Patagonia Adventure Travel Experiences – What You Shouldn’t Miss!
Laura Pattara | 13 September 2019
Top 10 most awesome travel experiences in Patagonia!
Patagonia may be regarded as South America’s premier adventure travel destination yet given the region is so vast and varied, those thrilling adventures can come in all shapes and sizes. From leisurely kayaking alongside breathtaking glaciers to mammoth week-long hikes along some of the most prized trails on earth: outdoor adventure seekers of all fitness levels can experiencePatagonia any which way they please.
Although this incredible region is remote and not overly-developed (thank heavens) planning an adventure holiday (even a luxury vacation, for that matter) is not all that difficult. Our adventure travel packages in Patagonia are some of our best-sellers and it’s certainly not hard to see why – what better way to soak up the wonders of Latin America’s wildest side than by joining a group of like-minded explorers and casting off for the adventure of a lifetime?
Patagonia: Top 10 most awesome travel experiences!
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The undisputed poster-boy for Patagonia, the Perito Moreno glacier is so famous that some may fear being disappointed at an actual visit. Very few ‘wonders’ can truly live up to their hype, right? Wrong! This glacier, the world’s fastest-growing wall of ice, is infinitely more impressive in real life than it could ever be on the photograph, most especially if you’re lucky enough to witness one of its jaw-dropping calvings. Argentina has done a great job of managing Moreno’s adoring fans, constructing beautiful boardwalks and offering a myriad of adventure travelexperiences which include ice-hiking on the glacier itself and trekking around the park to access several viewpoints. There are also sightseeing boat tours on offer for those who prefer a more laid-back adventure.
2. Drive the Seven Lakes Route of the Route 40, from Pucon to Bariloche
Patagonia takes road-tripping to a whole other level, the majestic landscapes rewarding drivers (and passengers) with a mind-boggling feast of sensational scenery. Out here, it’s the famed Route 40 that bags all the accolades although considering its immense length, you may just want to concentrate on just bagging one of its many picturesque stretches. Connecting Pucon to Bariloche, the Seven Lakes Route stretches for ‘only’ 180km and is usually covered in a single drive day although, in all honesty, you could take a whole week to complete it, the attractions being that many. There are more than seven lakes to explore here but the main you’ll pass through on this stretch all offer superb viewpoints, kayak and canoe hire options and simply breathtaking views the entire time.
3. Go horseback riding and enjoy an authentic asado(BBQ) in Bariloche
When it comes to adventure vacations in Patagonia, we like to tell people that ending the trip in Bariloche is not a bad idea. Mostly, because this lakeside treasure of a town has a way of kidnapping all your good intentions and we usually have a hard time dragging people away to explore further. Shrouded in fascinating history and surrounded by the pristine wilderness of Nahuel Huapi National Park, Bariloche is one of the most charming towns in the region. It’s also Patagonia’s chocolate capital if that’s of any help. There’s a ton of great stuff to do here (besides gorging on chocolate, naturally), including hiking, mounting biking, kayaking, canoeing, day-long boat outings and, inarguably the most distinctive adventure of all, a day-long horseback riding adventure in the national park, complete with an authentic feasting of asado, the traditional Argentinian BBQ.
4. Spot Southern Right Whales (and so much more) in the Peninsula Valdes
Lesser-known Valdes is one of the world’s best whale-spotting destinations although given its anonymity – outside dedicated circles – we wouldn’t be surprised if you haven’t even heard of it. A calm bay in a tempestuous sea, Valdes offers safe harbour to a stunning array of marine life and its reverence stems from the facts that whales, sea lions, penguins and dolphins sightings are a year-round occurrence. The time of year you plan your Patagonia adventure tour will determine which species you see but trust that no matter when you come, there’ll be plenty for you to admire. The much-coveted Southern Right heads here to mate and birth its young during the second half of the year, from June to December, although October is traditionally the very best month of all.
5. Tackle the Laguna Torres Hiking Trail in El Chalten
If you only have time (or energy) to do one hard-core hike in Patagonia, the Laguna Torres trail would have to be it. The trail is just a smidgen over 10km long and, although it is only rated as moderately difficult, you will be contending with some altitude so consider it by no means a leisurely walk in the park. Several trails starting from the quaint town of El Chalten will lead you to this glistening lake, which boasts the postcard-worthy view of Cerro Torre and Mt Fitzroy, perhaps the most distinctive Patagonian peaks of all. This is an arduous but immensely rewarding hike and if there’s any reason to get fitter before heading to Patagonia, Laguna Torres hiking trail would have to be it. Consider this your ultimate Patagonia travel adventure vacation bucket-list aim.
6. See wild horses run free in Torres del Paine National Park
The Baguales Patagonia is a unique breed which descends from the Andalusian horses imported by the Spanish in the 1500s. No-one really knows if a few escaped or were abandoned, but the fact remains they have evolved to become one of Patagonia’s most magnificent wildlife highlights. Baguales roam far and wide in both Argentina and Chile and although you won’t only see them in Torres, it just happens to be the spot where they are primarily seen. You’ll see an abundance of guanaco in Torres and can spot a myriad of other endemic wildlife but there’s something about spotting wild horses in this windswept landscape that makes it a magical experience.
7. Plan an overnight stay in a traditional estancia
Some of Patagonia’s most historic farmhouses have opened up to the public in recent years, both for daytime visits (particularly rewarding if still operating) and overnight stays. Patagonia estancia stays offer unique opportunities to not only delve into the historical (not to mention culinary) side of the region but also to enjoy a sublime overnight experience in a remote location, far from any town. Many estancias are on private wilderness reserves so you bag a side-serve of amazing animal encounters alongside luxury cabins and wonderful local hospitality. Horseback riding with gauchos across the pampas after a sumptuous breakfast of home-made yummies is about as marvellous as an adventure holiday in Patagonia could ever get.
The southernmost tip of Patagonia, the spectacular island of Tierra del Fuego, is home to the only King Penguin breeding colony outside of Antarctica. Having established this relatively new colony only in recent years, the Kings of Tierra del Fuego join three other penguin species which call these shores home, namely the Gentoo, Humboldt and Magellanic (the others which you’ll also see in Punta Arenas). You’ll find these striking creatures on Bay Inutil in the aptly named King Penguin Park (Parque Pinguino Rey). Your encounter won’t be all that close and the exact number of penguins you’ll see is really anyone’s guess but given this is the only chance you have of seeing these incredible creatures in all of South America (aside from the Falkland Islands), it really is a worthwhile side trip.
9. Have a crazy day of rafting Class V rapids in Futaleufu River
An array of rafting destinations has helped secure Patagonia’s tag as an adventure holiday hub, bar none. We particularly love heading to the Futaleufu River in Chile when we have very experienced rafting guests, as this insane river offers some of the most arresting yet challenging rapids in the entire region. Take on a day of Class 3, 4 and 5 rapids on the Futaleufu, and you’ll revitalise your soul like nothing else. We also love taking groups here because there are glamping options as well as other activities (like fly-fishing) that can cater to others in the group who may not wish to raft.
10. Enjoy the most delicious spit-roast lamb you’ve ever had
Patagonia’s cuisine is the stuff of dreams, the hearty dishes designed to fuel you up for a hard day of working the land or, in your case, for adventure holiday shenanigans. The spit-roast lamb (Cordero al Palo) is undoubtedly the most unmissable dish to try if you’re a carnivore, this dish (and meat) being the ‘regional jewel’ in the Patagonian culinary crown. Meat eaters can also taste a lot of game here, with guanaco often featuring in many restaurant menus. Seafood lovers can get stuck into King Crabs (especially in Tierra del Fuego) but trust that your guide will lead you (nose first) through some of the most iconic and delicious meals the region has to offer. Patagonia may be spectacularly beautiful but it is also spectacularly delicious!
Best way to bag adventure travel experiences in Patagonia?
With us, of course!
At Viva Expeditions, we serve up the very best of Patagonia adventures in two distinct options. Firstly, is the tailor-made itinerary option, which is designed with your personal wishes in mind, including all the bits you love to see, do and eat, perhaps skipping the ones you don’t. Bespoke itineraries are ideal if you love your freedom and independence and wish to hog a guide and driver all to yourself. Fair enough, totally dig that, hog away. On tailor-made tours, you are in charge of the lot: where you go, how long you stay, where you’ll sleep and what you’ll include along the way.
Another exceptional option is our Small Group Tours which are aimed at those who love the sound of the above but would really love to experience Patagonia in company. In Patagonia, specifically, we run our adventure holiday tours on our truck (called Esperanza) a super comfortableall-terrain-vehicle that’ll get you to the remotest reaches of Patagonia (and bring you back again) safely and easily. Overland touring with a small group of like-minded adventurers is Patagonia at its very best and ideal if all you want to do is pack your bags and come have the absolute time of your life. We take care of the rest.