With our travel experts located throughout Latin America and being passionate about travel, they are waiting to share their wisdom with you. Working in our Buenos Aires office, and with a strong passion for food and off-the-beaten-path destinations, our travel specialist Marcos has extensively traveled across South America. Following a recent trip with his daughter to Patagonia in Argentina, here are some of his top tips and recommendations.
♦ How do you recommend travelers get to Argentina’s region of Patagonia?
The best way to get to Patagonia in Argentina from the United States is to fly into Buenos Aires’ Ezeiza International Airport and connect with a 3 to 4 hour domestic flight either to El Calafate or Ushuaia.
If the charming hiking village of El Chalten is where you want to be, you will need to fly to El Calafate and continue by land for 3 or 4 hours on a brand new paved road skirting the stunning Lake Viedma.
The journey to this tiny mountain village near to the impressive Mount Fitz Roy is breath-taking especially during the last hour of the journey where you will be surrounded by some of Patagonia’s most dramatic scenery.
♦ How you should visit the highlight destinations of Ushuaia, El Calafate & El Chalten?
Argentina is the 8th largest country in the world and the distances between the highlight destinations are mind-boggling. The area Patagonia is massive and yet it is home to less than 5% of Argentina’s population due to its beautiful yet inhospitable landscapes.
To put the size of Argentina’s Patagonia into perspective, the region covers a third of the country, making it 1.25 times larger than the state of Texas!
The wilderness, jagged peaks and pristine nature is all part of what makes Patagonia unique and attractive. Over the last 18 years, the travel experts at Encounter Latin America have been hiking up Patagonia’s mountains, canoeing past its glaciers, and driving around the region. We know its weather, the best sites for each traveler and we work with professional local guides to make exploring and planning your stay in Patagonia much easier, customizing every detail to the traveler’s preference.
♦ When is the best time to visit Patagonia and why?
The best weather in Patagonia is from October to April while the best conditions for outdoor activities like trekking, is from December to March. The Los Glaciares National Park and the town of El Calafate can be visited year round but the most economical time to visit is in the low season during South America’s winter months of May through to September.
I would only recommend traveling to Ushuaia during winter if you are planning to enjoy some winter sports like skiing or snowboarding.
An insider’s tip for visiting the village of El Chalten is that the low season is in April and while the weather can be cold, you will be able to see it in its most beautiful form. The lenga trees transform the landscape into a tapestry of greens, reds, yellows, oranges and browns with the impressive backdrop of Mount Fitz Roy and the surrounding snowcapped mountains.
♦ Marcos’ top tips and recommendations for visiting Argentina’s region of Patagonia:
- Being prepared for the changeable weather in Patagonia is of the utmost importance to the overall enjoyment of your trip. Ask your travel specialist what to pack for traveling Patagonia and what to expect, to ensure you’re ready for whatever the weather and activity.
- You cannot leave Patagonia without trying lamb and centolla (southern king crab), they are simply delicious!
- It is super important that you respect the wilderness and environment you are in. Make sure to leave the places you visit as you find them and don’t leave any garbage after your visit.
- Opinions about the Malvinas/Falkland Islands, politics in general and the relationship between Argentina and Chile, are extremely strong in Patagonia. We recommend learning about why these sentiments are so strong in the region and speaking to your expert guide about these topics. However, you should try to avoid arguments with locals and getting involved in long discussions about these matters.
- While traveling it’s important to do so with an open mind. Be like a sponge and learn as much as you can from your local, expert guides to get the most out your Patagonia experience.
- Before traveling read about the fascinating history of the indigenous people of Patagonia and General Julio Argentino Roca’s Campaña del Desierto (Conquest of the Desert).
- And again…don’t miss the lamb and centolla!!!