The rugged, remote and scenically stunning region of South America has captivated explorers, writers and adventure seekers for hundreds of years. Beginning in the high, windswept steppes of the Andes and extending south right to the ends of the earth, Patagonia offers adventurous travellers a genuine travel experience like no other. And with the southern spring sun once again beginning to glisten on the mighty glaciers and reawaken the unique wildlife, there really is no better time to go than now.
Patagonia can be difficult to strictly define, but is generally considered to be the mountainous area of southern Chile and Argentina including the mountains to the west and south, and plateaus and low plains to the east. The region covers more than a million square kilometres (some 540,000 square miles), with about a quarter of the region in Chile and the remainder in Argentina. About one third of Argentina is made up of the Patagonia region. Broadly speaking, Patagonia starts at the southern edge of Buenos Aires province or Río Colorado and descends through all the way south to tip of the continent; next stop, Antarctica!
Patagonia is characterised by long jagged coastlines, giant glaciers, fjords, and extensive isolated steppe. Sparsely populated but rich in natural resources and flora and fauna, Patagonia’s economy relies on sheep herding, oil, mining, agriculture, and tourism. Patagonia is a magnet for nature lovers, hikers, ice climbers and photographers due to its varied, spectacular landscapes and abundant wildlife.
There is an outdoor attraction to represent almost any region of Patagonia. The two most famous national parks are Tierra del Fuego (Land of Fire), famous for its austere beauty and historical romance, and UNESCO World Heritage listed Torres del Paine National Park, which attracts hikers from all over the world. Other highlights include the Lake District, petrified forests, various volcanoes, Fitzroy National Park, Perito Moreno Glacier and the Beagle Channel.
Expedition Cruises to Antarctica depart from Ushuaia, the southernmost city of the South American continent, and perhaps the world.
Patagonia is in the southern hemisphere, so if you’re from the northern hemisphere, you need to think of the seasons in reverse. This means that the warmest months are December, January and February, while the coldest are in June, July and August.
It is best to visit in the summer months of December through February as temperatures are generally warmer and the days are longer. With November being the business-end of spring, there is much to offer the traveller too.
Apart from seasonal variations, the climate is moderated by the mountains to the west, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. Southern Chile is very cloudy and wet to the west of the mountains, while Argentine Patagonia is almost desert-like and is sheltered from westerly winds. Rainfall exceeds 2,000 millimetres a year to the west of the Andes and it gets drier toward the Atlantic zone in the east where the average rainfall is only 200 millimetres.
In the Beagle Channel, temperatures rise to 18ºC in summer and can plummet as low as -14ºC in winter, however, in the plateaus, temperatures can be even more extreme.
One of the best ways to enjoy the stunning scenery in Patagonia is on a tour that travels right through the heart of this wild region. Tours provide transport to some of the more remote areas that may not be accessible on public transport, all the while providing tour guides with intimate knowledge of the region to impart on a group.
For information on https://antarespatagonia.com/patagonia/tours/ click here.