Patagonia Tours – What Are My Options? A lot of travelers have seen epic pictures of mountain ranges and glaciers in Patagonia and know that they want to be there, but don’t actually know what they want to do there. From hiking, to sea kayaking, to seeing penguins, and cruising past glaciers, Patagonia has some […]
A lot of travelers have seen epic pictures of mountain ranges and glaciers in Patagonia and know that they want to be there, but don’t actually know what they want to do there. From hiking, to sea kayaking, to seeing penguins, and cruising past glaciers, Patagonia has some amazing adventure travel options. While I’m generally a fan of spontaneous travel, I found on my trip to Patagonia that it’s not easy, and not any cheaper, to just show up down there and figure it out – it helps to have a plan before you arrive. This post walks you through some of your best options for Patagonia tours, so that you know what your options are and can make the best use of your travel time to the end of the world.
Patagonia has hundreds of world-class trekking options, with a full range of durations and degrees of difficulty. Two of the most popular treks are in Torres del Paine National Park, home to one of South America’s most spectacular natural wonders – the three Towers (Torres). The “W Trek” takes about 5 days and winds in and out of some of the most beautiful destinations in the Park. The “O Trek” takes about 8 days and goes all the way around, including everything you get from the W, plus much more. In both cases, you can either camp or stay in the refugios (cabins) and either cook over a fire or eat the refugio restaurants (check out this post for more info on pricing for lodging and meals in Torres del Paine).
There are also some alternative trekking options outside of Torres del Paine. One great example is the Slow Trek on the other side of the water of Puerto Natales (the small city that feeds into Torres national park). On this trip, the emphasis is not covering as many miles as you can per day, it’s seeing pristine nature own its own terms. You’ll get a chance to see condors, eagles, and dozens of other birds, while surrounded by fjords and snow-capped mountains. It also only takes 2-3 days, so it can accomodate shorter trips.
One of the best ways to get a complete sense of Patagonian lifestyle and nature is on a multi-day bike tour. This gives you a chance to cruise past glaciers, massive lakes, imposing Andean mountain ranges, and through cozy towns and cabins in the middle of nowhere. It’s also the perfect way to work up sufficient appetite to handle a Patagonian barbecue – which involves an impressive pile of meat, root vegetables, and vegetables. A trip with camping completes the experience, giving you a chance to see the stars without a hint of light pollution.
Sea kayaking tours in Patagonia are one of the best ways to enjoy the spectacular coastline, including seeing glaciers and searching for whales, penguins, and sea lions. You can do day trips from Punta Arenas, or hire a boat for a multi-day tour that includes plenty of opportunities to explore the shore in a kayak.
The most hassle-free way to experience the natural wonder of Patagonia’s waters is in an all-inclusive boat ride. While expensive at first look, these trips actually have tremendous value, considering lodging, food, and activities are all wrapped up into the price. These boat tours are definitely the best way to relax – your only responsibility is to enjoy the scenery! Most trips include hikes, whale watching, visits to penguin islands, and other excursions.
Honestly, when else are you going to be able to see penguins in the wild? There are a lot of options for seeing penguin colonies in Patagonia, including day trips from Punta Arenas to Seno Otway (an hour drive), where 11,000 penguins nest, and Isla Magdalena (a ferry ride), where 120,000 penguins nest. You will only be able to see penguins in this part of Patagonia between September and March – outside of that, the penguins will be north. Fortunately, that aligns with the best months to visit Patagonia anyway, otherwise it can be quite cold. Many of the kayak and boat excursions also include seeing penguin colonies.
These are just five of the top options for Patagonia tours, but they should give you an overview of what is available so that you can begin to plan your trip south. If you would like any help with logistics or setting up an itinerary, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I can talk you through it!