South America

Patagonia Tours: Land or Cruise?

Laura Pattara

Laura Pattara  |  27 April 2018

 Read about the pros and cons of taking Patagonia tours by land or by cruise ship here!

Planning a visit to Patagonia can seem overwhelming for first-time visitors, with this southern region of South America not only offering a mind-boggling array of very diverse highlights but also covering an area of over one thousand square kilometers. Patagonia is huge, to say the least, and considering the diversity of landscapes – from high peaks to deeply carved fjords, lakes, glaciers, open expanses of pampas and immense national parks (see the best ones) – the entire region is perfect to explore both on land and by cruise ship.

So which one is best?

Needless to say, a Patagonia trip that combines both land AND cruise ship tours will offer the most comprehensive and best experience of all, considering each travel method offers an abundance of benefits that the other one doesn’t. If you want to make the most of your journey and, let’s face it, the most of your travel expense, you’ll want as varied a tour as possible. The great aspect of combining land and cruise ship tours in Patagonia is that they are complementing and easy to arrange, so your options are extensive.

But for now, let’s take a quick look at the pros and cons of Patagonia tours: Land vs Cruise Ship.

Patagonia Tours by Land

PROS: If you’re an avid hiker or even just an occasional walker, Patagonia will blow you away. This is the continent’s premier trekking destination and Patagonia land tours will get you deeper in the national parks and closer to all those stunning Andean peaks than a cruise ship ever could. If Torres del Paine is on your must-see list, for example, you’ll want to include a few days of hiking, be they multi-day strenuous adventures or several leisurely walks that’ll still get you to spectacular lookouts. The scenery in Patagonia is magnificent, as is the wildlife and the gorgeous lodges and estancias  scattered about the region. Land-based tours  offer you the chance to immerse yourself in the spectacular wilderness of the interior and discover a side of Patagonia no cruise ship could ever reach. If that’s not enough, simply driving through Patagonia is a highlight of its own accord, with each bend of the road revealing stupendous vistas. This region may well be popular but it is also remote and fairly uninhabited. Overland tours  give you the chance to really feel the remoteness and isolation of this incredible region and can take you way off the beaten track. Although all cruise ship tours also offer land-based excursions, there’s never really enough time to make it a comparable experience. Travelling solo? Don’t worry…Patagonia small group tours are designed with you in mind.

CONS: Although you can certainly reach some parts of the coastline of Patagonia on land tours, be it in Tierra del Fuego or the Valdes Peninsula (and still see some of the marine wildlife that inhabits the frigid waters) you just won’t get an in-depth coastal experience if you don’t take to the seas. Land tours also do require extra days, given the enormous expanse of the region. Even flying between hot spots will see you lose valuable days, which is a consideration if you’re tight on time. 

Patagonia Tours by Cruise Ship

PROS: Much like land-tours offer a side of Patagonia you wouldn’t otherwise experience, so do cruise ship tours. Cruising in Patagonia  gets you to sections of the coast that are near impossible to reach by land and gift you a totally different perspective on the nature and, of course, the outstanding marine wildlife. From the sensational  Fjords of Tierra del Fuego  and Glacier Alley to whale-watching and visits to remote colonies of penguins and seals, cruise ship expeditions offer a different yet equally rewarding Patagonia experience. Cruising around Cape Horn and along the Beagle Channel are two of the region’s very best highlights. Enjoying a sumptuous lunch on board your chosen vessel, all the while watching dolphins and whales sailing alongside you, is one of the most magical experiences you could ever have. Cruising in Patagonia is ideal if you have mobility issues and wish to enjoy the scenery in utmost comfort and, if that’s not enough, cruising can also see you cover much greater distances in fewer days and have you unpacking only once for the duration of your trip. For convenience, comfort AND a more in-depth exploration of coastal Patagonia, cruising is tops.

CONS: As previously mentioned, all cruises in Patagonia offer plenty of on-land excursions, however, you’ll be left disappointed if you want to reach far-away destinations. You’ll find yourself spending most of your day on-land just getting somewhere. So if you are intent on at least some hiking, you’ll have a more enjoyable experience if you include a few days to dedicate to that either before or after your cruise. Conveniently, the most popular cruise embarkation ports in Patagonia are close to some of the region’s best national parks, so avoiding this particular cruising downside is super easy. Worried about huge crowds and time wasted getting on and off the ship? Don’t! Patagonia small ship cruising offers all the pros minus all the dreaded cons.

The pivotal factors for determining which travel method is right for your visit are time at your disposal, the destinations you wish to visit and the kind of activities you enjoy most. Even cost doesn’t necessarily play a huge role, for even though cruising is generally considered a more expensive option, great seasonal deals make them incredibly competitive in Patagonia.

Whether you travel by land or cruise ship – or plan a perfect combination of the two – rest assured that Patagonia will serve up one of the most unforgettable travel experiences you’ll ever have.

Visit our Patagonia Tours Page to see all the exciting options available and don’t forget to scroll to the end of the page to check out the stellar cruise ships currently sailing along the Patagonian coast.

Contact us today to discuss your options and we’ll help you plan your once-in-a-lifetime adventure to this once-in-a-lifetime destination.

shutterstock 281151785

Similar Stories