There are few places in the world as rugged and remote as Patagonia. Sitting at the very tip of the South American continent, this unspoiled and sparsely populated region offers a haven to adventure seekers, nature lovers, and anyone looking for an experience unlike any they've ever had before.
With fjords, mountains, grasslands, glaciers, lakes, rushing rivers, and their attendant wildlife, Patagonia contains a treasure trove of scenery, flora, and fauna. Read on for a few reasons to visit this unique destination for yourself. And if this strikes your fancy, check out our Patagonian Frontiers and Patagonia Explorer small group tours.
1. Torres del Paine National Park
Breathtaking Torres del Paine, a 700-square-mile World Biosphere Reserve and one of the most unspoiled and beautiful nature preserves on Earth, ranks as a Patagonia highlight. This unparalleled landscape features jagged peaks, ice-blue glaciers, turquoise lakes, rushing rivers, and thunderous waterfalls. And, of course, its namesake peaks - the Torres del Paine (towers of blue) pictured above.
2. The charming and hospitable locals
To make a living in this wild and remote region, it takes resourcefulness, grit, and a can-do attitude. On our tours to Patagonia, we meet sheep ranchers and huasos (cowboys), who welcome us into their home and give us a chance to see how they live from day to day. Over classic Chilean asado (barbecue) specialties, we learn all about the fascinating folks who call Patagonia home.
3. The sheer scale and vastness of the region
As one might expect, the U.S. state with the lowest population density is Alaska – just 1.3 people per square mile. Wyoming comes next, with six people per square mile, and Montana rounds out the top three at 7.1 folks per square mile. Patagonia? It has those states beat in a landslide: 0.73 people per square mile. So, when it feels like the group is completely isolated amid this jaw-dropping scenery, with scarcely another person within walking distance, that’s likely because it’s true.
The phrase "South America" usually conjures up images of sandy beaches and lush rainforests, but visitors to Patagonia will find an entirely different set of natural wonders awaiting them. On our Patagonia Explorer tour we enjoy a three-night stay in El Calafate, with a comprehensive visit to Los Glaciares National Park , while on Patagonian Frontiers we take skiff excursions to view a handful of glaciers on several different days.
5. Local Wildlife
That little guy up there is a guanaco, a smaller, wild cousin of the llama. They live only in South America, and move in herds as large as 50 animals. In addition to the beloved guanaco, Patagonia boasts a stunning array of wildlife. A sampling: the Chilean huemul, an endangered Chilean deer; the caracara, a red-beaked member of the falcon family; and the rhea, a distant cousin to the ostrich and emu.
Patagonia truly offers something for everyone, all wrapped up in a unique environment at the end of the world. It's a destination that must be experienced to be believed.