Patagonia

Patagonia

Patagonia is one of the most remote regions in the world. Situated on the southern tip of South America, Patagonia spans across both Chile and Argentina. The region of Patagonia is 1.043 million km² and occupies over 50% of both countries.

 

Despite this, Patagonia only has a population of around 2 million people. This lack of people, stunning mountains, and abundance of wildlife makes Patagonia one of the most amazing places to visit in the world!

 

Throughout Patagonia there are lots of national parks to explore with Chile’s most famous being Torres del Paine National Park and Argentina’s being Los Glaciares National Park. Both of these national parks are some of the most visited in the region and their beauty is both unique and impressive. 

 

However, there is plenty more to explore throughout Patagonia (as you’ll see below!)

The Ultimate Patagonia Bucket List
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Popular Places in Patagonia

A horse with Cerro Fitz Roy near El Chalten, Patagonia
Bailey looking out at the King Penguins in Patagonia
A fox is Los Glaciares National Park, Patagonia
The old pier in Puerto Natales, Patagonia
The Marble Caves in Patagonia
A whale plays in Golfo Nuevo Bay near Puerto Madryn in Patagonia

1. There are almost more penguins than people

Patagonia is home to over 1.7 million Magellanic Penguins that live throughout the region in large colonies. The largest colony of them all is in Punta Tombo, Argentina. This small beach located on the east coast of Patagonia is home to over 1 million penguins and is the largest colony of penguins on the continent!

2. Being a cowboy is still a real job

A “baqueano” which translates to “cowboy” is a Patagonian horse rider used in herding cattle and transporting goods around the region. If you visit Patagonia you’ll see them around places like Torres del Paine National Park or at remote estancias (ranches). Baqueanos have a very select atire that includes cowboy boots, jeans, a plaid shirt, and a very cool hat. 

3. Patagonia was home to the largest dinosaurs that roamed the planet

Patagonia has always been a wildlife mecca – even millions of years ago! In fact, throughout the region you can visit many different archaeological sites with dinosaur bones. However, it was the uncovering of a Argentinosaures Huinculensis in the northern region near Plaza Huincul that got people talking. This ended up being one of the largest fossils to ever have been found!

4. It's home to the southernmost city in the world

The Argentinian city of Ushuaia is the southern most city in the world and the gateway to Antarctica. Often referred to as “the end of the world”, Ushuaia is a remote town of few people and the environment down there is harsh. Despite this, the town thrives with visitors around the world wanting to visit Antarctica and go skiing in the winter!

5. It's the only place you can see King Penguins other than on Sub-Antarctic Islands

The King Penguin is the second largest penguin in the world and Tierra del Fuego Island in Patagonia is the only place to see them on the continent of South America. This rare colony is a must visit for anyone visiting Punta Arenas! 

6. How Patagonia got its name

The word Patagonia comes from the word “Patagon” which was used by the Spanish to describe the native people of the region. The Spanish said that the people of the region where huge and some accounts say they were twice as tall as their European counterparts. Of course, this didn’t end up being true but the name stuck and is now the Patagonia we know today! 

7. It's home to one of the world's only growing glaciers

Around the world and in Patagonia glaciers are receding at alarming rates. However, in Patagonia the Perito Moreno Glacier (which you can read about below) is still growing as fast in one area as it shrinks it another! This puts it in a unique class of glaciers that has scientists baffled! 

8. The Southern Patagonia Ice Field is the 3rd largest in the world

Many visitors are shocked to find out that Patagonia is home to the 3rd largest ice field in the world (only beaten by Antarctica and Greenland.) However, the warmer temperatures in the region mean glaciers actually form quicker than in the coldest parts of the world. The ice field stretches 357 kilometers in length and is 5 kilometers wide. 

9. Some parts of Patagonia are filled with landmines

I was shocked when I first saw a fence with red warning signs that landmines were present in the area! Due to an old Argentinian and Chilean conflict that never escalated further than threats, landmines were placed around the Argentine boarder near Punta Arenas in Chile. The area is clearly marked and accidents don’t happen, however, wildlife still trigger the odd mine and the Chilean government is planning to remove them all by 2025.

Seeing Penguins is a Patagonia highlight!
Laguna Torre, El Chalten, Argentina
Glacier Grey In Torres del Paine National Park, Chile

Torres del Paine National Park

One of the most famous national parks in Patagonia is of course, Torres del Paine National Park in Chile. The national park is famous among hikers, photographers, and outdoor lovers alike. In the park the three most famous hikes include the 7 to 9 day O Circuit, the 4 to 5 day Torres del Paine W Trek, and the 1 day Las Torres Viewpoint trail. 

 

These trails are hiked by staying at campsites or refugios (basic mountain hotels) and every year over 200,000 people come to Torres del Paine to enjoy its beauty. 

 

Below are some of our best blog articles about Torres del Paine National Park to help you plan your trip!

Las Torres viewpoint
Looking out at glacier grey in Torres del Paine National Park, Patagonia
A hotel in Torres del Paine National Park, Patagonia

Los Glaciares National Park

Los Glaciares National Park is a truly spectacular place to visit in Argentina and Patagonia. The two most common towns to explore the park from are El Chalten and El Calafate. Both provide the perfect place to base yourself to explore both the southern and northern parts of the national park. 

 

To the south (near El Calafate) the Perito Moreno Glacier is what steals the show and this glacier is the most impressive we have ever seen! One major difference between Perito Moreno Glacier and other glaciers in Los Glaciares National Park and the world is the fact the glacier is not shrinking – it’s actually growing! 

 

This unique characteristic makes visiting Perito Moreno Glacier a once in a lifetime experience! 

 

Below are some of our detailed guides to visiting the Perito Moreno Glacier and Los Glaciares National Park! 

Other Popular Patagonia Blogs

The road to El Chalten in Patagonia
The King Penguins on Tierra del Fuego
The hanging glacier on Verro Tronador in Patagonia
Bailey on the Torres del Paine W Trek
A lady hitchhiking in Patagonia

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