Deep blue lakes, eternally snow-capped mountains, and stunning glaciers – such are the sundry sights that form an essential part of Argentina travel to Patagonia. For travelers interested in wild and pristine nature mixed with a bit of adventure, all amidst quaint towns and a gorgeous landscape, an Argentina vacation in Patagonia is ideal. We’ve selected 3 of our favorite Patagonia tours – including Puerto Madryn, Bariloche, and El Calafate – which provide a diverse sampling of the best of Argentina’s south.
A Patagonia trip to Puerto Madryn is perfect at any time of year. In the summer months of December through February, this small town located on the Atlantic coast midway between Buenos Aires and Ushuaia, becomes a popular, but still quiet beach resort. Tucked into the Golfo Nuevo, the waters around Puerto Madryn are calm and crystal clear, making them perfect for swimming, scuba diving, sea kayaking, and myriad other water sports. From August to October, the bay waters become the breeding and birthing grounds for migrating southern right whales, which can be spotted from land or on a Puerto Madryn tour that includes a whale watching cruise. Meanwhile, the nearby Peninsula Valdes hosts a beautiful natural reserve that was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its abundant wildlife, including Magellanic penguins, elephant seals, and countless sea birds.
Located directly to the east of Puerto Madryn, but at the foot of the Andes Mountain Range, Bariloche has become a top Patagonia tour destination as well as a national capital of outdoor recreation. In the spring and summer months of October through March, travelers can enjoy activities such as kayaking, fly fishing, sailing, cycling, and trekking through the endless miles of trails that extend deep into the pristine mountain landscape. In the winter, skiers and snowboarders of all levels can enjoy the nearby Cerro Catedral, which hosts a first class ski resort, one of the largest in South America. First time visitors should not miss the Circuito Chico (Small Circuit), a tour which visits Bariloche’s historic sites as well as nearby peaks for panoramic views of the surrounding lakes and mountains. Bariloche itself boasts a complete infrastructure with many fine restaurants and accommodations for travelers to choose from.
Perito Moreno Glacier, a top attraction in Patagonia, is unique in that its location on the shores of Lago Argentino and near the town of El Calafate makes it easily accessible for travelers. This land glacier descends into a branch of the largest lake in Argentina and its face rises up to 230 feet (70 meters). Building pressure causes the glacier to frequently fracture and rupture, causing chunks of ice to break off and fall into the lake. Travelers can use walkways and observation decks to obtain fantastic views of this dramatic process. As part of a Patagonia tour to El Calafate, it is also possible to sail up to the face of the glacier on a boat. The best time to visit is from late October to early April, but January and February should be avoided as they can be incredibly busy.
El Calafate is also a great jumping off point for trekking in El Chalten, or for Patagonia tours to Chile, the Beagle Channel, and Ushuaia, the city at the end of the world.