The tip of southern Argentina and Chile feels like the end of the world, and with good reason. Sparsely populated and in places downright inhospitable, thanks to the desert and Andes Mountains, the Patagonia that is best known is jagged peaks of Torres del Paine and glaciers calving into the sea. But there’s a different side to Patagonia too, a fertile side of grasslands and pampas that stretch out for miles. But as such, the logistics of touring around the region and getting there in the first place can be off-putting, which is why an organised tour is a viable option to take care of those details for you.
Many of the Patagonia trekking tours focus on the mountainous region on the Chilean side of the border to the south. For many, Patagonia is a place to tour on foot, and the majority of tours available support this, with trekking of various skill-levels represented. The best tours, and often the longest, are suited to those with some experience, although we have included a good range on this list that should suit people with varying degrees of hiking and trekking proficiency. Here are five of the best.
From $960/ per person
One of South America’s most iconic hiking routes is known as the W-trek. It’s a 43-mile (69-km) path that winds in and out of the vertiginous granite towers, or torres, that form the magnificent Torres del Paine. If 43 miles sounds like a fair old way, it’s worth noting that the hike is spread out over four days of this six-day tour, along a well-trodden route, so it is quite manageable for less experienced hikers. Accommodation is either in bunk lodges along the way, or camping in tents that will be set up by the tour guide’s team. All meals are provided.
From $1,825/ per person
There are sights worthy of a trip on either side of the Chile-Argentina border, and this highlights tour attempts to do justice to all of the main ones. Over ten days, this tour, which begins in Punta Arenas and ends in El Chalten, takes in plenty of great natural wonders and throws in some guided excursions too. These include: a penguin colony, the stunning Torres del Paine, which are a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Patagonian city of El Calafate, Los Glaciares National Park, and a tour of Perito Moreno Glacier. Accommodation is in hotels, hostels and there are three nights of camping, with breakfast provided on each day.
FROM: $4,250/per person
If Patagonia is known for one thing, it is stunning natural beauty. This is one of the least populated regions of the planet, excluding the permafrost regions, and the expanses of wilderness are often mesmerising. This two-week tour aims to get up close a personal with that wilderness. It starts out in Buenos Aires, where you’ll get to see a tango show in your first night, a final night of urbane culture before jetting south to El Calafate and the Glaciers National Park. Here you will embark on two days of hikes, and later visit Perito Moreno glacier, getting right up to the vast tongue of ice. Other highlights include a boat trip on the Beagle Channel from Ushuaia. Hotel accommodation is provided on most nights.
From $4,227/ per person
Another Patagonia highlights tour, the first thing that sets this particular experience apart however is the duration of the trip. Another thing to note is that although there are two highlights tours on this list, they don’t both follow the same routes. In fact, aside from the undeniable must-see destinations like El Chalten, Torres del Paine and Tierra del Fuego, there are differences, such as a hike out to Cerro Fitzroy Base Camp and Laguna de los Tres in Los Glaciares National Park. This kind of extra depth to the experience is ideal for anybody looking to get a more in-depth Patagonia experience. All breakfasts and some lunches and dinners are provided. Most nights are spent in en-suite hotel rooms.
From $4,900/ per person
If you want to get as active as possible while touring the Patagonias of both Argentina and Chile as extensively as possible, this 20-day tour is one of the most comprehensive available. Highlights include whitewater rafting and/or skiing (season dependent), around San Carlos de Bariloche, guided hikes of glaciers, and the famous W-trek of Torres del Paine. There are also other activities available in certain spots for an additional fee, like mountain biking, horseback riding and a glacier boat trip. Hotels are provided most nights, apart from three nights of camping on the W-trek.