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Patagonia is a land of lore and legend. Whether you’re planning on ticking off some of the area’s best-known sights, or prefer to lose yourself in the wilds of the pampa, Patagonia is an unforgettable destination and a must-see for anyone wanting to visit Argentina.
The largest national park in Argentina, Los Glaciares was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1981 and is part of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, which feeds an impressive 48 glaciers. One of the most visited areas in Argentina, the biggest draw here is the Perito Moreno glacier, a mammoth ice sheet which covers a staggering 250km2 (96 miles2) and runs for 30km (18.6 miles), making it the third biggest freshwater reserve on the planet. Stick around to hear and see the ear-shattering glacial ruptures and to watch the blues and whites intensify as the daylight changes.
In the land of fire exists the city at the end of the world: Ushuaia. Famous for being the planet’s southernmost city, Ushuaia is often the last port of call for people on their Patagonian mission, whether travelers who have ticked all the boxes or adventurers who have come to discover the secrets of this far-flung corner of the world. Ushuaia encompasses many of the region’s defining traits: remote, enchanting, inimitable. Follow in the footsteps of Charles Darwin and sail the Beagle Channel, and send your loved ones a postcard from the end of the world.
The Southern Right Whale is one of the most majestic beasts you can see in Argentina, and the ideal place to do this is from the Patagonian town of Puerto Madryn. The sheltered waters of the Golfo Nuevo bay provide the perfect breeding ground for these incredible mammals who come here to mate between June and December, which is the best time to visit. Whale watching tours leave regularly from the town and last about an hour and a half. Bring your camera and catch the whale mid-jump!
Live like a gaucho for five days on this incredible horse trek across a vast Patagonian estancia. Situated inside Los Glaciares National Park and on the shores of Lago Argentino, Nibepo Aike Estancia is every wannabe cowboy/girl’s dream. Founded by a Croatian immigrant in the 1920s, the ranch is still in the family and visitors can partake in a day of country activities or, for those with equestrian abilities, follow the old cattle routes across the incredible landscapes and stay in the gaucho outposts on the way to the hidden glaciers.
The seasons are flipped in Patagonia, being that it is situated in the Southern Hemisphere. The region, known for its amazing mountain ranges, steppes and meadowlands is perhaps best visited in autumn, April – June, when the scenery transforms during the transition between seasons. A symphony of reds, yellows and greens flows over the landscape, and coupled with the unpredictable weather, you can find yourself trekking through a veritable snowglobe of Patagonian beauty during any of the autumn months.
Penguins are some of Argentina’s friendliest inhabitants, and nowhere is it better to see them than on the peninsula of Punta Tombo. This stretch of gravel and sand covered land is home to the largest colony of Magellanic penguins in South America, with over a million and a half of them arriving to breed every year. Coming from Brazil in September, they stay until April and are happy for tourists to walk among them, but remember not to touch them! They are wild, after all.
Bariloche is an Alpine dream located in the breathtaking lake district of Argentine Patagonia. Famous for its chocolate, skiing, and of course, the lakes, Bariloche is a must-visit on any trip to Patagonia. Rent a car and explore the region at your own pace, stopping, if you dare, to swim in any of the glacial lakes that abound. Bariloche is a haven for the outdoorsy, so get ready to be rewarded with some world-class views after hiking or trekking on one of the many trails the area boasts.
One of the best places in all of Patagonia is El Chalten. Whether you are looking to do simple day hikes, longer treks, sample amazing food and beverages or party in an absolutely stunning natural location, the tiny village of El Chalten has something for everyone. Spend a few days and discover the wealth of trails, waterfalls, forests and lakes the area has to offer. You won’t be disappointed.
Connect with your inner hippy in El Bolson, a quaint mountain town 120km (75 miles) south of Bariloche. With a local economy that thrives on tourism but also locally produced foods and artisan crafts, El Bolson is the perfect getaway for anyone looking to escape the city and feel like part of a community for a while. Equipped with hiking trails and picturesque scenery, a trip to El Bolson will introduce you to a different Patagonian way of life.
Argentina doesn’t exactly rival its northern neighbour Brazil when it comes to beaches, but Bahia Bustamante’s coastal offering is something else entirely. Dotted with little coves found in between rock formations that jut into the sea, Bahia Bustamante is also known for being a seaweed village. Previously dubbed ‘Rotten Bay’ due to the amounts of rotting seaweed found there, don’t let its former moniker put you off as this natural plant is now harvested for medicinal purposes. Explore this idyllic marine wildlife sanctuary on bikes or horseback for the authentic experience.