Patagonia is one of the most epic places to travel in the world. With towering mountains, incredible glaciers, aquamarine lakes, and wild plains, it’s a truly unforgettable experience. The area of Patagonia is shared between Argentina and Chile, with both sides offering breathtaking scenery. A visit to Patagonia is one of the top experiences in South America, being one of the most rugged and remote places on the planet. If you’re looking to leave the modern world behind, this is the place for you.
In 2018, over 11 million acres of parkland were added to the Chilean Patagonia area thanks to a deal between the Chilean president and philanthropists. Two new official national parks will be added to the Chilean Patagonia collection, meaning there’s never been a better time to go! We’ve rounded up the best things to do in Patagonia, Chile.
1. Tierra del Fuego
Tierra del Fuego, or ‘Land of Fire in English’, lies separated from the southern tip of Chilean Patagonia by the Strait of Magellan. When explorers first arrived in Patagonia around 500 years ago, sailors on passing boats saw large campfires made by the indigenous Yámana tribe, therefore earning its fiery name. Today, Tierra del Fuego lies in Argentine Patagonia, however, the Tierra del Fuego National Park straddles the border with Chile. It’s home to luminous-green lakes, dense forests and glistening glaciers.
2. Torres del Paine National Park
The mighty Torres Del Paine National Park is the centerpiece of Chilean Patagonia. Here, you can see mighty Mother Nature at her finest on what is said to be the most picturesque hiking route in the world. Along the way, you’ll see picture-perfect aquamarine lakes, snow-capped glaciers, and the park’s famous granite mountains, which are known as the Cuernos del Paine, or Paine Horns for their horn-like shape.
3. Isla Magdalena
Isla Magdalena is home to over 100,000 Magellanic penguins. Here, you can see penguins playfully living in their natural habitat, splashing around in the sea and interacting with one another. Isla Magdalena is just a 1-2 hour boat ride from Chilean Patagonia’s main town, Punta Arenas, however, it’s only possible to get to the island in Chile’s summer months of December through February, when the sea is safe to cross.
4. Punta Arenas
When exploring Chilean Patagonia, you’ll have to pass through the town of Punta Arenas at least once, as it’s the gateway for most of Southern Patagonia. While the town is not a stunning sight per se, it’s still a beautiful place to visit and you can go on a short hike to the Mirador Cerro la Cruz viewpoint for a sweeping vista of the Strait of Magellan and the Tierra del Fuego. While in Punta Arenas you can stock up on all hiking and camping essential and rent gear. You can also book tours, find guides, and have a much-needed hot shower when you return from a long hike. Check out some of the Best Hikes in Patagonia, Chile, for some inspiration. The town is based around a central plaza and features quaint 19th-century buildings. If you have time, it’s well worth walking around the town and finding out more about its history.
5. Marble Caves
The Marble Caves are notoriously hard to get to, but woah, are they worth the ride. Over thousands of years, the caves have been Carved into the Patagonian Andes, and lie on a marble peninsula next to Lake General Carrera. Waves have washed against calcium carbonate rocks, creating incredible blue swirling marble patterns as the azure water reflects onto the walls. To get to the caves you’ll have to take a boat, and the best times to visit are in November, December, and January. This is when the summer sun melts the ice, making the water appear even more turquoise and therefore the marble effect on the cave even more vivid.
6. Cape Horn
Cape Horn is famous for its eerie large black rock that juts up from the sea. The rock, known as the ‘horn’ is surrounded by wild sea and can only be seen from a boat tour. Over the centuries, many sailors perished in the dangerous surrounding waters, making it a spot best-suited to adventurous travelers. It really feels like you’re at the end of the world as it’s the closest piece of land to the Antarctic.
7. Horse Riding in the Puelo Valley
The Puelo Valley lies between Cochamó, Patagonia, Chile, and Lago Puelo, Argentina. It’s a beautiful expanse of land, with yellow-grass plains and green mountains and is best seen on horseback. Along the way, you can spot animals such as pumas and condors.
8. Puerto Natales
Puerto Natales is a port city that lies in Señoret Channel. For many, it’s the gateway to the Torres del Paine National Park, however, it’s well worth spending some time in the city, where you can hop on a boat to see some of the incredible nearby Patagonian fjords.
9. San Rafael Glaciers
Did you know that 80% of the total glaciers in South America are located in Chile? If you’re keen to see some of the continents finest, head to San Rafael National Park where you can marvel at the larger-than-life glaciers that merge into milky-blue lakes.
10. The Carretera Austral
The Carretera Austral is an epic road built to stand all weather. It passes through thousands of miles of prehistoric forests, rivers, and glaciers and is one of the world’s most incredible road trips. We recommend hiring a car or taking a tour, to see part of it.
Check out some of these awesome tips for visiting Patagonia to get ready for your trip.