Utter the word ‘Patagonia’, and no doubt images of snowy mountain peaks, azure glaciers and emerald forests spring to mind. Patagonia is vast, a true wilderness sprawling across Chile and Argentina, where nature rules supreme. For adventurers, visiting Patagonia isn’t just a bucket list experience; it’s a place you need to explore many times, in order to witness its many treasures and stunning sights. From the pristine waters of the northerly Lake District to the Antarctic channels of Tierra del Fuego in the deep south; from the distinctive jagged peaks of Torres del Paine to colossal glaciers in El Calafate; Patagonia is brimming with awe-inspiring landscapes that simply must be seen to be believed.
Tierra del Fuego National ParkAt the end of the world lies Tierra del Fuego, right on the southernmost tip of Argentine Patagonia – the gateway to Antarctica. The national park is an extraordinary place where a bewildering variety of flora and fauna flourish, including moss, fern and beech forests, as well as Magellenic Woodpeckers, Albatrosses and Penguins. You can sense the raw energy of this ‘Land of Fire’, whether cruising down Beagle Channel – the same waterway sailed by the very first adventurers to Antarctica, kayaking along glacial lakes, or trekking through untouched forests and riverbanks of the national park.
Lake DistrictAs the sunlight dances on pools of sapphire waters, you can’t help but feel enchanted by the magical Lake District. Both Chile and Argentina flaunt their own share of undulating peaks and glistening lakes, found in the northern edge of Patagonia, where a slice of peace and solitude can be sensed while feeling a deep connection to nature. There are virtually endless viewpoints for privileged vistas of this captivating place, while activities like trekking and horse riding promise new angles of the woodland, waterfalls and those jewel-like lakes.
El Perito Moreno GlacierThere’s no visiting Argentine Patagonia without witnessing the sheer majesty and might of El Perito Moreno Glacier, in Los Glaciares National Park. An easy day trip from the town of El Calafate, this mega glacier has a surface area of a whopping 250sq km – larger than Buenos Aires – and soars up to 74 metres high. As you stand before this glacial beast, whether on a boat or from the walkway right opposite, watch as huge chunks of ice crash into the water below; an impressive sight indeed.
Cuernos del PainePerhaps the most famous of sights in Chilean Patagonia is the Cuernos del Paine, a collection of sharp granite peaks that rise 2,000 metres up into the sky, grazing the clouds above. They lie in the Torres del Paine National Park, a haven for adventurers with its weaving walking trails, waterfalls, lakes, glaciers, forest and wildlife – it really is a nature wonderland! There are jaw-dropping landscapes throughout, but the mighty Cuernos (‘Horns’) are a distinctive emblem of this extraordinary place, standing guard over the rest of the national park with unquestionable glory and power.
ChiloeThe Chiloe Archipelago, with its lush pastures, temperamental waters and rich culture, is very much a Patagonian highlight. Myths and legends are still very much a part of life here, weaving into the landscapes so that when you wander through ancient forests or gaze at stormy seas, you can sense that there’s more than meets the eye. Dotted across the villages of Chiloe are UNESCO-listed churches that provide yet more intrigue to this special place, constructed in a style known as the Chilota School of Architecture, using shingles and wood.
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