There is a space of sacred silence in Argentina’s southern frontier that is begging to be discovered. The untouched backwater oases and rugged hills among the Andes Mountain chain offer a tranquil traverse unscathed by tourists. Nature awaits you in its wild and unadorned form in Patagonia.
Hike among what has been called the finest mountain scenery in the world, characterized by magnificent glaciers, fields of icebergs, and barren fields. Trek amongst the granitic spires of Mount Fitzroy, and marvel at the marine life as you kayak along Patagonia’s unique coastal beauty. Catch a glimps of penguins, elephant seals, sea lions, and southern right whales as you glide along, or look for armadillos, llama-like guanacos, and ostrich-like rheas as they ramble through Patagonia's jagged land punctuated by peaks and little else.
With Adventures Unbound, you get the once-in-a-lifetime experience of intimate wildlife encounters as you hike and kayak. The awe-inspiring landscape of Patagonia makes you feel like you’ve stepped into a scene from a painting. With glacier climbs, mountain hikes, and paddling excursions, Adventures Unbound’s Patagonia itineraries ensure a lifetime of photographs and memories.
Image & Video Gallery
Nomadic hunters and gatherers were the earliest known people to migrate to Patagonia over 8 thousands years ago. They were able to adapt to the harsh conditions due to their resilient nature.
Ferdinand Magellan discovered Patagonia in 1520 during an expedition, when discovering a passage linking the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, which today bears his name "the Straight od Magellan". Patagonia is named after this expedition, the name "patagon" being used to describe the reportedly tall people of the region.
European Exploration and Economic Expansion
The Decline of the Indigenous People
The native people struggled to survive the diseases brought by Europeans in the 19th century. The region being sparsly populated over a large region, the native people gradually integrated into one culture with Europeans. The last known native belonged to the Selknam people and died aged 89 in 1966.
The main economic activities of Patagonia have been mining, whaling, agriculture (mainly fruit and wheat), sheep farming, oil since 1907, energy production, and wood lodging in the forest region of the Patagonian Andes and the archipelagoes. Sheep farming provides jobs to many in the rural areas.
Becoming the End of the World
For centuries Patagonia has been considered the end of the world due to the distance and difficulty in getting there. This inspired strange myth of mysterious gigantic beings with peculiar habits.
Animals of Patagonia
Patagonia counts a widespread range of bird species, amongst which the White-Throated Hawk in the southern forests and in the Andes, Hummingbirds, the Andean Condor with a lifespan of up to 70 years found in the Andes and along the Pacific coast, the Chilean Flamingo which lives in large flocks, the Upland Goose, the Steamer Ducks, the Red-Backed Hawk and Rufous-Tailed Hawk, the Magellanic Penguin found on the southern coasts of both the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, the Austral Pygmy Owl, to name just a few.
Whales live around the coasts of Patagonia, including the Southern Right Whale which is often seen on the water surface and is curious of human boats, and the Orca, also known as the Killer Whale, which actually belongs to the dolphin family, being its largest member. Also found in the Valdes Peninsula off the coast of Argentina, is the fourth largest colony of Elephant Seals in the world.
The guanaco is one of Patagonia’s most iconic animals. They live in herds with one dominant male, and can be found exclusively in Argentina and Chile. Their soft wool is highly valued. Their natural predator is the Andean Puma, its largest population being found in Torres del Paine in Chile. Two types of foxs can be found in Patagonia: the Culpeo (Andean Fox) and the Gray Fox. The South Andean Deer lives in small groups and mostly in the Andean-Patagonian forests of both Argentina and Chile.
The climate of Patagonia varies vastly from region to region. This means that the vegetation is just as varied, going from mountain vegetation, to coastal, to plains and forests. In some of the National Parks, visitors will be able to enjoy preserved fauna and flora as these areas have been kept virgin.
As the popularity of Patagonia grows, tourism poses a real challenge to the area which isn't equipped for such large numbers. Please be mindful to take away your garbage with you in order to protect this beautiful place.
Some of the wildlife being endangered or threatened, breeding programs have been put in place for the survival of the Andean Condor, and conservation programs for the Orcas, Southern Right Whales and Southern Elephant Seals.
Patagonia includes the southern part of the Andes mountains, to the East of which are deserts, steppes and grasslands. The south has a colder climate and ice fields.
The steppes, on the Argentinian side, rise 330 ft in 13 terraces. Their vegetation and animal life becomes more abundant towards the Andes.
The ice fields, a very unique feature of the region, feed all the glaciers of the region which in turn feed the fjords.
Volcanoes stretch over a distance of 600 miles and form the Austral Volcanic Zone. They are active, though full blown eruptions are rare. The volcanoes of Lautaro and Viedma are under the ice field, and amongst the least researched due to how inaccessible they are.
The economy of Patagonia relies vastly on tourism, and many towns encourage tourists to join in their traditional celebrations and festivals, the main one being in El Calafate in July and August. Visiting the parks of Patagonia is a must, but visitors should be aware that in case of trouble, there are no rescue teams.
As a visitor, you will need to respect a few rules: shorts are acceptable for sport and trekking, but should not be worn in restaurants, cafes or public places. Shoes should not be taken off in public, and shirts should be worn. Nudity is not accepted in Patagonia.
Money in Patagonia
In the Chilean part, the currency is the Chilean Peso, while on the Argentinean part it is the Argentinean Peso. We recommend carrying both currencies as well as USD.
Credit Cards & ATMS
In the cities ATMs can easily be found and Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted, some places also accepting American Express and Diners Club. In more remote areas, you will need to carry cash as many places don't accept credit cards.
The usual tip at restaurants is around 10 to 15% of the cost of your meal.
Health & Safety
Inoculations are not required to enter Argentina or Chile, but the CDC recommends to be inoculated against rabies, typhoid, yellow fever, hepatitis A and B, and to be up to date with routine vaccinations.
There are Zika outbreaks in Argentina. It is recommended to check the CDC website for updates on travel.
It is recommended to check that your travel insurance also covers sporting activities such as trekking, whitewater rafting and kayaking, Many will require that an additional premium is paid to cover these. Ensure you keep all receipts for medical treatment and medicines, and that you request a statement from the local police, should you later need to make a claim.
Visas are not required for citizens of most European countries, the USA, Canada, Australia and New-Zealand, for stays of 90 days per calendar year or less.
You will need to complete an arrival card when arriving in Chile, these are handed out on the plane.
Bringing unprocessed foods such as meat, ham, salami, or dairy products into Chile is forbidden.
Internet & Phone Service
Both Argentina and Chile have modern and inexpensive photo systems. All towns have public telephone offices and call-phones, which accept cards, coins, and some accept credit cards. Rates are about 50 cents (USD) per minute to the USA and Europe.
Mobile Phones & Satellite Phones
Mobile phones are widely used in Argentina and Chile. The coverage is very good in all cities and large towns, but it is not advised to rely on mobile phones as a way of communication in the National Parks.
Satellite phones allow you to call from anywhere, but they are expensive and heavy, and you also pay for incoming calls.
Internet access is widely available, except in more remote places such as National Parks. Internet cafés are plentiful, and many public telephone offices also offer broadband internet connection for 1 to 2 USD per hour.
A RJ45 plus is needed to connect your laptop in Argentina and Chile, and you will need an Ethernet cable for broadband.
Throughout Patagonia, electricity is supplied at 230/240 volts, 50 herts. A converter is needed if your items don't have multi-voltage option.
In Argentina, power outlets accept rounded 2-pin and diagonal 2-pin plugs.
In Chile, power outlets accept 3 or 2-pin plugs, depending on whether there is an earth connection fitted.
Getting to Patagonia
Most flights transfer travelers from Santiago and Buenos Aires to Patagonia.
In Chile, Punta Arenas serves as the primary gateway into Chilean Patagonia.
In Argentina, El Calafate serves as the primary gateway into Argentinian Patagonia.
Travelling by land from Santiago, Buenos Aires, Cordoba and Mendoze to Patagonia is possible, but not a very efficient way to travel.
The Navimag ferry runs between Puerto Natales and Puerto Montt, with some routes stopping over at Laguna San Rafael, Puerto Chacabuco and Chiloé Island.