been on. It’s so remote you feel like you’re on another planet, but everywhere I went was also safe and accessible. It was an amazing time observing nature, challenging myself physically and mentally, and really taking some time to separate from the day to day! Here’s a peek at where I travelled – check out my other blogs and my travel guide for more details!
I recommend starting in Chilean Patagonia and then heading over to Argentina if you are logistically able. This allows you to complete the most strenuous trekking part of the trip earlier, and save the more comfortable hiking for the second half of the trip.
Arrive in South America (Santiago or Buenos Aires) + Buffer time for lost luggage
Chilean Patagonia – Puerto Natales, Torres del Paine W or O Trek
7 + Days
Argentinian Patagonia – El Calafate, Perito Moreno Glacier, and El Chalten
Getting to Patagonia
To be honest, it’s quite a journey! You’re headed about as far South as you can go before hitting Antarctica. You’ll likely fly through a major city in South America (Santiago or Buenos Aires), and then head down to wherever you are starting from. For Torres del Paine, you’ll head directly to Puerto Natales or to Punta Arenas depending on flight schedules, or you might head to El Calafate or Ushuaia first.
I lost my luggage on the trip down, and had to spend 2 extra days in Santiago to get all my camping gear. I highly recommend building in some buffer days into your travel.
While in Chilean Patagonia, the highlight of your trip is going to be trekking in Torres del Paine National Park. Torres del Paine is a combination of Spanish and indigenous words and translates roughly to “Blue Towers”. The majority of visitors to Torres del Paine will complete either the W or the O Trek, backpacking for between 5 and 8 days around the park. I wanted to complete the O, but with lost luggage the W was all we could accommodate. Check out more about these treks here!
The park is incredibly safe, trails are well marked, and each campsite is established with bathrooms, refugios, cooking areas, tables, and more. Trekking here can actually be quite the luxurious experience, with bedrooms, full board meals, and more, however I opted to carry all my own backpacking gear! You can find more information on what I packed here.
There are other ways to visit the park, including day trips from Puerto Natales to hike to Laguna Base Torres, or staying in Hotel Las Torres right at the park entrance. However if you’re able, I highly recommend choosing to trek, and spend some quality time with the astounding nature here.
You’ll start and finish your trek from Puerto Natales. This is an adorable little town, where almost everyone is heading out to Torres del Paine. You can check with your hotel that they will store additional luggage while you are in the park. Definitely don’t miss the lamb asadores and Last Hope Distillery while you’re in town!
El Calafate and Perito Moreno Glacier
After trekking, I took a bus from Puerto Natales to El Calafate. The buses are super punctual, but this still ended up taking about 6 hours. We only stayed in El Calafate long enough to spend a day trekking Perito Moreno Glacier, which is truly a can’t miss in this part of the world!
Perito Moreno is extremely accessible (about 45 minutes from El Calafate) and you’re able to explore Los Glaciares park, trek on the glacier, and enjoy some lunch as part of the tour. No matter who you book it through, the trekking will be done through the same tour operator group.
We opted for the mini trek, which was about 1.5 hours total on the glacier and a total day of 7-8 hours. This was about right given how exhausted we still were from Torres del Paine, and we were able to get the complete experience for less effort and cost. Here’s more on Perito Moreno.
El Chalten and Mount Fitz Roy
We didn’t spend a lot of extra time in El Calafate, instead deciding to spend as much time as possible in El Chalten. From the El Calafate airport we rented a car (buses are also an option!) and headed about 2.5 hours to El Chalten, my absolute FAVORITE place on this whole trip!
El Chalten is a cozy town, completely walkable to amazing restaurants and shops, as well as some of the most spectacular trail heads in the world. This includes multiple viewpoints for Mount Fitz Roy, the inspiration behind the Patagonia logo.
Hiking here is amazing after Torres del Paine, knowing at the end of a really hard day you have a shower and a bed waiting for you! I had 3.5 days here, but would recommend staying as many as you can as there is no shortage of activities! Check out more on El Chalten here.
I was there for 18 days and it still wasn’t nearly enough to see everything in this incredible corner of the world. Here’s what’s on my list for my next trip to Patagonia!
Moderately more accessible and farther North, Bariloche is Patagonia’s Lake District
The End of the World! Ushuaia is the most common gateway into Antarctica
Another entry point to Antarctica, Punta Arenas is famous for penguins!
Want a Complete Guide to Patagonia?
Find my complete 30+ page guide for exploring Patagonia on Etsy! Includes detailed itineraries and insights on trekking Torres del Paine, Backpacking Packing Lists, Hikes in El Chalten, Food Recommendations, safety info, and more!
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