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What to Do in Patagonia, and How to Do It?

What to Do in Patagonia, and How to Do It?

Old May 3, 18, 12:23 pm
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Question What to Do in Patagonia, and How to Do It?

I'm considering a 1-week trip to Patagonia for next January-February. I speak Spanish, enjoy moderate hiking (up to ~2 to 3 hours/day), am not averse to taking day tours on a bus or boat, and know how to drive a car.

After looking at guidebooks I'm not sure if there is anything to do except hike and see the beautiful scenery...a week of that might be a bit much.

Are there storefronts in Ushuaia offering day trips?

Any suggestions? Perhaps fly to Ushuaia for a few days, then to Bariloche and/or Cordoba / Salta ?

Thank you.
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Old May 4, 18, 11:01 am
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Don't rule out the Chilean side. Torres del Paine is one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen in my past 30 years of heavy travelling. But if you fly to Ushuaia it's a bit far with only one week. You could also consider flying to Punta Arenas in Chile which is more centrally located, and include Argentinian destinations as well.

A great combo for one week could be Torrres del Paine in Chile for the most beautiful mountain scenery ever (I can recommend a few half-day hikes if you like), and el Calafate in Argentina for the most spectecular glaciers ever, and squeeze in a pinguin day-trip or something in the end. You'd be best off flying to Puntas Arenas for such an itinerary.

In any case, I would recommend renting a car, With that you will be much more flexible and can plan your own hikes at your own pace at the times you like.

Last edited by Zembla; May 4, 18 at 11:08 am
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Old May 4, 18, 1:16 pm
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If you fly to Puerto Montt, you can see a huge variety of landscapes in a short distance. Andes are close by, Chiloe Island is a lush temperate Rainforest, Puerto Varas is a Swiss Riviera type resort town. White water rafting, volcano climbing, fishing, penguin watching. Some of the tallest and oldest forests in the world. But honestly a week will leave you frustrated.
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Old May 4, 18, 4:15 pm
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Originally Posted by HeavenlyJane View Post
But honestly a week will leave you frustrated.
So true! I thought that my three weeks were short.

Last edited by Zembla; May 4, 18 at 4:34 pm
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Old May 5, 18, 12:11 am
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Whatever you decide to do, take into account that distances in Patagonia are huge, and that while air connectivity within the region is now considerably better than a few years ago, flying is not always an available option. One week seems enough to visit El Calafate and Ushuaia or El Calafate and Torres del Paine -- all of which are quite spectacular. Bariloche is one of my favourite places on Earth, especially in the summer, but it's all about hiking and swimming in the majestic (yet cold) lake.

If you want to fly up to Salta and Jujuy afterwards, I would allow at least one extra week. Córdoba, a very popular touristic destination for locals, is of no particular interest for foreigners in my opinion.
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Old May 5, 18, 9:12 am
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The main thing is the scenery but I go for the trout fishing.
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Old May 5, 18, 10:44 am
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The Valdez Peninsula is well worth seeing. We rented a car. There is a bay where you can take a boat ride out among the whales. There were many babies when we were there. They weren't migrating, they were simply there. It was great. Then we went to the end of the peninsula. We stayed at Estancia la Ernestina thanks to a kind FTer who recommended it. It was one of the more amazing travel experiences we've had. The cabins were very basic but we saw sea lions, penguins and more on the ranch owner's private land. We crawled out on one beach to get close to sea lions. We sat on a different beach while penguins ran past within touching distance, coming back for the night. Incredible. They had a lot of National Geographic photographers come to take pictures of whales from their beaches and built the cabins to house them, then opened them up to others. There is a German settlement off the peninsula that is recommended for afternoon tea. It was ok, but not as much as I expected.

We then went to Bariloche, a touristic town in the heart of stunning beauty. We did some drives there and also along a lake to the north into Chile. Gorgeous. We were there at the time that the forthysia came into bloom and the hills were covered in yellow.
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Old May 14, 18, 3:19 pm
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I head down to Bariloche every year in January for about a week each time. Highly recommend renting a car and exploring all the nearby areas, national parks, doing a trout fishing excursion and plenty of picnic hikes.

One thing to mention about car rentals there; they are 99% the same (white 4 door Chevys) and easily spotted by would be thieves. Everyone will tell you to not leave anything in the car and it is indeed true. Our car was opened while parked on a main street in the city center, but luckily nothing was left inside to take. Other than that it is gorgeous down there.
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Old May 15, 18, 8:44 am
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We had a fantastic time in Patagonia in March earlier this year, we went for 10 days and the high level itinerary was Calafate-Chalten-Ushuaia, flying into Calafate and out of Ushuaia.

In Calafate (flew in from Buenos Aires)
- Took a day tour to Torres del Paine, do not recommend - it's a lot of driving, little hiking. Scenery is stunning but would have stayed longer (which I think is an option)
- Cruise to Upsalla glacier. Half a day, lots of icebergs to look at. We really enjoyed it, despite poor weather
- Perito Moreno glacier. It's stunning. Didn't do the trek on the glacier, nor the navigation - just walking around will occupy a good 3-4 hours.

Chalten (took the bus 2.5-3h from Calafate)
- Spent 2 days hiking, we are also moderate hikers, so felt about right. Really liked it (weather helped as it was sunny)

Ushuaia (flew from Calafate)
- Lots of day tours available, we went for the Beagle Navigation+Estancia Haberton+visit pinguins on an island. Full day, really good
- The next day we went for a short hike in the Tierra del Fuego NP (3 hours) - very pretty. Visited the southernmost Post office in the world as well.

It is indeed mostly about beautiful scenery, animal spotting, good food (lamb and seafood). One of our best trips in many years.
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Old May 15, 18, 11:26 am
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We're doing a similar trip next January, but with more time in each place. 4 nights in El Calafate, 3 nights in El Chalten and 4 nights in Ushuaia. We eliminated Torres del Paine from the itinerary because it represented too much driving. We're hoping that the rest of the scenery on the Argentina side will make up for our loss.
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Old May 17, 18, 8:12 am
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I think there are great things to do: Perito Moreno glacier, Torres del Paine in Chile, Fitz Roy in El Chalten. The good thing is that these places are in driveable distance to one another and it's a nice trek from one to another. I might be late to the answer, but make sure there's enough availability during January since it's their high season.

Best
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