Patagonia is one of those natural places that is worldwide known like The Amazon, Galapagos Islands or the Peruvian Andes. Just by reading its name, most readers find themselves in a very visual and concise place with a clear idea of mountains, lakes, harsh weather and solitude. Like Lonely Planet guide says: “Spaces are large, as are the silences that fill them. For the newly arrived, such emptiness can be as impressive as the sight of Patagonia’s jagged peaks, pristine rivers and dusty backwater oases. In its enormous scale, Patagonia offers a wealth of potential experiences and landscapes.”
The first thing to be said about Patagonia is that it is a binational eco-region that covers about 300,000 square miles or 670,000 square kilometers, which represents the approximate size of France, Belgium and the Netherlands, all together. This region is located at the southern corner of South America, on both sides of the Andes, Chile and Argentina, whilst more than 2/3 of Patagonia is on the Argentinian side. All these said, also Patagonia, as its huge size obviously implies, has micro regions that are very different among each other. From the northern very green temperate Valdivian Jungle to the semi deserted Atlantic coast with some of the largest colonies on some marine mammals and birds are located.
Inhabited by mankind for over 10.000 years, Argentina’s Patagonia is renowned for its dinosaur finds, where some of the largest species in the world have been found and named. The geographical center of Patagonia dates to the earliest times of natural history, all before we were separated into continents.
Since humans arrived at this corner, they were split into small etnias, some semi nomadic land, like Tehuelches or Mapuches, some water nomadic, like the Selknam or Aonikenk. All of these were pushed away by the arrival of the Argentine State and immigrants that settled in the different areas of Patagonia.
Nowadays some areas are reserved for original tribes and although their presence is limited, still, much can be learned traveling through Patagonia, specially through the Andes. The arrival of European, Latin and even North American settlers has also shaped Patagonian customs to a unique mixture where Patagonians have acquired traditions from North American cowboys, from welsh agricultural know-how and the Central European culinary habits like beer, fondue or chocolate production.
With all this described, still today Patagonia is one of the least populated places on earth, with less than two million inhabitants in all of its large area, self driving on one of South America’s best road trips, probably among the safest places to visit in Argentina is the best way to understand the vastness, the emptiness and appreciate the small villages away from crowded cities, malls, tourist traps and airports.
But that vastness can also be confusing and most tour guides would take you to the same crowded places. For that, we have designed and we offer an alternative to this very beaten path with a few itineraries that without missing any of the highlights, go also to the small town, big national parks and go through the real Patagonia.
Patagonia is so large we can divide it in three micro regions, northern and southern Patagonia on the Andes side, the western side and on a third region the Atlantic Patagonia. Is it possible to travel through all of Patagonia? Of course it is, but it will require time to do so on land, most likely it will take you at least three weeks. Northern Patagonia, more inhabited and known most likely by the Lakes Region, the Volcanoes, Ski resorts and the culinary aspects, like chocolate, berry plantations and lot’s of hiking. Southern Patagonia is more isolated, literally at the southern corner of the world, emblematic by its National Parks, like Los Glaciares, Perito Moreno or recently created Patagonia. Atlantic Patagonia is the place where many mammals and birds of the Southern Hemisphere come and breed, so its the perfect place to see wildlife from the big Whales to the small Magellanic Penguins, each region has several spots to see wildlife and also experience the traditional ranch-life of Patagonia
As all of Argentina, and most of South America, the summer months are the warmest months, and include the longest days, ideal for long drives, long hikes and spending time outdoors, be it at an estancia, a picnic by the river or even looking at the stars and searching for the Southern Cross. In the case of Patagonia, this is not an exception, but a rule, considering than by its lower latitude (lower in terms of geography but higher in terms of number), the winter months bring cold rainy, snowy and short days.
As usual we also recommend shoulder season months if you wish to avoid crowds. Highest season in Patagonia goes from mid December to mid February and Easter weekend. Besides that, on the Atlantic coast, from mid June to December, right whales can be seen as they migrate to the Valdés Peninsula to have their calves. They can be seen fro the coastline, although tours to approach are available at different towns in the Peninsula.
For other species like Magellanic Penguins, Orca Whales or Southern Elephant Seals, you can check the official calendar.
September and March include the most fantastic bloom and fall foliage colors that can be of high value for photo maniacs. In most small towns there is an annual festival that depending on your interest can also be of your appeal, this includes the Hops Festival in January, the Argentinian Steak Festival, the Berries Production Festival, etc. All of these occur during the high season.
For Patagonia we present to you several Patagonia Itineraries, some shorter, some longer, which actually can all be combined into the same Patagonia road trip. Remember, our flexibility is fully dedicated to modify, alter and requote any changes you might think of, considering, we have fully planned these trips with many years of expertise, but as each traveler shall make its trip unique, we are delighted to make all the changes required to tailor make this roadtrip to make it your unforgettable, once in a lifetime experience..