By The Nomadic Boys

Patagonia is a vast space of land covering southern Chile and Argentina in South America. It has a variety of landscapes ranging from the Andes mountain, desert, grasslands, and ocean.

We spent a month traveling across Chubut, Santa Cruz in Argentina and Torres del Paine in Chile and have put together our favorite 5 highlights and experiences in Patagonia.

1. Trekking in Torres del Paine and El Chalten

Most associate Patagonia with trekking and for good reason. The “W Circuit” through Torres del Paine is one of the most famous in the world. It is a UNESCO Heritage site and was voted by as one of the 8 wonders of the world in 2013. Torres del Paine is in Chile and you reach it via Puerto Montt or Puerto Natales.

Another trekking highlight in Patagonia we loved and highly recommend are the trails around El Chalten in Argentina. It’s less famous than Torres del Paine but in our opinion just as stunning, offering some gorgeous vistas and spectacular landscapes.

There are many well maintained trails in the surrounding mountains of El Chalten, which you can do independently. Our favorite was the 8 hrs circuit to Laguna de Los Tres, just in front of Fitz Roy mountain. To reach El Chalten, you take a bus from nearby transport hub El Calafate.

To find out more about both, check out our article about trekking in Torres del Paine versus El Chalten

2. Getting Frozen at the Perito Moreno Glacier

The Perito Moreno Glacier near El Calafate in Argentina is another not-to-miss highlight of Patagonia on everyone’s bucket list. This huge ice formation is 22 miles in length, with a depth of up to 590 feet.

We hiked across Perito Moreno as part of a tour, which was probably one of the most unique things we’ve ever done in our lives! Walking with crampons is not an easy task and mixed with the otherworldly scenery around you, you’ll no doubt be spell bound here.

The peak time for Patagonia is during the Argentinian summer months December to February, so the best time to visit the Perito Moreno glacier is November or March when it’s not as crowded nor too cold.

3. Have a conversation with a penguin

Punta Tombo on the coast of Argentina’s Chubut province in Patagonia is where you can get up close to one of the cutest animals we’ve ever seen – the Magellanic penguins.

This home to the largest colony of Magellanic penguins in Latin America. Around 1 million gather in Punta Tombo between mid-September and mid-April where they come to nest, mate, breed and “molt” (shed their feathers). Interestingly, between April-September they migrate to the warmer climates in South Brazil, where they stay in the water the entire time, even when sleeping.

The Magellanic penguins grow to around 24-30 inches and are extremely cute to watch, especially when they're clumsily waddling around on land. You can reach Punta Tombo by day trip from nearby transport hub Puerto Madryn, a super gay friendly city we highly recommend visiting. For more, check out our gay guide to Puerto Madryn.

4. Swim with sea lions at Peninsula Valdes

Sea lion babies are like puppies. They are curious, playful and will steal your heart. At Punta Loma near Puerto Madryn, you can can take a boat as part of day trip and see them close up. The water is freezing cold, but with a decent swim suit you don’t feel it and you can spend around half an hour in the water interacting with them until your body has had enough and you have to leave due to the cold.

At first the sea lion pups watch you from afar and slowly move towards you wondering what you are. As they grow in confidence they swim and dive in the water closer and closer to you. They are completely harmless and their curiosity is extremely charming. Sebastien at one stage had one climbing on top of him to kiss him before diving back into the water.

This can be done throughout the year, but the ideal time is October to March when the pups are playing in the water and most likely to interact with you.

5. Whale watching and spotting orcas

Puerto Madryn is one of the most famous places to go in Latin America for whale watching. Between June and December, these 40 ton mammals come here to give birth and look after their newly born calves for a few months before migrating to the colder waters of Antarctica for the rest of the year.

Near to Puerto Madryn in Peninsular Valdes you can also see killer whales (orcas) particularly in January to April and then in October-December when they come to feed elephant seal pups. To learn more about these extraordinary and highly intelligent mammals, check out the touching and quite harrowing documentary called Black Fish.

Check out our article about maximising your chances of spotting killer whales in Peninsula Valdes

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